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Editorial Reviews

The same man who created the Palm Pilot and other handheld devices criticizes contemporary technology for not learning more lessons from the greatest computer of all -- the human brain. Not stopping there, Jeff Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee go on to tackle the head-scratching subject of how our brains really work, and if artificial intelligence can ever truly catch up. But what really sets this listen apart is the passion with which the authors address the big questions about our brains. After a solid intro from Hawkins, Stefan Rudnicki takes over the narrating reins. The effect is an audio program with a compelling ability to anticipate the question taking form in your own brain as you listen, then answer it with clarity and sincerity. That's a feat worthy of admiration.
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Publisher's Summary

Jeff Hawkins, the man who created the PalmPilot, Treo smart phone, and other handheld devices, has reshaped our relationship to computers. Now he stands ready to revolutionize both neuroscience and computing in one stroke, with a new understanding of intelligence itself. Hawkins develops a powerful theory of how the human brain works, explaining why computers are not intelligent and how, based on this new theory, we can finally build intelligent machines.
The brain is not a computer, but a memory system that stores experiences in a way that reflects the true structure of the world, remembering sequences of events and their nested relationships and making predictions based on those memories. It is this memory-prediction system that forms the basis of intelligence, perception, creativity, and even consciousness.
In an engaging style that will captivate audiences from the merely curious to the professional scientist, Hawkins shows how a clear understanding of how the brain works will make it possible for us to build intelligent machines, in silicon, that will exceed our human ability in surprising ways.
Written with acclaimed science writer Sandra Blakeslee, On Intelligence promises to completely transfigure the possibilities of the technology age. It is a landmark book in its scope and clarity.
©2004 Jeff Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee (P)2005 Audible, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"[Hawkins's] argument is complex but comprehensible, and his curiosity will intrigue anyone interested in the lessons neurobiology may hold for AI." (Booklist)
"[Hawkins] fully anticipates, even welcomes, the controversy he may provoke within the scientific community and admits that he might be wrong, even as he offers a checklist of potential discoveries that could prove him right. His engaging speculations are sure to win fans." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By James on 04-14-06

Interesting Introduction to a Fascinating Field

This is, all and all, a pretty solid book, particularly if you already have some interest in the field. It explains both current state of modern neuroscience as well as the author's theory of the basis for intelligence. If you are interested in this topic it's probably worth the download. You will have to put up with a few minor irritations, such as (1) the author's ego occasionally bleeds through with little snotty asides. He's fairly arrogant and quickly dismissive of alternative views, (2) his theory seems internally consistent but is ultimately a little reductionist. The brain almost certainly does work, at some level, just as he describes it. But when he pushes the model into describing the creative process, the basis of consciousness and some other areas, it feels a little thin. It's an engineer's view of the essence of these aspects of human behavior, overly wedded to a simplistic structure, ignoring nuances which are clearly important. (3) There is one chapter in the book which doesn't translate into a book tape very well, because it's fairly technical and relies on diagrams. But even if you don't entirely drink his Kool-Aid, this is still an interesting, thought-provoking way to spend a few hours.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By James on 03-14-05


1. A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.
2. A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization: ?I experienced an epiphany, a spiritual flash that would change the way I viewed myself? (Frank Maier).

Jeff Hawkins proposes a theory for how the mind works that rings true. I found this book to be a profound mind-expanding experience, allowing my mind to finally understand how my mind works. I am a 45-year old Software Engineer strongly tempted to take up Hawkin's call to young scientists to join the new revolution that will take place as we learn how to apply this model of mind to computers.

This book will probably be of most interest to people who are interested in both computers and psychology, but I think many people who are not interested in computers will still find this book fascinating. Anyone who is interested in the miracle of consciousness and sentience should read this book.

Another reviewer complained that the "ghost narrator" is a poor reader. This narrator is Stephan Rudnicki, a professional voice actor with a deep, resonant voice. He is one of the reader's on the Ender's Game series. There is something about his voice that is a bit unsettling, but I would never call it simpering. Overall, I think he was an excellent choice for narrator for this book.

Note: there are some figures/diagrams in the printed book that can be downloaded from The link is on the main page for this book.

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71 of 78 people found this review helpful

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