Douglas Hofstadter

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pages: 350 words: 98,077

Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans by Melanie Mitchell

Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, computer age, computer vision, dark matter, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Gödel, Escher, Bach, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, ImageNet competition, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, Mark Zuckerberg, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, ought to be enough for anybody, pattern recognition, performance metric, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, superintelligent machines, theory of mind, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

., “Schema Networks: Zero-Shot Transfer with a Generative Causal Model of Intuitive Physics,” in Proceedings of the International Conference on Machine Learning (2017), 1809–18. 11.  A. A. Rusu et al., “Progressive Neural Networks,” arXiv:1606.04671 (2016). 12.  Marcus, “Deep Learning.” 13.  Quoted in N. Sonnad and D. Gershgorn, “Q&A: Douglas Hofstadter on Why AI Is Far from Intelligent,” Quartz, Oct. 10, 2017, qz.com/1088714/qa-douglas-hofstadter-on-why-ai-is-far-from-intelligent. 14.  I should note that a few robotics groups have actually developed dishwasher-loading robots, though none of these was trained by reinforcement learning, or any other kind of machine-learning method, as far as I know. These robots come with some impressive videos (for example, “Robotic Dog Does Dishes, Plays Fetch,” NBC New York, June 23, 2016, www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Boston-Dynamics-Dog-Does-Dishes-Brings-Sodas-384140021.html), but it’s clear that they are still quite limited and not yet ready to solve my family’s nightly dishwashing arguments. 15.  

The company’s ultimate aspiration is reflected in the original mission statement of its DeepMind group: “Solve intelligence and use it to solve everything else.”1 AI and GEB I was pretty excited to attend an AI meeting at Google. I had been working on various aspects of AI since graduate school in the 1980s and had been tremendously impressed by what Google had accomplished. I also thought I had some good ideas to contribute. But I have to admit that I was there only as a tagalong. The meeting was happening so that a group of select Google AI researchers could hear from and converse with Douglas Hofstadter, a legend in AI and the author of a famous book cryptically titled Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, or more succinctly, GEB (pronounced “gee-ee-bee”). If you’re a computer scientist, or a computer enthusiast, it’s likely you’ve heard of it, or read it, or tried to read it. Written in the 1970s, GEB was an outpouring of Hofstadter’s many intellectual passions—mathematics, art, music, language, humor, and wordplay, all brought together to address the deep questions of how intelligence, consciousness, and the sense of self-awareness that each human experiences so fundamentally can emerge from the non-intelligent, nonconscious substrate of biological cells.

In the early 1980s, after graduating from college with a math degree, I was living in New York City, teaching math in a prep school, unhappy, and casting about for what I really wanted to do in life. I discovered GEB after reading a rave review in Scientific American. I went out and bought the book immediately. Over the next several weeks, I devoured it, becoming increasingly convinced that not only did I want to become an AI researcher but I specifically wanted to work with Douglas Hofstadter. I had never before felt so strongly about a book, or a career choice. At the time, Hofstadter was a professor in computer science at Indiana University, and my quixotic plan was to apply to the computer science PhD program there, arrive, and then persuade Hofstadter to accept me as a student. One minor problem was that I had never taken even one computer science course. I had grown up with computers; my father was a hardware engineer at a 1960s tech start-up company, and as a hobby he built a mainframe computer in our family’s den.


pages: 274 words: 70,481

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson

Albert Einstein, corporate raider, cuban missile crisis, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach, impulse control, Norman Mailer, Ronald Reagan, Skype

“Like the drawing on the cover of Being or Nothingness,” prompted Deborah. “Two hands drawing each other . . .?” “So if Levi Shand doesn’t exist,” I said, “who created him?” “I think they’re all Hofstadter,” said Deborah. “Levi Shand. Petter Nordlund. I think they’re all Douglas Hofstadter.” I went for a walk through Gothenburg, feeling quite annoyed and disappointed that I’d been hanging around here for days when the culprit was probably an eminent professor some four thousand miles away at Indiana University. Deborah had offered me supplementary circumstantial evidence to back her theory that the whole puzzle was a product of Douglas Hofstadter’s impish mind. It was, she said, exactly the sort of playful thing he might do. And being the author of an international bestseller, he would have the financial resources to pull it off. Plus he was no stranger to Sweden; he had lived there in the mid-1960s.

It was a compelling theory, and I continued to believe this might be the solution to the riddle right up until the moment, an hour later, I had a Skype video conversation with Levi Shand, who, it was soon revealed, wasn’t an invention of Douglas Hofstadter’s but an actual student from Indiana University. He was a handsome young man with black hair, doleful eyes, and a messy student bedroom. He had been easy to track down. I e-mailed him via his Facebook page. He got back to me straightaway (he’d been online at the time) and within seconds we were face-to-face. He told me it was all true. He really did find the books in a box under a railway viaduct and Douglas Hofstadter really did have a harem of French women living at his home. “Tell me exactly what happened when you visited him,” I said. “I was really nervous,” Levi said, “given his prominence on the cognitive science scene.

Each page seemed to be a riddle with a solution that was just out of reach. A note at the beginning claimed that the manuscript had been “found” in the corner of an abandoned railway station: “It was lying in the open, visible to all, but I was the only one curious enough to pick it up.” What followed were elliptical quotations:My thinking is muscular. Albert Einstein I am a strange loop. Douglas Hofstadter Life is meant to be a joyous adventure. Joe K The book had only twenty-one pages with text, but some pages contained just one sentence. Page 18, for instance, read simply: “The sixth day after I stopped writing the book I sat at B’s place and wrote the book.” And all of this was very expensively produced, using the highest-quality paper and inks—there was a full-color, delicate reproduction of a butterfly on one page—and the endeavor must have cost someone or a group of people an awful lot of money.


pages: 524 words: 120,182

Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell

Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, dark matter, discrete time, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, Paul Erdős, peer-to-peer, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, scientific worldview, stem cell, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine

Reading the book, written by Douglas Hofstadter, turned out to be one of those life-changing events that one can never anticipate. The title didn’t let on that the book was fundamentally about how thinking and consciousness emerge from the brain via the decentralized interactions of large numbers of simple neurons, analogous to the emergent behavior of systems such as cells, ant colonies, and the immune system. In short, the book was my introduction to some of the main ideas of complex systems. It was clear that Hofstadter’s passionate goal was to use similar principles to construct intelligent and “self-aware” computer programs. These ideas quickly became my passion as well, and I decided that I wanted to study artificial intelligence with Hofstadter. Douglas Hofstadter. (Photograph courtesy of Indiana University.)

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Oxford University Press. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Mitchell, Melanie. Complexity: a guided tour/Melanie Mitchell. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-19-512441-5 1. Complexity (Philosophy) I. Title. Q175.32.C65M58 2009 501—dc22 2008023794 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper To Douglas Hofstadter and John Holland CONTENTS Preface Acknowledgments PART ONE Background and History CHAPTER ONE What Is Complexity? CHAPTER TWO Dynamics, Chaos, and Prediction CHAPTER THREE Information CHAPTER FOUR Computation CHAPTER FIVE Evolution CHAPTER SIX Genetics, Simplified CHAPTER SEVEN Defining and Measuring Complexity PART TWO Life and Evolution in Computers CHAPTER EIGHT Self-Reproducing Computer Programs CHAPTER NINE Genetic Algorithms PART THREE Computation Writ Large CHAPTER TEN Cellular Automata, Life, and the Universe CHAPTER ELEVEN Computing with Particles CHAPTER TWELVE Information Processing in Living Systems CHAPTER THIRTEEN How to Make Analogies (if You Are a Computer) CHAPTER FOURTEEN Prospects of Computer Modeling PART FOUR Network Thinking CHAPTER FIFTEEN The Science of Networks CHAPTER SIXTEEN Applying Network Science to Real-World Networks CHAPTER SEVENTEEN The Mystery of Scaling CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Evolution, Complexified PART FIVE Conclusion CHAPTER NINETEEN The Past and Future of the Sciences of Complexity Notes Bibliography Index PREFACE REDUCTIONISM is the most natural thing in the world to grasp.

CHAPTER TWO Dynamics, Chaos, and Prediction CHAPTER THREE Information CHAPTER FOUR Computation CHAPTER FIVE Evolution CHAPTER SIX Genetics, Simplified CHAPTER SEVEN Defining and Measuring Complexity PART TWO Life and Evolution in Computers CHAPTER EIGHT Self-Reproducing Computer Programs CHAPTER NINE Genetic Algorithms PART THREE Computation Writ Large CHAPTER TEN Cellular Automata, Life, and the Universe CHAPTER ELEVEN Computing with Particles CHAPTER TWELVE Information Processing in Living Systems CHAPTER THIRTEEN How to Make Analogies (if You Are a Computer) CHAPTER FOURTEEN Prospects of Computer Modeling PART FOUR Network Thinking CHAPTER FIFTEEN The Science of Networks CHAPTER SIXTEEN Applying Network Science to Real-World Networks CHAPTER SEVENTEEN The Mystery of Scaling CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Evolution, Complexified PART FIVE Conclusion CHAPTER NINETEEN The Past and Future of the Sciences of Complexity Notes Bibliography Index PREFACE REDUCTIONISM is the most natural thing in the world to grasp. It’s simply the belief that “a whole can be understood completely if you understand its parts, and the nature of their ‘sum.’ ” No one in her left brain could reject reductionism. —Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid REDUCTIONISM HAS BEEN THE DOMINANT approach to science since the 1600s. René Descartes, one of reductionism’s earliest proponents, described his own scientific method thus: “to divide all the difficulties under examination into as many parts as possible, and as many as were required to solve them in the best way” and “to conduct my thoughts in a given order, beginning with the simplest and most easily understood objects, and gradually ascending, as it were step by step, to the knowledge of the most complex.”1 Since the time of Descartes, Newton, and other founders of the modern scientific method until the beginning of the twentieth century, a chief goal of science has been a reductionist explanation of all phenomena in terms of fundamental physics.


pages: 396 words: 107,814

Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything by David Bellos

Clapham omnibus, Claude Shannon: information theory, Douglas Hofstadter, Etonian, European colonialism, haute cuisine, invention of the telephone, invention of writing, natural language processing, Republic of Letters, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, speech recognition

Finding out what translation has done in the past and does today, finding out what people have said about it and why, finding out whether it is one thing or many—these inquiries take us far and wide, to Sumer, Brussels, and Beijing, to comic books and literary classics, and into the fringes of disciplines as varied as anthropology, linguistics, and computer science. What translation does raises so many answerable questions that we can leave the business of what it is to the side for quite some time. ONE What Is a Translation? Douglas Hofstadter took a great liking to this short poem by the sixteenth-century French wit Clément Marot: Ma mignonne, Je vous donne Le bon jour; Le séjour C’est prison. Guérison Recouvrez, Puis ouvrez Votre porte Et qu’on sorte Vitement, Car Clément Le vous mande. Va, friande De ta bouche, Qui se couche En danger Pour manger Confitures; Si tu dures Trop malade, Couleur fade Tu prendras, Et perdras L’embonpoint.

In a world where you can check the translation against the original, even when it has the form of speech (thanks to the sound-recording devices we have used for the past one hundred years), the principal grounds for the fear and mistrust of linguistic intermediaries that is endemic to oral societies no longer exist. Yet people go on saying traduttore/traditore, believing they have said something meaningful about translation. A thoughtful translator such as Douglas Hofstadter still feels he needs to counter it with a pun in the title of an essay, “Trader/Translator.” 15 We may now live in a sophisticated, wealthy, technologically advanced society—but when it comes to translation, some people seem to be stuck in the age of the clepsydra. Traditional mistrust of oral interpreters in the Middle East affected Western tourists when visits to the region became practical and prestigious for individuals in the nineteenth century.

It is not the same as the original, but that is no reason—no reason at all—to claim that it is devoid of poetry. Of course, the new poem may be awful when the original was sublime. Few poets write sublime verse every time. But it stands to reason that the quality of a poem in translation has no relation to its having been translated. It is the sole fruit of the poet’s skill as a poet, irrespective of whether he is also writing as a translator. You may not like the poem by Douglas Hofstadter quoted at the start of this book. You may like the poem by Clément Marot much more. But all that you could reasonably say about the difference is that Hofstadter is (in this instance) a less charming writer of poetry than Marot. If you didn’t know that Hofstadter’s trisyllabic verse transposes sentiments first expressed by someone else in a form that has a quite strict relationship to it, you might still not like it—but you wouldn’t think of justifying your disappointment by saying that poetry is what has been lost in translation.


pages: 370 words: 94,968

The Most Human Human: What Talking With Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive by Brian Christian

4chan, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, carbon footprint, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, complexity theory, crowdsourcing, David Heinemeier Hansson, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, George Akerlof, Gödel, Escher, Bach, high net worth, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, job automation, l'esprit de l'escalier, Loebner Prize, Menlo Park, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, starchitect, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Thales of Miletus, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero-sum game

From there, we can look at how these different theories have shaped humankind’s sense of its own identity. For instance, are artists more valuable to us than they were before we discovered how difficult art is for computers? Last, we might ask ourselves: Is it appropriate to allow our definition of our own uniqueness to be, in some sense, reactionary to the advancing front of technology? And why is it that we are so compelled to feel unique in the first place? “Sometimes it seems,” says Douglas Hofstadter, “as though each new step towards AI, rather than producing something which everyone agrees is real intelligence, merely reveals what real intelligence is not.” While at first this seems a consoling position—one that keeps our unique claim to thought intact—it does bear the uncomfortable appearance of a gradual retreat, the mental image being that of a medieval army withdrawing from the castle to the keep.

All the Beauty of Art At one point in his career, the famous twentieth-century French artist Marcel Duchamp gave up art, in favor of something he felt was even more expressive, more powerful: something that “has all the beauty of art—and much more.” It was chess. “I have come to the personal conclusion,” Duchamp wrote, “that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.” The scientific community, by and large, seemed to agree with that sentiment. Douglas Hofstadter’s 1980 Pulitzer Prize–winning Gödel, Escher, Bach, written at a time when computer chess was over twenty-five years old, advocates “the conclusion that profoundly insightful chess-playing draws intrinsically on central facets of the human condition.” “All of these elusive abilities … lie so close to the core of human nature itself,” Hofstadter says, that computers’ “mere brute-force … [will] not be able to circumvent or shortcut that fact.”

Most people were divided between two conclusions: (1) accept that the human race was done for, that intelligent machines had finally come to be and had ended our supremacy over all creation (which, as you can imagine, essentially no one was prepared to do), or (2) what most of the scientific community chose, which was essentially to throw chess, the game Goethe called “a touchstone of the intellect,” under the bus. The New York Times interviewed the nation’s most prominent thinkers on AI immediately after the match, and our familiar Douglas Hofstadter, seeming very much the tickled corpse, says, “My God, I used to think chess required thought. Now, I realize it doesn’t.” Other academics seemed eager to kick chess when it was down. “From a purely mathematical point of view, chess is a trivial game,” says philosopher and UC Berkeley professor John Searle. (There are ten thousand billion billion billion billion possible games of chess for every atom in the universe.)


pages: 419 words: 109,241

A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond by Daniel Susskind

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, blue-collar work, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, computerized trading, creative destruction, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, drone strike, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial innovation, future of work, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Hargreaves, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, natural language processing, Network effects, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, precariat, purchasing power parity, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Sam Altman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, social intelligence, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We are the 99%, wealth creators, working poor, working-age population, Y Combinator

Quoted in William Herkewitz, “Why Watson and Siri Are Not Real AI,” Popular Mechanics, 10 February 2014.   9.  John Searle, “Watson Doesn’t Know It Won on ‘Jeopardy!’,” Wall Street Journal, 23 February 2011. 10.  Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (London: Penguin, 2000), p. 601: “There is a related ‘Theorem’ about progress in AI: once some mental function is programmed, people soon cease to consider it as an essential ingredient of ‘real thinking.’ The ineluctable core of intelligence is always in that next thing which hasn’t yet been programmed. This ‘Theorem’ was first proposed to me by Larry Tesler, so I call it Tesler’s Theorem: ‘AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet.’” 11.  Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach, p. 678. 12.  Douglas Hofstadter, “Staring Emmy Straight in the Eye—And Doing My Best Not to Flinch” in David Cope, ed., Virtual Music: Computer Synthesis of Musical Style (London: MIT Press, 2004), p. 34. 13.  

Their work benefitted from a certain amount of introspection about how humans solve problems.”18 And John Haugeland, a philosopher, wrote that the field of AI was seeking “the genuine article: machines with minds, in the full and literal sense.”19 Behind some of the claims made by Haugeland and others was a deeper theoretical conviction: human beings, they believed, were themselves actually just a complex type of computer. This was the “computational theory of the mind.” From a practical point of view, it may have been an appealing idea for AI researchers. If human beings were only complicated computers, the difficulty of building an artificial intelligence was not insurmountable: the researchers merely had to make their own, simple computers more sophisticated.20 As the computer scientist Douglas Hofstadter puts it in his celebrated Gödel, Escher, Bach, it was an “article of faith” for many researchers that “all intelligences are just variations on a single theme; to create true intelligence, AI workers will have to keep pushing … closer and closer to brain mechanisms, if they wish their machines to attain the capabilities which we have.”21 Of course, not everyone was interested in copying human beings.

