The Muse in the Machine: Computerizing the Poetry of Human Thought

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Can we introduce emotion into the computer? David Gelernter, one of the leading lights in artificial intelligence today, begins The Muse in the Machine with this provocative question. In providing an answer, he not only points to a future revolution in computers but radically changes our views of the human mind itself. Although much emphasis is placed on the role of logic in thinking, Gelernter explains that emotions are much more important in determining the form and content of much of our daily thought ...
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The Muse in the Machine: Computerizing the Poetry of Human Thought

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Overview

Can we introduce emotion into the computer? David Gelernter, one of the leading lights in artificial intelligence today, begins The Muse in the Machine with this provocative question. In providing an answer, he not only points to a future revolution in computers but radically changes our views of the human mind itself. Although much emphasis is placed on the role of logic in thinking, Gelernter explains that emotions are much more important in determining the form and content of much of our daily thought processes. He shows how emotions shape our creativity, and the role they play in giving rise to altered states of consciousness. Analyzing recent psychological research and ancient literary texts, Gelernter also makes a provocative and persuasive case for the similarity in the thinking of children and that of ancient peoples. Both, he argues, exhibit thinking patterns that are somewhat dreamlike, that rely heavily on metaphor and that are not logic bound. This style of thinking, Gelernter maintains, is much richer and more valuable than we assume, and he dramatically demonstrates how it can serve as a powerful guide in creating revolutionary new artificial intelligence systems. Drawing on his pathbreaking work as a software developer, Gelernter introduces for the first time a model of emotion into the computer and explains the enormous ramifications this model holds for future applications. Bringing together insights from computer science, cognitive psychology, philosophy of mind, and literary theory, David Gelernter presents what is sure to be a much debated view of how humans have thought, how we think today, and how computers will learn to think in the future. In the tradition of Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind and Consciousness Explained by Denett, The Muse in the Machine will be of interest to all those seeking a deeper understanding of human cognition. It will also be indispensable reading for all those concerned with the future of the computer.

A renowned computer scientist examines the full spectrum of human cognition, including creativity, common sense, spirituality, and dreaming, and describes the role emotion plays in these thought processes, explaining how it is possible to introduce emotions into artificial intelligence systems.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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.'' (Apr.)
Booknews
The author, one of the leaders in artificial intelligence research, begins with the question: can we introduce emotion into the computer? In providing an answer, he not only points to a future revolution in computers but changes views about the human mind. He shows that emotions are more important than logic in determining the form and content of much of daily human thoughts. Analyzing recent psychological research and ancient literary texts, he makes a case for the similarity in the thinking of children and that of ancient peoples, in that they rely heavily on metaphor. He believes this way of thought is richer and more valuable than has been assumed and can lead to the creation of revolutionary new artificial intelligence systems. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Bryce Christensen
The breakthrough in computer technology that will produce artificial intelligence (AI) appears tantalizingly close, yet it continues to elude the best efforts of scientists and mathematicians. In a wide-ranging investigation, Gelernter tries to explain why, after remarkable progress, attempts to create AI have fallen short. The problem lies in the failure of logicians and computer scientists, masters of logic and reasoning, to fathom the type of thought practiced by poets, seers, children, and mystics. This type of thought, which the author labels "low-focus thought," not only stirs the emotions in ways that "high-focus" logic cannot, but also clears a path for the making of creative analogies. By gleaning insights from sources computer scientists usually ignore--poetry, scripture, history, and dreams--Gelernter outlines a strategy for transcending the current limitations of high-focus work on AI. An important book for anyone interested in how computers shape modern culture, this volume challenges readers to abandon compartmentalized thought.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780029116029
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Pages: 211
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.55 (h) x 0.91 (d)

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