The Cognitive Approach to Conscious Machines

The Cognitive Approach to Consciousn Machines book coverThe Cognitive Approach to Conscious Machines
by Pentti O. Haikonen
Principal Scientist, Cognitive Technology, Nokia Research
Imprint Academics. March 2003, 300 pp., ISBN 0907845428.

Review of the book ‘The Cognitive Approach to Conscious Machines’ by Pentti O. Haikonen, Principal Scientist, Cognitive Technology, Nokia Research.

The first thing to say about this book is that it is quite complete. For anyone interested in Machine Consciousness, this is an excellent resource as it covers virtually all open issues of this research field. The first part of the book is an introduction to computation, Artificial Intelligence and Neural Networks, so it is worth reading for those who don’t have a good background in Computer Science (even though if you are not particularly interested in Machine Consciousness).

The simple and direct writing style of the book makes it quite easy to read, even to the non-native English speaker (like me). It is actually amazing how the author manages to deal with lots of controversial and complicated issues with such a clarity and simplicity. After having read some other books on consciousness I have to say that this is the one that you can read and have the real feeling that you actually understand everything. But make no mistake; this apparent simplicity doesn’t imply that the author doesn’t approach the hard issues of Machine Consciousness. On the contrary, hard problems like the generation of speech are brilliantly tackled down and practical solutions are always explained.

Part II of the book is an introduction to consciousness and cognition, hard concepts that again are clearly introduced and explained. Part III of the book covers the author’s Machine Consciousness proposal, the cognitive architecture. I think that someone with a strong background in Computer Science (part I) and also in the scientific study of consciousness (part II) could skip parts I and II. However, I enjoyed reading them as they are presented from a particular straightforward point of view. Haikonen’s cognitive architecture described in part III of the book is something that anyone seriously interested in Machine Consciousness should read. I personally don’t know of any other framework that covers in such a broad range the problem of Machine Consciousness.

Finally the two last chapters are quite thought provoking and provide an insight of what the field of Machine Consciousness could lead us to in the future.

 

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