thinking about thinking


The computer is a tool that can augment metacognition. Seymour Papert says,

“The intellectual environments offered to children by today’s cultures are poor in opportunities to bring their thinking about thinking into the open…Programming the Turtle [programming environment] starts by making one reflect on how one does oneself what one would like the Turtle to do…as children move on, they program the computer to make more complex decisions and find themselves engaged in reflecting on more complex aspects of their own thinking.”

If schools are tools developed to augment thinking then why was I never taught to think about how I think. I did take a psychology AP course, but that was more about how people act and why they act rather than how they think and why they think. It addresses the question of what thought looks like rather than what it is.

Wikipedia says this about thought.

Thought generally refers to any mental or intellectual activity involving an individual’s subjective consciousness. It can refer either to the act of thinking or the resulting ideas or arrangements of ideas. Similar concepts include cognitionsentience,consciousness, and imagination.[1] Because thought underlies almost all human actions and interactions, understanding its physical and metaphysical origins, processes, and effects has been a longstanding goal of many academic disciplines including, among others, biology, philosophy, psychology, and sociology.

Programming enables us to examine the origins of thought processes by placing us on top of the refrigerator to gain a new perspective. The potential exists to examine our own development of cognition by examining the development of thinking computers.

The Turing test is the standard which sets the bar for comparable human performance in conversation with a computer. No computer has successfully completed it, but they get closer every year to meeting the benchmark. To surpass the benchmark it is required that we simulate cognition in a digital environment, not just by creating a program that responds mechanically but also responds to context and the nuances of language. This means we must truly know what it means to think. The coders are slowly revealing how we think, systematically, as we endeavour to create a computer that can think about our questions and not just search a database for an answer, but truly respond.

Turing Test

About Adam

I am an architecture undergrad @ Virginia Tech with an interest in emergent and interactive design.
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