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I am a strange loop

August 12, 2007

[it’s teh book review]

A few weeks ago I read an interesting book; I am a strange loop – by Douglas Hofstadter. He’s quite famous for earlier works, and this book is supposed to set the record straight regarding some things he felt didn’t came out right earlier.

I don’t know – I haven’t read his previous material. I liked this book, however, because it elaborated along the same views that I hold myself regarding the human consciousness – what constitutes an “I”. It’s also a bit frightening, since it also means that behaviour often viewed as strange or even not-normal is rather very normal and something that should be encouraged.

A human being is nothing more than a pattern matching machine, in a loop

… and why limit ourselves to humans? The same applies to all animals, but with a difference in the the number of stored patterns and the ability to create new ones dynamically.

A computer that is only capable of running a single program is a boring computer. A brain only able to run a single loop would also be a pretty boring brain. It’s probable that we indeed can create patterns and loops about other humans (or animals – pet owners know what I mean!) that we use to predict what their actions would be, how they feel about things we do and ask silently for guidance – i.e, “What would Ben do in this situation?”.

The more we interact with others, the stronger and better their loops become. A husband and wife who’ve lived together for 50 years have no problems finishing eachother’s sentences – and when one of them passes on it’s not uncommon for the grieving spouse to “talk to him/herself” addressing the late partner. Of course not – there’s a very detailed loop still running that makes it possible!

I get a nice, warm, fuzzy and tingling feeling when I start thinking about a world where everyone’s connected to everyone else, with large bandwidth channels, and where a person (that is – loop+patterns!) can be said to “exist” in many brains.

Don’t you? ;)

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