Re: Eurisko and Paranoia TV

From: Jim Fehlinger (
Date: Sun Mar 11 2001 - 04:16:47 MST

Damien Broderick wrote:
> At 08:25 PM 10/03/01 -0500, Jim F. wrote:
> >Folks on this list who have read Eliezer S. Yudkowsky's essays
> >know the historical significance he accords to a quarter-
> >century-old AI research program called "Eurisko" (which he apparently
> >learned about via Eric K. Drexler's _Engines of Creation_
> Or not. Lenat's early work is referenced (although not by that name) in
> GODEL, ESCHER, BACH, the Great Holy Book, on p. 615.

I had a feeling this parenthesis might be an impertinence
even as I was inserting it. I also managed to make my opening
sentence harder to parse by leaving out the right paren, and I
got the author's name wrong. It should have read:

> Folks on this list who have read Eliezer S. Yudkowsky's essays
> know the historical significance he accords to a quarter-
> century-old AI research program called "Eurisko" (which he apparently
> learned about via K. Eric Drexler's _Engines of Creation_), as exemplified
> by the remark...

Eliezer says about the "Great Holy Book" (_Godel, Escher, Bach_) "This
book is mandatory reading for all members of the human species." Dare
I confess I haven't read it? Of course, I listened to people saying all
through the 80's how wonderful it is, but the title immediately put me off.
The suggestion "I'm a wunderkind mathematician and computer scientist,
but I know all about art too, and I'm going to show you how the former
illuminates the latter while dazzling you with my erudition"
simultaneously filled me with jealousy that the author might actually
be that smart, fear that he might not be able to carry it off, and
anticipation of possibly being bored stiff watching him try. For some
reason, the barrier has persisted to this day, even after people
whose judgment I trust have glowingly recommended the book, and after
it has become a classic. My friend Joe Fineman used to have a color
picture of the young Hofstadter at the blackboard (greenboard),
clipped from a newspaper magazine supplement (the Sunday _New York
Times_, maybe), tacked up over his desk (along with a picture of
Richard Stallman taped to the side of his computer monitor), which I
can still see in my mind's eye. Oh well. Maybe I'll get over it
(or maybe not!). I haven't read the Drexler book, either.
I'm a fake, a total fraud!! ;->

Jim F.

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