Publisher description for Are we unique? : a scientist explores the unparalleled intelligence of the human mind / James Trefil.


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Counter Acclaim for Are We Unique? "A highly readable and engaging treatment of a fascinating question. Trefil makes a case for human uniqueness while at the same time celebrating the achievements of creations ranging from lobsters to neural nets. A provocative and enjoyable book." --Daniel L. Schacter, Professor and Chair of Psychology, Harvard University author of Searching for Memory Praise for James Trefil's previous books "Thorough, accessible, and entertaining. . . . This is easily one of the finest available single-volume introductions to science." --Kirkus Reviews on Science Matters. "Like any whodunit, Trefil's book is hard to put down until the author supplies the final clues." --Chicago Tribune on The Dark Side of the Universe. "A marvelous excursion from the beach to the ends of the solar system. . . at once scientifically accurate and stylistically captivating." --New York Times Book Review on A Scientist at the Seashore. Is the human mind really as special as we've always thought? After all, we've discovered that chimpanzees and dolphins are remarkably smart, and more recently scientists have proposed that even lobsters and octopuses demonstrate intelligence. What about machines? IBM's Deep Blue computer posed a formidable threat to world chess champion Gary Kasparov, and another computer recently demonstrated creative reasoning by coming up with an original mathematical proof. Can machines now think, too? In this fascinating and far-ranging exploration of the most advanced studies of animal and artificial intelligence, acclaimed science writer James Trefil presents a compelling and powerful argument to prove that the human mind is a unique organ of intelligence. With great verve and clarity, Trefil shows that animal minds are different not only in degree of intelligence, but in the kinds of intelligence and consciousness they are capable of. What's more, despite the awe-inspiring achievements of computer designers, no computer of any kind or at any time will ever replicate truly human intelligence. However, in a startling and controversial twist to the artificial intelligence debate pitting man against machine, Trefil proffers an astonishing proposition: Computers will one day develop a powerful new kind of intelligence and consciousness all their own. Computers may well become truly conscious in some powerful new way we have yet to understand. Are We Unique? offers a stimulating survey of the vast landscape of intelligence science. Ranging from brain mapping to Gödel's theorem, from complex systems to animal language, this is an intriguing, exhilarating exploration of exactly what it means to be intelligent, and human.

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Human information processing, Thought and thinking, Intellect, Artificial intelligence, Psychology, Comparative