(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
American psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover has written a book and developed a
theory that offers a fusion of neuroscience and quantum physics for the
audience of soap-operas and talk shows.
It harks back to the many trivial attempts at explaining free will via
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle (the most misrepresented principle in
the history of Physics).
His claim is the old one: the human brain simply amplifies the freedom that
is inherent in the physical world. By collapsing together two poorly-understood
phenomena (quantum uncertainty and human consciousness), he attempts to create
a new theory. It has been done a thousand times. Like his predecessors, he
does not provide a speck of evidence.
If the physical foundations are shaky at best, Satinover's book provides an even more superficial introduction to the field of Artificial Intelligence (both neural networks and expert systems).
His goal apparently is to prove that the human mind is a machine, and then to prove that this machine is a particular, non-deterministic kind of machine (a quantum machine). Unfortunately, his writing is so confusing that it can be interpreted in many different ways. The most likely interpretation is that... he doesn't know what he is talking about. (Quote: "The only known source of perfect freedom of action resides in the quantum nature of matter." How about you take a class in Quantum Physics before you write about it?)
The bigger problem is that Satinover seems unaware of both recent developments in Quantum Physics and recent developments in Artificial Intelligence and, most seriously, of recent developments in Neuroscience. He wrote a book that is, at best, very dated.
He also seems unaware of centuries of philosophy and science: some of the topics he discussed have been the lifelong research topic of very famous people. (Quote: "Looking back at the territory we've covered, we will therefore arrive at the following conclusion: Man is a machine." but not a single line on all the philosophers who said so before him).
After so many revolutionary statements (all of them heard before hundreds of times), Satinover goes on to make an equally revolutionary prediction: that humans will soon create machines exhibiting free will and self-awareness... Yawn.
This is a book that people too lazy to study Physics will love.