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The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest To Understand, Enhance and Empower the Mind

The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest To Understand, Enhance and Empower the Mind [Kindle Edition]

Michio Kaku
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[Praise for Michio Kaku]: One of the gurus of modern physics (Financial Times)

Summons up the sheer wonder of science (Daily Telegraph)


Recording memories, mind reading, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis - no longer are these feats of the mind solely the province of overheated science fiction. As Michio Kaku reveals, not only are they possible, but with the latest advances in brain science and recent astonishing breakthroughs in technology, they already exist. In The Future of the Mind, the New York Times-bestselling author takes us on a stunning, provocative and exhilarating tour of the top laboratories around the world to meet the scientists who are already revolutionising the way we think about the brain - and ourselves.


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4.5 von 5 Sternen
4.5 von 5 Sternen
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5.0 von 5 Sternen sehr gute Zusammenfassung 29. Mai 2014
Von MaCl
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Des Wissensstands in der Hirnforschung - dieser Stand und auch die zugehörige Forschung in der Physik etwas weniger spekulativ als bei den Futuristen.
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2 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A Brief Summary and Review 5. März 2014
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The main argument: Up until 15 to 20 years ago the instruments and methods used to study the brain were still somewhat primitive. Since this time, however, advances in brain-scanning and brain-probing technology have gone into overdrive—as have the computers needed to make sense of the data from these new technologies. The deluge began in the early to mid 1990’s with the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, and it’s more powerful cousin the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, and it hasn’t stopped there. In addition to the MRI and fMRI, we now have a host of advanced sensing and probing technologies from the positron emission topography (PET) scan, to magnetoencephalography (MEG), to near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), to optogenetics, to the Clarity technique, to the transcranial electromagnetic scanner (TES), to deep brain stimulation (DBS) and more. In addition to these new scanning and probing technologies we have also advanced greatly in understanding how genes are expressed in the brain.

The result of these new advances is that we have learned more about the brain and how it works in the past 15 years than in all of history put together. And we are beginning to see real-world applications of this new understanding. For example, in the past decade we have learned to read the brain’s functioning to the point where we can now create rough images and video footage of thoughts and even dreams and imaginings; use the brain to directly control computers, and anything computers can control—including prosthetics (and even have these prosthetics send sensations back to the brain); implant and remove simple memories in the brain; create primitive versions of artificial brain structures; and also unravel at least some of the mysteries of mental illness and disease.
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0 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Michio Kaku would not be Michio Kaku if he would not put you on a roller-coaster ride through the universe that is called our brain. The book covers everything and all about the brain, intelligence and consciousness and possible future developments here.
“The Future of the Mind” is presented in 3 Books. Book 1 explains about the mind and consciousness in general. Book 2 is titled “Mind over Matter” and covers 4 topics including telepathy, telekinesis, memory generation and memory enhancement.
Book 3 then is called “Altered Consciousness” and covers everything from dreams, mind control, artificial consciousness, the mind of aliens and so forth. It is nearly impossible to mentions all the interesting facts which Kaku compiles in these three books. It reads something like “all you ever wanted to know about your brain and all the SiFi-movies that come with it”. Sure enough movies and movie characters like Terminator, Matrix, Total Recall and Kubrik’s 2001 Odyssey turn up and many more.
Interesting topics covered are (just a few examples):
• Drugs that make you forget unpleasant memories
• How recalling a certain situation in your mind changes this memory
• Social and legal Issues, when you change memories
• The possibility to implant skills into the brain or to create and upload memories &emotions onto the Internet
• The possibility to boost our intelligence to genius level
• IQ tests, Savants and Super geniuses
• Genetics for Intelligence
• Our dreams and dream research
• Mind Control and the Manchurian candidate
• CIA Mind control experiments, Mental Illnesses, Hallucinations
• Human consciousness and many other things. The eBook was published this year, so it is somewhat up to date.
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0 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Sehr gut. Nur Empfehlenswert. 4. April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Sehr gut zu verstehen. Perfekter Einblick in die Zukunft. Hoffentlich erscheinen auch zukünftig noch einige Bücher. Man möchte mehr über seine Einblicke erfahren. Danke.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.3 von 5 Sternen  279 Rezensionen
155 von 163 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen State of the Art Neuroscience 28. Dezember 2013
Von Steve - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
Short Review: Interested in getting current with state of the art neuroscience and some philosophical discussions about our brain and consciousness? If so, read this approachable and easy-to-understand book!

