- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (March 22, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465024750
- ISBN-13: 978-0465024759
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #312,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models Of The Fundamental Mechanisms Of Thought 1st Edition
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Douglas Hofstadter, best known for his masterpiece Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, tackles the subject of artificial intelligence and machine learning in his thought-provoking work Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies, written in conjunction with the Fluid Analogies Research Group at the University of Michigan. Driven to discover whether computers can be made to "think" like humans, Hofstadter and his colleagues created a variety of computer programs that extrapolate sequences, apply pattern-matching strategies, make analogies, and even act "creative." As always, Hofstadter's work requires devotion on the part of the reader, but rewards him with fascinating insights into the nature of both human and machine intelligence.
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I read this excellent book several years ago, and found a battered copy in the stacks while browsing. It was meeting an old friend. Originally a negotiating coach suggested the book, and it turned out to be very useful in teaching me some aspects of intellectual empathy.
That book led me to the wonderful Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, and a sort of hero worship; From Wikipedia: "The pursuit of beauty has driven Hofstadter both inside and outside his professional work. He seeks beautiful mathematical patterns, beautiful explanations, beautiful typefaces, beautiful sonic patterns in poetry, etc. Hofstadter has said of himself, "I'm someone who has one foot in the world of humanities and arts, and the other foot in the world of science." He has had several exhibitions of his artworks in various university art galleries. " Wonderful stuff.
I wasn't going to review this book [and except for hinting at the beauties therein, haven't really), but ....
but then, this interesting article popped up:
marketwatch.com/story/meet-amazons-first-ever-customer-2015-04-22 Not many people spend $27.95 and get a building named after them.
John Wainwright, an Australian software engineer based in Sunnyvale, Calif., did just that. On April 3, 1995, he became Amazon’s AMZN, +14.13% first non-company customer when he purchased “Fluid Concepts And Creative Analogies: Computer Models Of The Fundamental Mechanisms Of Thought” by Douglas Hofstadter. (It’s still available on Amazon for $33.55 hardcover or $7.80 paperback.) It was not the easiest of orders for Amazon, especially for the company’s very first book sale. “That purchase is still part of my Amazon history,” Wainwright says.
MarketWatch spoke with Wainwright about being No. 1 and how he nearly ended up working for Amazon — before the company’s 1997 initial public offering.
MarketWatch: That was quite a book. Chapter 1 is entitled “To Seek Whence Cometh a Sequence.” It doesn’t look like your average bedtime reading.
Robert C. Ross
The most interesting parts of the book are those in which the author speculates about the workings of the mind, analyzing the way humans might approach and solve certain puzzles. Hofstadter has a knack for introspection, of deconstructing a thought process into small explicit steps that seem entirely plausible on reading but which would be performed mostly unconsciously. These parts have a similar feel to Pólya's "worked problems" in his books about problem solving. However, when the insights are translated into programs something is lost - while Hofstadter sees intelligence as an emergent phenomenon, the programs still appear to have his high level ideas for the particular domain "baked in" - something he vigorously criticizes in other projects. Taking all this into account, the results produced by the programs are rarely surprising.
The book is accessible and slightly more focused in scope than other books of Hofstadter, although there are some loosely related digressions. Some chapters are devoted to criticism of other research projects of the time - these seem to be mostly of historical value only. The "letter spirit" concept in the last chapter is fascinating on its own - but again, it tells more about the creativity of Hofstadter and his colleagues than about creativity or intelligence in general. Overall I found the book interesting but less engaging than GEB or Metamagical Themas.
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