Metamagical Themas: Questing For The Essence Of Mind And Pattern

Metamagical Themas: Questing For The Essence Of Mind And Pattern

Douglas Hofstadter

Language: English

Pages: 849


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A bestselling collection of brilliant and quirky essays, on subjects ranging from biology to grammar to artificial intelligence, that are unified by one primary concern: the way people perceive and think.













necessary from just the language itself to the entire culture-and the amazing thing is that just a few well-placed questions can unmask a fraud in a very brief time-or so it would seem. The problem is, what do you do if the person is extremely sharp, and when asked about Minnie Mouse, responds in some creative way, such as, "Hah! She ain't no girlfriend-she's a mouse !"? The point is that even with these trick probes that should ferret out frauds very swiftly, there can be clever defensive

might be. Now let us investigate some other ways to make the role of 4 slip. Consider this structure: D: 11223344544332211 Here is a curious kind of reversal; now there is no central pair-yet everything else is in pairs. Some people might still pick 4, since it is next to the center. But what about 44, a pair rather than a single number? After all, as long as "pair" and "singleton" have switched places, we might as well go all the way and give an answer that reflects this perceptual

analogy.) Why don't we perceive the pair of 3's, say, as a unit as well? Probably simply because they do not touch. And consider this structure: 1234512345 The central pair-"5 1"-doesn't pop out as being salient or important, does it? In A, though, the combination of adjacency and equality, particularly when supplemented by centrality, somehow makes the two central 5's merge into a unit in the perceiver's mind, albeit usually not at a conscious level. Still, if this perceptual shift did

this sort of thing very poetically. Here is Henri Poincarts writing in the early part of this century about the genesis of mathematical inspirations: Permit me a rough comparison. Figure the future elements of our combinations [full-fledged ideas] as something like the hooked atoms of Epicurus. During the complete repose of the mind, these atoms are motionless, they are, so to speak, hooked to the wall; so this complete rest may be indefinitely prolonged without the atoms meeting, and

using them to generate predictions-in short, having the computer itself try to "outpsych" its opponent. All the better if the opponent program were also trying to do something similar to my program! The more vicious, the better! I was in a combative mood, ready to take on all comers. I have vivid memories of standing over the loud line-printer where the output would spill out, and watching the progress of games emerge line by line. We would have our programs play games of several hundred turns,

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