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4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  4,406 Ratings  ·  351 Reviews
303 pages
Published 2005 by CampusPress (first published 2004)
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Okay. This book and I didn't get along terribly well, but the experience was nevertheless a valuable one. So, 3 stars, even though I disagree fundamentally with some of the theory and the style of presentation. This will be a long one; bear with me.

To put it simply.... Jeff Hawkins is a very intelligent computer engineer who thinks he understands brains in ways that no neuroscientist ever has before, mostly because he is willing to stand by a grand picture where most neuroscientists want to inve
Apr 01, 2009 M.L. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"On Intelligence (and Condescension)"

The only thing wrong with Jeff Hawkins's book is Jeff Hawkins. His idea for the brain basic structure is exciting. (basically he argues that the brain works off a near-recursive prediction model based on stimulus and memory.) And he's really into intelligent machines. In fact, he may have convinced me not to fear the giant robot armies that have plagued my dreams. Nope. Now I can fear the infinitely-sized hyper-conscious EverMind that operates mainly in the
Oct 20, 2007 DJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the brain and artificial intelligence
Shelves: brain
Hawkins' theory is that the entire sensory cortex runs a single cortical algorithm to perform all of its sensory functions.

This single algorithm simply looks for patterns. Layers and layers of brain cells performing this pattern recognition result in our sensory experience. Here is an example of how this might work for vision:

Layer 1 receives sensory input from the outside world and looks for general patterns of lines.
Layer 2 receives input from layer 1 and looks for patterns of edges from those
Jul 27, 2011 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jeff Hawkins has done a remarkable thing. He's essentially synthesised all of the information we have on how the brain works into a simple, elegant and utterly comprehensible theory of intelligence that will pave the way to the creation of truly intelligent machines. That's a massive claim I know but I honestly don't think I have ever read a simpler, more straightforward account of what intelligence is.

Hawkins' theory, in a nutshell, is that intelligence is a manifestation of the brains ability
Rich Brown
Condescending, but interesting. A thousand examples too long. Or, to put it another way, the examples were 1 + 999 too many. Or as one might say, 10*100 examples are too many. In case I haven't made myself clear, think of it this way: more than 200 + 800 examples are in this book. This is heady stuff, so let me say it again. 400 + 600 examples are here, and more.

Computers compute, but brains do pattern recognition. Then they do pattern recognition on the patterns they've recognized. Then they re
Vinit Nayak
Oct 19, 2015 Vinit Nayak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.23 stars

Awesome read even if you aren't familiar at all with AI, neural networks, or anything tech related. This book takes a stab at trying to explain how we learn, and breaks down the steps that our brain goes through during the process of learning and recollection.
It's a really good mix of easy to understand, higher level philosophical arguments as well as lots of technical details when he get's into the details about how the neocortex performs it's actions, from sensory input all the way t
Faisal Nawab
Oct 26, 2011 Faisal Nawab rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is a take on understanding (human-like) intelligence. The author introduces memory prediction framework to explain the kind of intelligence humans possess. He defines intelligence as the ability to predict. This ability (prediction) can then take different shapes, like decision-making and even creativity. He view the brain as a pattern-recognition device. Different sensory inputs, he claims, are treated in (almost) the same way by the brain.

The treatment of the subject was very pragmat
Shea Levy
Moderately entertaining speculation on how intelligence works on a neural level in humans. A lot of his criticisms of neuroscience as practiced rung true to me (a more-than-layman less-than-initiate for this field) 10 years later, though I wouldn't be as extreme as he is. The framework he puts forth is at least plausible and has a certain elegance to it. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of support provided, and a lot of the assertions he makes (particularly his high confidence in Mountcast ...more
Eric Hamilton
I picked this up on sale but I can't finish it. I wanted a bright person's coherent and logical progression through a model of the brain. As bright as the author might be, he is astonishingly tone deaf to how distracting the relentless implicit and direct accolades he gives to himself are to the science he is trying to explain. The book might be summarized as a tapestry of ....introduction (all about me!)...look at me again! at me!...look at me! you see me?! etc ...more
Aug 20, 2013 Mani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed thoroughly. Read it twice.
Sarah Soderberg
Jeff Hawkins is most commonly known for inventing one of the first handheld computer devices, the palm pilot, and founding the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. Although he has expressed interest in artificial intelligence his whole life, he has also expressed a deep interest for Neuroscience as shown in his book On Intelligence. In this book he brings the ideas of artificial intelligence and neuroscience together to present his theory of how the brain processes information. Here are ...more
Dimitri Yatsenko
Mr Hawkins' dream was to encapsulate a basic theory of intelligence in a straightforward plainly written book. Written with science writer Sandra Blakeslee, "On Intelligence" combines Mr Hawkins' motivational autobiography, a scientific treatise on natural and artificial intelligence, and a philosophical discussion delivered in a no-nonsense, unembellished, yet stimulating narrative.

