Books that blend Psychology, the human mind, and Artificial Intelligence theory?
August 1, 2008 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Books that blend Psychology, the human mind, and Artificial Intelligence theory?

Hey all, I know the metamind is witty and well-read, so maybe I can just ask this as broadly as possible. I'm looking to develop my understanding of artificial intelligence theory through a perspective that integrates psychological considerations and learning/developmental theory as a stepping-stone towards my thesis.

For a while I was looking in the wrong places, reading Kurzweil who despite being an incredible visionary, is not as grounded in theory as he is in pure application/science "fiction". I just started reading Minsky's Society of Mind, and this book is absolutely perfect for what I wanted since it develops a theory of intelligence by applying a kind of computer-science method, while also working through a broader framework that brings in all sorts of concepts from psychology

Has anyone here approached this topic before, and if you have, can you point me towards any other rich resources like this book? Ideally I would like something more recent that tries to tie in neural networks with more recent psychology.

Any ideas? Let me hear 'em!
posted by tybeet to Science & Nature (14 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I tihnk you might be looking for cognitive science. Douglas Hofstadter, maybe.
posted by Leon at 9:45 AM on August 1, 2008

Best answer: I recommend The Mind's I which is a collection of essays and short fiction relating to the philosophy of the mind, artificial intelligence and cognitive science. It contains pieces by Turing, Richard Dawkins, Hofstadter, Daniel Dennet, John Searle and others, giving a nice collection of different perspectives of the topic.
posted by justkevin at 10:02 AM on August 1, 2008

Fiction, but Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers might fit what you're looking for quite well. His book Plowing the Dark does a similarly excellent job with virtual reality.
posted by vers at 10:02 AM on August 1, 2008

What Computers Still Can't Do was written by Bert Dreyfus, a philospher at UC Berkeley. His colleague, John Searle, has a lot to say on the subject as well.
posted by Sculthorpe at 10:07 AM on August 1, 2008

Seconding Leon's recommendation of Hofstadter.
Read Godel, Escher, Bach.
posted by comwiz at 10:13 AM on August 1, 2008

Best answer: I found Godel, Escher, Bach to be a interesting book, but pretty difficult. I would recommend reading I Am a Strange Loop instead.
posted by demiurge at 10:23 AM on August 1, 2008

You should look at Timothy Leary's Design for Dying.

Leary is often dismissed as a crackpot, but he wrote this book at the end of his life, examining emerging technological possibilities for changing what happens to our consciousness after we die. The book mostly eschews reflections on Leary's own life in favor of thoroughly exploring issues like cryogenics, artificial intelligence, bionics, and so forth, as well as our culture's psychological response to death. I found it to be an impressively assembled book.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 10:40 AM on August 1, 2008

Response by poster: Fantastic! All these suggestions look great. Thanks everyone.
posted by tybeet at 10:55 AM on August 1, 2008

Best answer: Daniel Dennett, Consciousness Explained.
posted by Beardman at 11:03 AM on August 1, 2008

Maybe not exactly what your looking for but Patricia Smith Churchill's book Neurophilosophy: Towards a Unified Science of the Mind-Brain is a really dense look at the dichotomy (?) of the mind-brain that includes ruminations on artificial intelligence. This is a really scholarly work and might seem kind of dry unless you really love the subject matter. Good stuff though.
posted by elendil71 at 11:16 AM on August 1, 2008

The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil might be what you're looking for.
posted by Brodiggitty at 12:15 PM on August 1, 2008

The Society of Mind by Marvin Minksy is nifty.
posted by Lownotes at 1:58 PM on August 1, 2008

Best answer: Dammit. Wish I'd jumped in here earlier. Well, nthing a number of comments above, but I'll add that you'd be well-served by reading The Mind's I before you tried Godel, Escher, Bach as it's more accessible to someone starting out in this direction, and GEB will build on a lot of that stuff, too.

Dennett's Consciousness Explained is pretty accessible, but much more squarely in the arena of philosophy, covering some topics that cognitive scientists don't know quite how they want to approach yet. But Dennett is also readable, funny and enlightening even if you don't end up agreeing with him. An older but even more influential book in these circles is John Haugeland's Artificial Intelligence: The Very Idea. It's a little dated to some people because it only treats AI as symbol manipulation, but it was critical of such a view and many of the nuances it suggests foreshadowed the directions things have taken since it first appeared.

If your interests run in more linguistic directions - and that's one of the more fertile areas where all these disciplines meet - you might take a look at Pinker's The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works. (And perhaps Fodor's rather directly contrarian The Mind Doesn't Work That Way.) Like Dennett, these are written for avid non-specialists in these fields, though probably not for the general public. Much more scientific, though.

[philosohical opinion]

Patricia Churchland, whatever virtues she may have, is a terrible, terrible, terrible philosopher and a bit of a hack.

[/philosophical opinion]
posted by el_lupino at 3:03 PM on August 1, 2008

You might be interested in The Meme Machine by Susan Blackmore - it takes the idea of memes raised by Richard Dawkins and looks at how this might affect behaviour, language and consciousness.

Also "Hal's Legacy" which invites a number of subject experts to look at how the science implied in "2001" has evolved (the book is now 10 years old itself - it was written to appear at the same time as HAL9000s birth date I believe.)
posted by rongorongo at 4:01 AM on August 2, 2008

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