Longer Review:

Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist with a knack for explaining difficult concepts with simple analogies and clear descriptions. I've been a fan for some years now, and I thoroughly enjoyed Physics of the Impossible, Parallel Worlds, and Hyperspace. I was a bit surprised when I heard that Kaku was extending a bit outside his theoretical physics wheelhouse to write a book about the brain - but I'm very glad I decided to give this one a read.

After reading this book I feel like I'm much more up to date with where we currently stand when it comes to state-of-the-art neuroscience. Kaku stresses greatly the avalanche of modern neuroscience progress that was triggered by widespread use of MRI technology starting in the 90s, and this new information is forcing us to confront and redevelop longstanding ideas regarding our brains. A discussion of the various technological developments unlocking this new information leads into some philosophical discussion of consciousness and what makes us 'human'.

The bulk of the remainder of The Future of the Mind is focused on how the increase in brain-technology will affect the world, including discussions of telepathy, telekinesis, memory implants, memory recording, potential mental illness cures, brain enhancement, and mind reading. He also discusses different 'types' of consciousness including things like the consciousness of robots and the potential consciousness of alien life forms. The topics covered are very forward thinking, and there is a lot of time devoted to the various ways in which we will likely continue to stride forward in the future (such as the section on reverse engineering the brain). As you can tell this is a huge range of topics, and reading The Future of the Mind it sure sounds like we're just scraping the surface of potential topics with this book. Prepare to feel overwhelmed at how quickly brain science is marching along.

Kaku interviewed a huge number of experts in the field of neuroscience, and quotes from their conversations are features prominently throughout. A common pattern in the book is to reveal a shocking-but-true fact or experimental result about our brain accompanied by a metaphor and/or expert quote easing into an explanation that is understandable and clear. This approach works well in general, and keeps the pages turning. I had a hard time putting this book down, and brought it to work to finish during my lunch break. I have a habit of highlighting interesting/important passages whenever I read science books, and practically the entire book was highlighted by the time I was finished by this one!

It's hard to come up with any significant negatives for this review, but I have to mention that Kaku's constant movie references grew tiresome for me after a while. Many of the concepts in this book are introduced by way of "This happened in a movie and now it's happening FOR REAL!" I understand the benefits of this approach, but I could have used a bit more variety - I felt the technique was overused. Just a minor complaint, but something I noticed.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen On what the future might hold for humanity 30. Dezember 2013
Von Malvin - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
"The Future of the Mind" by Michio Kaku introduces inquisitive readers to the exciting science of the human mind. Dr. Kaku is perhaps the preeminent popular scientist of our time with numerous books, television productions and media appearances to his credit. This fascinating book will interest everyone who wants to get up to speed on the rapidly evolving field of brain sciences including what the future might hold for humanity.

The book is divided into three sections. `Book I: The Mind and Consciousness' is a brief survey of brain research up to the present day including an overview of how the brain works. `Book II: Mind Over Matter' discusses how science is shedding new light on telepathy, telekinesis, memories and the possibility of enhancing the brain's powers. `Book III: Altered Consciousness' speculates about how humanity's mastery of brain sciences might radically change our destiny on earth and beyond, including allowing us to reach across the universe with our minds.

Of course, Dr. Kaku carefully weighs the myriad ethical issues that inevitably come up when scientists talk about tinkering with the human brain. For example, when discussing the possibility of improving human intelligence, Dr. Kaku points to the benefits of enabling workers to rapidly learn new job skills but also warns about the social disparity that might ensue if such powerful technology is distributed only to the few. More than anything else, Dr. Kaku shares his vision and enthusiasm for where science can lead us. Through his demonstrated command of the subject matter, we become excited not only about the shorter-term promise of discovering more effective treatments for mental illnesses; but also about the longer-term possibility of exploring distant stars using our minds. The end result is a highly engaging book that rewards us with its keen intelligence, compassion and sense of wonder.