At its core, "On Intelligence" postulates that all higher cognitive functions are built on a single relatively sim
Aug 27, 2007 kareem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
original review:

This is the second book that Phil Terry asked us to read as part of the Creative Good fellows program. It was writted by Jeff Hawkins, creator of the PalmPilot and Treo. Turns out Jeff's other passion is trying to understand how the brain works.

This book lays out his theory of how the mind works in layman's terms. Hawkins premise is that the brain uses a "memory-prediction" framework to operate, and states that his model fills in a lot of h
Jun 08, 2010 أحمد rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: كمبيوتر
هذا الكتاب .. و حياتي يدوران حول شغفين

الاول هو برمجة الكمبيوترات المحمولة و الثاني هو الذكاء

هكذا بدأ المؤلف الكتاب

لا اعتقد اني ابالغ ... الكتاب ثورة في العلم و يؤدي حاليا الي ثورة في التقنية موضوع الكتاب ببساطة شديدة هو ان الذكاء البشري هو نوع من انواع المعالجة التي يمكن محاكاتها باستخدام الحاسب

الفكرة هنا مختلفة تماما عن علم (الشبكات العصبية) فهي تقترب من فكرة (كيف يعمل المخ البشري) اعتقد ان الكثير من الابحاث في الادراك و علم الخلايا العصبية و علم النفس قد وصلت الي نتائج حتي الان تؤكد صحة النظر
Daron Yondem
Oct 02, 2013 Daron Yondem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-learn
I can't really say this was a practical book but it definitely gives a different perspective on how the brain works and how the current AI implementations are totally off the target. It's enlightening. Worth the read if you are a software developer for sure.
Jun 16, 2008 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nerd-stuff
Interesting high-level theory of how the neocortex works, and a call to create "intelligent" machines that use the same algorithm/structure to perform pattern matching, hierarchical learning and prediction
This engaging, non(too)technical book offers a new and plausible theory of how the brain, or more specifically the neocortex, works.

When I learned about the existence of this book, I was drawn to it for a number of reasons. For one thing, I'm intrigued by the faculty we call intelligence: what is it, exactly? For another, I, like the author Jeff Hawkins, have long been fascinated by the brain and how it works. And finally I was eager to read a book on neuroscience by a nonscientist, for Hawkins,
Manuel Alfonseca
This book offers what the author considers a revolutionary framework to understand the workings of the brain. Unfortunately, the author gets carried by his own enthusiasm for his pet theory, to the point that he speaks as though all his ideas, suggestions and suppositions were facts, and sometimes it's difficult for the reader to notice the difference. One must read the appendix with proposals of experimental confirmation / refutation, to see clearly that most of the ideas in the book are actual ...more
Jess Hollmeier
Dec 26, 2016 Jess Hollmeier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even for a complete noon like me this was a fantastic read and I learned so much about how our brain works and understand the 'struggle' with AI so much better now. I wish he would write a follow up as this one is already more then 10 years old...
Feb 28, 2014 Wersly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best of this book: the chapter where Hawkins lays down his theory of cortical function and expands on its implications. Really thought provoking stuff; he's got a way of extrapolating and coming to big, far reaching conclusions from the nitty-gritty of cortical wiring and structure. This is largely due to Hawkins attaching an overarching 'theory of intelligence' to his descriptions and illustrations of cortical organization. I find this perspective much needed given the current state of science ...more
Jan 05, 2016 G rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: neuroscience
If to put it short, Palm Pilot-inventor Jeff Hawkins book explains his memory-prediction framework theory of the brain and describes some of its consequences.
Well, that's makes sense to me, as I've learned from professor Wang in my first lectures of neuroscience: "Brain is just a surviving organ...".
Sure, but there is always the Homunculus, that little bastard that is preventing us to perceive our realm directly, straightforwardly. Every time we turn to study ourselves we get into mess with that
May 23, 2014 Mikal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hawkins book highlights how difficult it is to make predictions in areas of deep experience. Fundamentally the cortex theory is clearly presented but belabored. Sadly, Hawkins makes no efforts to cite or reference sources, leaving the reader to trust Hawkins at his word or do due diligence on their own to review the neuroscience community's perspective of his work.

