INTO THE HEART OF THE MIND: An American Quest for Artificial Intelligence by Frank Rose

INTO THE HEART OF THE MIND: An American Quest for Artificial Intelligence

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Artificial Intelligence, California style. Reporter Rose (a contributor to Esquire, where parts of this appeared) settled in at UC Berkeley and surrounds for a bit, and observed a cluster of enthusiasts and nay-sayers at close hand. The result has its charms but may tax the uninitiated. Rose's main focus is a Berkeley group centered around Robert Wilensky, who has been instrumental in getting ARPA (military) funding to explore AI. Wilensky's camp believes that machines will become intelligent, and in the process teach us about mind. He and his students write programs built around ""common sense"" understanding, conflict resolutions, and other catchwords of cognitive science. Rose is misleading in saying that cognitive science essentially structures the mind as a computer, but you can see how he arrives at that notion given the Wilensky bias. In contrast, outspoken philosophers at Berkeley and elsewhere think the ardent Alers are bonkers. Rose singles out Hubert Dreyfus and John Searle in particular. Both deplore the limited definitions of mind and thinking that AI people voice. Dreyfus is in the Heidegger Merleau-Ponty tradition, a phenomenologist concerned with ""meaning in background,""; Searle's field is causation, especially ""intentional causation,""invoking fears, hopes, desires, and similar feeling states. To them, computers are just simulators, tools. While Rose is fair in presenting both sides, it's clear his heart is with the Wilensky group. We follow the sagas of the up-and-coming grad students--in particular, Joe, who wrestles with a program to get a computer to put a raincoat on in order to stay dry while retrieving the newspaper in the morning. With its near-in point of view, the book has a distinct flavor and liveliness that complements the general books on AI currently available.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1984
Publisher: Harper & Row