Read Are the Androids Dreaming Yet? Amazing Brain. Human Communication, Creativity and Free Will. by James Tagg Online


Alan Turing invented the computer, helped win World War II and left us with one of the greatest puzzles of our time - the imitation game. Can computers do everything a human mind can do? Many scientists think we have a tenuous hold on the title, "most intelligent being on the planet". They think it's just a matter of time before computers become smarter than us, and then wAlan Turing invented the computer, helped win World War II and left us with one of the greatest puzzles of our time - the imitation game. Can computers do everything a human mind can do? Many scientists think we have a tenuous hold on the title, "most intelligent being on the planet". They think it's just a matter of time before computers become smarter than us, and then what? This book charts a journey through the science of information, from the origins of language and logic, to the frontiers of modern physics. From Lewis Carroll's logic puzzles, through Alan Turing and his work on Enigma, to John Bell's inequality, and finally the Conway-Kochen 'Free Will' Theorem. How do the laws of physics give us our creativity, our rich experience of communication and, especially, our free will? James Tagg is an inventor and entrepreneur. A pioneer of touchscreen technology, he has founded several companies, including Truphone, the world's first global mobile network. He holds numerous patents, filed in over a hundred countries. He studied Physics and Computer Science at Manchester University, Design at Lancaster University and Engineering at Cambridge University. He lives with his family on a farm in Kent, England.

Title : Are the Androids Dreaming Yet? Amazing Brain. Human Communication, Creativity and Free Will.
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781910464007
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 436 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Are the Androids Dreaming Yet? Amazing Brain. Human Communication, Creativity and Free Will. Reviews

  • Manuel Antão
    2019-06-08 05:40

    Disclaimer: I received a reader's copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.(The book was published on Jan, 2015; review written 10/05/2015)I still remember the feeling I’d when I first read Penrose’s “The Emperor’s New Mind” for the first time in 1991. I’d just finished college. I was full of myself. After reading Penrose I came down to earth in a big way. My education was severely lacking in several “departments”. The impression this book had on me was so great that I still have it at home. I was perusing it after finishing Tagg’s book.I hadn’t “touched” Penrose’s book in a long time, but what still remains with me was his take on the nature of consciousness. Chapter 9 (“Real Brains and Model Brains”) to be exact, is full of my annotations. This particular chapter was so mind-boggling that I remember I couldn’t stop thinking about it. After re-reading this chapter in its entirety, and particularly the two main sections of it: “Where is the seat of consciousness?” and “Is there a Role for Quantum Mechanics in Brain Activity?”, and after more than 20 years, some of the assertions made at the time were as bit as polemic then as they are now, but I’m not so flabbergasted by Penrose’s theory of quantum consciousness of the brain as I was at the time. There are some serious flaws in it. The rest of this review can be found on my blog.

  • Hillary M.
    2019-05-20 13:34

    What an intelligent and interesting book! It delves into the question-- Are humans the most intelligent beings on the planet? In fact, we assume as such, so perhaps a better question would be-- will we -always- be? Computers seem to already be on our level.I had my own thoughts and opinions going into this, and images of Wargames and Watson (who happened to be mentioned in the book to my delight!) came to mind. Reading though this book opened my eyes to things I certainly didn't know about programming, and helped me discover a new level and definition for humanity through creativity. Another random thing, and I'll surely sound like a child, but I loved that this book had pictures-- graphs, photos, charts, and most inspiringly, puzzles, to which we aren't given the answers, and that we actually have to think about using logic and creative solutions. One exercise suggested by James Tagg was to draw 30 circles and fill them with, as an example, coffee logos. He's right-- the first ten are pretty easy-- the next ten are a bit more difficult but manageable. The last ten, that's when things get crazy, and it really sparked creativity in me. I even got a friend to try it, and we spent half an hour working on it and laughing at the hilarious (and comically ingenius) ideas of how to use a brick. The entire book filled me with questions and got me to do more of my own research, which is something I love about good books. The author gives us his opinions but allows us to draw our own conclusions. It's pretty well written, and I never lost interest in the topic. I highly enjoyed it, and it gives you a lot to think about.I got this book for free from Good Reads First reads.

  • William Deakin
    2019-06-16 11:54

    I enjoyed reading this book. Not being a science graduate I found James' thesis interesting but then found it difficult to evaluate the "science" underpinning his arguments. Also I found the references to further material on the author's website and the challenge of the puzzles a distraction.