AI researchers, economists, and many others would be caught out, time and time again, by the capabilities of new machines that were no longer built to copy some supposedly indispensable feature of human intelligence. A SENSE OF DISAPPOINTMENT For an influential group of critics in the AI community, the pragmatist revolution is more a source of disappointment than a cause for celebration. Take their response to the chess triumph of IBM’s Deep Blue over Garry Kasparov. Douglas Hofstadter, the computer scientist and writer, called its first victory “a watershed event” but dismissed it as something that “doesn’t have to do with computers becoming intelligent.”4 He had “little intellectual interest” in IBM’s machine because “the way brute-force chess programs work doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to genuine human thinking.”5 John Searle, the philosopher, dismissed Deep Blue as “giving up on A.I.”6 Kasparov himself effectively agreed, writing off the machine as a “$10 million alarm clock.7 Or take Watson, another IBM computer system.


pages: 626 words: 181,434

I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas R. Hofstadter

Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Brownian motion, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Georg Cantor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Conway, John von Neumann, mandelbrot fractal, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, place-making, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, publish or perish, random walk, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, telepresence, Turing machine

In other words, although he doesn’t propose anything that would smack of mathematics, Parfit essentially proposes an abstract “distance function” (what mathematicians would call a “metric”) between personalities in “personality space” (or between brains, although at what structural level brains would have to be described in order for this “distance calculation” to take place is never specified, and it is hard to imagine what that level might be). Using such a mind-to-mind metric, I would be very “close” to the person I was yesterday, slightly less close to the person I was two days ago, and so forth. In other words, although there is a great degree of overlap between the individuals Douglas Hofstadter today and Douglas Hofstadter yesterday, they are not identical. We nonetheless standardly (and reflexively) choose to consider them identical because it is so convenient, so natural, and so easy. It makes life much simpler. This convention allows us to give things (both animate and inanimate) fixed names and to talk about them from one day to the next without constantly having to update our lexicon. Moreover, this convention is ingrained in us when we are infants — at about the same Piagetian developmental stage as that in which we learn that when a ball rolls behind a box, it still exists even though it’s not visible, and may even reappear on the other side of the box in a second or two!

The same old urge to say, “I am here and not there” zooms up in both brains as automatically as when someone taps my knee and my leg jerks upwards. But knee-jerk reflex or not, the truth of the matter is that there is no thing called “I” — no hard marble, no precious yolk protected by a Cartesian eggshell — there are just tendencies and inclinations and habits, including verbal ones. In the end, we have to believe both Douglas Hofstadters as they say, “This one here is me,” at least to the extent that we believe the Douglas Hofstadter who is right now sitting in his study typing these words and saying to you in print, “This one here is me.” Saying this and insisting on its truth is just a tendency, an inclination, a habit — in fact, a knee-jerk reflex — and it is no more than that, even though it seems to be a great deal more than that. Ultimately, the “I” is a hallucination, and yet, paradoxically, it is the most precious thing we own.

And indeed, it is impossible to come away from this book without having introduced elements of his point of view into our own. It may not make us kinder or more compassionate, but we will never look at the world, inside or out, in the same way again.” — Los Angeles Times Book Review “Nearly thirty years after his best-selling book Gödel, Escher, Bach, cognitive scientist and polymath Douglas Hofstadter has returned to his extraordinary theory of self.” — New Scientist “I Am a Strange Loop is thoughtful, amusing and infectiously enthusiastic.” — Bloomberg News “[P]rovocative and heroically humane . . . it’s impossible not to experience this book as a tender, remarkably personal and poignant effort to understand the death of his wife from cancer in 1993 — and to grasp how consciousness mediates our otherwise ineffable relationships.


pages: 573 words: 157,767

From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds by Daniel C. Dennett

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Andrew Wiles, Bayesian statistics, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Build a better mousetrap, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, computer vision, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fermat's Last Theorem, Gödel, Escher, Bach, information asymmetry, information retrieval, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, iterative process, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, social intelligence, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

Evolving robots on the macroscale have also achieved some impressive results in very simplified domains, and I have often spoken about the work in evolutionary robotics by Inman Harvey and Phil Husbands at Sussex (e.g., Harvey et al. 1997), but I have not discussed it in print. 383David Cope. Cope’s Virtual Music (2001) includes essays by Douglas Hofstadter, composers, musicologists, and me: “Collision Detection, Muselot, and Scribble: Some Reflections on Creativity.” The essays are filled with arresting observations and examples, and the volume includes many musical scores and comes with a CD. 384substrate-neutral. See DDI (1995) on substrate neutrality. 385analogizers. See also Douglas Hofstadter’s many works on the importance of analogy finding, especially Metamagical Themas (1985), Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies (1995), and Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking, coauthored with Emmanuel Sander (first published in French as L’Analogie.

This love of mystery is just one of the potent imagination-blockers standing in our way as we attempt to answer the question of how come there are minds, and, as I already warned, our path will have to circle back several times, returning to postponed questions that couldn’t be answered until we had a background that couldn’t be provided until we had the tools, which couldn’t be counted on until we knew where they came from, a cycle that gradually fills in the details of a sketch that won’t be convincing until we can reach a vantage point from which we can look back and see how all the parts fit together. Douglas Hofstadter’s book, I Am a Strange Loop (2007), describes a mind composing itself in cycles of processing that loop around, twisting and feeding on themselves, creating exuberant reactions to reflections to reminders to reevaluations that generate novel structures: ideas, fantasies, theories, and, yes, thinking tools to create still more. Read it; it will take your imagination on a roller-coaster ride, and you will learn a lot of surprising truths.

The relative triviality of copy editing, and yet its unignorable importance in shaping the final product, gets well represented in terms of our metaphor of Design Space, where every little bit of lifting counts for something, and sometimes a little bit of lifting moves you to a whole new trajectory. As usual, we may quote Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at this juncture: “God is in the details.” Now let’s turn the knobs on our thought experiment, as Douglas Hofstadter has recommended (1981) and look at the other extreme, in which Dr. Frankenstein leaves most of the work to Spakesheare. The most realistic scenario would be that Spakesheare has been equipped by Dr. Frankenstein with a virtual past, a lifetime stock of pseudo-memories of experiences on which to draw while responding to its Frankenstein-installed obsessive desire to write a play. Among those pseudo-memories, we may suppose, are many evenings at the theater, or reading books, but also some unrequited loves, some shocking close calls, some shameful betrayals, and the like.


pages: 855 words: 178,507

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, bank run, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, citation needed, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, Donald Knuth, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, lifelogging, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, Simon Singh, Socratic dialogue, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, talking drums, the High Line, The Wisdom of Crowds, transcontinental railway, Turing machine, Turing test, women in the workforce

But the discovery of this twisting, backfiring, mind-bending circularity does not bring life or language crashing to a halt—one grasps the idea and moves on—because life and language lack the perfection, the absolutes, that give them force. In real life, all Cretans cannot be liars. Even liars often tell the truth. The pain begins only with the attempt to build an airtight vessel. Russell and Whitehead aimed for perfection—for proof—otherwise the enterprise had little point. The more rigorously they built, the more paradoxes they found. “It was in the air,” Douglas Hofstadter has written, “that truly peculiar things could happen when modern cousins of various ancient paradoxes cropped up inside the rigorously logical world of numbers,… a pristine paradise in which no one had dreamt paradox might arise.”♦ One was Berry’s paradox, first suggested to Russell by G. G. Berry, a librarian at the Bodleian. It has to do with counting the syllables needed to specify each integer.

Thus Gödel showed that a consistent formal system must be incomplete; no complete and consistent system can exist. The paradoxes were back, nor were they mere quirks. Now they struck at the core of the enterprise. It was, as Gödel said afterward, an “amazing fact”—“that our logical intuitions (i.e., intuitions concerning such notions as: truth, concept, being, class, etc.) are self-contradictory.”♦ It was, as Douglas Hofstadter says, “a sudden thunderbolt from the bluest of skies,”♦ its power arising not from the edifice it struck down but the lesson it contained about numbers, about symbolism, about encoding: Gödel’s conclusion sprang not from a weakness in PM but from a strength. That strength is the fact that numbers are so flexible or “chameleonic” that their patterns can mimic patterns of reasoning.… PM’s expressive power is what gives rise to its incompleteness.

Any mechanical procedure for generating formulas is essentially a Turing machine. Any formal system, therefore, must have undecidable propositions. Mathematics is not decidable. Incompleteness follows from uncomputability. Once again, the paradoxes come to life when numbers gain the power to encode the machine’s own behavior. That is the necessary recursive twist. The entity being reckoned is fatally entwined with the entity doing the reckoning. As Douglas Hofstadter put it much later, “The thing hinges on getting this halting inspector to try to predict its own behavior when looking at itself trying to predict its own behavior when looking at itself trying to predict its own behavior when …”♦ A conundrum that at least smelled similar had lately appeared in physics, too: Werner Heisenberg’s new uncertainty principle. When Turing learned about that, he expressed it in terms of self-reference: “It used to be supposed in Science that if everything was known about the Universe at any particular moment then we can predict what it will be through all the future.… More modern science however has come to the conclusion that when we are dealing with atoms and electrons we are quite unable to know the exact state of them; our instruments being made of atoms and electrons themselves.”♦ A century had passed between Babbage’s Analytical Engine and Turing’s Universal Machine—a grand and unwieldy contraption and an elegant unreal abstraction.


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Liars and Outliers: How Security Holds Society Together by Bruce Schneier

airport security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Brian Krebs, Broken windows theory, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, commoditize, corporate governance, crack epidemic, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, desegregation, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Douglas Hofstadter, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, George Akerlof, hydraulic fracturing, impulse control, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invention of gunpowder, iterative process, Jean Tirole, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock company, Julian Assange, longitudinal study, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nate Silver, Network effects, Nick Leeson, offshore financial centre, patent troll, phenotype, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, RFID, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, security theater, shareholder value, slashdot, statistical model, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, technological singularity, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, too big to fail, traffic fines, transaction costs, ultimatum game, UNCLOS, union organizing, Vernor Vinge, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey, Y2K, zero-sum game

many distinct levels Richard J. Smith (1996), “Biology and Body Size in Human Evolution: Statistical Inference Misapplied,” Current Anthropology, 37:451–81. begin to fail Bruce Schneier (Jul 2009), “Security, Group Size, and the Human Brain,” IEEE Security & Privacy, 7:88. Code of Hammurabi Martha T. Roth (1997), Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, Scholars Press. Chapter 5 Douglas Hofstadter Douglas Hofstadter (1985), Metamagical Themas, Bantam Dell Publishing Group. free-rider problem Robert Albanese and David D. van Fleet (1985), “Rational Behavior in Groups: The Free-Riding Tendency,” The Academy of Management Review, 10:244–55. Whooping cough Paul Offit (2011), Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All, Basic Books. Chapter 6 don't overfish Boris Worm, Ray Hilborn, Julia K.

I like the prisoner story because it's a reminder that cooperation doesn't imply anything moral; it just means going along with the group norm. Similarly, defection doesn't necessarily imply anything immoral; it just means putting some competing interest ahead of the group interest. Basic commerce is another type of Prisoner's Dilemma, although you might not have thought about it that way before. Cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter liked this story better than prisoners, confessions, and jail time. Two people meet and exchange closed bags, with the understanding that one of them contains money, and the other contains a purchase. Either player can choose to honor the deal by putting into his or her bag what he or she agreed, or he or she can defect by handing over an empty bag. It's easy to see one trust mechanism that keeps merchants from cheating: their reputations as merchants.

The dilemma comes from the fact that each would rather do either of the two things with the other than do the stereotypical thing alone. (6) In behavioral economics,Prospect Theory has tried to capture these complexities. Daniel Kahneman is the only psychologist to ever win a Nobel Prize, and he won it in economics. (7) Many of the criticisms of Hardin's original paper on the Tragedy of the Commons pointed out that, in the real world,systems of regulation were commonly established by users of commons. (8) Douglas Hofstadter calls this “superrationality.” He assumes that smart people will behave this way, regardless of culture. In his construction, a superrational player assumes he is playing against another superrational player, someone who will think like he does and make the same decisions he does. By that analysis, cooperate– cooperate is much better than defect–defect. In so doing, players are being collectively rational, rather than individually rational.


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Prisoner's Dilemma: John Von Neumann, Game Theory, and the Puzzle of the Bomb by William Poundstone

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, cuban missile crisis, Douglas Hofstadter, Frank Gehry, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Jacquard loom, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, statistical model, the market place, zero-sum game

Then both of you will cheat, and both will go to a lot of trouble for nothing. Logic (?) blocks a deal beneficial to both parties. There’s nothing logical about that! Therefore you should stick to the agreement. You should be sensible enough to realize that cheating undermines the common good. This is a prisoner’s dilemma, and now is a good time to ask yourself, what would you do? This formulation of the dilemma was popularized by cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter. Here the dilemma is particularly easy to appreciate. Even among the law-abiding, most transactions are potential prisoner’s dilemmas. You agree to buy aluminum siding: how do you know the salesman won’t skip town with your down payment? How does he know you won’t stop payment on the check? In my grade school, the accepted way to swap toys was for each child to set his toy down on the ground in plain sight some distance from the other, and then to run to the other toy.

In a few generations, a span of time that is but a moment in the history of the earth, weapons rivaling the stars might be possible. Possibly all civilizations contemplate total war, narrowly avert disaster a number of times, and succeed at disarmament for a while. Then comes one last crisis in which the voices of collective reason are too weak to forestall planetwide holocaust—and that’s the reason why we can’t detect any radio transmissions from intelligent beings out there. In a slightly less pessimistic vein, Douglas Hofstadter suggested that there may be two types of intelligent societies in the universe: Type I societies whose members cooperate in a one-shot prisoner’s dilemma and Type II societies whose members defect. Eventually, Hofstadter supposed, the Type II societies blow themselves up. Even this faint optimism is open to question. Natural selection presumably operates much the same way anywhere in the universe.

One side may suddenly announce that the real issue is X, something that they know the other side will readily concede and which was never at issue. The other side will agree to X, and the strike will end. It’s a matter of personalities, group psychology, and luck, not game theory; rationality has nothing to do with it. THE LARGEST-NUMBER GAME Another caricature of escalation is a game devised by Douglas Hofstadter. It is known as the “luring lottery” or “largest-number game.” Many contests allow unlimited entries, and most of us have at some time daydreamed about sending in millions of entries to better the chance of winning. The largest-number game is such a contest, one that costs nothing to enter and allows a person to submit an unlimited number of entries.1 Each contestant must act alone. The rules strictly forbid team play, pools, deals, or any kind of communication among contestants.


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Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg

A Pattern Language, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Berlin Wall, c2.com, call centre, collaborative editing, conceptual framework, continuous integration, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, Grace Hopper, Guido van Rossum, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, index card, Internet Archive, inventory management, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Larry Wall, life extension, Loma Prieta earthquake, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, Mitch Kapor, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Potemkin village, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, Ruby on Rails, semantic web, side project, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, slashdot, software studies, source of truth, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Therac-25, thinkpad, Turing test, VA Linux, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

Alan Kay likes to point to McCarthy’s “half-page of code at the bottom of page 13 of the Lisp 1.5 manual” and praise it as the “Maxwell’s equations of computing”—concentrated, elegant statements that distilled the field’s fundamental principles just as James Clerk Maxwell’s four equations had laid out the essential workings of electricity and magnetism at the dawn of the machine age. On the page that Kay cited, which provides definitions of two functions named “eval” and “apply,” McCarthy essentially described Lisp in itself. “This,” Kay says, “is the whole world of programming in a few lines that I can put my hand over.” You can put your hand over it, but it is not always so easy to get your head around it. Recursion can make the brain ache. Douglas Hofstadter’s classic volume Gödel, Escher, Bach is probably the most comprehensive and approachable explanation of the concept available to nonmathematicians. Hofstadter connects the mysterious self-referential effects found in certain realms of mathematics with the infinitely ascending staircases of M. C. Escher’s art and with J. S. Bach’s playful canons and fugues, and gives all these phenomena a memorable label: strange loops.

But my skepticism was inadequate. The Chandler schedule had stretched out like a shaggy-dog story. Deep into year three there was still no “termination condition” in sight. At what point would the story reach a natural conclusion? Worse, could I ever know for certain that it would reach a conclusion? In planning my project I had failed to take into account Hofstadter’s Law, the recursive principle to which Douglas Hofstadter attached his name: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law. This strange loop seemed to define the essence of software time. Now I was stuck in it myself. After three years, Chandler was beginning to become a somewhat usable, though incomplete, calendar program. But I could not say with any confidence how much longer it would take for the project to deliver something like its original promise.

The original design called for a low-slung, unadorned causeway, but political rivalries and local pride led to the adoption of a more ambitious and unique design. The new span, a “self-anchored suspension bridge,” would hang from a single tower. A web of cables would stretch down from that lone spire, underneath the roadway and back up to the tower top, in a picturesque array of gargantuan loops. It was going to be not only a beautiful bridge to look at but a conceptually daring bridge, a bootstrapped bridge—a self-referential bridge to warm Douglas Hofstadter’s heart. There was only one problem: Nothing like it had ever been built before. And nobody was eager to tackle it. When the State of California put it out to bid, the lone contractor to throw its hat in the ring came in much higher than expected. In December 2004, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped in and suspended the project, declaring that the Bay Area region would have to shoulder more of the ballooning cost of the project and calling for a second look at the bridge design.


