Another deep dive into the bookshelves to read something I should have
read closer to the time I bought it (*circa* 1991, in this case). Fortunately, my
Book
Picker script is (very slowly) making me more disciplined.
In this case, there's a certain amount of punishment involved, too,
because this book was kind of painful to read.

The author, Roger Penrose has had a long and distinguished career in math and mathematical physics. He hasn't received a Nobel (neither did his occasional more famous collaborator, Stephen Hawking), but he's won pretty much everything else.

This book lays out his contention ("theory" is too strong a word) that
human consciousness can not be adequately explained by a
*computational* model; the mind is not simply a computer made of
meat. He believes that, deep down, there's some quantum weirdness going
on. Hence, no matter how "smart" artifical intelligence might become, it
will never adequately model human intelligence.

Or something like that. Penrose seems likeable enough, but he is not a gifted writer. And I'm pretty sure, despite the lavish blurbs on the cover, that very few lay readers outside the rarefied field of mathematical physics have read this all the way through with understanding.

Suggestion, should you attempt it: read the Prologue and Chapter 1, about 29 pages, where he sets up the issues. Then skip ahead to Chapter 10 (about 45 pages) where he provides his interesting takes on the "physics of mind".

His Chapter 10 discussion is contentious, slightly hand-waving, but fun
to read. It *slightly* depends on the intervening ~375 (!) pages,
where Penrose lays out (an incomplete list): the Turing-machine theory of
computability; lambda calculus; fractals; Gödel's theorem; classical
mechanics; special and general relativity; quantum mechanics;
statistical mechanics; cosmology; quantum gravity. And a basic
discussion of brain physiology.

Let me be clear: if you had a decent understanding of these topics, you
would be a *very* advanced undergraduate, probably graduate,
student in computer science. *And* physics. *And* mathematics.
There's no way you're going to pick this stuff up by reading 375 pages
of Penrose prose.

Still, an admirable attempt. I can't (however) help but think it was quickly written to
hitch onto Hawking's *A Brief History of Time* coattails, another
book famous for having been bought but not read.