Ideas: Those Computers Are Dummies

A physicist's attack riles artificial-intelligence researchers

Roger Penrose is hardly the sort of man who would normally excite much popular interest, let alone controversy. The shy, somewhat rumpled and unfailingly polite Oxford professor, 58, has spent most of his career spinning theories in the most abstruse areas of mathematics and physics. His contributions to both disciplines have earned him a sterling reputation among his colleagues. But his pursuits have been so far removed from the everyday world that few people outside his fields of expertise were even aware of his existence.

Until last fall, that is, when Penrose brought out the book The Emperor's New Mind, an...

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