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The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch

agricultural Revolution, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Bonfire of the Vanities, conceptual framework, cosmological principle, dark matter, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, first-past-the-post, Georg Cantor, global pandemic, Gödel, Escher, Bach, illegal immigration, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kenneth Arrow, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, pattern recognition, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, technological singularity, Thales of Miletus, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, William of Occam, zero-sum game

., Science and Ultimate Reality (Cambridge University Press, 2003) David Deutsch, ‘Quantum Theory of Probability and Decisions’, Proceedings of the Royal Society A455 (1999) David Deutsch, ‘The Structure of the Multiverse’, Proceedings of the Royal Society A458 (2002) Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law (BBC Publications, 1965) Richard Feynman, The Meaning of It All (Allen Lane, 1998) Ernest Gellner, Words and Things (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979) William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793) Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (Basic Books, 1979) Douglas Hofstadter, I am a Strange Loop (Basic Books, 2007) Bryan Magee, Popper (Fontana, 1973) Pericles, ‘Funeral Oration’ Plato, Euthyphro Karl Popper, In Search of a Better World (Routledge, 1995) Karl Popper, The World of Parmenides (Routledge, 1998) Roy Porter, Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World (Allen Lane, 2000) Martin Rees, Just Six Numbers (Basic Books, 2001) Alan Turing, ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’, Mind, 59, 236 (October 1950) Jenny Uglow, The Lunar Men (Faber, 2002) Vernor Vinge, ‘The Coming Technological Singularity’, Whole Earth Review, winter 1993 *The term was coined by the philosopher Norwood Russell Hanson.

The specifics of that chain of instantiations may be relevant to explaining how the program reached you, but it is irrelevant to why it beat you: there, the content of the knowledge (in it, and in you) is the whole story. That story is an explanation that refers ineluctably to abstractions; and therefore those abstractions exist, and really do affect physical objects in the way required by the explanation. The computer scientist Douglas Hofstadter has a nice argument that this sort of explanation is essential in understanding certain phenomena. In his book I am a Strange Loop (2007) he imagines a special-purpose computer built of millions of dominoes. They are set up – as dominoes often are for fun – standing on end, close together, so that if one of them is knocked over it strikes its neighbour and so a whole stretch of dominoes falls, one after another.

A steam engine is not a universal simulator. But a computer is, so expecting it to be able to do whatever neurons can is not a metaphor: it is a known and proven property of the laws of physics as best we know them. (And, as it happens, hydraulic pipes could also be made into a universal classical computer, and so could gears and levers, as Babbage showed.) Ironically, Lady Lovelace’s objection has almost the same logic as Douglas Hofstadter’s argument for reductionism (Chapter 5) – yet Hofstadter is one of today’s foremost proponents of the possibility of AI. That is because both of them share the mistaken premise that low-level computational steps cannot possibly add up to a higher-level ‘I’ that affects anything. The difference between them is that they chose opposite horns of the dilemma that that poses: Lovelace chose the false conclusion that AI is impossible, while Hofstadter chose the false conclusion that no such ‘I’ can exist.


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Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, Asilomar, augmented reality, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, blue-collar work, British Empire, Brownian motion, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, DARPA: Urban Challenge, delayed gratification, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hydrogen economy, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, John von Neumann, life extension, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mars Rover, mass immigration, megacity, Mitch Kapor, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, social intelligence, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, Turing machine, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Wall-E, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Review, X Prize

Ambassador Thomas Graham, expert on spy satellites John Grant, author of Corrupted Science Eric Green, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health Ronald Green, author of Babies by Design Brian Greene, professor of mathematics and physics, Columbia University, author of The Elegant Universe Alan Guth, professor of physics, MIT, author of The Inflationary Universe William Hanson, author of The Edge of Medicine Leonard Hayflick, professor of anatomy, University of California at San Francisco Medical School Donald Hillebrand, director of Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory Frank von Hipple, physicist, Princeton University Jeffrey Hoffman, former NASA astronaut, professor of aeronautics and astronautics, MIT Douglas Hofstadter, Pulitzer Prize winner, author of Gödel, Escher, Bach John Horgan, Stevens Institute of Technology, author of The End of Science Jamie Hyneman, host of MythBusters Chris Impey, professor of astronomy, University of Arizona, author of The Living Cosmos Robert Irie, former scientist at AI Lab, MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital P. J. Jacobowitz, PC magazine Jay Jaroslav, former scientist at MIT AI Lab Donald Johanson, paleoanthropologist, discoverer of Lucy George Johnson, science journalist, New York Times Tom Jones, former NASA astronaut Steve Kates, astronomer and radio host Jack Kessler, professor of neurology, director of Feinberg Neuroscience Institute, Northwestern University Robert Kirshner, astronomer, Harvard University Kris Koenig, filmmaker and astronomer Lawrence Krauss, Arizona State University, author of The Physics of Star Trek Robert Lawrence Kuhn, filmmaker and philosopher, PBS TV series Closer to Truth Ray Kurzweil, inventor, author of The Age of Spiritual Machines Robert Lanza, biotechnology, Advanced Cell Technology Roger Launius, coauthor of Robots in Space Stan Lee, creator of Marvel Comics and Spider-Man Michael Lemonick, former senior science editor, Time magazine, Climate Central Arthur Lerner-Lam, geologist, volcanist, Columbia University Simon LeVay, author of When Science Goes Wrong John Lewis, astronomer, University of Arizona Alan Lightman, MIT, author of Einstein’s Dreams George Linehan, author of SpaceShipOne Seth Lloyd, MIT, author of Programming the Universe Joseph Lykken, physicist, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Pattie Maes, MIT Media Laboratory Robert Mann, author of Forensic Detective Michael Paul Mason, author of Head Cases W.

AI researchers are split on the question of when this might happen. Some say that within twenty years robots will approach the intelligence of the human brain and then leave us in the dust. In 1993, Vernor Vinge said, “Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended …. I’ll be surprised if this event occurs before 2005 or after 2030.” On the other hand, Douglas Hofstadter, author of Gödel, Escher, Bach, says, “I’d be very surprised if anything remotely like this happened in the next 100 years to 200 years.” When I talked to Marvin Minsky of MIT, one of the founding figures in the history of AI, he was careful to tell me that he places no timetable on when this event will happen. He believes the day will come but shies away from being the oracle and predicting the precise date.

It is a law of evolution that fitter species arise to displace unfit species; and perhaps humans will be lost in the shuffle, eventually winding up in zoos where our robotic creations come to stare at us. Perhaps that is our destiny: to give birth to superrobots that treat us as an embarrassingly primitive footnote in their evolution. Perhaps that is our role in history, to give birth to our evolutionary successors. In this view, our role is to get out of their way. Douglas Hofstadter confided to me that this might be the natural order of things, but we should treat these superintelligent robots as we do our children, because that is what they are, in some sense. If we can care for our children, he said to me, then why can’t we also care about intelligent robots, which are also our children? Hans Moravec contemplates how we may feel being left in the dust by our robots: “… life may seem pointless if we are fated to spend it staring stupidly at our ultraintelligent progeny as they try to describe their ever more spectacular discoveries in baby talk that we can understand.”


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Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI by Paul R. Daugherty, H. James Wilson

3D printing, AI winter, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, digital twin, disintermediation, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, friendly AI, future of work, industrial robot, Internet of things, inventory management, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, knowledge worker, Lyft, natural language processing, personalized medicine, precision agriculture, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sensor fusion, sentiment analysis, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, software as a service, speech recognition, telepresence, telepresence robot, text mining, the scientific method, uber lyft

Many other researchers provided relevant findings and insights that enriched our thinking, including Mark Purdy, Ladan Davarzani, Athena Peppes, Philippe Roussiere, Svenja Falk, Raghav Narsalay, Madhu Vazirani, Sybille Berjoan, Mamta Kapur, Renee Byrnes, Tomas Castagnino, Caroline Liu, Lauren Finkelstein, Andrew Cavanaugh, and Nick Yennaco. We owe a special debt to the many visionaries and pioneers who have blazed AI trails and whose work has inspired and informed us, including Herbert Simon, John McCarthy, Marvin Minsky, Arthur Samuel, Edward Feigenbaum, Joseph Weizenbaum, Geoffrey Hinton, Hans Moravec, Peter Norvig, Douglas Hofstadter, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Yann LeCun, and Andrew Ng, among many others. And huge gratitude to our colleagues who provided insights and inspiration, including Nicola Morini Bianzino, Mike Sutcliff, Ellyn Shook, Marc Carrel-Billiard, Narendra Mulani, Dan Elron, Frank Meerkamp, Adam Burden, Mark McDonald, Cyrille Bataller, Sanjeev Vohra, Rumman Chowdhury, Lisa Neuberger-Fernandez, Dadong Wan, Sanjay Podder, and Michael Biltz.

Daugherty oversees Accenture’s technology strategy and innovation architecture, and he leads Accenture’s research and development, ventures, advanced technology, and ecosystem groups. He recently founded Accenture’s artificial intelligence business and has led Accenture’s research into artificial intelligence over many years. Daugherty studied computer engineering at the University of Michigan in the early 1980s, and on a whim took a course with Douglas Hofstadter on cognitive science and psychology. He was hooked, and this led to a career-long pursuit of AI. A frequent speaker and writer on industry and technology issues, Daugherty has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including the Financial Times, MIT Sloan Management Review, Forbes, Fast Company, USA Today, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, Cheddar financial news network, Bloomberg Television, and CNBC.


pages: 1,079 words: 321,718

Surfaces and Essences by Douglas Hofstadter, Emmanuel Sander

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, Benoit Mandelbrot, Brownian motion, cognitive dissonance, computer age, computer vision, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, Flynn Effect, Georg Cantor, Gerolamo Cardano, Golden Gate Park, haute couture, haute cuisine, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, l'esprit de l'escalier, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, place-making, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, theory of mind, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, yellow journalism, zero-sum game

SURFACES AND ESSENCES SURFACES AND ESSENCES ANALOGY AS THE FUEL AND FIRE OF THINKING DOUGLAS HOFSTADTER & EMMANUEL SANDER BASIC BOOKS A Member of the Perseus Books Group New York Grateful acknowledgment is hereby made to the following individuals and organizations for permission to use material that they have provided or to quote from sources for which they hold the rights. Every effort has been made to locate the copyright owners of material reproduced in this book. Omissions that are brought to our attention will be corrected in subsequent editions. Photograph of Mark Twain: © CORBIS Photograph of Edvard Grieg: © Michael Nicholson/CORBIS Photograph of Albert Einstein: © Philippe Halsman/Magnum Photos Photograph of Albert Schweitzer: © Bettmann/CORBIS We also most warmly thank Kellie Gutman and Tony Hoagland for their generous permission to publish their poems in this volume.

Photograph of Mark Twain: © CORBIS Photograph of Edvard Grieg: © Michael Nicholson/CORBIS Photograph of Albert Einstein: © Philippe Halsman/Magnum Photos Photograph of Albert Schweitzer: © Bettmann/CORBIS We also most warmly thank Kellie Gutman and Tony Hoagland for their generous permission to publish their poems in this volume. Copyright © 2013 by Basic Books Published by Basic Books A Member of the Perseus Books Group Designed by Douglas Hofstadter Cover by Nicole Caputo and Andrea Cardenas All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information, please contact Basic Books at 250 West 57th Street, New York, New York 10107. Books published by Basic Books are available at special discounts for bulk purchases in the United States by corporations, institutions, and other organizations. For more information, please contact the Special Markets Department at the Perseus Books Group, 2300 Chestnut Street, Suite 200, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103, or call (800) 810-4145, ext. 5000, or send an email to: special.markets@perseusbooks.com.

Organized by Boicho Kokinov, Keith Holyoak, and Dedre Gentner, this memorable meeting assembled researchers from many countries, who, in an easy-going and lively atmosphere, exchanged ideas about their shared passion. Chance thus brought the two of us together for the first time in Sofia, and we found we had an instant personal rapport — a joyous bright spark that gradually developed into a long-term and very strong friendship. In 2001–2002, Douglas Hofstadter spent a sabbatical year in Bologna, Italy, and during that period he was invited by Jean-Pierre Dupuy to give a set of lectures on cognition at the École Polytechnique in Paris. At that time, Emmanuel Sander had just published his first book — an in-depth study of analogy-making and categorization — and at one of the lectures he proudly presented a copy of it to his new friend, who, upon reading it, was delighted to discover how deeply similar was the vision that its author and he had of what cognition is really about.


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Virus of the Mind by Richard Brodie

cognitive dissonance, Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach, joint-stock company, New Journalism, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, publish or perish, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy

That key, though, also unlocks Pandora’s box, opening up such sophisticated new techniques for mass manipulation that we may soon look on today’s manipulative TV commercials, political speeches, and televangelists as fond remembrances of the good old days. The word meme was coined by Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Since then it has been tossed about by Dawkins and other evolutionary biologists, psychologists such as Henry Plotkin, and cognitive scientists such as Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett in an effort to flesh out the biological, psychological, and philosophical implications of this new model of consciousness and thought.* The meme has a central place in the paradigm shift that’s currently taking place in the science of life and culture. In the new paradigm, we look at cultural evolution from the point of view of the meme, rather than the point of view of an individual or society.

As you’ll see in the next few chapters, much of that programming is the result of infection by mind viruses. To begin to see that, take a look at what a virus is and how it works. ttt 34 C hapter three Viruses “Imagine that there is a nickelodeon in the local bar which, if you press buttons 11-U, will play a song whose lyrics go this way: Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon, All I want is 11-U, and music, music, music.” — Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach Long ago, possibly billions of years ago, there arose through evolution a new type of organism—if it can even be called an organism. The new thing had the unusual property that it could invade the reproductive facilities of other organisms and put them to use making copies of itself. We call this creature a virus. Viruses exist in three universes that we know of: — The first is the universe of biology, of organisms . . . of people, plants, and animals.


pages: 296 words: 78,631

Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms by Hannah Fry

23andMe, 3D printing, Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, airport security, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Brixton riot, chief data officer, computer vision, crowdsourcing, DARPA: Urban Challenge, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Firefox, Google Chrome, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, John Markoff, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, RAND corporation, ransomware, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, selection bias, self-driving car, Shai Danziger, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Tesla Model S, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web of trust, William Langewiesche

I can trade in facts about false positives and absolute truths about accuracy and statistics with complete confidence. But in the artistic sphere I’d prefer to defer to Leo Tolstoy. Like him, I think that true art is about human connection; about communicating emotion. As he put it: ‘Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.’23 If you agree with Tolstoy’s argument then there’s a reason why machines can’t produce true art. A reason expressed beautifully by Douglas Hofstadter, years before he encountered EMI: A ‘program’ which could produce music . . . would have to wander around the world on its own, fighting its way through the maze of life and feeling every moment of it. It would have to understand the joy and loneliness of a chilly night wind, the longing for a cherished hand, the inaccessibility of a distant town, the heartbreak and regeneration after a human death.

Quotations from Armand Leroi are from personal communication. The study he refers to is: Matthias Mauch, Robert M. MacCallum, Mark Levy and Armand M. Leroi, ‘The evolution of popular music: USA 1960–2010’, Royal Society Open Science, 6 May 2015, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.150081. 19. Quotations from David Cope are from personal communication. 20. This quote has been trimmed for brevity. See Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (London: Penguin, 1979), p. 673. 21. George Johnson, ‘Undiscovered Bach? No, a computer wrote it’, New York Times, 11 Nov. 1997. 22. Benjamin Griffin and Harriet Elinor Smith, eds, Autobiography of Mark Twain, vol. 3 (Oakland, CA, and London, 2015), part 1, p. 103. 23. Leo Tolstoy, What Is Art? (London: Penguin, 1995; first publ. 1897). 24.


pages: 301 words: 85,126

AIQ: How People and Machines Are Smarter Together by Nick Polson, James Scott

Air France Flight 447, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, availability heuristic, basic income, Bayesian statistics, business cycle, Cepheid variable, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, computer age, computer vision, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Charles Pickering, Elon Musk, epigenetics, Flash crash, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, index fund, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, late fees, low earth orbit, Lyft, Magellanic Cloud, mass incarceration, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Moravec's paradox, more computing power than Apollo, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, North Sea oil, p-value, pattern recognition, Pierre-Simon Laplace, ransomware, recommendation engine, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, speech recognition, statistical model, survivorship bias, the scientific method, Thomas Bayes, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, young professional

These codes told the Mark I exactly how to manipulate the bits (“binary digits,” or 0s and 1s) in its internal circuits. As the programmer, you had to know which codes did which things. In our tea-making example, code 72 04 might mean “move left foot,” 61 07 might mean “grasp faucet in left hand,” and so on. So: 72 04, 61 07 … that’s typical machine language. It’s a long way from “To be, or not to be”—a long way, even, from “Alexa, play me some eighties music.” As author Douglas Hofstadter put it, “Looking at a program written in machine language is vaguely comparable to looking at a DNA molecule atom by atom.”14 But this is how computers “think,” even today. And at the dawn of the digital age, there was simply no other way to tell them what to do. As a programmer of that era, you were basically a binary plumber, piping bits through a computer’s circuits with the help of a codebook that showed how to translate math problems into machine language.

