Nov 032013

Douglas Hofstadter has devoted his life to the exploration and replication of human thought – relating mind to matter.  His central question:  How could a few pounds of gray gelatin give rise to our very thoughts and selves?

A recent article by James Somers for The Atlantic, titled The Man Who Would Teach Machines To Think, does an excellent job describing Hofstadter’s seemingly-endless quest.

I first looked into Hofstadter in depth when I stumbled across his book: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (more popularly known as GEB).  It was his first work, published in 1979, and an immediate bestseller and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction.  In it, Hofstadter calls for a paradigm shift in the way humans think about artificial intelligence.  The development of AI should focus on understanding and emulating the complex manner in which humans reason, not on the brute-force solving of mankind’s worldly problems.

To me, as a fledgling AI person, it was self-evident that I did not want to get involved in that trickery. It was obvious: I don’t want to be involved in passing off some fancy program’s behavior for intelligence when I know that it has nothing to do with intelligence. And I don’t know why more people aren’t that way.      – Douglas Hofstadter

The article and GEB are both excellent reading material, illuminating for the world the mind of a man whose thoughts have shaped the course of supercomputing and artificial intelligence.  He continues to search for the basis of those thoughts.



 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>