Mental Processes

Christopher Longuet-Higgins

  • The Computer and the Mind: An Introduction to Cognitive Science by P.N. Johnson-Laird
    Harvard/Fontana, 444 pp, £23.50, May 1988, ISBN 0 674 15615 3

No one interested in the spread of ideas can have failed to notice the influence that the computer is exerting not only on our habits of life but also on our ways of thought. Twenty years ago the computer was something of a joke – to those, at least, who prided themselves on their innumeracy: in the last few years it has become a threat not only to economic stability and the balance of terror but even to human dignity itself. Are we about to be displaced by the Ultra-Intelligent Machine, contemptuously indifferent to human fate – or is the Frankenstein image the product of an inflamed imagination, curable by a healthy dose of realism and clear thought?

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