Kathleen Broome Williams, Grace Hopper: Admiral of the Cyber Sea (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2004), 1.   5.  Ibid., 2.   6.  Ibid., 11.   7.  Ibid., 18–20.   8.  Ibid., 22.   9.  Ibid., 26. 10.  Ibid., 29. 11.  Ibid., 27–28. 12.  Ibid., 82. 13.  Kurt W. Beyer, Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2009), 53. 14.  Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (New York: Vintage, 1980), 290. 15.  Williams, Grace Hopper, 70. 16.  Ibid., 80. 17.  Ibid., 85. 18.  Ibid., 86. 19.  Ibid. 20.  See ibid., 87. Original reference in Richard L. Wexelblat, ed., History of Programming Languages I (New York: ACM, 1978), 17. 21.  Bruce T. Lowerre, “The HARPY Speech Recognition System,” Ph.D. thesis, Department of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, 1976. 22


pages: 301 words: 89,076

The Globotics Upheaval: Globalisation, Robotics and the Future of Work by Richard Baldwin

agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, commoditize, computer vision, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, deindustrialization, deskilling, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Downton Abbey, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, facts on the ground, future of journalism, future of work, George Gilder, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, hiring and firing, impulse control, income inequality, industrial robot, intangible asset, Internet of things, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, mass incarceration, Metcalfe’s law, new economy, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, post-work, profit motive, remote working, reshoring, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social intelligence, sovereign wealth fund, standardized shipping container, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, telepresence, telepresence robot, telerobotics, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, universal basic income

In 2016, Google Translate hits numbers like 5.8 And the capabilities are advancing in leaps and bounds. As is true of almost everything globots do, machine translation is not as good as expert humans, but it is a whole lot cheaper and a whole lot more convenient. Expert human translators, in particular, are quick to heap scorn on the talents of machine translation. The Atlantic Monthly, for instance, published an article in 2018 by Douglas Hofstadter doing just this.9 Hofsadter is a very sophisticated observer with very high standards when it comes to machine translation. With a father who won the 1961 Nobel Prize in Physics, a PhD in physics to his name and now a post as a professor of cognitive science, he is someone who knows what he is talking about. As he puts it: “The practical utility of Google Translate and similar technologies is undeniable, and probably it’s a good thing overall, but there is still something deeply lacking in the approach, which is conveyed by a single word: understanding.”

Kerr, and Christopher Stanton, NBER Working Paper 23398, April 2017. 6. Melisa Sukman, The Payoneer Freelancer Income Survey 2015. 7. Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig (2003). Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003). 8. Yonghui Wu et al., “Google’s Neural Machine Translation System: Bridging the Gap between Human and Machine Translation,” Technical Report, 2016. 9. Douglas Hofstadter, “The Shallowness of Google Translate,” The Atlantic Monthly, January 30, 2018. 10. Andy Martin, “Google Translate Will Never Outsmart the Human Mind,” The Independent, February 22. 2018. 11. Katherine Stapleton, “Inside the World’s Largest Higher Education Boom,” TheConversation. com, April 10, 2017. 12. Gideon Lewis-Kraus, “The Great A.I. Awakening,” New York Times Magazine, December 4, 2016. 13.


pages: 345 words: 84,847

The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman, Anthony Brandt

active measures, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Burning Man, cloud computing, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Dava Sobel, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Frank Gehry, Google Glasses, haute couture, informal economy, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, John Harrison: Longitude, John Markoff, lone genius, longitudinal study, Menlo Park, microbiome, Netflix Prize, new economy, New Journalism, pets.com, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, self-driving car, Simon Singh, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons, X Prize

We’ve chosen 2000 as the year of completion, although note that “finishing” this project took more than another decade, and further analysis is ongoing. 13 The proposition that all creativity is cognitively unified was first advanced by Arthur Koestler and subsequently developed by cognitive scientists Mark Turner and Gilles Fauconnier. In their seminal 2002 book, The Way We Think, Turner and Fauconnier describe human creativity as being rooted in our capacity for what they call conceptual integration or dual scope blending, from which we derive our term blending. In a similar vein, Douglas Hofstadter has argued that our capacity for metaphor is the cornerstone of human thinking. 14 Scientists are working hard to visualise the basis of imaginative thinking. Thanks to advances in neuroimaging, our understanding of brain function has made great leaps forward. By monitoring the flow of oxygenated blood, we can tell which regions are involved in different tasks and which regions are conversing in the cacophonous chat room of neurons.

We’ve chosen 2000 as the year of completion, although note that “finishing” this project took more than another decade, and further analysis is ongoing. 13 The proposition that all creativity is cognitively unified was first advanced by Arthur Koestler and subsequently developed by cognitive scientists Mark Turner and Gilles Fauconnier. In their seminal 2002 book, The Way We Think, Turner and Fauconnier describe human creativity as being rooted in our capacity for what they call conceptual integration or dual scope blending, from which we derive our term blending. In a similar vein, Douglas Hofstadter has argued that our capacity for metaphor is the cornerstone of human thinking. 14 Scientists are working hard to visualise the basis of imaginative thinking. Thanks to advances in neuroimaging, our understanding of brain function has made great leaps forward. By monitoring the flow of oxygenated blood, we can tell which regions are involved in different tasks and which regions are conversing in the cacophonous chat room of neurons.


pages: 696 words: 143,736

The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence by Ray Kurzweil

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, cellular automata, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, Danny Hillis, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Everything should be made as simple as possible, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, fudge factor, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, information retrieval, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jacquard loom, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, Law of Accelerating Returns, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, ought to be enough for anybody, pattern recognition, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, the medium is the message, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Whole Earth Review, Y2K

To the extent that this view stays aloof from the material world, it often creates a level of complex mysticism that cannot be verified and is subject to disagreement. To the extent that it keeps its mysticism simple, it offers limited objective insight, although subjective insight is another matter (I do have to admit a fondness for simple mysticism). The “We’re Too Stupid” School Another approach is to declare that human beings just aren’t capable of understanding the answer. Artificial intelligence researcher Douglas Hofstadter muses that “it could be simply an accident of fate that our brains are too weak to understand themselves. Think of the lowly giraffe, for instance, whose brain is obviously far below the level required for self-understanding-yet it is remarkably similar to our brain.”10 But to my knowledge, giraffes are not known to ask these questions (of course, we don’t know what they spend their time wondering about).

NANOTECHNOLOGY: REBUILDING THE WORLD, ATOM BY ATOM The problems of chemistry and biology can be greatly helped if... doing things on an atomic level is ultimately developed—a development which I think cannot be avoided. —Richard Feynman, 1959 Suppose someone claimed to have a microscopically exact replica (in marble, even) of Michelangelo’s David in his home. When you go to see this marvel, you find a twenty-foot-tall, roughly rectilinear hunk of pure white marble standing in his living room. “I haven’t gotten around to unpacking it yet,” he says, “but I know it’s in there.” —Douglas Hofstadter What advantages will nanotoasters have over conventional macroscopic toaster technology? First, the savings in counter space will be substantial. One philosophical point that must not be overlooked is that the creation of the world’s smallest toaster implies the existence of the world’s smallest slice of bread. In the quantum limit we must necessarily encounter fundamental toast particles, which we designate here as “croutons.”

A Musical Turing Test In 1997, Steve Larson, a University of Oregon music professor, arranged a musical variation of the Turing Test by having an audience attempt to determine which of three pieces of music had been written by a computer and which one of the three had been written two centuries ago by a human named Johann Sebastian Bach. Larson was only slightly insulted when the audience voted that his own piece was the computer composition, but he felt somewhat vindicated when the audience selected the piece written by a computer program named EMI (Experiments in Musical Intelligence) to be the authentic Bach composition. Douglas Hofstadter, a longtime observer of (and contributor to) the progression of machine intelligence, calls EMI, created by the composer David Cope, “the most thought-provoking project in artificial intelligence that I have ever come across.”2 Perhaps even more successful is a program called Improvisor, written by Paul Hodgson, a British jazz saxophone player. Improvisor can emulate styles ranging from Bach to jazz greats Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker.


pages: 329 words: 88,954

Emergence by Steven Johnson

A Pattern Language, agricultural Revolution, Brewster Kahle, British Empire, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, Danny Hillis, Douglas Hofstadter, edge city, epigenetics, game design, garden city movement, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Kevin Kelly, late capitalism, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Murano, Venice glass, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, pez dispenser, phenotype, Potemkin village, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, slashdot, social intelligence, Socratic dialogue, stakhanovite, Steven Pinker, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, Turing test, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush

But the pattern recognition that Turing and Shannon envisioned for digital computers has, in recent years, become a central part of our cultural life, with machines both generating music for our entertainment and recommending new artists for us to enjoy. The connection between musical patterns and our neurological wiring would play a central role in one of the founding texts of modern artificial intelligence, Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach. Our computers still haven’t developed a genuine ear for music, but if they ever do, their skill will date back to those lunchtime conversations between Shannon and Turing at Bell Labs. And that learning too will be a kind of emergence, a higher-level order forming out of relatively simple component parts. Five years after his interactions with Turing, Shannon published a long essay in the Bell System Technical Journal that was quickly repackaged as a book called The Mathematical Theory of Communication.

In 1969, Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert published “Perceptrons,” which built on Selfridge’s Pandemonium device for distributed pattern recognition, leading the way for Minsky’s bottom-up Society of Mind theory developed over the following decade. In 1972, a Rockefeller University professor named Gerald Edelman won the Nobel prize for his work decoding the language of antibody molecules, leading the way for an understanding of the immune system as a self-learning pattern-recognition device. Prigogine’s Nobel followed five years later. At the end of the decade, Douglas Hofstadter published Gödel, Escher, Bach, linking artificial intelligence, pattern recognition, ant colonies, and “The Goldberg Variations.” Despite its arcane subject matter and convoluted rhetorical structure, the book became a best-seller and won the Pulitzer prize for nonfiction. By the mideighties, the revolution was in full swing. The Santa Fe Institute was founded in 1984; James Gleick’s book Chaos arrived three years later to worldwide adulation, quickly followed by two popular-science books each called Complexity.


pages: 371 words: 93,570

Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans

"side hustle", 4chan, Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, British Empire, colonial rule, computer age, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, Doomsday Book, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, East Village, Edward Charles Pickering, game design, glass ceiling, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Haight Ashbury, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Honoré de Balzac, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, hypertext link, index card, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge worker, Leonard Kleinrock, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, Network effects, old-boy network, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pets.com, rent control, RFC: Request For Comment, rolodex, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, subscription business, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, telepresence, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, Y2K

They make programming languages, with their ever-higher levels of symbolic notation, comprehensible to the binary lizard brain of the computer. It’s now a given that using a computer—and even programming one—requires no specific knowledge of its hardware. I don’t speak binary, but through the dozens of software interpreters working in concert whenever I make contact with my computer, we understand each other. Machine code is now so distant from most users’ experience that the computer scientist and writer Douglas Hofstadter has compared examining machine code to “looking at a DNA molecule atom by atom.” Grace Hopper finished the first compiler, A-0, in the winter of 1951, during the peak of her personnel crisis at Remington Rand. The following May, she presented a paper on the subject, “The Education of a Computer,” at a meeting of the Association for Computing Machinery in Pittsburgh. In the paper, she explained something counterintuitive: that adding this extra step, a layer between the programmer and the computer, would increase efficiency.

CHAPTER FOUR: TOWER OF BABEL Not coming from any existing art: Jean Sammet, Programming Languages: History and Fundamentals (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1969), 44–53. “guarding skills and mysteries”: John Backus, “Programming in America in the 1950s: Some Personal Impressions,” in A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century, eds. N. Metropolis, J. Howlett, and Gian-Carlo Rota (New York: Academic Press, 1980), 127. The most basic programs specify: Abbate, Recoding Gender, 76. “looking at a DNA molecule”: Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 290. Ostensibly, a computer like the UNIVAC: Like many people in the 1950s, Grace uses “UNIVAC” to mean “computer.” “the novelty of inventing programs”: Grace Hopper, “The Education of a Computer,” ACM ’52, Proceedings of the 1952 ACM National Meeting, Pittsburgh, 243–49. “a well-grounded mathematical education”: Ibid.


pages: 761 words: 231,902

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil

additive manufacturing, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Brewster Kahle, Brownian motion, business cycle, business intelligence, c2.com, call centre, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, coronavirus, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Dean Kamen, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, factory automation, friendly AI, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the telephone, invention of the telescope, invention of writing, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, linked data, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mitch Kapor, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, premature optimization, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, remote working, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Rodney Brooks, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, selection bias, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Coming Technological Singularity, Thomas Bayes, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Y2K, Yogi Berra

Although it may seem difficult to envision the capabilities of a future civilization whose intelligence vastly outstrips our own, our ability to create models of reality in our mind enables us to articulate meaningful insights into the implications of this impending merger of our biological thinking with the nonbiological intelligence we are creating. This, then, is the story I wish to tell in this book. The story is predicated on the idea that we have the ability to understand our own intelligence—to access our own source code, if you will—and then revise and expand it. Some observers question whether we are capable of applying our own thinking to understand our own thinking. AI researcher Douglas Hofstadter muses that "it could be simply an accident of fate that our brains are too weak to understand themselves. Think of the lowly giraffe, for instance, whose brain is obviously far below the level required for self-understanding—yet it is remarkably similar to our brain.6 However, we have already succeeded in modeling portions of our brain-neurons and substantial neural regions and the complexity of such models is growing rapidly.

Until very recently neuroscience was characterized by overly simplistic models limited by the crudeness of our sensing and scanning tools. This led many observers to doubt whether our thinking processes were inherently capable of understanding themselves. Peter D. Kramer writes, "If the mind were simple enough for us to understand, we would be too simple to understand it."50 Earlier, I quoted Douglas Hofstadter's comparison of our brain to that of a giraffe, the structure of which is not that different from a human brain but which clearly does not have the capability of understanding its own methods. However, recent success in developing highly detailed models at various levels—from neural components such as synapses to large neural regions such as the cerebellum—demonstrate that building precise mathematical models of our brains and then simulating these models with computation is a challenging but viable task once the data capabilities become available.

The Age of Intelligent Machines, published in 1990 by MIT Press, was named Best Computer Science Book by the Association of American Publishers. The book explores the development of artificial intelligence and predicts a range of philosophic, social, and economic impacts of intelligent machines. The narrative is complemented by twenty-three articles on AI from thinkers such as Sherry Turkle, Douglas Hofstadter, Marvin Minsky, Seymour Papert, and George Gilder. For the entire text of the book, see http://www.KurzweilAI.net/aim. 5. Key measures of capability (such as price-performance, bandwidth, and capacity) increase by multiples (that is, the measures are multiplied by a factor for each increment of time) rather than being added to linearly. 6. Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel; Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (New York: Basic Books, 1979).


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The Creativity Code: How AI Is Learning to Write, Paint and Think by Marcus Du Sautoy

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Alvin Roth, Andrew Wiles, Automated Insights, Benoit Mandelbrot, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, Donald Trump, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fellow of the Royal Society, Flash crash, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Jacquard loom, John Conway, Kickstarter, Loebner Prize, mandelbrot fractal, Minecraft, music of the spheres, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Peter Thiel, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Rubik’s Cube, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons

This time the pieces were performed by human musicians. The critics’ response was much more positive. ‘The Game’: a musical Turing Test But would the output of Cope’s algorithm produce results that would pass a musical Turing Test? Could they be passed off as works by the composers themselves? To find out, Cope decided to stage a concert at the University of Oregon in collaboration with Douglas Hofstadter, a mathematician who wrote the classic book Gödel, Escher, Bach. Three pieces would be played. One of these would be an unfamiliar piece by Bach, the second would be composed by Emmy in the style of Bach and the third would be composed by a human, Steve Larson, who taught music theory at the university, again in the style of Bach. The three pieces would be played in random order by Larson’s wife, Winifred Kerner, a professional pianist.

Only a human creator will understand why another human mind would want to follow them on their creative journey. No doubt computers will assist us on our journey, but they will be the telescopes and typewriters, not the storytellers. 16 WHY WE CREATE: A MEETING OF MINDS Creativity is the essence of that which is not mechanical. Yet every creative act is mechanical – it has its explanation no less than a case of the hiccups does. Douglas Hofstadter Computers are a powerful new tool in extending the human code. We have discovered new moves in the game of Go that have expanded the way we play. Jazz musicians have heard parts of their sound world that they never realised were part of their repertoire. Mathematical theorems that were impossible for the human mind to navigate are now within reach. Adversarial algorithms are creating art that rivals work shown at international art fairs.


pages: 460 words: 107,712

A Devil's Chaplain: Selected Writings by Richard Dawkins

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, Desert Island Discs, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, Necker cube, out of africa, phenotype, placebo effect, random walk, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method

Exactly the same trick is performed in the ‘Mystery’ of the Trinity. Mysteries are not meant to be solved, they are meant to strike awe. The ‘mystery is a virtue’ idea comes to the aid of the Catholic, who would otherwise find intolerable the obligation to believe the obvious nonsense of the transubstantiation and the ‘three-in-one’. Again, the belief that ‘mystery is a virtue’ has a self-referential ring. As Douglas Hofstadter might put it, the very mysteriousness of the belief moves the believer to perpetuate the mystery. An extreme symptom of ‘mystery is a virtue’ infection is Tertullian’s ‘Certum est quia impossibile est’ (It is certain because it is impossible). That way madness lies. One is tempted to quote Lewis Carroll’s White Queen, who, in response to Alice’s ‘One can’t believe impossible things’, retorted, ‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice … When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day.

