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Douglas Hofstadter & Daniel C. Dennett - The Mind's I

Hofstadter and Dennett have compiled a series of 27 essays (some are excerpts from full length books) from a variety of authors which they comment on after presenting. The essays deal with a variety of topics including artificial intelligence, evolution, science fiction, philosophy, reductionism, and consciousness. The essays of course vary greatly in style (and 'interestingness'), but most of them are very thought provoking. There is a final section of the book entitled 'further reading' which includes almost 20 pages of additional suggestions for the topics the reader is most interested in.

While reading the essays I was frequently reminded of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. Since this book was written before that series aired, I don't know if the writers of ST:TNG used the book as a source of inspiration or if this book just happens to reflect much of what has been written or theorized regarding some of the key elements which the creators of ST:TNG have also capitalized on. In any event, many of the musings the various contributors to this book explore are fascinating to ponder. Although the book is not new, many of the thoughts and ideas are timeless. I'm sure the field of artificial intelligence has progressed greatly in the past 15+ years, but the concepts and history of the discipline are well presented.

Some of my favorite articles in the book included Hofstadter's own "A Conversation with Einstein's Brain", "Prelude...Ant Fugue", the excerpts from Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, and Raymond Smullyan's "Is God a Taoist". The Mind's I isn't the type of work that you can just breeze right through or that you may want to read for pure entertainment or relaxation, but if you want to have your thoughts sparked then you really shouldn't miss this book.

"Exhilarating" -- Washington Post [an error occurred while processing this directive]