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Publisher's Summary

A best-selling author, neuroscientist, and computer engineer unveils a theory of intelligence that will revolutionize our understanding of the brain and the future of AI. 

For all of neuroscience's advances, we've made little progress on its biggest question: How do simple cells in the brain create intelligence? Jeff Hawkins and his team discovered that the brain uses map-like structures to build a model of the world - not just one model, but hundreds of thousands of models of everything we know. This discovery allows Hawkins to answer important questions about how we perceive the world, why we have a sense of self, and the origin of high-level thought. A Thousand Brains heralds a revolution in the understanding of intelligence. It is a big-think book, in every sense of the word.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.  

©2021 Jeff Hawkins (P)2021 Basic Books

What listeners say about A Thousand Brains

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Started well, ended terrible

Very interesting idea, pity about the woke gibberish at the end. Just stick to the first chapters

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Immensely exciting

The theory presented in the first section of A Thousand Brains is the most intriguing idea about intelligence that I've come across. Hawkins doesn't dumb anything down, but still manages to pain a concise and clear picture of his insights such that anyone (with a little effort) can understand.

The ideas presented in the latter sections are fantastic in scope and exhilerating to think about! His urging in the final chapter to study and teach about the brain feels sorely needed, and I only hope that society at large embraces this point of view.

Highly recommend if you're at all interested in the subject matter.

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  • Mike
  • 02-03-2021

Hawkins has Purchase on the "Easy" Problem

The Thousand Brains theory of intelligence - that the neocortex is composed of many thousands of columns of connected neural structures based on older grid and place cells, which create and link together models of the world, and also vote together to construct hierarchically more nested models - is brilliant.  The number of empirical constraints it solves is incredibly satisfying.  Citing just two examples, 1) what/where pathways in the brain are explained if "reference frames" attach to objects in the what pathway, but attach to our bodies in the where pathway, and 2) the perceptual binding problem is solved - when cortical columns agree on an object via consensus voting, they will naturally have different sensory inputs, thus they contribute diverse sensory models to a complete perception.  I'm being terse here because 1) this is incredibly exicting, and 2) the book is so smoothly written that it itself is the perfect way to get these ideas across.  No review will suffice.  So please, read this book!

I will only add, Hawkins is a thorough physicalist when it comes to consciousness, such that this and his previous book insist on using the word "intelligence" when one might want to see the word "consciousness".  Unlike his previous book, Hawkins confronts this notion and dedicates a chapter to it here, in which the "hard" problem ala Chalmers is recognized.  As a physicalist who acknowledges the hard problem myself, I nonetheless find Hawkins' commentary here unsatisfying.  For example, is the qualia of green a cortical map of green experiences with dimensions corresponding to green surface orientations?  I'm not convinced.  However, as Hawkins notes, qualia indeed seem "out there".  In other words, qualia have the quale of location, an aspect nicely satisfied by reference frames at the core of the Thousand Brains theory.  A theory which, as testified to in the beginning of this review, is brilliant and satisfying in its own right.

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  • 匿名
  • 02-04-2021

first part ok second nonsense

the first part of the book is fantastic . i advise the reader who is interested in neural network kind of artificial intellegence to concentrate on the first part of the book . the second part is just superficial mix of naive sci fi and political opinions such as: global warming is old stupid brain thinking while feminism is the new intelegence brain . there are really many chapters on this . i consider them really very shallow and waste of time. reader can just ignore them altogether.

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  • Warren
  • 15-03-2021

Starts out good, ends up a train wreck

Part 1 was good. It was interesting and to the point of the subject of the book. After that it was a complete waste of time for me as it degenerated into rants by the author of what he considers to be “true” vs. “false”. That would be fine if the book was supposed to be about climate change, etc., but it did not belong in this kind of book. I could not care less about his opinions on the cause of climate change or any other similar issues, but it seems like he mainly wanted to lecture us on social issues (the final two-thirds of the book) and used the title simply as a hook.

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  • D
  • 28-03-2021

Started with insights, ended with propaganda

This is a not place to push your beliefs about population control and anti religion. This should be about brain and Ai. Very dissapointing.

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  • Panashe
  • 10-03-2021

Mind blowing

Jeff Hawkins has done it again, giving us more insight into the functioning of the brain. He goes all the way this time laying a convincing foundation for the underlying algorithm of the neocortex. He also goes further - much much further to the implications and future of humanity. A truly eye opening and potentially game changing read.