He eventually renounced his orders because he could no longer tolerate the obvious contradictions within Catholic belief, and he is now a highly respected scholar. But one cannot help remarking that it must be a powerful infection indeed that took a man of his wisdom and intelligence – now President of the British Academy, no less – three decades to fight off. Am I unduly alarmist to fear for the soul of my six-year-old innocent? 1This is among many related ideas that have been grown in the endlessly fertile mind of Douglas Hofstadter (Metamagical Themas, London, Penguin, 1985). 3.3 The Great Convergence85 Are science and religion converging? No. There are modern scientists whose words sound religious but whose beliefs, on close examination, turn out to be identical to those of other scientists who straightforwardly call themselves atheists. Ursula Goodenough’s lyrical book, The Sacred Depths of Nature,86 is sold as a religious book, is endorsed by theologians on the back cover, and its chapters are liberally laced with prayers and devotional meditations.


pages: 379 words: 108,129

An Optimist's Tour of the Future by Mark Stevenson

23andMe, Albert Einstein, Andy Kessler, augmented reality, bank run, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, clean water, computer age, decarbonisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, flex fuel, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hans Rosling, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, Leonard Kleinrock, life extension, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, off grid, packet switching, peak oil, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, social intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, the scientific method, Wall-E, X Prize

For Ray, though, that’s kind of the point – crib to jet fighter is really just a few doublings, the law of accelerating returns in action. In fact, Ray points out that sometimes the rate of doubling can double itself, creating the ‘hyper-exponential growth’ Stewart Brand references. Others are unconvinced. They see Ray the same way the State of Massachusetts sees Tracy – he makes a road where there isn’t one. Douglas Hofstadter is one critic. Now a cognitive scientist at Indiana University, he most famously authored Gödel, Escher, Bach – an attempt to explain how consciousness can arise from a system, even though the system’s component parts aren’t individually conscious. Hofstadter told American Scientist that he thought Ray’s ideas were like a blend of ‘very good food and some dog excrement’ that made it hard to untangle the ‘rubbish’ ideas from the good ones.

Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Discipline Viking Press, New York, 2009 This is the book that managed to cheer up James Lovelock. Brand told me ‘my views are strongly stated and loosely held’ – he wants a debate, and there is plenty in here to start one. Lucid, powerful and, despite its breadth and depth, a surprisingly easy read. RE-BOOT Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near Penguin, New York, 2005 Douglas Hofstadter pronounced the ideas in this book a blend of ‘very good food and some dog excrement’. That’s unfair but gives you some indication of how radical Kurzweil is. You may not want to agree with everything he says, but the argument over what we’ll do with technology is one of the defining battlegrounds of this century and it’s mapped out nicely here. John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, Lang Davison, The Power of Pull Basic Books, Philadelphia, 2010 A business book – but a wake-up call for anyone who still thinks the world is a hierarchy.


pages: 331 words: 104,366

Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins by Garry Kasparov

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, business process, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, computer age, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, Freestyle chess, Gödel, Escher, Bach, job automation, Leonard Kleinrock, low earth orbit, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nate Silver, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pattern recognition, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, rising living standards, rolodex, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero-sum game

Errors are reduced by quantity leading to quality, keeping the good examples and discarding the bad a billion times per second, although there will always be anomalies and, of course, sensitive nuclear technologies! Machine learning rescued AI from insignificance because it worked and because it was profitable. IBM, Google, and many others used it to create products that got useful results. But was it AI? Did that matter? AI theorists who wanted to understand and even replicate how the human mind worked were disappointed yet again. Douglas Hofstadter, the cognitive scientist who wrote the hugely influential book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid in 1979, has stayed true to his quest to comprehend human cognition. Consequently, he and his work have been marginalized within AI by the demand for immediate results, sellable products, and more and more data. Hofstadter expressed his frustrations in a great 2013 article about him by James Somers in the Atlantic.

My friend Shay Bushinsky and his colleague Amir Ban created the remarkable program Junior, my opponent in my final human-machine match in 2003. In recent years, many experts have had the patience to personally contribute to my education in artificial intelligence and robotics. Nick Bostrom and his colleagues at Oxford Martin’s Future of Humanity Institute; Andrew McAfee at MIT; Noel Sharkey at the University of Sheffield; Nigel Crook at Oxford Brookes University; David Ferrucci at Bridgewater. I’ve never met Douglas Hofstadter or Hans Moravec, but their writings on human and machine cognition are especially provocative and essential. Special thanks to: My agent at the Gernert Company, Chris Parris-Lamb, and my editor at PublicAffairs, Ben Adams. They have shown impressive resilience in adjusting deadlines to accommodate a chessplayer’s eternal love of time trouble. Peter Osnos, Clive Priddle, and Jaime Leifer, the terrific team at PublicAffairs.


pages: 375 words: 106,536

Lost at Sea by Jon Ronson

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Columbine, computer age, credit crunch, Douglas Hofstadter, Downton Abbey, East Village, Etonian, false memory syndrome, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, late fees, Louis Pasteur, obamacare, Peter Thiel, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Skype, telemarketer

“Nice to meet you, Jon,” she says, shooting me an excitingly clearheaded look. She’s like a whole new robot. “Are you a man or a woman?” “A man,” I say. “Don’t worry, it’ll be OK!” says Bina. “Ha-ha,” I say politely. “So. What’s your favorite book?” “Gödel, Escher, Bach, by Douglas Hofstadter,” Bina48 replies. “Do you know him? He’s a great robot scientist.” I narrow my eyes. I have my suspicions that the real Bina—a rather elegant-looking spiritualist—wouldn’t choose such a nerdy book as her favorite. Douglas Hofstadter is an author beloved by geeky computer programmers the world over. Could it be that some Hanson Robotics employee has sneakily smuggled this into Bina48’s personality? I put this to Bruce, and he explains that, yes, Bina48 has more than one “parent.” Her “higher key” is the real Bina, but Hanson Robotics people have been allowed to influence her too.


pages: 396 words: 117,149

The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos

Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Arthur Eddington, basic income, Bayesian statistics, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, Black Swan, Brownian motion, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, constrained optimization, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data is the new oil, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, Filter Bubble, future of work, global village, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, information retrieval, job automation, John Markoff, John Snow's cholera map, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Narrative Science, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, NP-complete, off grid, P = NP, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, planetary scale, pre–internet, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, scientific worldview, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, speech recognition, Stanford marshmallow experiment, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, zero-sum game

When we’re confronted with a new type of cancer—and that happens all the time because cancers keep mutating—the models we’ve learned for previous ones don’t apply. Neither do we have time to gather data on the new cancer from a lot of patients; there may be only one, and she urgently needs a cure. Our best hope is then to compare the new cancer with known ones and try to find one whose behavior is similar enough that some of the same lines of attack will work. Is there anything analogy can’t do? Not according to Douglas Hofstadter, cognitive scientist and author of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. Hofstadter, who looks a bit like the Grinch’s good twin, is probably the world’s best-known analogizer. In their book Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking, Hofstadter and his collaborator Emmanuel Sander argue passionately that all intelligent behavior reduces to analogy. Everything we learn or discover, from the meaning of everyday words like mother and play to the brilliant insights of geniuses like Albert Einstein and Évariste Galois, is the result of analogy in action.

Kevin Ashley explores case-based legal reasoning in Modeling Legal Arguments* (MIT Press, 1991). David Cope summarizes his approach to automated music composition in “Recombinant music: Using the computer to explore musical style” (IEEE Computer, 1991). Dedre Gentner proposed structure mapping in “Structure mapping: A theoretical framework for analogy”* (Cognitive Science, 1983). “The man who would teach machines to think,” by James Somers (Atlantic, 2013), discusses Douglas Hofstadter’s views on AI. The RISE algorithm is described in my paper “Unifying instance-based and rule-based induction”* (Machine Learning, 1996). Chapter Eight The Scientist in the Crib, by Alison Gopnik, Andy Meltzoff, and Pat Kuhl (Harper, 1999), summarizes psychologists’ discoveries about how babies and young children learn. The k-means algorithm was originally proposed by Stuart Lloyd at Bell Labs in 1957, in a technical report entitled “Least squares quantization in PCM”* (which later appeared as a paper in the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory in 1982).


pages: 141 words: 46,879

River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life by Richard Dawkins

double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, job satisfaction, Louis Pasteur, Menlo Park, out of africa, phenotype

She dutifully leaves the prey outside the burrow again and goes inside for yet another inspection. The experimenter may repeat this charade forty times, until he gets bored. The wasp behaves like a washing machine that has been set back to an early stage in its program and doesn't "know" that it has already washed those clothes forty times without a break. The distinguished computer scientist Douglas Hofstadter has adopted a new adjective, "sphexish," to label such inflexible, mindless automatism. (Sphex is the name of one representative genus of digger wasp.) At least in some respects, then, wasps are easy to fool. It is a very different kind of fooling from that engineered by the orchid. Nevertheless, we must beware of using human intuition to conclude that "in order for that reproductive strategy to have worked at all, it had to be perfect the first time."


pages: 158 words: 49,168

Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics by David Berlinski

Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Douglas Hofstadter, Eratosthenes, four colour theorem, Georg Cantor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Murray Gell-Mann, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine, William of Occam

Gödel’s monograph was not published in English until 1961, and even during the 1960s, when I was studying logic at Princeton—Gödel’s home, after all—the great theorem could only really be learned from mimeographed notes that Alonzo Church had carefully prepared and from a very useful popular account of the theorem written by Ernest Nagel and James Newmann. This has now changed, perhaps as the result of Douglas Hofstadter’s entertaining book, Gödel, Escher, Bach. And yet Gödel’s theorem has retained its esoteric aspect, with many mathematicians regarding it as marginal to their own working concerns. On the other hand, philosophers as well as physicists have attempted to appropriate Gödel’s theorem for their own ends. The physicist Stephen Hawking has recently declared that he for one has lost faith in the prospects of a single unified theory of everything; it has apparently been Gödel’s theorem, which he has been late in appreciating, that has persuaded him that any such system could not be complete if it were consistent.


pages: 487 words: 151,810

The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement by David Brooks

Albert Einstein, asset allocation, assortative mating, Atul Gawande, Bernie Madoff, business process, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, clean water, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Emanuel Derman, en.wikipedia.org, fear of failure, financial deregulation, financial independence, Flynn Effect, George Akerlof, Henri Poincaré, hiring and firing, impulse control, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, loss aversion, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Monroe Doctrine, Paul Samuelson, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, school vouchers, six sigma, social intelligence, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, Walter Mischel, young professional

A speaker of the language Tzeltal from Mexico was blindfolded and spun around twenty times. He still had no trouble pointing, north, south, east, and west. In this way, culture imprints some patterns in our brains and dissolves others. Because Erica grew up in the United States, she had a distinct sense of when something was tacky, even though she couldn’t have easily defined what made it so. Her head was filled with what Douglas Hofstadter calls “comfortable but quite impossible to define abstract patterns,” which were implanted by culture and organized her thinking into concepts such as: sleazeballs, fair play, dreams, wackiness, crackpots, sour grapes, goals, and you and I. Erica learned that a culture is not a recipe book that creates uniformity. Each culture has its own internal debates and tensions. Alasdair MacIntyre points out that each vital culture contains a continuity of conflict, which allows divergent behavior.

., 2009), 195. 40 But if you bump Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (New York: Penguin Books, 2002), 328. 41 Cities in the South Marc D. Hauser, Moral Minds: The Nature of Right and Wrong (New York: Harper Perennial, 2006), 134. 42 A cultural construct Guy Deutscher, “You Are What You Speak,” The New York Times Magazine, August 26, 2010, 44. 43 Her head was filled Douglas Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop (New York: Basic Books, 2007), 177. 44 They seem to be growing David Halpern, The Hidden Wealth of Nations (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010), 76. 45 “Cultures do not exist” Thomas Sowell, Migrations and Cultures: A World View (New York: Basic Books, 1996), 378. 46 Haitians and Dominicans share Lawrence E. Harrison, The Central Liberal Truth: How Politics Can Change a Culture and Save It from Itself (Cambridge: Oxford University Press, 2006), 26. 47 In Ceylon in 1969 Thomas Sowell, Race and Culture: A World View (New York: Basic Books, 1994), 67. 48 In Chile, three-quarters Sowell, Race and Culture, 25. 49 By the time they enter kindergarten Margaret Bridges, Bruce Fuller, Russell Rumberger, and Loan Tran, “Preschool for California’s Children: Unequal Access, Promising Benefits,” PACE Child Development Projects, University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute (September 2004): 7, http://gse.berkeley.edu/research/pace/reports/PB.04-3.pdf. 50 Roughly 54 percent of Asian Americans Abigail Thernstrom and Stephan Thernstrom, No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003), 85. 51 The average Asian American in New Jersey David Brooks, “The Limits of Policy,” New York Times, May 3, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/04/opinion/04brooks.html. 52 “Cultures of Corruption” Fisman, Raymond, and Edward Miguel, “Corruption, Norms and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets,” Journal of Political Economy 115, no. 6 (2007): 1020–48, http://www2.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/rfisman/parking_20july06_RF.pdf. 53 People in progress-prone Harrison, 53. 54 People in trusting cultures Francis Fukuyama, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity (New York: Free Press, 1996), 338. 55 Germany and Japan have high Edward Banfield, The Moral Basis of a Backward Society (New York: Free Press, 1967). 56 The merging of these two idea spaces Richard Ogle, Smart World: Breakthrough Creativity and the New Science of Ideas (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2007), 8–10. 57 Ronald Burt Ronald Burt, Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992).


Speaking Code: Coding as Aesthetic and Political Expression by Geoff Cox, Alex McLean

4chan, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, bash_history, bitcoin, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, dematerialisation, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Everything should be made as simple as possible, finite state, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Jacques de Vaucanson, Larry Wall, late capitalism, means of production, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, packet switching, peer-to-peer, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, Slavoj Žižek, social software, social web, software studies, speech recognition, stem cell, Stewart Brand, The Nature of the Firm, Turing machine, Turing test, Vilfredo Pareto, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks

Clearly syntax is also fundamental for the structure of a statement in a computer language, such as with the use of parentheses to produce subclauses while retaining the overall flow of logic. Conditional structures such as loops are commonplace in setting out instructions to perform repeated tasks, usually stopped under a certain condition, and loops rest within loops in intricate ways, including parenthesis within parenthesis (as with the appearance of { and }). With loops, simple sentences are able to reproduce themselves recursively, as in the example by Douglas Hofstadter: “The sentence I am now writing is the sentence you are now reading.”11 The referent “the sentence” is understandable only within the overall context of the words that make a sentence, this being one of the key structural elements of written language as a whole. Evidently it would be a mistake to think that grammars are simply devices for generating sentences, and much experimental software artwork has been developed with this principle in mind, partly in response to the overreliance on the syntactical aspects of coding and to address issues of meaning production at source.12 Whereas artists simply had to engage with programming in early computer arts or generative arts practice, the lack of this necessity now (due to the wide availability of scripting languages with libraries of functions) allows for wider issues to be engaged related to semantic and social concerns.


pages: 210 words: 62,771

Turing's Vision: The Birth of Computer Science by Chris Bernhardt

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, British Empire, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, Conway's Game of Life, discrete time, Douglas Hofstadter, Georg Cantor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Internet Archive, Jacquard loom, John Conway, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture

George Dyson’s Turing’s Cathedral continues from where Davis ends, telling the story of how computers came to be built after the Second World War. Despite the title, the focus is much more on von Neumann than on Turing. Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution gives a wide, sweeping history of the computer starting with Babbage and ending with the Web. Computers, minds, and the universe Scott Aaronson, David Deutsch, and Douglas Hofstadter are three computer scientists who have written thought-provoking works on a wide variety of ideas related to the theory of computation. Quantum Computing since Democritus by Aaranson, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by Deutsch, and Gödel, Escher, Bach by Hofstadter are all fascinating. Cellular automata We only looked briefly looked at cellular automata, but they have a long and interesting history.


pages: 240 words: 60,660

Models. Behaving. Badly.: Why Confusing Illusion With Reality Can Lead to Disaster, on Wall Street and in Life by Emanuel Derman

Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Black-Scholes formula, British Empire, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, Cepheid variable, creative destruction, crony capitalism, diversified portfolio, Douglas Hofstadter, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fixed income, Henri Poincaré, I will remember that I didn’t make the world, and it doesn’t satisfy my equations, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, law of one price, Mikhail Gorbachev, Myron Scholes, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Richard Feynman, riskless arbitrage, savings glut, Schrödinger's Cat, Sharpe ratio, stochastic volatility, the scientific method, washing machines reduced drudgery, yield curve

Nor need I call attention to the fact that many actions are observed in the lower animals, which far transcend human sagacity, and that somnambulists do many things in their sleep, which they would not venture to do when awake: these instances are enough to show, that the body can by the sole laws of its nature do many things which the mind wonders at. The brain, after all, is part of the body too. One of the lessons of twentieth-century physics—of relativity, quantum mechanics, and cosmology—is that the more we learn about matter, the more enigmatic it seems. There is a “mind” way of looking at things and there is also a “matter” way. In his book I Am a Strange Loop, Douglas Hofstadter imagines a digital computer built out of chains of dominoes constructed to divide the prime number 641 by all the numbers less than it. You begin the program by knocking over the first domino. The logic of the chains is such that if no number can divide 641 without a remainder, then the final domino in the chain will fall. The domino computer begins its computation, and the final domino falls a few seconds later.


