Friday, 19 February 2010


Garry Kasparov reviews Diego Rasskin-Gutman’s Chess Metaphors: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Mind (MIT Press) in the New York Review of Books:
In what Rasskin-Gutman explains as Moravec’s Paradox, in chess, as in so many things, what computers are good at is where humans are weak, and vice versa.
In what sense is this a paradox? Is it ‘paradoxical’ that (for instance) fish are good at swimming, where humans are better at walking? This isn't just me nitpicking. It strikes me as a small example of a much larger problem in philosophical thinking. Step 1, you say: 'computers are like human minds' (or vice versa). This is just something you're saying -- it's fair enough, maybe interesting, maybe it's heuristic in terms of metaphysical problem-solving, or poetic, or whatever, but it is just something you're saying. But then comes step 2. You say: 'but computers are so different to human minds in so many ways!' This is also fair enough, but juxtaposing your two statements says something about your habits of statementing; it doesn't uncover some rich paradox in the fabric of reality.

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