Sunday, March 09, 2003
Intellectual Progress over the last week
Several days ago, I finished my reading of the book 'Prey' by Michael
Crichton. It was an extemely entertaining and enjoyable read. The
book has a very enjoyable story and as always Crichton backed it up
with a solid technical discussion.
'Prey' revolves around the combination of three important
technologies. These three technologies are Artificial Intelligence,
Nanotechnology and Molecular Biology. Specifically it focus on
emergent intelligent behavior in a swarm of Nanoparticles.
Reading 'Prey' re-awakened a dormant interest of mine in Artificial
Intelligence. AI is a field I've held a keen interest in for many
years, but the daily grind of life has kept me from exploring it to
any great degree.
This past year I've spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on
the path of my life. I've come to the conclusion that I don't feel
fulfilled with what I'm doing now. I don't feel like I'm involved
in something that will ultimately benefit mankind, nor do I feel that
I'm engaged in solving problems that take every ounce of my mental
power. It's interesting, in many ways I greatly envy my wife and the
job she has. She works at a daycare watching two year olds. Even
though I make a lot more money than she does, her job in many ways is
far more important. What she does will have a meaningful and lasting
impact on society. What I do currently will make us a living.
The realization that I am not fulfilling my dreams only recently
dawned on me. For most of the last year I've just had an empty
feeling about my career and where things have been heading. I knew
that something wasn't right, and that I wanted more, but I didn't know
what. When I realized that lack of fulfillment or purpose was a
large cause of my feelings, I started to look at my alternatives with
a different perspective.
My perspective had already shifted when I began reading 'Prey', this
shift in my thought processes re-awaked my interested in AI. I
decided to get a few books on AI, so I went to Amazon.com and spent a
few hours pouring over their selection of books. I added around
twenty of them to my wish-list, in the process Godel, Escher, Bach an
Eternal Golden Braid was recommended several times as the best
introduction to AI available. Since I already owned this book I
decided now would be an opportune time to read it.
I located GEB on my bookshelf, dusted it off and started going through it.
I decided to read through the twenty three page preface. It had some
pretty good background on the book, it also had a pretty good overview
of what the book is about. I enjoy this type of information because
it gives me a better feel for the author and what they are trying to
accomplish in their writing.
The introduction provides a historical introduction to the works of
Bach, the Incompleteness theorem of Godel, and the Paintings of MC
Escher. Then it moves to talking about computing machines and the
possibility of intelligence contained therein.
Chapter one introduces the MIU system along with the MU puzzle. The
MIU System is a formal system, Hofstadter uses it as an introduction
to formal systems. I'm still working on deriving MU from MI using
Overall this expetition into the book has been very pleasant. I'll
post an update when I work out some type of solution to the MU puzzle.
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