Review of the book - 'The Emperor's New Mind'

There are few books written by scientists which discuss the issue of feasibility of achieving human-like artificial intelligence (AI) by algorithm-based computer machines. This book is the outcome of a very bold and learned research work of the Mathematical Physicist author Robert Penrose to discuss the issue with an open mind and present it for the readers interested in reading popular science or serious science articles or books.


'The Emperor's new mind' is written by famous mathematical physicist Rodger Penrose. The book was published in 1989 and is one of the masterpieces written by the author discussing various aspects of Physics, Mathematics, Biology, Cosmology and their interrelation as well as their present status and growth so far.

This is not a textbook of science and has been written in a way which will attract the reading of informed readers not necessarily having scientific backgrounds. The readers who like popular science books will like this book also due to its simplicity of presenting complicated scientific theories and theorems.

This unique book has explored the possibility of all the assimilation of present-day scientific knowledge to evolve a unified theory which finally may be useful in understanding the physics of the mind or rather say the science of our consciousness.


The author has explained many scientific things in layman's language starting from classical Physics to Quantum Physics and has tried to tell that it is not possible to create or replicate the mind like the machine with the help of the computer algorithms and advanced computer techniques. In other words, it means that artificial intelligence (AI), comparable to human intellect, based on the computer algorithm and machine functions is a distant dream and may not be feasible within the realm of present theories and domain of science.

The author further stresses that a new unified theory will be required to understand and explain how the mind works and how we can explain the Physics of the consciousness of our biological mind.

It is a mesmerising book and does not need graduation or post graduation degree in science to understand the material therein as it is expected that the informed reader can get a lot out of this book which in understanding whether the human race will one day be able to achieve artificial intelligence of human level in an algorithm based computer machine or not.

The scientist supporting the research in artificial intelligence (AI) believe that with time we will be able to make human mind type computer machines based on algorithms and supporting machinery. The author argues that any algorithmically deterministic system cannot have the intelligence of human order. Due to this, there was a much critical review of the authors work by some scientists but the author has contested and discussed the matter with examples further in his successive books and today he has a large following in scientific community regarding his philosophical thoughts on men and machines.

This is what has been discussed in this book with an open scientific and philosophical mind for which the author is already famous for. The interested readers can go through the book to really enjoy and understand the scientific principles and artificial intelligence (AI) vis-a-vis the physics of the human mind. Having gone through the book, I strongly recommend it for both the types of readers liking either popular science or serious scientific articles.

Coverage of the book

The book starts with an interesting discussion - does computer has a mind? Then the author starts explaining algorithms and turing machines. This is followed by the discussions and analysis of classical and quantum theories of science. The next discussion is on cosmology and arrow of time. The interesting thing is the reader does not feel that the author is trying to take us to the complex theories of science. He is in fact only making us aware that these are the developments and understandings in science so far and with that, the reader may understand well the author's purpose and intention of telling it before the author proposes new ideas in this field to be understood by us.

About the author

Robert Penrose was born on 8 August 1931 and is an English mathematical Physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science. He is Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, UK.

Penrose is known for his work in mathematical physics, in particular for his contributions to general relativity and cosmology. He has received several prizes and awards, including the 1988 prestigious Wolf Prize for physics, which he shared with Stephen Hawking for their contribution to our understanding of the universe.

Penrose has written books on the connection between fundamental physics and human (or animal) consciousness. He has indicated towards a new Physics theory which is yet to be invented to explain the phenomenon of human consciousness. The existing classical and quantum theories are not able to address these phenomenon related to mysterious ways of the working and functioning of the human minds.


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