pages: 224 words: 64,156

You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier

1960s counterculture, accounting loophole / creative accounting, additive manufacturing, Albert Einstein, call centre, cloud computing, commoditize, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, different worldview, digital Maoism, Douglas Hofstadter, Extropian, follow your passion, hive mind, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John Conway, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Long Term Capital Management, Network effects, new economy, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, slashdot, social graph, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, The Wisdom of Crowds, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog

The thinking goes that within the cloud there will be no need for the numinous halves of traditional oppositions such as syntax/semantics, quantity/quality, content/context, and knowledge/wisdom. A second flavor of computationalism holds that a computer program with specific design features—usually related to self-representation and circular references—is similar to a person. Some of the figures associated with this approach are Daniel Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter, though each has his own ideas about what the special features should be. Hofstadter suggests that software that includes a “strange loop” bears a resemblance to consciousness. In a strange loop, things are nested within things in such a way that an inner thing is the same as an outer thing. If you descend on a city using a parachute, land on a roof, enter the building through a door on that roof, go into a room, open another door to a closet, enter it, and find that there is no floor in the closet and you are suddenly once again falling in the vast sky toward the city, you are in a strange loop.


pages: 242 words: 68,019

Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, From Atoms to Economies by Cesar Hidalgo

"Robert Solow", Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, assortative mating, business cycle, Claude Shannon: information theory, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Douglas Hofstadter, Everything should be made as simple as possible, frictionless, frictionless market, George Akerlof, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, information asymmetry, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, New Economic Geography, Norbert Wiener, p-value, Paul Samuelson, phenotype, price mechanism, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, transaction costs, working-age population

Then this number gradually decreased, from forty-two in 1990 to twenty-nine in 2000 and twenty-two in 2008, eventually reaching the final number of twenty. See “Mathematics of the Rubik’s Cube,” Ruwix, http://ruwix.com/the-rubiks-cube/mathematics-of-the-rubiks-cube-permutation-group. 12. The idea that information involves aperiodicity and a multitude of correlations of different lengths is also explored in Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach. See, for instance, Chapter VI: The Location of Meaning. Douglas R. Hofstadter Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (New York: Basic Books, 1979). 13. In recent years methods inspired by the ideas of information have been used to identify new genes in what was believed to be intergenic material. See Anne-Ruxandra Carvunis et al., “Proto-genes and De Novo Gene Birth,” Nature 487, no. 7407 (2012): 370–374. 14.


pages: 586 words: 186,548

Architects of Intelligence by Martin Ford

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bayesian statistics, bitcoin, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cloud computing, cognitive bias, Colonization of Mars, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, DARPA: Urban Challenge, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Flash crash, future of work, gig economy, Google X / Alphabet X, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hans Rosling, ImageNet competition, income inequality, industrial robot, information retrieval, job automation, John von Neumann, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Loebner Prize, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, means of production, Mitch Kapor, natural language processing, new economy, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, Productivity paradox, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Sam Altman, self-driving car, sensor fusion, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, smart cities, social intelligence, speech recognition, statistical model, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, superintelligent machines, Ted Kaczynski, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, universal basic income, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, working-age population, zero-sum game, Zipcar

This is where my fascination with AI began. I then went to Harvard, for college, where they were just starting AI classes when I was a sophomore. So, I took my first AI class, and I was completely fascinated. They were not doing much in the way of AI at the time but, just a short subway ride away, I found myself at the MIT AI Lab and I remember that Marvin Minsky, the co-founder of MIT’s AI lab, was teaching. And actually Douglas Hofstadter, the author of Gödel, Escher, Bach, was a visiting professor, so I attended Douglas’s seminar and became even more enchanted with the field of AI. I got a part-time job as a programmer at the MIT AI Lab and for somebody who was just starting their career, I was, as they say, over the moon. As a result, I decided to go to graduate school to study AI. Graduate school for me was at Carnegie Mellon University where I worked with Tom Mitchell, who is one of the founding fathers of the field of machine learning.

MARTIN FORD: I do get the sense from talking to some other people, that they have great faith in machine learning as the way forward. The idea seems to be that if we just have enough data, and we get better at learning—especially in areas like unsupervised learning—then common-sense reasoning will emerge organically. It sounds like you would not agree with that. OREN ETZIONI: The notion of “emergent intelligence” was actually a term that Douglas Hofstadter, the cognitive scientist, talked about back in the day. Nowadays people talk about it in various contexts, with consciousness, and with common sense, but that’s really not what we’ve seen. We do find that people, including myself, have all kinds of speculations about the future, but as a scientist, I like to base my conclusions on the specific data that we’ve seen. And what we’ve seen is people using deep learning as high-capacity statistical models.


pages: 317 words: 84,400

Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World by Christopher Steiner

23andMe, Ada Lovelace, airport security, Al Roth, algorithmic trading, backtesting, big-box store, Black-Scholes formula, call centre, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, delta neutral, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, dumpster diving, Flash crash, G4S, Gödel, Escher, Bach, High speed trading, Howard Rheingold, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge economy, late fees, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, medical residency, money market fund, Myron Scholes, Narrative Science, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prediction markets, quantitative hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Mercer, Sergey Aleynikov, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator

An audience of a few hundred people listened while three piano pieces, all meant to sound like Bach, were played, one composed by Emmy, one by Larson, and one by Bach himself. The audience then voted on the identity of each composition. Larson’s pride took a ding when his piece was fingered as that belonging to the computer. When the crowd decided that Emmy’s piece was the true product of the late musician, Larson winced.13 Douglas Hofstadter, a professor of cognitive science at Indiana University, oversaw the competition among Larson, Emmy, and Bach. Hofstadter’s 1979 book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid contemplated artificial intelligence and music composition and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. “Emmy forces us to look at great works of art and wonder where they came from and how deep they really are,” Hofstadter said at the time.14 With a victory in a controlled, academic setting, Emmy’s profile soared, as did Cope’s.


pages: 301 words: 85,263

New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future by James Bridle

AI winter, Airbnb, Alfred Russel Wallace, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, British Empire, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, congestion charging, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, drone strike, Edward Snowden, fear of failure, Flash crash, Google Earth, Haber-Bosch Process, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, late capitalism, lone genius, mandelbrot fractal, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Minecraft, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Network effects, oil shock, p-value, pattern recognition, peak oil, recommendation engine, road to serfdom, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, social graph, sorting algorithm, South China Sea, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, stem cell, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, the built environment, the scientific method, Uber for X, undersea cable, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks

The endless circulation of undated, unattributed information in news tickers and digital streams shredded our ability to tell coherent stories about the world. 9/11 – not the specific event itself, but the media environment it occurred in and accelerated – heralded the arrival of a new age of paranoia, best exemplified in the conspiracies of government complicity in the event, but mirrored at every level of society. Douglas Hofstadter, writing in 1964, created the term ‘paranoid style’ to characterise American politics. Citing examples ranging from Masonic and anti-Catholic panics in the 1800s to Senator Joe McCarthy’s assertions of high-level government conspiracy in the 1950s, Hofstadter outlined a history of othering: the casting of an invisible enemy as ‘a perfect model of malice, a kind of amoral superman – sinister, ubiquitous, powerful, cruel, sensual, luxury-loving’.29 The most common attribute of this enemy is their extraordinary power: ‘Unlike the rest of us, the enemy is not caught in the toils of the vast mechanism of history, himself a victim of his past, his desires, his limitations.


pages: 282 words: 81,873

Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey Into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley by Corey Pein

23andMe, 4chan, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, bank run, barriers to entry, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Build a better mousetrap, California gold rush, cashless society, colonial rule, computer age, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Extropian, gig economy, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, hacker house, hive mind, illegal immigration, immigration reform, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, obamacare, passive income, patent troll, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer lending, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, platform as a service, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-work, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, RFID, Robert Mercer, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Scientific racism, self-driving car, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Skype, Snapchat, social software, software as a service, source of truth, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, telepresence, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, tulip mania, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, X Prize, Y Combinator

In other words, our new robot overlords might reduce humans to slaves, livestock, or, if we’re lucky, pets. Like many creative types, Vinge lacked the business savvy to fully exploit the market potential of his ideas. That task fell to Ray Kurzweil. A consummate brand builder, Kurzweil turned Vinge’s frown upside-down and recast the Singularity as a great big cosmic party, to great commercial success. Douglas Hofstadter, the scientist and author, derided Kurzweil’s theses as “a very bizarre mixture of ideas that are solid … with ideas that are crazy.” Nevertheless, it was a winning formula. By 2011, Time magazine named Kurzweil one of the one hundred “most influential people in the world” and endorsed the Singularity sect in a cover story. While seemingly “preposterous,” the magazine declared, the prospect of “super-intelligent immortal cyborgs” deserved “sober, careful evaluation.”


pages: 1,535 words: 337,071

Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning About a Highly Connected World by David Easley, Jon Kleinberg

Albert Einstein, AltaVista, clean water, conceptual framework, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Douglas Hofstadter, Erdős number, experimental subject, first-price auction, fudge factor, George Akerlof, Gerard Salton, Gerard Salton, Gödel, Escher, Bach, incomplete markets, information asymmetry, information retrieval, John Nash: game theory, Kenneth Arrow, longitudinal study, market clearing, market microstructure, moral hazard, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, Pareto efficiency, Paul Erdős, planetary scale, prediction markets, price anchoring, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, random walk, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, sealed-bid auction, search engine result page, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, Simon Singh, slashdot, social web, Steve Jobs, stochastic process, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, The Wisdom of Crowds, trade route, transaction costs, ultimatum game, Vannevar Bush, Vickrey auction, Vilfredo Pareto, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

Researchers have used techniques like word association studies (e.g. “Tell me what you think of when I say the word ‘cold’ ”) as a way to probe the otherwise implicit structure of semantic networks as they exist in people’s minds [375]. Sometimes people also try to make these associations explicit for themselves, as a way to map out how they think about a topic. For example, Figure 13.5 depicts a semantic network hand-drawn by Douglas Hofstadter to illustrate the relationships among some of the many interlocking concepts in his book Gödel, Escher, Bach [217]. Vannevar Bush and the Memex. Thus, information networks date back into much earlier periods in our history; for centuries, they were associated with libraries and scholarly literature, rather than with computer technology and the Internet. The idea that they could assume a strongly technological incarnation, in the form of something like the Web, is generally credited to Vannevar Bush and his seminal 1945 article in the Atlantic Monthly, entitled “As We May Think” [88].

Bush therefore called for the creation of information systems that mimicked this style of memory; he imagined a hypothetical prototype called the Memex that functioned very much like the Web, consisting of digitized versions of all human knowledge connected by associative links, and he imagined a range of commercial applications and knowledge-sharing activities that could take place around such a device. In this way, Bush’s article foreshadowed not only the Web itself, but also many of the dominant metaphors that 13.2. INFORMATION NETWORKS, HYPERTEXT, AND ASSOCIATIVE MEMORY391 Figure 13.5: Part of Douglas Hofstadter’s semantic network representing the relationships among concepts in his book Gödel, Escher, Bach [217]. (Image from http://caad.arch.ethz.ch/teaching/nds/ws98/script/text/img-text/hofstadter2.gif) are now used to think about the Web: the Web as universal encyclopedia; the Web as giant socio-economic system; the Web as global brain. The fact that Vannever Bush’s vision was so accurate is not in any sense coincidental; Bush occupied a prominent position in the U.S. government’s scientific funding establishment, and his ideas about future directions had considerable reach.

American Journal of Sociology, 99:1157–1179, 1994. [214] Fritz Heider. Attitudes and cognitive organization. Journal of Psychology, 21:107–112, 1946. [215] Fritz Heider. The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations. John Wiley & Sons, 1958. BIBLIOGRAPHY 815 [216] Robert Heinsohn and Craig Packer. Complex cooperative strategies in group-territorial African lions. Science, 269:1260–1262, September 1995. [217] Douglas Hofstadter. Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. Basic Books, 1979. [218] Bernardo A. Huberman, Daniel M. Romero, and Fang Wu. Social networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope. First Monday, 14(1), January 2009. [219] Steffen Huck and Jorg Oechssler. Informational cascades in the laboratory: Do they occur for the right reasons? Journal of Economic Psychology, 21(6):661–671, 2000


pages: 286 words: 90,530

Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think by Alan Grafen; Mark Ridley

Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, bioinformatics, cognitive bias, computer age, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, Haight Ashbury, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, loose coupling, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, phenotype, profit maximization, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

But this is not inevitable; there are few experiences more unsettling to a philosopher than watching a non-philosopher stumble into agreement with one’s most carefully executed conclusions by a sort of lucky drunkard’s walk. Dawkins, in contrast, is impressively surefooted. I didn’t read The Selfish Gene when it came out in 1976 because of some negative comment I ran into—I can’t recall from whom—to the effect that the book was too clever by half, a bit of popularizing that could well be ignored. So I am deeply grateful to Douglas Hofstadter for undoing the damage of that bum steer fairly soon, in 1980, when he and I were working on our anthology, The Mind’s I,2 in which we included two excerpts, under the title ‘Selfish Genes and Selfish Memes’. (Several times in my life I’ve taken the word of somebody I regarded well and moved a new book onto my ‘don’t bother’ list only to discover later that this was a book that properly belonged on my ‘read immediately’ pile.


pages: 358 words: 93,969

Climate Change by Joseph Romm

carbon footprint, Climatic Research Unit, decarbonisation, demand response, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, energy security, energy transition, failed state, hydraulic fracturing, hydrogen economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), knowledge worker, mass immigration, performance metric, renewable energy transition, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, the scientific method

However, many in the media continue to quote those who deny basic climate science. In December 2014, four dozen leading scientists and science journalists/communicators issued a statement urging the media to “Please stop using the word ‘skeptic’ to describe deniers” of climate science. The 48 signatories from the United States, the United Kingdom, and around the world are Fellows of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. They include Nobel laureate Sir Harold Kyoto; Douglas Hofstadter, Director of The Center for Research on Concepts and Cognition at Indiana University; physicist Lawrence Krauss, Director of The Arizona State University Origins Project; and Bill Nye “the Science Guy.” The scientists and journalists were motivated by a November 2014, New York Times article, “Republicans Vow to Fight EPA and Approve Keystone Pipeline” that referred to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) as “a prominent skeptic of climate change.”


pages: 1,737 words: 491,616

Rationality: From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, anti-pattern, anti-work, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, Build a better mousetrap, Cass Sunstein, cellular automata, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological constant, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, different worldview, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, effective altruism, experimental subject, Extropian, friendly AI, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, index card, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, Nash equilibrium, Necker cube, NP-complete, P = NP, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, planetary scale, prediction markets, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, scientific worldview, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Solar eclipse in 1919, speech recognition, statistical model, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the map is not the territory, the scientific method, Turing complete, Turing machine, ultimatum game, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

A chimp couldn’t tell the difference between Einstein and the village idiot, and our descendants may not see much of a difference either. Carl Shulman has observed that some academics who talk about transhumanism seem to use the following scale of intelligence: Douglas Hofstadter actually said something like this, at the 2006 Singularity Summit. He looked at my diagram showing the “village idiot” next to “Einstein,” and said, “That seems wrong to me; I think Einstein should be way off on the right.” I was speechless. Especially because this was Douglas Hofstadter, one of my childhood heroes. It revealed a cultural gap that I had never imagined existed. See, for me, what you would find toward the right side of the scale was a Jupiter Brain. Einstein did not literally have a brain the size of a planet. On the right side of the scale, you would find Deep Thought—Douglas Adams’s original version, thank you, not the chess player.

People are more likely to say “You can sit in that chair” than “You can sit in that recliner” or “You can sit in that furniture.” And it is no coincidence that the word for “chair” contains fewer syllables than either “recliner” or “furniture.” Basic-level categories, in general, tend to have short names; and nouns with short names tend to refer to basic-level categories. Not a perfect rule, of course, but a definite tendency. Frequent use goes along with short words; short words go along with frequent use. Or as Douglas Hofstadter put it, there’s a reason why the English language uses “the” to mean “the” and “antidisestablishmentarianism” to mean “antidisestablishmentarianism” instead of antidisestablishmentarianism other way around. * 175 Mutual Information, and Density in Thingspace Suppose you have a system X that can be in any of 8 states, which are all equally probable (relative to your current state of knowledge), and a system Y that can be in any of 4 states, all equally probable.

