Monday, October 12, 2009

Finishing GEB:EGB

This morning I decided today was the day to finally fucking finish reading Godel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas 'Doug' Hoffstader.

It is in itself a difficult book to talk about, I'll put it this way, it is a boring book written about the most fascinating subject matter that possibly exists.

Or should I say: ~Ea:Aa: (a > a') OR ~Ea:Aa: Sa > a ?

I still haven't gotten my head around TNT, but if a represents the hypothetical number that denotes the most fascinating subject matter ever, I think I wrote something akin to, it is the highest number there is on the interest scale.

And now you get a sense of just how witty it is to read Zen Koans translated into Typographical Notation Theory, and then proved that they are not robust enough to prove or disprove there Godel theorem G.

I guess for me, the book was about the foundation of intelligence being a formal system robust to refer to itself in what Doug calls a 'Strange Loop' and whilst the self reference isn't powerful enough to completely comprehend itself on the same level of existence (?) and isn't powerful enough to pop up to a higher referential plane (such as the ability of a person to step out of a photo they are in and contemplate their own role in the photo), we are robust enough as intelligences to deal with this incompleteness of a formal understanding of self, and go on contemplating our own existence, free will, consciousness, music, beauty, truth etc.

The texts obsession with self-reference in formal systems I took to be grounded on needing to understand whether intelligence can be reproduced in something we would traditionally describe as a machine which are typically bound to number theory and as such a formal system that is as Godel proved rigourously - incomplete.

The book feels incomplete as well, as their is no definitive proof, albeit that it fundamentally makes sense that intelligence is not remarkable to a brain, which consists of neurons that either 'fire' or 'don't fire' in the same way that a binary switch is either 'on' or 'off'.

Furthermore there were fascinating explorations on the theme of AI and just what it is, most fascinating to me was the notion that a machine made intelligent (AI) would by necessity actually end up representing human intelligence, most notably an AI would probably be as good at maths or chess as a human is, because intelligence occupies our own capacity to be mechanically reliable like say a calculator, this would be no less true for a machine, who would have to employ their intelligence to use machines in the exact same way humans do.

So I learnt something. To be honest I'd probably have to read the book at least 3 more times to have a firm grasp of what it is about, or what its conclusion was. I think I know but am not confident and since its taken me so many attempts and so long to read it the first time I doubt I will revisit the investment because its already given me enough.

Congratulations me on a job, done.

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