Nov 26

The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think

Good article on Cognitive Science versus Artificial Intelligence in the Atlantic from a few weeks ago.


Douglas Hofstadter, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Gödel, Escher, Bach, thinks we’ve lost sight of what artificial intelligence really means. His stubborn quest to replicate the human mind.

This is the key point, in my opinion:

“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.”

I’ve had the chance recently to tell the story of how I came to Cognitive Neuroscience from originally studying Computer Science and this captures the main idea quite well.

Especially the last part of the quote — I really don’t understand why more people don’t think this way.  I’ve thought that ever since Deep Blue beat the best chess players in the world, why isn’t anybody organizing competitions for actually smart chess playing programs that aren’t allowed to brute force search billions of positions?  I guess there just aren’t enough of us who think that is an interesting problem.  Or maybe among those of us who do, there aren’t any who have the time to work on that problem since there are so many other interesting problems in trying to study human intelligence.

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