Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Emergent Thoughts

The epilogue is the best part of this book. It so well crystallizes what (I think) Clark was expressing at the macro level throughout the book. I must confess, however, that I really only needed every other chapter in the book i.e. I’m a fan a DATA (reference to StarTrek), but not robots in general. That said, I must confess that Clark’s examples clearly deliver his points.

Chapter 6 and the discussion of componential explanation, “catch and toss,” and emergence really struck a cord with me. It made me see how the reductionist “part to whole” view vs. inputs/thought/actions vs. emergence all compare. It relates to how we view everything in a way. In my field (of which I’m not sure there is actually a name) language components have been very much studied part to whole, then as “catch and toss,” and dare I say I think my dissertation resembles more an emergent view. Basically, I was left thinking, what would an emergent model of second language phonological acquisition look like?

I also kept thinking of big business while reading this book. Standard operating procedures, for example, are explicit statements about processes, yet what most managers really want is an emergent self-organized system, isn't it? How restrictive to think that declarative statements are processes or can be followed to created efficient processes!

I also can’t help mention that the explanation of speech production (p. 118-119) is true but not very well explained.

Can anyone explain, after reading this book, what is a representation? Mine has apparently been disheveled and I’m having trouble re-creating it!

If 90% of life is being there, where are we the other 10% of the time? (Bad joke, I know but couldn't resist!)

4 Comments:

Blogger asw said...

Alison-
Your post was so comforting to read in knowing that someone else also found the epilogue as enjoyable! I really felt that Clark did an excellent job in capsulating the book in this section of the book. It just made everything click for me and continues to do so - even days after reading the book. I still find myself thinking of some of the statements made by "John's brain."

On another note, I thought your questioning of emergence and the mind was interesting as it relates to language. I also enjoyed Chapter 10 in how Clark tied in language. And your post made me wonder how much richer Clark's book may have been if he included some experts in linguistics or rhetoric to this book. What do you think? I am wondering if some valuable insight is left out as a result of Clark not collaborating with other authors for this book.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

asw,
I'm trying to re-read chapter 10 now....there are things I totally agree with like language is used to offload, sign/symbols, coordinate activity, allocate cog. resources but the use of computational context seems to paradigm Clark's view to programming languages not real language....there's something missing here but I can't put my finger on it. What did you think?

2:06 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

asw,
I'm trying to re-read chapter 10 now because I'm still chewing on it. I agree with some basic things like that langauge is used to offload, coordinate action, allocate resources but the computational context references seem to paradigm Clark's thoughts into programming rules not real language. There's something missing here but I can't put my finger on it. What did you think?

2:10 PM  
Blogger IB said...

Hello there, great post! When you talked about "big business" it came to my mind that in occupational & organizational psychology, it has been realized about 10 - 15 years ago that standard operating procedures do not work too well and that hierarchical structures with a central control function allocated to one person do not make a robust and flexible system. This is why, a long time ago, O&O psychologist came up with the idea of semi-autonomous groups. The idea is that within each group, decisions are made on the basis of local interactions. The groups communicate both horizontally and form larger groups vertically. Seems inspired by emergent approaches, doesn't it?

3:43 PM  

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