The Society Of Mind

[From Shannon Williams (951105)]

Bruce Abbott (951104.0910 EST)--

       books that I have read in the last year:
         1) The Society Of Mind (Minsky)

What did you think of it?

I was going to just make some statements about the book, but then knowing
that you would demand an explanation, I erased what I wrote and drug out
the book. Now I have been sitting here reading it again.

Rick had asked me how I could understand PCT so well, even though I had
never heard of it before. Well, it is because of reading _The Society
Of Mind_.

Minsky is approaching intelligence from a programmer's point of view. He
hypothesizes a mechanism called an 'agent'. Using this mechanism he
explains every aspect of consciousness and intelligence.

He begins his description of agents by saying:

        Your GRASPING agents want to keep hold of the cup.
        Your BALANCING agents want to keep the tea from spilling out.
        Your THIRST agents want to drink the tea.
        Your MOVING agents want to get the cup to your lips.

And then he describes how the different agents build control hierarchies.
Chapter 3 deals with how these agents interact. It describes how when an
agent wants a thing, it activates other agents. It describes how two
agents can be in conflict. Etc. In other words, he pretty much gives the
functional specification of the agent. But he does not know what it is, or
how it comes to exist.

When I joined CSG, I had already forgotten about reading Minsky. I had
even forgotten the word 'agent'. But I guess I remembered the functional
requirements of an agent, because I just naturally applied them to PC

I think Minsky would be interested in PCT.