LINGUIST List 15.196

Tue Jan 20 2004

Books: Cognitive Science: Baum

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  1. dgw, What Is Thought?: Baum

Message 1: What Is Thought?: Baum

Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 11:25:20 -0500 (EST)
From: dgw <>
Subject: What Is Thought?: Baum

Title: What Is Thought?
Series Title: Bradford Books
Publication Year: 2004			
Publisher: MIT Press		 
Book URL: 

Author: Eric B. Baum, Hardback: ISBN: 0262025485, Pages: 495, Price: $40

In *What Is Thought?* Eric Baum proposes a computational explanation
of thought. Just as Erwin Schroedinger in his classic 1944 work What
Is Life? argued ten years before the discovery of DNA that life must
be explainable at a fundamental level by physics and chemistry, Baum
contends that the present-day inability of computer science to explain
thought and meaning is no reason to doubt there can be such an
explanation. Baum argues that the complexity of mind is the outcome of
evolution, which has built thought processes that act unlike the
standard algorithms of computer science and that to understand the
mind we need to understand these thought processes and the
evolutionary process that produced them in computational terms.

Baum proposes that underlying mind is a complex but compact program
that corresponds to the underlying structure of the world. He argues
further that the mind is essentially programmed by DNA. We learn more
rapidly than computer scientists have so far been able to explain
because the DNA code has programmed the mind to deal only with
meaningful possibilities. Thus the mind understands by exploiting
semantics, or meaning, for the purposes of computation; constraints
are built in so that although there are myriad possibilities, only a
few make sense. Evolution discovered corresponding subroutines or
shortcuts to speed up its processes and to construct creatures whose
survival depends on making the right choice quickly. Baum argues that
the structure and nature of thought, meaning, sensation, and
consciousness therefore arise naturally from the evolution of programs
that exploit the compact structure of the world.

Eric B. Baum has held positions at the University of California at
Berkeley, Caltech, MIT, Princeton, and the NEC Research Institute. He
is currently developing algorithms based on Machine Learning and
Bayesian Reasoning to found a hedge fund.

Lingfield(s):	Cognitive Science 			 

Written In:	English (Language Code: ENG)

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