From time to time, in the course of day-to-day life, we all make stupid, basic errors in cogitation. For example, this morning I was unloading the dishwasher and, with three coffee mugs in one hand, used the other to open the cupboard where the plates and bowls go. I had a moment of complete blankness before I shook my head with the mild annoyance usual on these occasions.

Here’s what I’m wondering: If humans had the kind of minds that never made that kind of mistake, might we also lose the ability to, on occasion, have surprising and wonderful ideas? Which is to say, perhaps innovation emerges in a process like that found in evolution: Random Variation and Natural Selection. Where the analogue of “mutation” is “thinko”; just as with mutations, a very small proportion turn out to be beneficial.


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From: Frank (Oct 01 2011, at 10:32)

I think that Data on Star Trek is an example of a learning machine that has some of what you are speaking.


From: Alex Waterhouse-Hayward (Oct 01 2011, at 10:55)

Louis Daguerre in an effort in finding a way of somehow getting an image on a sensitized (with silver salts) plate (work that he had jointly shared with Niepce) one day went out to take pictures but after a few exposures was thwarted by an overcast day. In frustration he went home and put his equipment (not gently) into a broom closet (so they say). In that closet there was a thermometer which fell and the mercury therin vaporized. The mercury vapor developed the images in Daguerre's camera and thus the Daguerreotype was discovered by frustrated whimsy and a generation of photographers then lost their hair.


From: serge masse (Oct 01 2011, at 12:01)

I don't think that evolution is only "Random Variation and Natural Selection". Randomness & Selection cannot generate the kind of organization complexities that we call life. There seems to be an organizational process involved that science has not found yet, but science will find it eventually. Science is still so very young.


From: Boyd Waters (Oct 01 2011, at 16:09)

I believe that we are signal-processing machines, that at a very low level our perceptions are most effecient when processing noisy signals. Our eyes wiggle (saccades), injecting noise in the signal. Elderly people have better balance when the soles of their feet are tickled with chaotic vibrations. Give us absolute silence and we have tinnitus. And so on.

I suspect that it's noise all the way up, that our higher-order cognition needs noisy thoughts, for much the same reason: a neural net avoiding false local minima via noisy annealing. This notion is probably 25 years out of date, but it's fun to ponder.


From: Dave Walker (Oct 02 2011, at 05:09)

Features come with bugs, and that's not just true of computers.

My own view is that the capacity for creativity is accompanied by a predisposition toward irrational belief, but it's curable.


From: Kenneth J Hughes (Oct 03 2011, at 06:46)

Either you'll have to do a better job of scheduling that limited resource between your ears, or the scheduling was fine and you're failing to remember the background task that rightfully stole cycles from your dishwasher-unload foreground task.


From: Phil (Oct 03 2011, at 16:06)

It's OK; you can come out and say it without resorting to metaphor: you're tired of static type systems. =)


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