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Muse in the Machine Hardcover – March 28, 1994

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When most of us think of Artificial Intelligence, we separate the notion of emotion from our imaginings. And portrayals of the likely consequences of emotions in computers invariably suggest that there would be a systemic breakdown in the computer's functionality. For example, it is the childish emotionalism of HAL in 2001 that wreaked havoc, not its superhuman intellectual capacity.

Gelertner, esteemed CS professor of AI at Yale University, has written a fascinating book on why it may be absolutely necessary to create emotionality if there is to be true Artificial Intelligence. My father used to say, "If there's Artificial Intelligence, there's bound to be artificial stupidity"; Gelertner would say, "without artificial emotionalism, there cannot be Artificial Intelligence."

From Publishers Weekly

Emotions, metaphors and analogies lie at the heart of human thought, asserts Yale computer scientist Gerlernter, a founder of parallel processing, in a brilliant and wholly accessible book about the theoretical underpinnings of artificial intelligence. His heretical new model of thought posits a "cognitive spectrum" extending from "high-focus" activities like reasoning, analysis and abstraction to "low-focus" thought whereby emotions make possible unexpected connections, leaps of awareness and creative juxtapositions. Gerlernter ambitiously applies this model to illuminate dreaming, sleep, hypnosis, spirituality and the emergence of the modern mind from an ancient, prelogical mindset that he likens to children's thought processes. He also describes a software program, developed by his research team at Yale, that he sees as a first step toward a working model of a truly "thinking machine" embodying the cognitive spectrum. But even so, Gerlernter finally concludes that it's the "observer illusion" that distinguishes the "mystery of consciousness"--and that "there is no reason to suppose . . . that adding emotion, or performing any other sophisticated programming trick, will ever endow a computer with the illusion of an observer-self."
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 211 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (March 28, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029116023
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029116029
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,475,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Gelernter recognizes that the mind is a functional part of the human being. It evolved to help the entire being function within its environment and to say the same thing its functions are defined by the need of the human being to function within that environment. The mind is not an abstract device separated from reality as is the common assumption.
Gelernter identifies the bases of the mind's mechanisms as emotions and memory. By emotion, Gelernter means a way by which the organism can capture and characterise its current state. The commonly known emotions of fear and hunger are obvious examples of this but Gelernter expands this to include very fine-grained feelings that blur the lines between the distinct feelings that are commonly viewed as emotions. He shows how a composite feeling of contentment and anticipation on a boat trip can be viewed as a distinct emotion, for example. With this ability to finely characterize a situation by an emotion,the organism can identify similar situations that it met in the past. It can then select its actions based on the success or failure of actions in past similar situations. His view of the mind is similar to the common engineering techniques of case-based and memory-based reasoning.
However Gelernter expands on these common models by showing how his views on emotions link to poetry as an example of a higher human faculty that is commony thought to be unexplainable at the functional level. Gelernter identifies that the method for matching of situations by emotional memory may by either loosely of tightly focussed. Tight foucus is conventional reasoning in which details are important. Loose focus allows apparently disparate situations to be matched based only on the structure of the connections in the consitituent emotions.
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I found this an eye-opening book on the nature of our thoughts. I make a living as a programmer while aspiring to create artificial minds, and, considering Gelernter's technical achievements, I became curious about this book. This book made me draw parallels with teachings of Himalayan yogis; it actually made me understand them more deeply. Whatever your reasons are for seeking to understand thoughts, this book is a must-have in your library.
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