I highly recommend this outstanding book to everyone.
127 von 152 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen A fun read, but perhaps a bit too sci-fi 1. Februar 2014
Von A. Burke - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
Although Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist by training, his enthusiasm for neuroscience comes through very clearly. As the title suggests, this new book The Future of the Mind discusses the current state of neurology, bionics, and artificial intelligence, and then forecasts possible breakthroughs in the near and distant future. Kaku's experience in writing popular-level science books is obvious, as it is a fairly easy read with natural break points every 2-3 pages. There are really no dense walls of text to slog through, a definite positive attribute.

If you're an avid reader of popular level books on neurology or psychology, many of the topics may be familiar. There's a discussion of Phineas Gage, an attempt to define consciousness, a look into the new efforts to map the human brain, etc. And this background information is where the book shines. For example, Kaku's description of the CIA's mind control research is pretty interesting, as are his explanations of the current problems in AI research.

The rest of the book, however, reads a lot like articles from Popular Science. Kaku comes across as too optimistic about the future of these research areas, with more focus on what's possible rather than what's likely to happen. One assumes that this book will have to be updated a lot over the next five to ten years, as areas of research change, get delayed, or stall out entirely. And while it's fun to imagine the distant future where people might be able to beam their consciousness to surrogate bodies halfway across the galaxy via wormholes (an actual topic this book covers), I'd rather learn about the technologies which are right around the corner.
15 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen what will the future hold? 13. Januar 2014
Von J. Weber - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
Whoa! What a book to read if you want a glimpse of where science is taking us in the future! This highly interesting read does a great job of explaining current and future possiblities of tracking, improving and studying the human brain. From current research of creating prosthetics which can be controlled from thought to 'helmet' scanners which can read your thoughts to portable body scanners like "Doc" from Star Trek used - the future possibilities are amazing. There is so much work being done in creating ways to actually read one's mind - which would be of enormous benefit for some people stricken with implants in the brain to stimulate thought, movement, recovery from stroke or traumatic brain injury. The book lightly touches on the downside of such technology - could police use some of these devices which are currently in development to read your mind? could the government? What are the ethical implications of this technology? How could it be controlled once it's on the open market? The author did a great job of presenting the information in an easy to read, understandable format - I almost read the book in one sitting the concepts were so interesting. The book touches on the amount of research being done by private companies as well as DARPA, and it left me feeling that futuristic science fiction movie plots aren't really that far away from becomming a reality.
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2.0 von 5 Sternen The Future of Something...not the Mind 9. April 2014
Von Stephen E. Robbins - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Dr. Kaku may be a fine physicist, but I see little evidence that he has engaged in any deep study of the problem of consciousness and its related spheres of perception, memory, cognition and cognitive development. The book is indeed interesting - if only on a semi-surface level - for its tour of developments in neuroscience with its new mapping technologies (e.g., fMRI), genetics and brain regions, massive planned research programs proposing to map the entire neural structure and connections of the brain and ultimately of course, recreate it in silicon. I say "on a semi-surface level" because Kaku does, at points, pull the unbridled optimism and unrealistic time-projections for future AI achievements a little closer to reality than I have seen elsewhere. Despite this, by the end, he is not far from the same optimism - one that belies any deep understanding - a mindset surely supported by the unhesitating reductionism displayed throughout the book, towards the end manifesting by simply assigning NDE's and out-of-the-body experiences as simply "generated" by the brain, in a treatment that nicely ignores all the problematic phenomena reported that might indicate an objective status to these experiences.

