The human brain is a masterpiece! It can recognize so many patterns and store a lot of memories. But how did the brain evolve and can it be mathematically simulated? Ray Kurzweil's book - "How to create a mind", answers these questions through a series of thought experiments.
Through these experiments, he concludes that the brain is a pattern recognition system based on the Hierarchical Hidden Markov Model. He claims that in the not so distant future scientists will be able to not only build an artificial brain but also surpass it. He makes a prediction that when this happens, humans will begin to supplant their brains with additional intelligence to make us smarter!
I don't have much idea of the workings of the brain but I find it hard to believe that something as complex as the working of the human brain could be distilled into a single algorithm.
The Serpent's Revenge: Unusual Tales from the Mahabharata
Sudha Murthy has compiled 25 short stories (some localised) from the fringes of the Mahabharata. Some stories like that of the Akshayapatra are well known whereas the others like the yagna by Janamejaya (great grandson of Arjuna) to slay all snakes (to avenge the death of his father Parikshit) not …read more
I used to wonder if only the English wrote dystopian novels. But Ray Bradbury, an American writer swept that doubt away when I picked up "Fahrenheit 451".
In a distant future, firemen are tasked with searching, raiding and destroying books and snuffing out knowledge. The protagonist of this book, Guy …read more
Untouchable is the story of a teenage boy born into a lower caste of untouchables. He has aspirations like the rest of the kids of his age. Everyday, he is slurred on the basis of his caste and nagged of his ancestors and his subservience to the upper castes. Fed …read more
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
Siddhartha Mukherjee, an oncologist gets his readers up and personal with Cancer through a voluminous history of all the major types of cancer. He scours historical texts, medical journals and all public sources to document the earliest cases, various variants of the disease, treatment procedures, research methodologies and how and …read more
The Grand Rebel
"The Grand Rebel: An impression of Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire" is Dennis Kincaid's love story for his personal hero. He pieced this book from compilations of folk tales, Marathi books, songs and poems. While most of the book is accurate, he seems to exaggerate Shivaji's political influence …read more
Why I killed Gandhi?
It was a coincidence that I started reading this book on the birth anniversary of Gandhi. "Why I killed Gandhi" is a transcript of the defence put up by Nathuram Godse in court. The foreword to this short book quotes a judge who claims that if the Indian legal system …read more
How can you write political satire that can be hard-hitting even when not very direct? You piggy back (pun intended) upon allegory. "Animal Farm" by George Orwell is a satire on Soviet Russia (under Stalin, I guess) drawing upon animals from a barn.
The animals in a barn rise in …read more
When Yuval Noah Harari had to teach history at university, he made notes and "Sapiens" was born from those. But don't let any of this guide your decision to read the book.
The book starts with the question, are we humans different? Does race, religion, gender etc define us? Or …read more
Small is Beautiful
EF Schumacher was a famous economist with the British government. "Small is Beautiful" is his collection of speeches. He covers a lot of topics like the energy crisis, pollution, capitalism, socialism etc. It is in this book that he first makes use of the term "Buddhist economics" which refers to …read more