By Valentino Braitenberg,

Book cover of Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology

Book description

These imaginative thought experiments are the inventions of one of the world's eminent brain researchers.

These imaginative thought experiments are the inventions of one of the world's eminent brain researchers. They are "vehicles," a series of hypothetical, self-operating machines that exhibit increasingly intricate if not always successful or civilized "behavior."…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Vehicles as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Strictly speaking, there is very little math in this short book, but it nevertheless details precise models that yield loads of insight.

Using simple machines with sensors and motors, Braitenberg shows us how easy it is to generate behaviors that look purposeful and even emotional, and how hard it would be to guess how those behaviors were generated if we didn’t already know. This is a book I come back to again and again, not only for its valuable lessons, but also for its beautiful prose.

The models in this may be fictions, but, as Braitenberg advises, fiction is a…

The author’s opening line calls this slim volume “fictional science”, a genre all of its own. It remains a unique and compelling book, a set of simply stated ideas that show how apparently complex behaviour can emerge from the simplest of brains. On another reading, it is a parts list for what functions brains must have evolved. However I read it, it’s been instrumental in shaping how I think about the brain.

From Mark's list on how brains actually work.

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