  • Brian Clegg
    2019-06-04 05:56

    It would be easy to dismiss this book, with the reference in the title to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (the Philip K. Dick book) that Blade Runner was (very loosely) based on, as a vanity project by an entrepreneur who has too much spare time on his hands, but it turns out to be an interesting, if sometimes challenging read.I think that James Tagg's aim was to compare the human brain with what is now and might ever be within the capabilities of an artificial intelligence, and to explore areas like creativity and free will where we may see a difference. And there are times that he does this very well. If you have the patience, you will find a lot to get you thinking in Tagg's meanderings through different aspects of the nature of thought and creativity, plus lots of insights into the developments of thinking computers (though not enough, I think on how AI has been developing using neural networks etc.). But the problem is that the book has no narrative arc - it is a series of almost independent chapters, which throw information at you, but don't tell a cohesive story. This is where the patience is required, but, as mentioned, you will certainly find plenty to make you pause and think, especially if you have accepted at face value the suggestion from IT experts that a conscious, more-intelligent-than-human supercomputer is inevitable.Where I wasn't totally convinced was in a couple of chapters where Tagg tries to prove that there are some things humans can do that a Turing universal computer can't, because he reckons there are some things we can do that aren't computable. It's definitely true that there are some things that aren't computable. And I have to take Tagg's word for it that these include, for instance, Andrew Wiles' proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. But where it gets a bit doubtful is that he says that this also shows, for instance, that a computer could not write some of the music that humans could write, as you can turn Wiles' proof into a musical piece by substituting notes for characters. While this may technically be true a) I don't think any real musician (other than a poser) would want to compose that piece and b) there would still remain an infinite set of musical compositions a computer could produce, of which an infinite subset would be superb music. So does this really mean as Tagg argues that computers can't be creative as we can?Even so, as we journey from the difference between communication with words and with full-on face-to-face human conversation, through microtubules in the brain and the nature of infinity to how creativity works, there is definitely a lot to make you think. I'm less certain about a topic I know a reasonable amount about, quantum theory, where Tagg makes the statement '[the uncertainty principle] does not prevent the universe knowing the information it needs to allow the particle to go about its business in an entirely deterministic fashion. There is a perfectly reliable an predictable wave function that governs the motion of every particle...' - unfortunately the wave equation is probabilistic, not deterministic, so I can't see how this is true.One final concern is a certain sloppiness. In a single chapter, Tagg first confuses Babbage’s Difference Engine and Analytical Engine (he talks about the never-built Analytical Engine, but shows a picture of the Science Museum's completed Difference Engine). He describes the Antikythera mechanism, but that label is applied to a picture of a modern reconstruction. And Milton Sirotta, the nephew of mathematician Ed Kasner, who famously came up with the name ‘googol’ is turned into the more exotic Milton Sirocco. Oh, and there is hardly anything on the website the book keep referencing to find out more. (So I couldn't find out if his opening puzzle, supposedly solved there, was answered in a genuinely creative way, or using the uncreative stock answer.)So it's an interesting mix of a book. It isn't brilliantly written and structured, and it's difficult to draw significant conclusions from it, but it does make you think, and that can't be a bad thing.

  • April
    2019-05-21 08:47

    (Free copy received from NetGalley in exchange for review.)I've always loved robots and the philosophy of robotics. Reading Asimov's I, Robot at an early age probably cinched the love I'd have for these not-quite-human machines and the mystery of their circuitry insides. Therefore, it was a pleasure for me to receive a free copy of Tagg's book, cleverly entitled after Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (which, incidentally, served as the basis for one of my favourite movies of all time). All in all, it is a very interesting book. My main problem is that about 30% of it is about said robotics. Although Tagg cleverly strings together some pretty amazing facts--explaining in full the philosophy of Free Will and excellently putting forward his views--I wanted to see more of the relationship between man and machine, along with the ethics of artificial intelligence. Perhaps it's just the nerd in me, but I suppose my main problem is that I was simply expecting more. Most of the examples given and the content of Tagg's book surround mathematics, philosophy and the physics of the brain, which are fascinating in their own right, but should have been minimised or shortened in length in my opinion. It is simply too long, especially when it covers content I just wasn't devoted to 100%. I was grappling for more of the will-tech-take-over argument; the fundamental ethics of creating robotic humans, the idea surrounding the 'soul' of a machine, but alas I was short-changed on such a request. Simply put, I enjoyed this book a lot and appreciated its content... but I wanted more robots. To summarise the robot debate, however, I'll quote I Robot's Dr. Lanning: "There have always been ghosts in a machine. Random segments of code, grouped together to form unexpected protocols. Why is it that when some robots are left in darkness, they will seek out the light? Why is it that when robots are stored in an empty space, they will group together, rather than stand alone? How do we explain this behavior? Random segments of code? Or is it something more? When does a perceptual schematic become consciousness? When does a difference engine become the search for truth? When does a personality simulation become the bitter mote... of a soul?" Or, in Detective Spooner's case: "Just lights...and clockwork."*For readers interested in robotic drama, however, I will recommend Channel 4's mini-series Humans; a British drama about co-existing synthetics which is currently airing here in the UK. For other viewers, I'm pretty sure you can view it online somewhere, too.