On Intelligence has two major goals: define intelligent machines and the roll of intelligence machines in future society and to defi
Don Skotch Vail
Nov 07, 2009 Don Skotch Vail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The adrenaline ran through my veins as I read this book, because I loved it so much. I think he is onto something, although I suspect he got some of the details wrong. When I tried to map out what he was describing, somethings didn't look like they would pan out. E.g. "names" flowing up and down the cortical regions were very vague, and how they could still be static names while getting less specific at each region was confusing to me.

He doesn't do a great job of describing how he think the cort
Mar 14, 2009 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hawkins comes off really arrogant but if you can get past that he has some really interesting ideas on how the brain works. I totally don't agree with some of his criticisms of AI research and he totally doesn't understand why Searle's Chinese room argument is complete crap. I also think he belittles the Turing test a bit too much, I think there is definitely still value in it, although I understand that it's not the only or best way to demonstrate intelligence. My last criticism is that his fra ...more
Vikram Kalkura
Now I am not scared of Robots it machines taking over us in near future. They can never overtake what our brain functions. They can just be faster than what our brain thinks but can never beat it.
If you want to know more about how your brain functions or how complex your brain is, then it's a good read. The 6 layers in your cortex that completely runs your body and mind is fascinating.
Good explanation on why human is the only living being that can talk and had so many languages. And why anim
Zarathustra Goertzel
As another commenter noted, the full title is, "On Intelligence (and Condescension)."

A lot of the content isn't particularly new or insightful. However some chapters are written well and portray a nice imagery >_<.

Expect the first 2-3 chapters to be full of condescending descriptions of how "artificial intelligence" has utterly failed up until now.

His descriptions in chapters 4, 5 and more-so 6 can be good =]

And his responses on consciousness and creativity are ok, typical responses.
Ved Petkar
Jun 26, 2016 Ved Petkar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The real strength comes from Hawkins' ability to transform the material into something absorbable for a non-technical, non-scientific audience. The book is scientific, but uses frequent analogies and "ELI5" techniques to keep the user engaged. On Intelligence will change the way you think of the connection between the world, your body, your brain and your mind.
Mar 11, 2014 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gem. An absolutely clear description of how Hawkins hypothesizes brain mechanics & thought.

The only issue I had was with the chapter describing consciousness. It had notes of shallow hubris.

Highly recommend.
Sep 04, 2013 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
WOW, that's some heavy stuff. Learning how your brain works...
Last chapter is the best for sci-fi people and parents. So many possibilities.
Goes great w/ the other book from Bill Gates suggested reading list: 13 things that Don't make sense.

Ramkumar Ramachandra
Pop science. He uses very little data and argues very vaguely- in some parts, he's almost coercing the data to fit his interpretation.

Very light read. Might fascinate and entertain a bit, but not teach.
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How is it going? 8 40 Apr 09, 2014 07:06PM  
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“It is the ability to make predictions about the future that is the crux of intelligence.” 4 likes
“Deep Blue didn't win by being smarter than a human; it won by being millions of times faster than a human. Deep Blue had no intuition. An expert human player looks at a board position and immediately sees what areas of play are most likely to be fruitful or dangerous, whereas a computer has no innate sense of what is important and must explore many more options. Deep Blue also had no sense of the history of the game, and didn't know anything about its opponent. It played chess yet didn't understand chess, in the same way a calculator performs arithmetic bud doesn't understand mathematics.” 4 likes
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