The book holds an interesting discussion of various brain imaging methods, their strengths and limitations, and therefore the fact that these are far from a panacea for research. As Kaku examines the topic of using raw computer power to simulate brains, to include Kurzweil's invocation of Moore's law with its projected doubling of computer power each year, he notes a brick wall that is about to block this tech-advance via quantum-physical limitations - an interesting point. In his discussion of plans to "download" memories or transfer them to other brains/devices, he does reveal that in reality there is no understanding today as to how the brain actually stores experienced events, noting the standard view that fragments or features of the event are stored in various spots in the brain, but that it is not known how these are reassembled in a remembering operation. This is not a usual admission. As he explores the future in creating an artificial human with the ability to act intelligently in the concrete world, he does some serious acknowledgement of the problem of "common sense knowledge" and AI's failures on this hitherto, and he projects that this will take much longer than writers like Kurzweil and others suppose. These are some welcome notes of caution, rare in this literature.

The problem is that these latter two problems go far more deeply than Kaku realizes, so deep that they question the entire information processing paradigm in which his book is framed. That little problem of how experience is actually stored in the brain stems directly from the fact that there is no theory of perception, i.e., how we see a coffee cup "out there," on the table surface, with its coffee being stirred by a spoon. Yes, this scene/event has "qualia" that must be accounted for, for given that the information from the external world has been transduced to neural-chemical flows (or for computers, changing bit patterns) which look nothing like the external world, we must explain how, from such an homogeneous architecture, we account for the "whiteness" of the cup, the "clinking" of the spoon, the smell of the coffee. The "qualia" formulation is Chalmers', and Kaku, following Dennett (who is far from accepted in philosophical circles), simply rejects as a problem how we explain the way the brain architecture, or any AI architecture, accounts for qualia.

The difficulty is this: Chalmers' formulation has been misleading; the deeper problem is explaining the origin of the image of the external world - not only the cup with its "whiteness," but the kitchen table with its wood-grained surface, the spoon stirring, coffee swirling, steam twisting and rising, the floor stretching in every direction with its tiles ... The "forms" in the image, and more obviously forms dynamically changing over time - rotating cups, twisting leaves, gently waving kitchen curtains - are themselves qualia, and equally non-computable. The origin of the image as a whole is the problem, and this image (of our kitchen with cup) is equally our "experience." This is why the problem is more critical than any AI-type theorist wants to realize: If you have no theory of the origin of our image of the external world, then you have no theory of experience, and in turn therefore, you can have no theory of the "storage" of this experience; your theory of memory is totally ungrounded, and this despite the current confidence, echoed by Kaku, that only a "subset" or a selected set of elements/features of this "experience" is stored - a current, widely held theory by the way with absolutely no in-principle method of the selection of what "parts" or "elements" or "features" of the coffee-stirring event will be stored, let alone of how this dis-assembly/reassembly would work - either in the real time required while the coffee stirring event is ongoing, or at a later time for retrieval of the experience. Ungrounded too then is any theory of cognition, therefore of that problematic "common sense knowledge," reliant as this knowledge is on the retrieval and use of our experience.

Abstract "computations" in themselves (and this is entirely the framework in which Kaku works) are simply insufficient to explain consciousness (our qualia-laden experience). There is a possibility concerning the nature of the brain that should give Kaku - particularly in his physicist persona - some pause: What if the brain, along with its computations or statistical/network analyses (same thing) is at the same time, and actually more importantly, sustaining a real, concrete dynamics - as real, for the sake of example, as an AC motor generating an oscillating electric field of force. Yes, knowing its equations, one can "simulate" the AC motor via a computer, but the computer is not generating the oscillating field of electric force; it is not even running a tiny light bulb. For this, one needs a device whose construction and function is to generate a real, concrete dynamics. One would need to engage in real engineering. This in fact was the thesis of Bergson (Matter and Memory, 1896). Bergson had presciently seen the essence of holography in 1896 (making his theory incomprehensible to his contemporaries). He viewed the universal field, in which we all are embedded, as holographic - a vast interference pattern, a field intrinsically non-image-able. Effectively, he saw the brain (with all its underlying quantum dynamics) as a modulated reconstructive wave passing through this holographic field, selecting out information in the field related to the action systems of the body, and in this becoming "specific to" a subset of the field - now, by this process, an image of aspects of the field, e.g., the kitchen with its tables, its chairs and cup. In other words, we are explaining how perception is limited, not how it arises. This image of the external world, due to the brain's dynamics (with its underlying chemical velocities) is specified at a scale of time - a fly "buzzing" by the coffee cup, his wings oscillating at 200 cps, is seen as a blur in our normal scale of time. Drop in a catalyst into this dynamics - the brain/modulated wave is now specific to a heron-like fly slowly flapping his wings and equally now specific to a new possible action of the body, e.g., picking the fly out of the air by a wing, for as the selection of a subset of the field is made in relation to the action systems of the body, then, as Bergson stated succinctly, perception is virtual action. If the brain is actually such a device - a modulated reconstructive wave - all the future brain-mapping projects Kaku is discussing will be proceeding under the wrong assumptions, and the goal of rebuilding all this as a device in silicon, as purely sustaining computations, is utterly misguided.

