Re: Creative Machines

Hal Finney (
Fri, 24 Jan 1997 20:15:53 -0800

From: Damien Broderick <>
> A simple example (too smug, too hasty, I got it wrong): if ABC changes to
> ABD, what will MRRJJJ become? What does XYZ turn into? A smart program
> named Copycat has provided a range of solutions. Answers: since ABC maps to
> 123, ABD equals 124; hence JJJ becomes JJJJ, yielding MRRJJJJ (not, say,
> MRRJJD or MRRKKK, let alone MRRKKKK). And XYZ: XYZZ? XYY? XYA? Maybe.
> But clever Copycat saw that A maps onto Z. Running backwards, we get WYZ.
> Elegant. Is that artificial mind creative, or what?

Douglas Hofstadter's group is doing this work, and his book from last year
goes into it in detail.

I am skeptical about how well his results will generalize, although it is
an interesting class of problems. I can guarantee you that Hofstadter,
a very smart man, saw the answers to the problems above immediately.
In fact he and his students created the problems knowing they had these
clever answers. So then the task they faced was how to write a program
which would get the same answers that they got. That they were able to
do so is very impressive. But the question remains whether the data
structures they came up with are of general enough applicability that
they can shed light on other problems of AI.