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Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 5. Februar 1999

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Twenty years after it topped the bestseller charts, Douglas R. Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid is still something of a marvel. Besides being a profound and entertaining meditation on human thought and creativity, this book looks at the surprising points of contact between the music of Bach, the artwork of Escher, and the mathematics of Gödel. It also looks at the prospects for computers and artificial intelligence (AI) for mimicking human thought. For the general reader and the computer techie alike, this book still sets a standard for thinking about the future of computers and their relation to the way we think.

Hofstadter's great achievement in Gödel, Escher, Bach was making abstruse mathematical topics (like undecidability, recursion, and 'strange loops') accessible and remarkably entertaining. Borrowing a page from Lewis Carroll (who might well have been a fan of this book), each chapter presents dialogue between the Tortoise and Achilles, as well as other characters who dramatize concepts discussed later in more detail. Allusions to Bach's music (centering on his Musical Offering) and Escher's continually paradoxical artwork are plentiful here. This more approachable material lets the author delve into serious number theory (concentrating on the ramifications of Gödel's Theorem of Incompleteness) while stopping along the way to ponder the work of a host of other mathematicians, artists, and thinkers.

The world has moved on since 1979, of course. The book predicted that computers probably won't ever beat humans in chess, though Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov in 1997. And the vinyl record, which serves for some of Hofstadter's best analogies, is now left to collectors. Sections on recursion and the graphs of certain functions from physics look tantalizing, like the fractals of recent chaos theory. And AI has moved on, of course, with mixed results. Yet Gödel, Escher, Bach remains a remarkable achievement. Its intellectual range and ability to let us visualize difficult mathematical concepts help make it one of this century's best for anyone who's interested in computers and their potential for real intelligence. --Richard Dragan

Topics Covered: J.S. Bach, M.C. Escher, Kurt Gödel: biographical information and work, artificial intelligence (AI) history and theories, strange loops and tangled hierarchies, formal and informal systems, number theory, form in mathematics, figure and ground, consistency, completeness, Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry, recursive structures, theories of meaning, propositional calculus, typographical number theory, Zen and mathematics, levels of description and computers; theory of mind: neurons, minds and thoughts; undecidability; self-reference and self-representation; Turing test for machine intelligence.


"Even without the contemporary relevance lent the book by the specter of global warming. The Little Ice Age would be an engrossing historical volume."

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8 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Michael J. Edelman am 31. Mai 2000
Format: Taschenbuch
When GEB was first published,the reviews and enthusiasm were endless. It's a brilliant introduction to recursion, said many. No, it's an introduction to, and demonstration of Godel incompleteness, said others. It's a demonstration of the commonality of art and science, said others. And there's something about ants near the end, but we're not sure why.
Readers today echo the same sentiments. They're all right, in their own way- but none of these views really get at what Hofsteader was trying to do. Yes, GEB is a tuorial on Godel, Bach, ants, recursion and a dozen other esoteric topics, and it's a heck of an intellectual entertainment, but Hofsteader didn't just write GEB to show prove what a clever book he could write. At the core, GEB is, first and formost, a theory of Artifical Intelligence; all the bits on Godel, recursion and combinations are just a tutorial to bring the reader up to speed for what's about to follow.
When GEB was first published, the dominant paradigm in AI was top-down; you built inference engines, programmed them with high-level knowledge about systems, and tried to get them to generalize from their. To a small minority- including Hofstader- this begged the really important questions: Where did the ability to make inferences come from in the first place? How was knowledge represented?
A few pioneers then- people like John Holland- were looking at bottom-up models in which one posited the simplest levels of an organization- the individual elements and the rules of interconnection and communication. They reasoned that that's what the brain was, so if you couldn't derive AI from a model that echoed the brain, you weren't really proving anything.
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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Ein Kunde am 6. Juli 1999
Format: Taschenbuch
After all the convolutions contained in this book, one essential fact seems to be overlooked by all its avid readers: it's meaningless. I too waded through the seemingly endless analogies, entanglements, metaphors, and, yes, isomorphisms with the same fascination which nearly everyone else did. But all the while something was lurking in the back of my head, something that told me, in its own nebulous way, that something was missing. I've only recently realized what it was that was bothering me: self reference. Self reference is meaningless! It is absolutely meaningless for a human being to talk about their self, especially in qualitative terms. In other words, it means absolutely nothing for someone to say that they're intelligent, or stupid, or beautiful, or ugly. They are referring to themselves. Their speech means nothing. It means no more than defining a box, for example, by saying it's a box. You have to go "outside" of the word "box" to truly define a box. Hofstadter hasn't truly described intelligence to us; he's merely told us how he feels. To truly describe his mind (and, thus, ours as well) he would have to step outside of it, which is obviously absurd.
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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Eliezer Yudkowsky am 26. April 1999
Format: Taschenbuch
As pure Art, as magnificent intelligence incarnated as absolute beauty, this is the greatest book ever written by human hands. It is a terrible thing to contemplate that 150,000 people die every day without having read this book. Don't let it happen to you.
This book dramatically illustrates two things: First, that truly fascinating subjects and truly beautiful works of art require fundamental concepts from cognitive science and an implicit understanding of the Universe. Second, that no matter how deep a scientific idea is, it can still be explained to any intelligent reader, without using obscuring clouds of mumbo-jumbo.
Artificial Intelligence, mathematics, cognitive science, computer programming; art, music, language; it doesn't matter whether you know them, or you want to know them, or you just want an unlimited amount of amazing fun - read this book. I could spend the rest of my life reading this book and I would still be noticing wonderful new gems.
If you're just an ordinary guy and you read this book, you may not understand some of it. But when you're finished, you will no longer be ordinary.
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6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von frumiousb am 2. Juni 2000
Format: Taschenbuch
I'm here to witness that even people as seriously math-challenged as I am can participate in this wonderful book. It took me a *long* time to read-- I flipped back and forth, beat the pages up, asked my more math-oriented friends for help. I spent forever trying to solve the MU exercise. It was worth it. I still feel like I understood parts of it only in intuitive flashes, but those flashes showed me a room more interesting than most of the well-lit chambers ordinary books provide.
Reading Godel, Escher, Bach is like joining a club. People who see you reading it will open spontaneous conversations and often gift you with unexpected insights. (I had a fascinating conversation with a total stranger about Godel's theorem.)
Wish I could give more than five stars.
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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Steve Wainstead am 14. Juli 2000
Format: Taschenbuch
When I got to the part where he fully explains the Incompleteness Theorem, my brain melted a little. You will learn many new concepts from this book even if you've been in the sciences for a long time. The mix of Achilles and Tortoise stories, the biography of Bach and the technical explanations of his compositions, communication theory, formal grammars, word play, Escher art... this book truly is "an intellectual Grand Tour of hacker preoccupations" as the Jargon File describes it! A must read for anyone interested in a layman's book on cognitive science and machine language. And did I mention it's FUN!
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