Tortoise: “And might there not also be some reader who would say, ‘I accept A and B as true, but I don’t accept the Hypothetical’?” Achilles, unwisely, concedes this; and so asks the Tortoise to accept another proposition: (C) If A and B are true, Z must be true. But, asks, the Tortoise, suppose that he accepts A and B and C, but not Z? Then, says, Achilles, he must ask the Tortoise to accept one more hypothetical: (D) If A and B and C are true, Z must be true. Douglas Hofstadter paraphrased the argument some time later: ACHILLES: “If you have [(A and B) → Z], and you also have (A and B), then surely you have Z.” TORTOISE: “Oh! You mean ((A and B) and [(A and B) → Z]) → Z, don’t you?” As Hofstadter says, “Whatever Achilles considers a rule of inference, the Tortoise immediately flattens into a mere string of the system. If you use only the letters A, B, and Z, you will get a recursive pattern of longer and longer strings.”


pages: 846 words: 232,630

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life by Daniel C. Dennett

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, assortative mating, buy low sell high, cellular automata, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, Danny Hillis, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, finite state, Gödel, Escher, Bach, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, non-fiction novel, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Schrödinger's Cat, selection bias, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine, Turing test

Probably nobody is a reductionist in the preposterous sense, and everybody should be a reductionist in the bland sense, so the "charge" of reductionism is too vague to merit a response. If somebody says to you, "But that's so reductionistic!" you would do well to respond, "That's such a quaint, old-fashioned complaint! What on Earth did you have in mind?" I am happy to say that in recent years, some of the thinkers I most admire have come out in defense of one or another version of reductionism, carefully circumscribed. The cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter, in Godel Escher Bach, composed a "Prelude ... Ant Fugue" (Hofstadter 1979, pp. 275-336) that is an analytical hymn to the virtues of reductionism in its proper place. George C. Williams, one of the pre-eminent evolutionists of the day, published "A Defense of Reductionism in Evolutionary Biology" (1985). The zoologist Richard Dawkins has distinguished what he calls hierarchical or gradual reductionism from precipice reductionism; he rejects only the precipice version (Dawkins 1986b, p. 74).1 More recently the physicist Steven Weinberg, in Dreams of a Final Theory (1992), has written a chapter entitled "Two Cheers for Reductionism," in which he distinguishes between uncompromising reductionism (a bad thing) and compromising reductionism (which he ringingly endorses).

., a-rational allegiance, because just having rules, or endorsing or accepting rules, is no design solution at all. Having the rules, having all the information, and even having good intentions do not suffice, by themselves, to guarantee the right action; the agent must find all the right stuff and use it, even in the face of contrary rational challenges designed to penetrate his convictions. Having, and recognizing the force of, rules is not enough, and sometimes the agent is better off with less. Douglas Hofstadter draws attention to a phenomenon he calls "reverberant doubt," which is stipulated out of existence in most idealized theoretical discussions. In what Hofstadter calls "Wolf's Dilemma," an "obvious" nondilemma is turned into a serious dilemma by nothing but the passage of time and the possibility of reverberant doubt. Imagine that twenty people are selected from your high school graduation class, you among them.


pages: 338 words: 100,477

Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds by Kevin Dutton

availability heuristic, Bernie Madoff, call centre, Cass Sunstein, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, credit crunch, different worldview, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, equity premium, fundamental attribution error, haute couture, job satisfaction, loss aversion, Milgram experiment, placebo effect, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile

Could it be the one that you chose? 1 Aficionados of Gary Larson’s Far Side may have come across a similar line in their favourite cartoon series. The captain of this particular plane was evidently a fan. 2 This has to be seen to be believed. Check out Cleese’s tribute to his former colleague on YouTube: Graham Chapman’s Funeral. 3 The Wolf’s Dilemma was conceived by the American games theorist Douglas Hofstadter. Hofstadter, Douglas R., Metamagical themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern (New York, NY: Basic Books 1985). 4 Everything sounds more impressive when said in Latin. 5 In medicine it works the other way. 25The extent to which nurses are able to inhibit facial expression and conceal their inner feelings is correlated with higher ratings from their superiors (perhaps not surprising given the occasional necessity to hide from patients the true severity of their condition).


pages: 477 words: 106,069

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker

butterfly effect, carbon footprint, crowdsourcing, Douglas Hofstadter, feminist movement, functional fixedness, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, index card, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, McMansion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, Nelson Mandela, profit maximization, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, short selling, Steven Pinker, the market place, theory of mind, Turing machine

(It’s possible that their trees differ, with a lot being the head of the phrase in the first version but a determiner of the head errors in the second.) When the of-phrase is absent, the writer mentally supplies it, and the phantom phrase determines the number: A lot [of people] were coming; A lot [of money] was spent. Other chameleonic quantifiers include couple, majority, more than one, pair, percentage, plenty, remainder, rest, and subset. And then there is the puzzling construction one of those who. Recently I endorsed a book by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander with a blurb that began, “I am one of those cognitive scientists who believes that analogy is a key to explaining human intelligence.” Hofstadter thanked me but sheepishly asked if I would mind correcting who believes to who believe. I even more sheepishly agreed, because Hofstadter (as his readers might expect) was engaging in impeccable tree-thinking. The relative clause beginning with who is attached to the plural cognitive scientists, not the singular one: there is a set of cognitive scientists (plural) who value analogy, and I belong to that set.


pages: 370 words: 107,983

Rage Inside the Machine: The Prejudice of Algorithms, and How to Stop the Internet Making Bigots of Us All by Robert Elliott Smith

Ada Lovelace, affirmative action, AI winter, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, animal electricity, autonomous vehicles, Black Swan, British Empire, cellular automata, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, corporate personhood, correlation coefficient, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Fellow of the Royal Society, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, Gerolamo Cardano, gig economy, Gödel, Escher, Bach, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, John Harrison: Longitude, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, new economy, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, p-value, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, Pierre-Simon Laplace, precariat, profit maximization, profit motive, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, stochastic process, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, twin studies, Vilfredo Pareto, Von Neumann architecture, women in the workforce

Ali Rahimi, Google, www.artificial-intelligence.video/nips-2017-test-of-time-award-machine-learning-has-become-alchemy-ali-rahimi-google 7Olivia Weinberg, 2012, Dalí the Iceberg. 1843 Magazine, www.1843magazine.com/content/arts/dal%C3%AD-iceberg 8I’ve taken great care here not to use the word ‘true’, as in true/false, here. Although that language might be easier for true/false logic, it would run straight into the complex etymology and implied meanings of ‘truth’ mentioned earlier. 9This important observation about the limitations of algorithmic systems is covered in wonderful detail in Douglas Hofstadter’s classic 1979 book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. 10In a variation on Gödel’s proof, Turing also showed that there were some things that computers strictly cannot do. In particular, he showed that no computer can always determine whether any given program on that computer will stop running, or ‘halt’. Like Gödel’s proof, the argument is a fascinating recursion, proving that, regardless of the computer, one can always write a program that can’t prove whether it itself will halt, creating a paradox, and demonstrating the proof. 11To avoid confusion between real neurons and neural networks algorithms, the terms connectionism and connectionist will be used for computer algorithms. 12Eric D.


pages: 380 words: 118,675

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

airport security, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Black Swan, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, buy and hold, call centre, centre right, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, facts on the ground, game design, housing crisis, invention of movable type, inventory management, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kodak vs Instagram, late fees, loose coupling, low skilled workers, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, optical character recognition, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, quantitative hedge fund, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, RFID, Rodney Brooks, search inside the book, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, Skype, statistical arbitrage, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Thomas L Friedman, Tony Hsieh, Whole Earth Catalog, why are manhole covers round?, zero-sum game

“I remember thinking that it was very improbable that people would ever want to do this,” says Susan Benson, whose husband, Eric, was a former colleague of Kaphan’s. Both would become early employees at Amazon. Kaphan invited a former coworker, John Wainwright, to try the service, and Wainwright is credited with making the very first purchase: Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies, a science book by Douglas Hofstadter. His Amazon account history records the date of that inaugural order as April 3, 1995. Today, a building on Amazon’s Seattle’s campus is named Wainwright. While the site wasn’t much to look at, Kaphan and Davis had accomplished a lot on it in just a few months. There was a virtual shopping basket, a safe way to enter credit card numbers into a Web browser, and a rudimentary search engine that scoured a catalog drawn from the Books in Print CD-ROMs, a reference source published by R.


Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models by Gabriel Weinberg, Lauren McCann

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, anti-pattern, Anton Chekhov, autonomous vehicles, bank run, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, business process, butterfly effect, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Attenborough, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, fear of failure, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, framing effect, friendly fire, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, housing crisis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, income inequality, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, lateral thinking, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, Lyft, mail merge, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, nuclear winter, offshore financial centre, p-value, Parkinson's law, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, Potemkin village, prediction markets, premature optimization, price anchoring, principal–agent problem, publication bias, recommendation engine, remote working, replication crisis, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school choice, Schrödinger's Cat, selection bias, Shai Danziger, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, survivorship bias, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, uber lyft, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wikimedia commons

When your top priority has a deadline far in the future, it doesn’t mean that you need to spend all your time on it until the deadline. The sooner you finish, the sooner you can move on to the next item on your list. You also never know when finishing early might help you—for instance, when something important and urgent pops up in your Eisenhower Decision Matrix. A couple of whimsical models capture the feelings surrounding end-of-project work. In his book Gödel, Escher, Bach, cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter coined Hofstadter’s law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law. In other words, things take longer than you expect, even when you consider that they take longer than you expect! Tom Cargill was credited (in the September 1985 Communications of the ACM) for the similar ninety-ninety rule from his time programming at Bell Labs in the 1980s: The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time.


pages: 336 words: 113,519

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis

Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, complexity theory, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, endowment effect, feminist movement, framing effect, hindsight bias, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, loss aversion, medical residency, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Nate Silver, New Journalism, Paul Samuelson, Richard Thaler, Saturday Night Live, Stanford marshmallow experiment, statistical model, the new new thing, Thomas Bayes, Walter Mischel, Yom Kippur War

The doctors had scanned his body and found it riddled with cancer. They were now giving him, at best, six months to live. Danny was the second person he’d called with the news. Hearing that, something inside Danny gave. “He was saying, ‘We’re friends, whatever you think we are.’” * * * * After the article appeared, in the October 1983 issue of Psychological Review, the best-selling author and computer scientist Douglas Hofstadter sent Amos his own vignettes. Example: Fido barks and chases cars. Which is Fido more likely to be: (1) a cocker spaniel or (2) an entity in the universe? Coda BORA-BORA Consider the following scenario. Jason K. is a fourteen-year-old homeless boy who lives in a large American city. He is shy and withdrawn but extremely resourceful. His father was murdered when he was young; his mother is an addict.


pages: 405 words: 117,219

In Our Own Image: Savior or Destroyer? The History and Future of Artificial Intelligence by George Zarkadakis

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, animal electricity, anthropic principle, Asperger Syndrome, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, British Empire, business process, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, continuous integration, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological principle, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Snowden, epigenetics, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kickstarter, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, millennium bug, Moravec's paradox, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, off grid, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, post-industrial society, prediction markets, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

Second-order emergence in the brain is when neurons connect and give rise to memories, sensations and thoughts that, in turn, observe the brain itself. It is this type of self-referential emergence that is most interesting to Artificial Intelligence. If we can make artificial systems evolve second-order emergence then we will have engineered artificial consciousness. And the key to understanding how second-order emergence arises in living systems is reflexivity. The fugue of the mind In 1979 the American mathematician and philosopher Douglas Hofstadter published a ground-breaking book17 that explored how self-reference and formal rules allow meaning to emerge from meaningless elements. The book created a sensation because, apart from its very serious scientific premise, it was also inspired by art. Entitled Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, the book used narratives, paradoxes and logical arguments to explore the connection between the Austrian mathematician who discovered the limits of logic, the Dutch graphic artist who challenged our visual perception and the German composer who produced some of the most beautiful music ever.


pages: 413 words: 119,587

Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots by John Markoff

"Robert Solow", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, airport security, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Duvall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cellular automata, Chris Urmson, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Dean Kamen, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Gunnar Myrdal, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, haute couture, hive mind, hypertext link, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, loose coupling, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, medical residency, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, semantic web, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, skunkworks, Skype, social software, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tenerife airport disaster, The Coming Technological Singularity, the medium is the message, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, zero-sum game

There was free food at corporate and academic events every evening and no shortage of “womanizing” opportunities. He bought a home in Los Trancos Woods several miles from Stanford, near SAIL, which was just in the process of moving from the foothills down to a new home on the central Stanford campus. When he arrived at Stanford in 1979 the first golden age of AI was in full swing—graduate students like Douglas Hofstadter, the author of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid; Rodney Brooks; and David Shaw, who would later take AI techniques and transform them into a multibillion-dollar hedge fund on Wall Street, were all still around. The commercial forces that would lead to the first wave of AI companies like Intellicorp, Syntelligence, and Teknowledge were now taking shape. While Penn had been like an ivory castle, the walls between academia and the commercial world were coming down at Stanford.


pages: 480 words: 123,979

Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters With Reality and Virtual Reality by Jaron Lanier

4chan, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, carbon footprint, cloud computing, collaborative editing, commoditize, cosmological constant, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, Firefox, game design, general-purpose programming language, gig economy, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, impulse control, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kuiper Belt, lifelogging, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, Murray Gell-Mann, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, wikimedia commons

Individuals can be identified by where they are found, and who with; by quirks of how they move or through strategic chitchat, or by fashion and accessory choices (the popularity of tattoos has been helpful). 5.   Scott Kim is known for his symmetrical calligraphy and a mathematical dance troupe as well as his work in visual programming. He was featured in Gödel, Escher, Bach, the bestselling 1979 book by Douglas Hofstadter that brought a digital perspective on life and the universe to the general public for the first time. Warren Robinette created Rocky’s Boots, one of the first “maker” video games, in which players constructed functioning visual programs on the screen of early 8-bit computers. Warren later joined the VR lab at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Chapter 10 1.   You can see Marie interviewed in the documentary Century of the Self. 2.   


pages: 476 words: 120,892

Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology by Johnjoe McFadden, Jim Al-Khalili

agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, bioinformatics, complexity theory, dematerialisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Ernest Rutherford, Gödel, Escher, Bach, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Louis Pasteur, New Journalism, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, theory of mind, traveling salesman, uranium enrichment, Zeno's paradox

Instead, one set of rules may be able to prove the truth of statements generated by, and therefore unprovable with, any other set of rules. For example, true but unprovable language statements may be provable within the rules of algebra, and vice versa. This is, of course, a huge oversimplification that does not do justice to the subtleties of the subject. The interested reader might like to try the 1979 book on this and related subjects by the American professor of cognitive science Douglas Hofstadter.8 The key point here is that in his book The Emperor’s New Mind, Penrose takes Gödel’s incompleteness theorems as the starting point for his argument, by first pointing out that classical computers use formal logical systems (computer algorithms) to make their statements. It follows from Gödel’s theorem that they must also be capable of generating true statements they can’t prove. But, Penrose argues, humans (or at least those members of the species who are mathematicians) can prove the truth of these unprovable but true computer statements.


pages: 706 words: 120,784

The Joy of Clojure by Michael Fogus, Chris Houser

cloud computing, domain-specific language, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, finite state, Gödel, Escher, Bach, haute couture, Larry Wall, Paul Graham, rolodex, traveling salesman

When organizing your code along namespaces, it’s good practice to export and import only those elements needed. We now turn our focus to Clojure’s multimethods, a way of defining polymorphic functions based on the results of arbitrary functions, which will get you halfway toward a system of polymorphic types. 9.2. Exploring Clojure multimethods with the Universal Design Pattern The most specific event can serve as a general example of a class of events. Douglas R. Hofstadter In Douglas Hofstadter’s Pulitzer prize winning work Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, he describes a notion of the Prototype Principle—the tendency of the human mind to use specific events as models for similar but different events or things. He presents the idea “that there is generality in the specific” (Hofstadter 1979). Building on this idea, programmer Steve Yegge coined the term The Universal Design Pattern (UDP), extrapolating on Hofstadter’s idea (Yegge 2008) and presenting it in terms of prototypal inheritance (Ungar 1987).


pages: 742 words: 137,937

The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts by Richard Susskind, Daniel Susskind

23andMe, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, AI winter, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Andrew Keen, Atul Gawande, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Bill Joy: nanobots, business process, business process outsourcing, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, Clapham omnibus, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, commoditize, computer age, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, death of newspapers, disintermediation, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, full employment, future of work, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Hacker Ethic, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Khan Academy, knowledge economy, lifelogging, lump of labour, Marshall McLuhan, Metcalfe’s law, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Network effects, optical character recognition, Paul Samuelson, personalized medicine, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, semantic web, Shoshana Zuboff, Skype, social web, speech recognition, spinning jenny, strong AI, supply-chain management, telepresence, The Future of Employment, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, young professional

Feynman, ‘The Computing Machines in the Future’, in Nishina Memorial Lectures (2008), 110. 15 See Garry Kasparov, ‘The Chess Master and the Computer’, New York Review of Books, 11 Feb. 2010. 16 Capper and Susskind, Latent Damage Law—The Expert System. 17 By way of illustration, the fallacy is committed by a prominent journalist in Philip Collins, ‘Computers Won’t Outsmart Us Any Time Soon’, The Times, 23 Mar. 2104, and by the leading cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter, interviewed in William Herkewitz, ‘Why Watson and Siri Are Not Real AI’, Popular Mechanics, 10 Feb. 2014 <http://www.popularmechanics.com> (accessed 23 March 2015). 18 This is a running theme of Richard Susskind, Expert Systems in Law (1987). This is a revised version of a doctoral thesis, submitted to the University of Oxford in 1986. 19 An interesting area for further research emerges here.


pages: 624 words: 127,987

The Personal MBA: A World-Class Business Education in a Single Volume by Josh Kaufman

Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, Black Swan, business cycle, business process, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Heinemeier Hansson, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Dean Kamen, delayed gratification, discounted cash flows, Donald Knuth, double entry bookkeeping, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Santayana, Gödel, Escher, Bach, high net worth, hindsight bias, index card, inventory management, iterative process, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Lao Tzu, lateral thinking, loose coupling, loss aversion, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, Network effects, Parkinson's law, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, place-making, premature optimization, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent control, side project, statistical model, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, subscription business, telemarketer, the scientific method, time value of money, Toyota Production System, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, Y Combinator, Yogi Berra

