On Intelligence Audiobook Review

“Intelligence” is a frequently used word, but it is a very difficult and complicated one to define. The author of this book makes what could be very complicated subject matter easy to understand for the lay person, but the topics can also be enjoyed by those in the field of artificial intelligence (AI).  He uses common words to explain difficult subject matter, and warns the reader of the one or two chapters where things get very technical.  I appreciated his use of understandable illustrations along with examples making it easier for me to comprehend and appreciate the subject matter.

“On Intelligence”, written by Jeff Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee, was a surprise find for me while doing research on the topic of AI.  I was searching for books covering the subject from a primer level, however I was intrigued by the author’s premise from the book’s description.  I wanted to note that the majority of the book is expertly and professionally narrated by Stefan Rudnicki with a few sections voiced by Jeff Hawkins himself.

The author comes to the subject matter with a vast amount of knowledge and study in the field of intelligence.  He also comes to the table with a large knowledge of technology and the technology industry.  He was the inventor of the PalmPilot along with other software accomplishments under his name.  The author quickly setups up the difficulties of defining the word “intelligence” because it would be hard to have an “AI” without first understanding what intelligence is.  As stated earlier, this is a difficult word to define and it really depends on who you ask this question too.  A technologist will tell you one thing, a biologist another, and a psychologist another, etc.  Mr. Hawkins takes a different approach to how others have defined it, and the remaining chapters of the book lay out his arguments.

I thought it humbling the author said that his own premise may be flawed in areas needing additional study, and he is willing to modify his beliefs based on new data or details.  I will say that after listening to the book, I will not think of intelligence in the same way, and I’m sure while continuing my research on the subject of AI, I will be passing any new details thought the framework given in the book.

Regarding the narration of the book, as I stated earlier, it was professionally done.  The narrator currently has over 531 others titles he has participated in voicing.  There were no audio artifacts or issues I detected while listening and I have listed to other books by this narrator which I have enjoyed very much.

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