For all this, Bergson's model requires a quite different model of time, where the flow of time is indivisible or non-differentiable, and it demands a re-conception of the relation of subject and object, for the difference between, and the relation of each, is in terms, not of space, but of time. But one will find in Kaku but a trivial discussion of the problem of time in relation to mind, namely the role of consciousness as planning for future events, and this is in reality the great problem of explicit memory or the localization of events in time, something requiring the development of the symbolic function - an extremely complex trajectory of development requiring the human child several years, long ago discussed in great depth by Piaget - of all of which Kaku (and AI as well for that matter) is apparently unaware, but a trajectory that would need to be replicated by his AIs. One finds nothing in Kaku on the origin of our scale of perceptual time, or the form of memory that supports the ongoing perception of rotating cubes or stirring spoons, or the support of invariance laws defined only over time. One will find nothing of the problem of subject and object.

In Bergson's conception, since the brain is specific to sources within the external field (as an image) perception/experience is not occurring solely within the brain (nor is it simply "generated" by the brain), therefore experience cannot be solely stored there, yet our experience is retrievable by the same reconstructive wave process. The fact that a konk on the head produces retrograde amnesia does not mean that experiences are stored in the brain and are destroyed - as opposed rather to there now being damage to the mechanisms responsible for modulating the retrieving reconstructive wave. (Similarly, a successful artificial retinal implant supporting vision - one of many advances noted by Kaku that appear to support the computational metaphor - does not imply more than achieving partial support of the overall, very concrete dynamics supporting vision). Obviously this is a quite different theory of memory retrieval; it is inherently supportive of analogical retrieval - a phenomenon basic to thought, to include analogy in general. Hofstadter in his vast consideration of the subject of analogy (Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking) clearly has no idea (and appears to harbor doubts) as to how to implement this operation in a computer (or neural net). Yet analogy - the foundational operation of thought as Hofstadter shows - is at the heart of common sense knowledge: I am given a 12" cubical box, rubber bands, pencils, toothpicks, string, razorblade, staples, cheese, etc., and asked to create a mousetrap. I make a "crossbow" using the box, pencil and rubber bands, or a "beheader" using the box, pencil, razorblade and rubber bands. I am doing analogy via my stored experience. This is why that problematic issue of common sense knowledge is so deceptively difficult - it is bound to the entire problem of conscious perception or experience (with the "qualia" problem as a subset) and the memory "storage" of this experience. (For the sake of those interested in a deeper discussion of Bergson and these issues, as I know of none other, one can search (on Amazon) for "Collapsing the Singularity.")

The failure of current science/AI to solve (or admit) the hard problem, properly understood as the more general problem of the image of the external world, is an index into the possibility that the entire framework in which Kaku, AI and neuroscience are working is badly wrong. But this is just a glimpse - when we write of projected feats such as "downloading memories," "transferring consciousness," or "AIs as or more intelligent than humans" - of the tremendous scope and depth of the issues surrounding these topics that Kaku has presumed irrelevant.

For an interesting tour of projects and developments, the book is good. As I have grown tired of these shallow analyses of the issues involved, I can only give so many stars.
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