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The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  305 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Our minds are working all the time, but we rarely stop to think about how they work. The human mind has many different ways to think, says Marvin Minsky, the leading figure in artificial intelligence and computer science. We use these different ways of thinking in different circumstances, and some of them we don't even associate with thinking. For example, emotions, intuit ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published November 7th 2006 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2006)
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Oh Marvy. After the three chapters, I was ready to stop reading -- you simply weren't saying anything important. But then you whipped out a well-placed discussion and your take on the whole consciousness debate; it pulled me back in. Alas, you slipped again as you barely held on to me as I waded (and progressively sped up out of disinterest) through the next chapters.

I get it, you're a computer scientist and attack the understanding of the brain as if it is hierarchically organized in the same (
Nathan Nifong
Not that Minsky isn't an intelligent guy, he just isn't on the right track. His model of the human brain is complete shit. In fact its an awful stretch to even call it a model of the human brain, because Minsky has never studied the brain. As far as I could tell he just sat around and thought about thinking and then he wrote a book about what he came up with. There are a lot of crazy models we could come up with just from introspection, only one is right, Its not this one. If you are trying to a ...more
For certain books I find myself reading the Goodreads reviews to see if my responses jibe with those of others, especially in terrain foreign to me, as AI is. I have been impressed with the reviews as mostly intelligent perspectives on the book and author.

I was delighted to be in the hands of a clearly brilliant thinker, and was wowed by the breadth of his knowledge of a variety of disciplines and individual great minds, past and present. But I too found the book less than exciting and coherent
Zarathustra Goertzel
Some parts were very good, and I'm generally glad I read it.

The idea of viewing emotions as ways to think and the initial parts dealing with that are awesome.

The critic-selector idea is kinda cool, but taken too far.

The view of (the false dichotomy of) conscious and unconscious parts of our minds is also quite nice.

There are also many nice gems of insight scattered through the book, as Minsky just gets many things that are often missed :-D

Alas, the discussion of "the Self" and conscious "experie
i am learning about what people talk about when they talk about their self.

"perhaps the most popular concept of what we are assumes that we each have a central core- some sort of invisible spirit or ghost that comes to us an an anonymous gift. however, a more realistic view would recognize that each human mind that exists today is one results of a process in which decillions of previous creatures on earth spent their lives reacting, adjusting, adapting, and dying so that some of their descendant
Aug 07, 2007 Bud rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in cognition and emotion
Well, I am still in the middle of the book, and I am kind of reserving judgment. Of course, as one of the leading figures of Artificial Intelligence research, Marvin Minsky comes at the whole question from a computational background and his existing theories of the mind as a collection of largely independent, though interrelated, subroutines or functions. For him, emotion seems to play a role in adjudicating and / or context switching between these multiple functions that all may be clamoring fo ...more
Scott Neal Reilly
Apr 11, 2008 Scott Neal Reilly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: AI/cognitive science geeks
This is not a book for everyone, but if you're an AI/cognitive science geek, it's worth checking out. It lies in a kind of no-man's land between popular science and a real technical treatise. There is a lot of good detailed content, but not nearly as much as I wanted. On the other hand, Minsky isn't really a great popular writer (I'm currently reading Kevin Kelly's "Out of Control" which is an excellent instance of popular science, as are most of Brian Greene's books). The title was also a bit d ...more
Ricardo Dirani
This is a book to set your mind on fire. Why we want what we want? We choose among the things we want, but can we choose *what* we want? Is there a self behind the wheel managing all of our often contradictory drives? The answer is as simple as surprising. This book is sort of a sequel to Society of Mind, which I'm yet to read.
Nov 15, 2010 notgettingenough marked it as to-read
Shelves: science-sort-of
Being part of a project proposal at the moment has sent me down the road of looking at what the Japanese are doing with robots and somehow this got me here.

I'm guessing it all would have been awfully useful to look at a couple of months ago.


The Japanese see no sense of difference between themselves and everything around them.

The Japanese see no sense of separateness in the way we do between body and mind.

These two ideas might help come up with different ways of approaching the problem at
Albert Chen
Fantastic book. Willing to explore issues about the mind that many people dismiss as unnecessarily obtruse to understanding the mind. The concepts outlined here are excellent for anyone looking to understand how their mind works for the purposes of self-improvement and to answer big questions. Highly original. The structure and writing style of the book is very clever... See if you can spot the revelation while reading... It is never explicitly stated.
Only parts of this book were interesting. He activates his M.I.T.ness about halfway through and it got very boring, too much detail about artificial intelligence robots.

However, this book inspired my project, "The Way You Think" map from senior portfolio.
I really wanted to like this book more, and it does have a number of fascinating ideas, but overall I found it rather incoherent and undirected, and ultimately unsatisfying. It was hard to make myself get through it all, and I can't point to any particular insight that will change the way I think about AI or intelligence in general. Minsky is a great thinker, but I'd give this book a pass.
Jeremy Trouncer
AI book that takes an extremely high level approach. Minksy advocates the use of the multiple systems and a selection criteria system when bulding AI systems. Didn't particularily like the writing style and not immediately useful unless working on AI projects.
I start some "serious" reading for Xmas holidays.
The book has to be EXCELLENT because on page eleven it already quotes Richard Feynman. Well Minsky is teacher @MIT and an authority in intelligence (including artificial one), but all that is secondary. :-)
One of the geniuses behind modern artificial intelligence offers a very watered down, but still interesting view into neuroscience and processing of the human mind. Good for now, but I'd like to review one of his more technical works soon.
Full of interesting information reducing the mind and emotions to mere machinery. Or at least an extensive attempt to do so. It is a rather boring read, but still opened my eyes to seeing the mind in a new light.
Lubena Amen
This book was very complex. It has been a while since I have read it. I really enjoyed the complexity and the intelligence in this book.
Alon Gutman
I was really surprise not to like this book, maybe it was too hard for me to understand what he is talking about, no sure.
I am so something that i can't remember what its called---miles steele, 5 years, about suffering.
Bob Collins
Fascinating book. Minsky really challenged my thinking about thinking and consciousness!
Readers Paradise
books full of facts about "why do people act they way they are?"
Nice continuation of the Society of Mind.
Joe Foley
A great partner book to "The Society of Mind"
Siraaj Khandkar
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Marvin Lee Minsky (born August 9, 1927) is an American cognitive scientist in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), co-founder of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AI laboratory, and author of several texts on AI and philosophy. Marvin Lee Minsky was born in New York City to an eye surgeon and a Jewish activist, where he attended The Fieldston School and the Bronx High School of Science ...more
More about Marvin Minsky...
The Society of Mind Computation: Finite and Infinite Machines (Automatic Computation) Perceptrons - Expanded Edition: An Introduction to Computational Geometry (Expanded) Semantic Information Processing Robotics

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