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The Footprints of God

I had enormous fun reading Greg Ilse's wonderful novel The Footprints of God. If you love supercomputers, brain simulations, high-resoultion MRI, artificial intelligence, disembodied cognition, National Security Agency, etc. , then you will enjoy the sci-fi techno-thriller story. The book is wonderfully researched and masterfully penned.

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Hi,

I have been following your blog and some of your work for past few months and just wanted to tell you that it is really good and inspiring. Also to tell you about an amazing coincidence, I had a chance to skim through Footprints of god few days back and there were times where I was actually reminded of some of the stuff I had read here on your blog and little extension of it. And today when I read this post, I was really amazed!!!

Thanks,
Hrishikesh

Dear Dr. Modha,

Thank you for recommending The Footprints of God. This book is very much up my alley as I imagine it is for many who follow your blog. I spent much of this past weekend reading it and it delivered as you promised. The book raises serious issues about ethical oversight of research, especially of research done with an extraordinary degree of secrecy. Is it possible to conduct valid scientific and human subjects review of a project in which even team members lack complete information concerning its aims, procedures, and implications? The plot hinges on several adverse events writ global, and while these events are “incredible” in one sense, they also provide verisimilitude.

Other reviewers may have said this, but the vein of theological speculation found in Tennant’s lucid night and day dreams is suggestive, and adds substance without marring the novel’s page-turner status. Again, this may have been said by another reviewer, but when the Fielding of the Second Trinity Prototype points out to Tennant a factual error in his dreams (visible light at the inception of the universe), the resultant underscoring of those experiences as subjective and fictive somehow increases their value as food for thought.

One possible complaint: the crystal watch fob which Tennant claimed had been given to him by a Tibetan monk and which Tennant used to download Trinity data was given short shrift. I had hoped for a bit more, but I guess the crystal fob was just a tantalizing plot accessory. Unless, given that some Tibetan spiritual practice emphasizes the conjoining of female and male energies, it provides a subtle foreshadowing of a female and male model being merged in order to ensure a ‘saner’ Trinity.

And of course the book is topical. As your own work to discover how the brain creates mind (or “to engineer the mind by reverse engineering the brain”) evolves it will raise a host of ethical issues. And it seems very rewarding to consider those issues all along, rather than waiting for some overnight “singularity”, although given the scope and variety of research being done worldwide an overnight singularity seems at least remotely possible.

The first person to post on the Iles book, Hrishikesh, put it well in saying that your work is good and inspiring. I very much agree and look forward to seeing how your exploration proceeds. You are doing a real service in hosting your Cognitive Computing Blog.

Thank you for the effort you put into your blog and for the wonderful book recommendation.

Elizabeth


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