  • Katharine_Ann
    2019-06-16 13:36

    I received a copy of this book from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I was really excited to read about the history of computers and androids, and discover the evolution of the android. Tagg’s belief is that in order to understand the future of computers, we must travel far back into humanity’s past to understand philosophy and the birth of modern mathematics. There is a certain strength to Tagg’s writing and it lies in his ability to create examples. As I have no background in philosophy or mathematics, it was a relief that the author could create simple and easily understood examples for me to be able to digest such complex material. There were examples, logic puzzles, and even brain teasers that were enjoyable to read and fun to try to solve.Tagg’s examples are the strength of his writing: however, they are also where his writing starts to break down and fail. There are simply so many examples that they take over the book. I felt lost in a sea of example upon example as I attempted to understand complex mathematical and philosophical theories, and I found that I kept wondering why? Why am I attempting to understand these theories when I seriously have no interest in doing so? As his examples compounded, I often lost the thread of argument both of the individual chapter and the entire book, and unfortunately became bored by the material I was reading.I thought this book would have more to do with androids. You know, robots. Instead it looks quite closely the use of mathematics in computer programming and our ability to apply mathematical theory towards creative thinking, while not quite successfully relating the subject back to androids. The book also fails to have a definitive conclusion, whereby the author could successfully summarize these theories and ultimately prove his argument that humans will always be superior. It’s unfortunate, really, because this book does contain interesting facts and pieces of history, but these are lost among denser material that is much less engaging. While I believe that this book would be good for those with interests in programming or mathematics, I don’t think it’s a great book for the average reader.

  • M.G. Bell
    2019-06-06 07:41

    Alpha minus for effort. Lots of reviewers say the book is too long, and I can see why, because it tries to answer many of the difficult questions there are, and ends up (if you get there) by listing all those questions and more, in a kind of cosmic 'to do list', which will keep James Tagg going for the next three hundred years or so.I don't think it's too long; if anything it's too short, because the only section in which the author's argument is fully expounded is the quantum mechanics section, which arrives at the conclusion (against the evidence, in my view, but hey, I am no nuclear physicist) that free will exists simply on the basis that a photon doesn't know which way it is spinning until you ask it.The first half of the book, roughly speaking, is a tour d'horizon of the scientific underpinnings of our world, emphasizing the uncertainties and questions that remain to be dealt with. Of which indeed the shattering impact of quantum mechanics is the greatest component, so it is not wrong that the latter part of the book focuses so minutely on that problem to the exclusion of others.The explanation of quantum theory is excellently done, in a way that is understandable without being simplistic, and probably better than any other that I have encountered. At the end of the matter, my Bell namesake's theorem (a distant relative) is not as crucial to the question of free will as the author proposes. The answer is rather to be found in the operation of consciousness; but that is another subject.Anyone interested in tackling life's hard problems can benefit from reading this book. If, like the author and me, they end up by admitting defeat, there is no shame in that.

  • Melek
    2019-05-16 08:48

    The first thing to state about this book is, it is. Too. Long. I don't know if it wouldn't feel this long had I been more interested in it, but I don't think so. There was just too many unnecessary pages there.For one thing, the examples. Oh, those examples. While the writer did his best to help us explain the matter, he did so by giving so many examples that there were times I had to go back and check the title of the chapter to remember what I was reading about. That made book a lot harder to get through and I considered DNF'ing more than a few times.Apart from that, I liked that this book was basically a comparative study about human brain and machines, if I am to describe loosely. (I wish I understood it better though. It certainly isn't for you if you have problems with understanding theories and formulas and the sort) I liked that it wasn't all words but there were also pictures (who doesn't like a book with pictures?) and the quotes were interesting. The writing wasn't boring either, though I don't think I can go with "compelling".Overall, it was a 2/5 read.

