Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Emotion Machine

I could not resist posting this here. Marvin Minsky a professor at MIT and a legend in his own rights has published after over 20 years. In his new book called "The Emotion Machine", he argues that emotions are a different way of thinking and hence are not different from rational thought.

This doesn't surprise me, it gives words to what I have been struggling to give a form. Many a times I felt emotions have a place, not every thing is based on logic as we think, but could never find an explanation for this feeling. Marvin's idea leads me on to a whole different gamut of thoughts.

Coming back to the news about the book, you can read his interview of his at "boston.com". I present a few excerpts from that over here.

"Q So here you are, a pioneer of artificial intelligence, writing a book about emotions. What's going on?

A Somehow, most theories of how the mind works have gotten confused by trying to divide the mind in a simple way.

My view is that the reason we're so good at things is not that we have the best way but because we have so many ways, so when any one of them fails, you can switch to another way of thinking. So instead of thinking of the mind as basically a rational process which is distorted by emotion, or colored and made more exciting by emotion -- that's the conventional view -- emotions themselves are different ways to think. Being angry is a very useful way to solve problems, for instance, by intimidating an opponent or getting rid of people who bother you.

The theme of the book is really resourcefulness and why are people so much better at controlling the world than animals are? The argument is: because they have far more different ways to think than any competitor."

"Q What, then, is the most important thing for us to understand about our own thinking?

A Your mind can work on several levels at once so, when you think about any particular subject, you also can think about the way you've been thinking -- and then use that experience to change yourself. Similarly, when you admire some teacher or leader, you can try to imitate their ways to think -- instead of just learning the things that they say."

It's a paradigm shift for all of us. Grab it and address beautiful problems for humankind.