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The essence of mind and patterm- Hofstader strikes again

Possible Head (suggested by SIC): The essence of mind and pattern.

Tortoise: Good afternoon, Achilles, what brings you to this part of the woods?

[el1l]

Achilles: Why Mr. T., what a pleasant surprise. I was hoping to find you here. Have you heard? Dr. Hofstadter has done it again!

[el1l]

Tortoise: He's moving to another University again?

[el1l]

Achilles: No, I mean he has written another fascinating book. It's called Metamagical Themas, and its published by Basic Books for only $24.95. There is a review of it in this issue of The Tech, the MIT student newspaper. The review says that Magical Themas is on everything from artificial intelligence to strategies for survival in a nuclear age. It's a charming little book. It is highly recommended by the reviewer. As a matter of fact, he suggests that everyone go out and buy it today.

[el1l]

Tortoise: That sounds like a good idea, but it seems to me that there are only so many copies in existence. If every reader of this conversation tries to buy a copy, many of them will find that there are none left, and there will be riots in Harvard Square. I could defect and rush to get my copy before everyone else. But in the interest of cooperation, I think I will wait and not buy my copy yet.

[el1l]

Achilles: But assuming that everyone is as rational as you are, then nobody will buy a single copy!

[el1l]

Tortoise: Oh, my! This is simply too strange!

[el1l]

Achilles: That sentence doesn't seem strange to me.

[el1l]

Tortoise: No, not that `this'. I meant whether to cooperate or defect.

[el1l]

Achilles: I think that there is simply a defect in your logic.

[el1l]

Tortoise: Are we in this new book?

[el1l]

Achilles: Of course, Mr. T.. But it depends on what you mean by `we.' I mean, I think `we' are in his book, but that Achilles and that Mr. T. were invented by Dr. H.. You and I are here courtesy of the author of this book review, this discussion, this statement, this sentence, this phrase, and this `this'.

[el1l]

Tortoise: Now wait a minute. I am here because I decided to out for a walk and accidentally happened to stop and talk to you.

[el1l]

Achilles: But that is exactly what he wanted you to do. Your free will is more like free won't. You think you're doing exactly what you want. Actually, you've played right into his hands. He wanted an indirect way to say that Hofstadter's new book is full of ideas on self-reference, statistically emergent intellegence, thoughts on the Prisoner's Dilemma, and other thoughts on rationality and the nature of thought.

[el1l]

Tortoise: You mean there are thoughts on thoughts?

[el1l]

Achilles: Yes, along with thoughts on thoughts on thoughts and thoughts on thoughts on thoughts on thoughts, and...

[el1l]

Tortoise: Enough! Seems to me that I've read all about that stuff in Scientific American.

[el1l]

Achilles: Well, as a matter of fact, this new book includes Dr. H.'s articles from that wonderful periodical along with long postscripts with lots of new ideas.

[el1l]

Tortoise: And we're even in it, if that's really us.

[el1l]

Achilles: Why, of course. I'm sure it couldn't have been any other way.

[el1l]

Tortoise: I feel suddenly compelled to tell you that I am telling you that I feel suddenly compelled to tell you that...

[el1l]

Achilles: Are you feeling well?

[el1l]

Tortoise: Why yes. I'm feeling better now.

[el1l]

Achilles: Do you realize that most of the people reading this are graduating today?

[el1l]

Tortoise: Graduating? From what?

[el1l]

Achilles: It's not `what,' but `where.' And `where' is MIT.

[el1l]

Tortoise: Oh? Didn't Dr. H. spend some time there working on his Seek Whence project?

[el1l]

Achilles: Why, yes, he did! As a matter of fact, he spends a lot of time talking about Seek Whence and thinking about analogies in Metamagical Themas.

[el1l]

Tortoise: Well, that's rather like Lee Iacocca talking about bailouts or Casper Weinberger talking about nuclear weapons or Mickey Mouse talking about animation, or...

[el1l]

Achilles: OK, OK. We get the message.

[el1l]

Tortoise: Does Dr. H. talk about the COPYCAT project at all in this new book?

[el1l]

Achilles: Does Dr. H. talk about the COPYCAT project at all in this new book?

[el1l]

Tortoise: Huh?

[el1l]

Achilles: Huh?

[el1l]

Tortoise: What are you...

[el1l]

Achilles: What are you...

[el1l]

Tortoise: Now stop that. That's not what the COPYCAT project is about. It's all about analogies. It addresses the question of how to abstract the essence of a pattern from an example. It is an extension of the Seek Whence project.

[el1l]

Achilles: As a matter of fact, he talks all about it.

[el1l]

Tortoise: I'm intrigued. Dr. H. has done it again.

[el1l]

Achilles: You mean he's moving to another university again?

[el1l]

Tortoise: Huh? Sometimes you are such a heel.

[el1l]

Achilles: Well, Mr. T., I think that I should be moving on. I was just on my way home to write a letter to my congressman. I have decided to cooperate, and do my share to end the arms race.

[el1l]

Tortoise: Have fun. I'm going home to take a nap.

Scott I. Chase->