RE: [unrev-II] Relational thinking and improvement

From: Gil Regev (
Date: Tue May 02 2000 - 05:26:20 PDT

  • Next message: Jack Park: "[unrev-II] A project planner"

    Sherry Turkle's article reminds me of a host of promises and concrete
    experiences. In chronological order:

    2001 Space Odissey: didn't HAL ended up with having developed a personality,
    a sense of humor and emotional states

    Apple's Knowledge Navigator video: this was the future according to John
    Sculley. They had a beautiful folding PDA which intelligently answered the
    phone, contacted people for advice, knew how to handle unexpected situations
    etc. I was at an Apple developer's conference where they showed this video
    and immediately followed it with what it could be if the device developed a
    bad personality. I wouldn't want to have the latter.

    Microsoft Bob: Apart from the fact that it needed 8 MB of memory at a time
    when most PCs only had 4, it also came with a host of "intelligent
    assistants." I can't forget that one of them had an unreliable character. I
    can't understand why one would want one of those. Do we need an assistant
    that makes us send a fax to the wrong number or that gives us bad advice?

    The most interesting sentence for me is this question she asks: Are we
    tacitly acknowledging that we do not have enough "human" time to spend with
    them [the children and the elderly]? Maybe this is why we so badly want to
    replicate oursevles


    -----Original Message-----
    From: Henry van Eyken []
    Sent: mardi, 2. mai 2000 12:59
    Subject: Re: [unrev-II] Relational thinking and improvement

      First about the Sherry Turkle article. It reminded me immediately of a
    famous experiment conducted by experimental psychologists quite a few
    decades back. It involved the attachment of monkeys to wire-frame surrgogate
    mothers and the effect of clothing it with a fabric. Guess what? Draping the
    frame with soft towel did wonders for affection. I should be able to get a
    proper reference if you want me to.

      I know, I know, Prof. Turkle looks not at soft cloth, but at electronic
    intelligence as a discriminating factor in affection. Might it have
    something to do with Kurzweil also hailing from MIT? Just suspecting.

      As for your TSC, I sincerely believe that you may be better of looking for
    the kind of connectiveness you are enquiring into in the domain of
    evolutionary psychology - looking along the vector of time rather than
    across it, so to speak. Before making any recommendation I want to be
    absolutely sure people understand that I am not schooled in psychology other
    than having taken a course in the now thoroughly damned behaviorist school
    of educational psychology. (I like to believe my mind has not been warped by
    that anymore than by programming in BASIC.)

      Now the recommendation (which would be some years out of date by now):
    there is a book of papers edited by Jerome H. Barkow, Ledas Cosmides, and
    John Tooby that is called "The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the
    Generation of Culture." One of the most captivating phrases in it is the
    title of a paper by Barkow, "Beneath new culture is old psychology." Because
    I sensed the subject matter to be important to my personal, 15-year-old
    belief that people do well to augment themselves with on-the-person
    computers, I extracted a bit of he book in short "report" under the heading,
    "The bias that got us places (or Some booby-traps on the way to spiritual
    machines)." bias
    that got us places

      As for man-machine affection, you may find some personal affinity in
    "Roots: Why Fleabyte?", Why

      I salute you in your TSC efforts.

      As for my "expertise," I cannot enough emphasize a disclaimer, but
    whenever circumstances permit I like to have at least a sense of what's
    going on in important domains of human society, and what of it makes sense
    or not - regardless of what makes us tick.


      P.S. Thanks for that note I didn't have to write.

      Jack Park wrote:

        I have, for more than a dozen years, been evolving a theory with which I
    could construct a program I call The Scholar's Companion (TSC). TSC was
    always intended to be an IQ-enhancement tool. I have been sold on the notion
    of "apparent IQ" -- that of the combined efforts of a human and a computer
    working together to solve some problem, learn something new. Along the way,
    I became acquainted with the work of N. Raschevsky, and R. Rosen. Rosen
    took Raschevsky's Relational Biology to its current incarnation complete
    with a mathematics founded in Category Theory. Of course, I have been
    studying just what it would take to incorporate this thinking in TSC. Today,
    I stumbled upon a web site (, and a talk by Sherry
    Turkle, "A new kind of object: From Rorschach to Relationship." I am
    beginning to view the OHS/DKR, and TSC, from a viewpoint articulated in this
    paper. I'll be interested in the comments of others with respect to her
    views. Jack

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