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  • andre_arroyo
  • 08-04-2021

Delightful thoughts on intelligence

The book proposes a plausible, though incomplete, theory on how intelligence might arise in our brains. Most implementation details are not explored. The possibility of alternative solutions is dismissed. Yet, following the thought process of the author is delightful and insightful, and you can form your own theory about the brain. The last chapters, about intelligence and implications for the future of humanity, goes close or even beyond science fiction, and make you challenge your beliefs.

Different from most books, this one is written in extremely precise language and very rational thought structures, although sometimes repetitive.

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  • Joseph
  • 07-04-2021

Nothing new to see here

Old ideas about neural networks + grating self-agrandizement + endless repetition + unrelated musings about culture + unrelated musings about aliens = new book?

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  • Matthew Duncan
  • 05-04-2021

Reference Frames all the way down

Explains the development of the neocortex based on logic evolutionary paths. Explains Vernon Mountcastles replicated cortical columns' ability to model and represent all forms of information used to think, reason, predict and plan. Does not explain consciousness, but I can do that with the building blocks provided.

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  • Frank
  • 05-04-2021

Now we’re getting somewhere in AI

This appears to be the first theory in artificial intelligence and brain science that actually lays out an architecture of the brain consistent with the experimental evidence and that provides a pathway to actual intelligence. Finally – progress lies ahead.

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  • Alfred J. Verunac
  • 05-04-2021

A sensible & rational explanation of how OUR brains function-

After reading this book, it’s funny but the feeling of motivation and excited my old brain has created, is precisely the emotion the author had hoped to convey, ironically contrary to his ultimate mission of explaining the function of the neocortex or new brain! Actually very humorous if one chooses to look at it this way. I absolutely loved it. I’m going to read it again right now and try to encourage as many humans to read it as possible. Fascinating! Thank you, Jeff! Perhaps you saw my application to Numenta. I’m in the process of advancing my career and I can think of no better choice. I can only assume you are looking for humans on your team that believe and wish to advance your mission.

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  • Max
  • 10-03-2021

Short thesis with plenty of tangents

The first third was a neat little intro to neuroscience in general. Would have been nice for me to read it 10 years ago.

The actual thesis doesn't need a book though. One chapter would have been sufficient.

Half to two thirds of the book are a weird tangent on existential risk, machine intelligence and extraterrestrial search for life. I like those topics, but I did not expect the author to cover these topics. I don't see really why he thought it necessary to put them into this book.

What I found very disappointing is his argument on existential risk by AI. It's very handwavy saying it's no biggie. He is very confident of his rebuttal as he mentions again and again how he showed that there is no reason to worry about AGI. He does not bother to go into the common arguments of intelligence explosion and other concepts like e.g. the orthogonality thesis. The author seems very optimistic that an intelligent agent will have "reasonable" goals. The same is extrapolated to extraterrestrial life. Well, the confidence that he signaled made me doubt his other statements that he is so confident about.

A mixed big all in all. Not worth to read the book wrt the actual thesis. Nice intro to neuroscience if you need one. And regarding the future stuff on AI, etc., there are plenty of better books with more nuanced analyses.

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  • Michlas Pedersen
  • 06-03-2021

A great book for an AI and human cognition student

This book is a great read and/or listen and has spoken to me on three different fronts.

First and foremost, the content in this book is relevant to my field of study, Artificial Intelligence and Data with a focus on Human Cognition. Here I find especially the second part of this book both informative and intriguing.
The various suggestion laid out in this book, such as the implementation of a global grid with remotely connected intelligent agents for analyzation of various patterns such as weather prediction, will allow the engineering minded reader to really dream and mold over the prospects of such a future system.

Secondly the philosophical side of me finds the last chapters interesting. In these chapters Jeff Hawkins moves a bit away from the discoveries of his work and talks about various ifs, buts, when, how and whys of the future. I find that Mr. Hawkins here gives not only an educated and well thought out array of information, but also achieves what is often lost in these kinds of works, to make sure the reader understands that this is speculation on his part, speculation that he finds not only important for him to give to us, but also important that we, layman and expert alike, actively participate in.

Lastly, and honestly least of these three points, I find his reformulation of some of Richard Dawkins points about Memes rather well timed. While I factually agree with Dr. Dawkins points about how the spread of the religion meme acts, in many ways, as a virus. I find that his original formulation of the issue, can be considered somewhat of a rhetorical balance act, one where I find that the outcome in many situations can be negative. In this instance Mr. Hawkins strikes a nice middle ground by choosing his example and formulation more carefully. I’ll not delve into this, so as not to spoil the realization for other readers.

All in all, I really enjoyed the audio book, and look forward to receiving my hard copy in the coming days.
Jeff Hawkins has if not renewed then bolstered my interest in a field I already find very fascinating. Thank you for your work Mr. Hawkins.

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