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Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought (Allen Lane Science) Hardcover – 27 Feb 1997

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (27 Feb. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713991550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713991550
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 4.4 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,332,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a book that does what it says on the tin, especially the subtitle about exploring fundamental mechanisms of thought. A strong movement in cognitive science is exploring how the understanding and use of metaphor is not just a rhetorical flourish to liven up poetry and prose but central to how we live in the physical world. Hofstadter and the FARG are major players in this movement. The book describes AI systems developed by the FARG over the past 15+ years that involve new memory and conceptual structures and use stochastic algorithms to reason by analogy. However it is a technical text, you will learn much about the work and the technical issues involved, but if you are seeking the rush of excitement at being exposed to exciting big ideas and new possibilities that a generation of neo-hippy computer scientists felt reading Godel, Escher Bach, and Metamagical Themas, you will be disappointed. The Hofstadter masterplan is present, and the ideas are still big and exciting, but the sad fact of doing science, that the details can be hard and complex to an untrained audience, is confronted here. This is a valuable book, but hard work for the non-specialist.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Feb. 1999
Format: Paperback
Those who enjoyed Hofstadter's collection of essays, "Metamagical Themas", particularly those dealing with the mechanics of analogising, are likely to be disappointed by this book.
Had he and his artificial intelligence team made a breakthrough comprehensible to lay people like me, it would have been broadcast on page 1.
The book is basically a synopsis of how the team's anagram and number sequence programs were engineered, and the detail is remorseless. In terms of addressing how the mind works, the explanatory power of this work is practically negligible.
When the artificial intelligence community can guess at how, mechanically, an individual forms aesthetic judgments or comprehends jokes, they might start to hold people's attention.
A laborious account of how computers mimic the cerebration of a typical "Countdown" contestant is, in my opinion, calculated to lose the interest of non-AI specialists very quickly indeed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By George Powell on 27 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book after being blown away by Godel Escher Bach. As a software engineer with an interest in artificial intelligence, I hoped this book would solidify some of Hofstadter's ideas into a more practical, less philosophical form - ideally so I could reproduce some of his programs myself.

Most chapters correspond to a program him and his colleagues have written, but some chapters are essays exploring attitudes and approaches to AI. The chapters describing programs are interesting enough, but can be long winded and in the end the programs seem to be more an expression of his philosophy than a practical tool of intelligence - he admits this himself; stating his belief that AI research needs to focus more on the methods than the results at this stage.

Like GEB, this book has a unique ability to completely reshape your perceptions of the world. Chapter 4 - "High-level Perception, Representation, and Analogy: A Critique of Artificial-intelligence Methodology" was the crux of this book. If nothing else, then the book is worth buying for this chapter - it manages to summarise and explain the mind bending interactions between high and low level perception in the human mind with amazing clarity.

4 stars because Hofstadter's strengths lie in philosophy, wordplay and communication more than practical tool making. This book is an attempt to describe how the ideas of GEB can be turned into practical software, but instead its best sections are those focusing heavily on philosophy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Peters on 23 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
I agree with the previous reviewer in that there is a fair amount of detail in here; even so, there wasn't enough for me. I want to write some programs in the way described in this book. I found this book really thought-provoking, but more than that I just think that he and his group are heading in a very interesting direction and blackboard architecture and his parallel terraced scan and so on will suface again and again wherever AI goes.
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