Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hofstadter's advances (i): Emergence & Priming

Here's a slidecasting of class #2. In this class we discuss two of Hofstadter's groundbreaking ideas: emergence and priming.

Even if today most people don't associate Hofstadter with the idea that the mind is the emergent product of micro-interactions, and while connectionists seem to think that has always been an obvious idea, it's worthwhile to point out that that's not true. He does deserve large credit for the idea. GEB paved the way, as Margaret Boden wrote; and a chapter in Metamagical Themas, "subcognition as computation", spelled it out--back in 1985, way before the PDP bible.

Another incredibly important idea concerns priming. I show a bunch of Derren Brown's TV-style experiments, and talk about one or two serious experiments in priming--those interested should take a look at John Bargh's recent, incredible, work. I have never seen Hofstadter mention the word priming, but I feel he has provided the best computational model of it.

The next class will be dedicated to, well, understanding understanding.

Hopefully, we'll be able to post Jarbas' talk also, and soon. The videos used in the class are embedded below, as are links to the screencasts. [Someday, who knows, maybe this course will even be on a podcast in English language... But where will we find the time for that one?]

ScreenCast 1 (1 species of ants, 1 food source)

ScreenCast 2 (3 species of ants, 3 food sources)

Video 1 (Priming a specific word though a cell phone)

Video 2 (Priming yes/no responses)

Video 3 (Mentally conducting an orchestra)

Video 4 (Subliminal advertising)