Unless every individual on your team knows exactly what they’re responsible for and when it must be done, it’s very unlikely that they’ll actually do it. When delegating responsibilities, always assign tasks to a single owner with a clear deadline. Only then will people feel responsible for getting things done. SHARE THIS CONCEPT: http://book.personalmba.com/bystander-apathy/ Planning Fallacy Hofstadter’s Law: it always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law. —DOUGLAS HOFSTADTER, COGNITIVE SCIENTIST AND PULITZER PRIZE- WINNING AUTHOR OF GÖDEL, ESCHER, BACH: AN ETERNAL GOLDEN BRAID People are consistently and uniformly horrendous at planning. As uncomfortable as this sounds, any plan created by even the most intelligent and skilled CEO or project manager is very likely to be grossly inaccurate. As Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson memorably quip in their book Rework, “Planning is guessing.”


pages: 490 words: 150,172

The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance by Henry Petroski

business climate, Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Khartoum Gordon, Menlo Park, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen

Of course, no matter how I hold the hexagonal pencil in the writing position, I could never see any more than three faces at one time, and so I might never conclude absolutely from a single view of it that the pencil’s shape was indeed a regular hexagon. Since a single perspective drawing must necessarily be of the pencil in a single orientation, such a drawing would not be sufficient to convey the exact shape of the pencil. So how could I convey that unambiguously? The problem is at the same time stated and solved in the illustration on the cover of Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach. In the illustration a cube of wood is carved in such a clever way that the block takes the shape of the letter G, E, or B depending on which face is viewed directly. If only a single face is viewed, we might naturally conclude that the entire block is in the shape of the letter we see. If two faces are viewed simultaneously in perspective, we might conclude that the block was carved with a pair of letters, and which pair would depend upon which two faces we see.


pages: 506 words: 152,049

The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene by Richard Dawkins

Alfred Russel Wallace, assortative mating, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, epigenetics, Gödel, Escher, Bach, impulse control, Menlo Park, Necker cube, p-value, phenotype, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, selection bias, stem cell

Daniel Dennett is Distinguished Arts and Sciences Professor of Philosophy, and Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. His first book, Content and Consciousness, appeared in 1969, followed by Brainstorms (1978), Elbow Room (1984), The Intentional Stance (1987), Consciousness Explained (1991), Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (1995), and Kinds of Minds (1996). He co-edited The Mind’s I with Douglas Hofstadter in 1981. He is the author of over a hundred scholarly articles on various aspects of the mind, published in journals ranging from Artificial Intelligence and Behavioural and Brain Sciences to Poetics Today and the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. His most recent book is Brainchildren: Essays on Designing Minds (MIT Press and Penguin, 1998). The Extended Phenotype The Long Reach of the Gene Richard Dawkins With a new afterword by Daniel Dennett Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP Oxford New York Athens Auckland Bangkok Bogotà Buenos Aires Calcutta Cape Town Chennai Dar es Salaam Delhi Florence Hong Kong Istanbul Karachi Kuala Lumpur Mumbai Madrid Melbourne Mexico City Nairobi Paris Sào Paulo Singapore Taipei Tokyo Toronto Warsaw and associated companies in Berlin Ibadan Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press Published in the United States by Oxford University Press Inc., New York © Richard Dawkins 1982, 1999 Afterword © Daniel Dennett 1999 First published 1982 Revised edition with new Afterword and Further Reading 1999 All rights reserved.


pages: 519 words: 142,646

Track Changes by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum

active measures, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Buckminster Fuller, commoditize, computer age, corporate governance, David Brooks, dematerialisation, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, forensic accounting, future of work, Google Earth, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Haight Ashbury, HyperCard, Jason Scott: textfiles.com, Joan Didion, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, mail merge, Marshall McLuhan, Mother of all demos, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, pattern recognition, pink-collar, popular electronics, RAND corporation, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, social web, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, text mining, thinkpad, Turing complete, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K, Year of Magical Thinking

“With a CRT display,” van Dam wrote in 1971, “the editor may think out and implement his changes simultaneously.”25 The elimination of any delay between “thinking out” and implementation comes very close to the essence of word processing, the simultaneous real-time manipulation of a representation of a document coupled with the suspension of its inscription in immutable form that we examined back in Chapter 2. Those privileged enough to be close to these developments were quick to grasp their potential. One such story concerns a young researcher named Douglas Hofstadter. Hofstadter had recently earned his doctorate and was looking for a teaching position, but in the meantime, by late 1975, he was living at his family’s home in Palo Alto—largely distracted from his academic career by ideas for a book that would somehow unify the contributions of key figures from mathematics, music, and the arts through a new theory of cognition. These ideas became Gödel, Escher, Bach (1979), his “metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll.”


The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist

Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, computer age, Donald Trump, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, Georg Cantor, hedonic treadmill, Henri Poincaré, Lao Tzu, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, meta analysis, meta-analysis, music of the spheres, Necker cube, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pattern recognition, randomized controlled trial, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Schrödinger's Cat, social intelligence, social web, source of truth, stem cell, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind

If such a set were a member of itself, it would nonetheless have to be excluded – thereby no longer being a member of itself; but if it were not a member of itself, it would have to be included – thereby becoming a member of itself. 8. ‘Why should not logicians, more than anyone, realize the places where hard-edged, clean logic will necessarily run into trouble in dealing with this chaotic and messy universe?’, writes Douglas Hofstadter. He carries on by quoting Marvin Minsky, the famous artificial intelligence researcher: ‘Logic doesn’t apply to the real world … This is one of the difficulties that artificial intelligence workers are facing. They are coming to realize that no intelligence can be based on reasoning alone; or rather that isolated reasoning is impossible, because reasoning depends on a prior setting-up of a system of concepts, percepts, classes, categories – call them what you will – in terms of which all situations are understood [context, in other words – I.

The interested reader is referred to Scheler’s metaphysics (2008); particularly Chapter 7, pp. 323–67. My views on the complex relationship between the hemispheres and Scheler’s Geist and Drang can be found in McGilchrist, 2009. In essence I believe that, while the right hemisphere has both Drang and Geist, the left hemisphere has Geist only. 90. Mikels & Reuter-Lorenz, 2004; Banich, 1998. 91. LeDoux, 1999, p. 165. 92. The phrase ‘free won’t’ is from Douglas Hofstadter (1985), quoted in Nunn, 2005, p. 39. 93. Bogen, 2000. 94. Nietzsche, 1999, §16, p. 76. 95. Cf. (p. 39) divided attention, where, though both hemispheres are involved, the right hemisphere may play the primary role; and (p. 46) the part played by the right hemisphere in conjugate eye movements. 96. ‘Critical Fragments’, §48, in F. Schlegel, 1991, p. 6. 97. Many other examples exist. For example, the German philosopher Novalis wrote: ‘Up to now our thinking was either purely mechanical – discursive – atomistic – or purely intuitive – dynamic.


pages: 574 words: 164,509

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anthropic principle, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, bioinformatics, brain emulation, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, cosmological constant, dark matter, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, delayed gratification, demographic transition, different worldview, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, endogenous growth, epigenetics, fear of failure, Flash crash, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, interchangeable parts, iterative process, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, longitudinal study, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Netflix Prize, new economy, Norbert Wiener, NP-complete, nuclear winter, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, prediction markets, price stability, principal–agent problem, race to the bottom, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, social graph, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, Turing machine, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

See Armstrong (2012). 49. Sheppard (2002). 50. Wikipedia (2012a). 51. Markoff (2011). 52. Rubin and Watson (2011). 53. Elyasaf et al. (2011). 54. KGS (2012). 55. Newell et al. (1958, 320). 56. Attributed in Vardi (2012). 57. In 1976, I. J. Good wrote: “A computer program of Grandmaster strength would bring us within an ace of [machine ultra-intelligence]” (Good 1976). In 1979, Douglas Hofstadter opined in his Pulitzer-winning Gödel, Escher, Bach: “Question: Will there be chess programs that can beat anyone? Speculation: No. There may be programs that can beat anyone at chess, but they will not be exclusively chess programs. They will be programs of general intelligence, and they will be just as temperamental as people. ‘Do you want to play chess?’ ‘No, I’m bored with chess. Let’s talk about poetry’” (Hofstadter [1979] 1999, 678). 58.


pages: 893 words: 199,542

Structure and interpretation of computer programs by Harold Abelson, Gerald Jay Sussman, Julie Sussman

Andrew Wiles, conceptual framework, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, Eratosthenes, Fermat's Last Theorem, Gödel, Escher, Bach, industrial robot, information retrieval, iterative process, Johannes Kepler, loose coupling, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, Richard Stallman, Turing machine

See Hodges 1983 for a biography of Turing. 20 Some people find it counterintuitive that an evaluator, which is implemented by a relatively simple procedure, can emulate programs that are more complex than the evaluator itself. The existence of a universal evaluator machine is a deep and wonderful property of computation. Recursion theory, a branch of mathematical logic, is concerned with logical limits of computation. Douglas Hofstadter's beautiful book Gödel, Escher, Bach (1979) explores some of these ideas. 21 Warning: This eval primitive is not identical to the eval procedure we implemented in section 4.1.1, because it uses actual Scheme environments rather than the sample environment structures we built in section 4.1.3. These actual environments cannot be manipulated by the user as ordinary lists; they must be accessed via eval or other special operations.


pages: 720 words: 197,129

The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson

1960s counterculture, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Apple II, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, beat the dealer, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Byte Shop, c2.com, call centre, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, computer age, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Debian, desegregation, Donald Davies, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, Hush-A-Phone, HyperCard, hypertext link, index card, Internet Archive, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Leonard Kleinrock, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, packet switching, PageRank, Paul Terrell, pirate software, popular electronics, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, slashdot, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, wikimedia commons, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

Yet when it comes to another class of skills, the capacities for understanding, learning, adapting, and interacting, computers are woefully inferior to humans.”8 Rather than demonstrating that machines are getting close to artificial intelligence, Deep Blue and Watson actually indicated the contrary. “These recent achievements have, ironically, underscored the limitations of computer science and artificial intelligence,” argued Professor Tomaso Poggio, director of the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines at MIT. “We do not yet understand how the brain gives rise to intelligence, nor do we know how to build machines that are as broadly intelligent as we are.”9 Douglas Hofstadter, a professor at Indiana University, combined the arts and sciences in his unexpected 1979 best seller, Gödel, Escher, Bach. He believed that the only way to achieve meaningful artificial intelligence was to understand how human imagination worked. His approach was pretty much abandoned in the 1990s, when researchers found it more cost-effective to tackle complex tasks by throwing massive processing power at huge amounts of data, the way Deep Blue played chess.10 This approach produced a peculiarity: computers can do some of the toughest tasks in the world (assessing billions of possible chess positions, finding correlations in hundreds of Wikipedia-size information repositories), but they cannot perform some of the tasks that seem most simple to us mere humans.


pages: 1,387 words: 202,295

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, Second Edition by Harold Abelson, Gerald Jay Sussman, Julie Sussman

Andrew Wiles, conceptual framework, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, Eratosthenes, Gödel, Escher, Bach, industrial robot, information retrieval, iterative process, Johannes Kepler, loose coupling, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, Richard Stallman, Turing machine, wikimedia commons

See Hodges 1983 for a biography of Turing. 224 Some people find it counterintuitive that an evaluator, which is implemented by a relatively simple procedure, can emulate programs that are more complex than the evaluator itself. The existence of a universal evaluator machine is a deep and wonderful property of computation. Recursion theory, a branch of mathematical logic, is concerned with logical limits of computation. Douglas Hofstadter’s beautiful book Gödel, Escher, Bach explores some of these ideas (Hofstadter 1979). 225 Warning: This eval primitive is not identical to the eval procedure we implemented in 4.1.1, because it uses actual Scheme environments rather than the sample environment structures we built in 4.1.3. These actual environments cannot be manipulated by the user as ordinary lists; they must be accessed via eval or other special operations.


pages: 698 words: 198,203

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature by Steven Pinker

airport security, Albert Einstein, Bob Geldof, colonial rule, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, fudge factor, George Santayana, Laplace demon, loss aversion, luminiferous ether, Norman Mailer, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, science of happiness, social intelligence, speech recognition, stem cell, Steven Pinker, Thomas Bayes, Thorstein Veblen, traffic fines, urban renewal, Yogi Berra

[Pinker] is unfailingly engaging to read, with his aptly chosen cartoons, his amusing examples, and his bracing theoretical rigor.” —Colin McGinn, The New York Review of Books “Engaging and provocative . . . filled with humor and fun. It’s good to have a mind as lively and limpid as his bringing the ideas of cognitive science to the public while clarifying them for his scientific colleagues.” —Douglas Hofstadter, Los Angeles Times “Pinker is not only wonderfully clear; he is also blessedly witty. There’s plenty of stuff to think about in The Stuff of Thought, but a lot of fun stuff too.” —George Scialabba, The Boston Globe “An excellent window not only into human nature but into Pinker’s nature: curious, inventive, fearless, naughty.” —William Saletan, The New York Times Book Review “[Pinker] is the cognitive philosopher of our generation, and his work on language and mind has implications for anybody interested in human expression and experience. . . .


pages: 795 words: 215,529

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick

Albert Einstein, American ideology, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Ernest Rutherford, gravity well, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, pattern recognition, Pepto Bismol, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Schrödinger's Cat, sexual politics, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, uranium enrichment

The physics colloquium remained an institution—Feynman usually sitting like a magnet in the front row, capable of dominating every session, visitors knew, entertainingly or ruthlessly. He could reduce an unwary speaker to tears. He shocked colleagues by tearing the flesh off an elderly Werner Heisenberg, made the young relativist Kip Thorne physically ill—the stories reminded older physicists of Pauli (“ganz falsch”). Douglas Hofstadter, a pioneer in artificial intelligence, gave an unusual talk on the slippery uses of analogy. He began by asking the audience to name the First Lady of England, looking for such answers as Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth, or Denis Thatcher. “My wife,” came the cry from the front row. Why? “Because she’s English and she’s great.” Through the rest of his talk, it seemed to Hofstadter that Feynman continued heckling in the manner of the village idiot.


pages: 496 words: 174,084

Masterminds of Programming: Conversations With the Creators of Major Programming Languages by Federico Biancuzzi, Shane Warden

Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), business intelligence, business process, cellular automata, cloud computing, commoditize, complexity theory, conceptual framework, continuous integration, data acquisition, domain-specific language, Douglas Hofstadter, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, Firefox, follow your passion, Frank Gehry, general-purpose programming language, Guido van Rossum, HyperCard, information retrieval, iterative process, John von Neumann, Larry Wall, linear programming, loose coupling, Mars Rover, millennium bug, NP-complete, Paul Graham, performance metric, Perl 6, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Renaissance Technologies, Ruby on Rails, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Silicon Valley, slashdot, software as a service, software patent, sorting algorithm, Steve Jobs, traveling salesman, Turing complete, type inference, Valgrind, Von Neumann architecture, web application

So to understand any complex system (the universe being the ultimate example, of course), we need to work on multiple levels simultaneously, no one of which can claim to be primary. The tower of emergent levels is something that modeling languages have not captured well. We need a way to model a system on multiple levels simultaneously. I’m not talking about the OMG 4-level metamodel. It came about because some people made the same mistake as Bertrand Russell in assuming that you can’t model something in terms of itself. You can, of course; see Douglas Hofstadter’s writings, such as I Am a Strange Loop [Basic Books]. There is also the failure of code hackers who disdain modeling. They think that the code is the only thing that matters. That’s like saying circuits are the only thing that matters, or semiconductor physics is the only thing that matters. All the levels matter, and you need to work at the right level for a particular purpose. I would submit that the code level is a poor level to understand how a large, complex system performs useful activities for humans.


pages: 1,351 words: 385,579

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, Broken windows theory, business cycle, California gold rush, Cass Sunstein, citation needed, clean water, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Columbine, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, crack epidemic, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, demographic transition, desegregation, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, experimental subject, facts on the ground, failed state, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fudge factor, full employment, George Santayana, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, global village, Henri Poincaré, Hobbesian trap, humanitarian revolution, impulse control, income inequality, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, long peace, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Marshall McLuhan, mass incarceration, McMansion, means of production, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, Nelson Mandela, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Republic of Letters, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, security theater, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Stanford prison experiment, statistical model, stem cell, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, Turing machine, twin studies, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

But all else being equal (setting aside, for example, the oscillations in crime from the 1960s through the 1980s), as people get smarter, there should be less violence. Intelligence and Cooperation. At the other end of the abstractness scale, we can consider the purest model of how abstract reasoning might undermine the temptations of violence, the Prisoner’s Dilemma. In his popular Scientific American column, the computer scientist Douglas Hofstadter once agonized over the fact that the seemingly rational response in a one-shot Prisoner’s Dilemma was to defect.266 You cannot trust the other player to cooperate, because he has no grounds for trusting you, and cooperating while he defects will bring you the worst outcome. Hofstadter’s agony came from the observation that if both sides looked down on their dilemma from a single Olympian vantage point, stepping out of their parochial stations, they should both deduce that the best outcome is for both to cooperate.