  • Karen
    2019-05-22 07:40

    I'd like to thank the author for a copy of the book and the chance to review it through the GoodReads First Reads program.~Are the Androids Dreaming Yet? – James Tagg~I was kinda expecting a book about robots and how much they’ve advanced to the point that we are on the verge of being replaced in every aspect of our lives if we aren’t more careful. That’s not what this book is about as a whole. While there were a lot of facts, explanations, and examples, there were still a lot of material that seemed over my head. I’m a nerdy science/math geeky girl (no pocket-protector but I do wear glasses) and some of the material stuffed into the chapters didn’t seem relevant to the topic of the chapter. I found myself flipping back to the beginning to make sure that I didn’t accidently skip a few pages. While I did like the book and enjoyed reading it, it’s not for the casual reader. You need to have some appreciation/understanding for science (physics), philosophy, and math. If you are in these fields professionally, you may enjoy it more than I, a nerd looking for a geek-fix.

  • Eva
    2019-05-22 13:33

    With a background as an inventor and entrepreneur, James Tagg has compiled an extensive collection of discussions on many science-related topics, including computers and artificial intelligence. He writes in a way that is easy to follow for the non-science audience.Every chapter contains gems of information; the visuals enhance the text and help engage the readers. To answer the question, "What Sparks Creativity?", Tagg recommends that "There are many things you can do to unleash your creative potential. New ideas are often sparked through linking disparate ideas. Expose yourself to as any ideas as you can, read widely, attend conferences, visit customers. Creativity requires peace and quiet. I personally get up early every morning. This gives me a good two hours of uninterrupted time every day. It's also the part of the day when my brain works best. Others prefer to work late into the late." (p.305) Explore the wide range of topics and enjoy !Thank you GoodReads for the book.

  • Cory
    2019-05-17 12:33

    Review of a Goodreads First Reads selection:This book is a mixed bag. The author's basic goal seems to be to demonstrate that the universe is not deterministic, that free will exists, and that machines have not (yet) achieved true creativity. He does a fine job of this, and I can honestly say that the entire book was a fun series of thought experiments (even the parts that challenged me beyond my capability). However:--The book is too long. There's a lot of material that doesn't seem to be necessary to make the point. --There are many references to additional material on the author's website, which is not found there. --Although there are not as many spelling and grammatical errors often found in small-publisher or self published works, there are some important ones (like misspelling Stephen Hawking's name).

  • Heather
    2019-05-18 09:32

    This is a comprehensive book about how humans think vs how machines "think" and if it would be possible for machines to ever achieve consciousness. If you like science based books, then you will like this one. Mr. Tagg follows the course of human consciousness and the evolution of machines. I definitely learned a few things. It is also interactive in the sense that there are puzzles throughout for you to solve. The answers are not in the book but in Mr. Tagg's website.I enjoyed this book, but do admit it is not for everyone. If you like fact based books, then you will enjoy this one.***I received this book through GoodReads Member Giveaway. The opinion is soley my own.***

  • Denis Mcgrath
    2019-05-24 11:41

    The author poses a number of questions in his popular science rendition of artificial intelligence, robotics, androids and a philosophical-theological quandary regarding free will. Can we calculate ad infinitum mathematical models to resolve our problem? Is the universe like a clockwork mechanism or are photons mysteriously at work? Are androids capable of creative decision making in the thrust to develop them to imitate human behavior? The book is full of illustrations, historical experiments, puzzles and a bit daunting for the average reader but rewarding nonetheless.Note: Although I was provided an e-copy I purchased my own paperback edition for this review.

  • Chris Davidge
    2019-06-15 08:41

    Very interesting book. Thank you James for sending me a copy. I won this book through Goodreads giveaways. It covers many complex concepts from computer development, mathematics and philosophy to examine how the human brain can be compared to computer systems, and the limitations of both. I'll admit, I glazed over a bit when reading the heavy math sections, but there we're enough fun puzzles, historical anecdotes and interesting ideas to keep it moving forward. Cheers!

  • Samantha
    2019-05-29 11:57

    I won this book on March 25, 2015 via Goodreads Firstread Giveaway. I havent received my copy.