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IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 15 Number 1 -- Reviews

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129775D
Original Publication Date: 1993-Apr-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 17 page(s) / 68K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

PAUL CERUZI: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The Reviews department features reviews of films, audio- and videotapes, exhibits, and publications relating to the history of computing. Full-length studies of any technical, economic, business, social, or institutional aspect of the history of computing will be given a complete review. Dissertations, articles, and other studies of interest to Annals readers will be listed in a section on Other Literature, with full bibliographic citation and notes on its nature and availability. Colleagues are encouraged to participate by indicating their wish to review a work or by suggesting titles to the Reviews editor. Reviews without a byline are by the editor.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 5% of the total text.

Page 1 of 17

THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1992 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Reviews

PAUL CERUZI, EDITOR

The Reviews department features reviews of films, audio- and videotapes, exhibits, and publications relating to the history of computing. Full-length studies of any technical, economic, business, social, or institutional aspect of the history of computing will be given a complete review. Dissertations, articles, and other studies of interest to Annals readers will be listed in a section on Other Literature, with full bibliographic citation and notes on its nature and availability.

Colleagues are encouraged to participate by indicating their wish to review a work or by suggesting titles to the Reviews editor.

Reviews without a byline are by the editor.

REVIEWS

Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics, Oxford University Press, 1989.

Objective history is a myth, and all history is necessarily written in the light of present assumptions, though these are usually unstated. This applies particularly to intellectual history, and Roger Penrose's already celebrated book The Emperor's New Mind changes the whole basis on which the history of artificial intelligence is written. Like any other really ground- breaking work, The Emperor's New Mind is a law unto itself and impossible to classify. The wide range of subject matter may make the book appear discursive at first glance. In fact, as a whole it forms a well-integrated, closely reasoned argument. It treats directly fundamental features of the history of artificial intelligence, such as Alan Turing's work, but its real importance is more subtle. The Emperor's New Mind affects the basic classification and critical assumptions underlying virtually all aspects of the subject. In the future, it will be impossible seriously to write -- or even read -- the history of artificial intelligence without a clear understanding of Penrose's work.

The reviewer should resist all temptation to call a book "epoch making." That accolade belongs properly to the few books, including Principia and The Origin of Species, which really do launch an epoch of intellectual history. Nonetheless, Penrose's book does in a sense mark at least the end of an intellectual era: the period when it was commonly asserted that if digital computers became sufficiently powerful and highly parallel they would have the essential characteristics of human brains, and indeed acquire consciousness.

Penrose's insistence that digital computers and brains are quite unalike is certainly not novel. For instance, I have myself urged that "no amount of increasing complexity, of subtle programming, can ever turn digital computers into conscious beings." The gap is absolute and unbridgeable.! Also, in terms of current physical theory, consciousness is a quantum- mechanical phenomeno...