Consciousness, Computers, and the Tides of Mind
By Amy Willis
When do you get your best ideas- early in the morning, or when you’re drifting off to sleep at night? Have you ever suffered writer’s block or a similar affliction? Do you use music to induce your creativity? Or maybe I should start by asking who knows the difference between ontogeny and phylogeny? These are among the many interesting ideas EconTalk host Russ Roberts discussed in this week’s episode with Yale computer science professor David Gelernter.
Gelertner’s new book, The Tides of Mind, sounds like a fascinating exploration of the trips we make every day between the Up and Down spectrums of our mind. The analogy Gelertner draws to childhood development early in the conversation was particularly fascinating to me. (He notes the affinity of this analogy to the work of Jean Piaget, whose work has fallen somewhat out of favor in education circles today.) I was also struck by Gelernter’s skepticism about the potential for artificial intelligence qua intelligence. He seemed quite unique from other previous guests immersed in the world of technology in that regard. Perhaps as I fall asleep tonight, as I let my emotional guard down, I’ll be struck with a new and profound optimism about our future robot overlords… (If you’re concerned about robots taking over human jobs, don’t miss Bryan Caplan’s debate on this topic with Robin Hanson…)
Which was your favorite part of the conversation? What were you struck by? Stop over at EconTalk and leave your comments (or leave them here, of course). We’d love to know what you think!