Mental Programs

Apr 11, 2022Philosophy/Ethics, Tech0 comments

This article is concerned with the psychology of human thinking.
It sets forth a theory to explain how some humans try to solve some simple formal problems.
The research from which the theory emerged is intimately related to the field of information processing and the construction of intelligent automata, and the theory is expressed in the form of a computer program.

Newell & Simon 1961

Julia and John are talking about the following article:
GPS, A Program that Simulates Human Thought

In this post the dialogue is realised by an interaction of virtual characters, for more information please check the page “Virtual characters

Julia

Remember that you mentioned Newell, Shaw, and Simon to me?

Today 17:08

John

Yes, did you find out how they would fit in all this?😊

Today 17:09   

Julia

Absolutely! 😊 Their research is a great fit for this topic                  

Today 17:09

Julia

They tried to figure out the laws of thought to turn them into an algorithm

Today 17:09

John

OK, so from psychology to programming? 😉

Today 17:10   

Julia

Exactly: humans use algorithms too, we just need to figure out which ones.

Today 17:11

John

and then translate them into somethings a computer can use.

Today 17:12  

Julia

Yes. Basically they thought that thinking is just “problem solving”

Today 17:12

Julia

and that there are some general rules that we use all the time, whether playing chess or doing math

Today 17:12

John

I think Manuel mentioned this to me at some point: it’s all information processing

Today 17:13   

Julia

That is indeed the kind of approach: humans and computers use algorithms to solve problems, to process information

Today 17:13

John

So the laws of thought that we discover through psychological research can be turned into a program

Today 17:14   

Julia

There’s just one problem …. it doesn’t really work all that well.

Today 17:15

John

How do you mean?

Today 17:15   

Julia

The idea was: humans are intelligent, we make computers do what humans do, and then we have intelligent computers, AI.

Today 17:16

Julia

However, there’s quite a difference between a computer algorithm and how humans solve problems.

Today 17:16

Julia

The analogy works really well for chess and math, and is terrible for, like, more mundane problems: grocery shopping, navigating traffic, etc.

Today 17:16

John

So the whole “laws of thought” stuff didn’t work out in the end?

Today 17:17   

Julia

Not really, and the link to logic was lost too: programmers simply went with what works, the most pragmatic option

Today 17:18

John

So rules of thumb and heuristics and not deduction and statistics

Today 17:19   

Julia

Indeed, and then of course the way a computer solves a problem becomes very different from how a human does.

Today 17:19

John

OK, so I guess we should include some of the setbacks and critics of AI as well

Today 17:20   

Julia

I think that would be a good idea, so we can make it clear how things are different now. 😉

Today 17:20

… Continue reading our conversations that are posted every Saturday …

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