Now reading: Godel, Escher Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter

Now reading: Godel, Escher Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter
My first encounter with this book was at the Hampshire College bookstore in 1990. It looked *really* intriguing and _this_ course description showed me that *this* is the book I really want to read and understand.
Alas, just as the Quantum Physics course I wanted was not available that semester, this particular course in GEB was full. [I don’t regret my other choices but I *really* wanted this course]
So, on the back burner it went. “Someday” I’ll tackle GEB.
Thank you John Alley for mentioning it today. Just as ZATAOMM was haunting me since I was a young teenager, GEB has been haunting me since I was 18. I absorbed ZATAOMM last night and now, I’m going through GEB.
Will I comprehend it one time through? Will it take multiple passes from different perspectives with different foci? I don’t know yet.
But so far, I like it a lot.
I can’t go back in time to take a course that was full at a college I no longer attend, but I *can* do the coursework now on my own. I think I’m ready.

This is what Artificial Intelligence (A1) research is all about. And the strange flavor of AI work is that people try to put together long sets of rules in strict formalisms which tell inflexible machines how to be flexible. What sorts of “rules” could possibly capture all of what we think of as intelligent behavior, however? Certainly there must be rules on all sorts of different levels. There must be many “just plain” rules. There must be “metarules” to modify the “just plain” rules; then “metametarules” to modify the metarules, and so on. The flexibility of intelligence comes from the enormous number of different rules, and levels of rules. The reason that so many rules on so many different levels must exist is that in life, a creature is faced with millions of situations of completely different types. In some situations, there are stereotyped responses which require “just plain” rules. Some situations are mixtures of stereotyped situations-thus they require rules for deciding which of the ‘just plain” rules to apply. Some situations cannot be classified-thus there must exist rules for inventing new rules … and on and on. Without doubt, Strange Loops involving rules that change themselves, directly or indirectly, are at the core of intelligence. Sometimes the complexity of our minds seems so overwhelming that one feels that there can be no solution to the problem of understanding intelligence-that it is wrong to think that rules of any sort govern a creature’s behavior, even if one takes “rule” in the multilevel sense described above.


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