3432
需用时 06:51
31
【果壳网专访】集异璧作者侯世达:关于思考,我一直在思考

计算机科学里有一本奇书,它的作者是人工智能领域里不可忽视的人物;这本书的名字叫《哥德尔、埃舍尔、巴赫:集异璧之大成》,这个人就是侯世达。图片来源:newsinfo.iu.edu

编辑的话:“侯世达”是Douglas Hofstadter的中文名,这个1997年由他的中文出版商所定的名字,如今已是他在中文世界里的通称,这个名字也确实比他的父亲、1961年诺贝尔物理学奖得主、物理学家罗伯特·霍夫施塔特(Robert Hofstadter)按照姓名音译规则对应过来的中文名要好听。不过,侯世达还有一个更私密、也更漂亮的中文名,那就是1976年他的第一位中文老师高先生为他取的“侯道仁”。

与他的中文名字同样精彩的,是侯世达的成名作“Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid”的译名——《哥德尔、埃舍尔、巴赫:集异璧之大成》。侯世达的这本书在英文世界里被简称为“GEB”——取哥德尔(Gödel)、埃舍尔(Escher)、巴赫(Bach)的首字母,而中文则以“集异璧”应对。

《集异璧》探讨了庞杂的主题,正如侯世达本人在该书出版20周年的再版前言中所写:“……包括赋格和卡农,逻辑和真理,几何学、递归、句法结构、意义的本质、佛教禅宗、悖论、脑和意识、还原论与整体论、蚂蚁群落、概念和心理表征、翻译、计算机和计算机语言、DNA、蛋白质、基因编码、人工智能、创造性、意识和自由意志——偶尔还写到了音乐和艺术,它写到了所有的一切!很多人觉得不可能找到这本书的重点。”

但这本书还是有重点的。总体上说,《集异璧》被归为人工智能的经典著作,就像研究认知科学、心智哲学(Philosophy of Mind)、计算机科学、心理学、比较文学和物理学的侯世达被视为人工智能领域不可忽视的代表一样。上世纪70年代,侯世达痴迷于“思考是什么?”,投身于其时刚刚兴起的人工智能领域,他在《集异壁》中对计算机、程序、思考和大脑的描绘,开启了整整一代年轻人对AI的探索。但是,在人工智能领域掀起一个高潮后,侯世达却从公众的视野中消失了。

原因很简单:算法很巧妙、也能完成不少实际任务,但依托这种思路做出来的计算机并没有真正在“思考”。意识到这一点,侯世达对普通的人工智能彻底失去了兴趣,他自己的研究也转而建立在跟常规AI完全不同的技术上面。侯世达在美国印第安纳大学的研究小组叫做灵活类比研究小组(Fluid Analogies Research Group,FARG),“在FARG我们没有致力于开发实际的应用,诸如翻译引擎、答问机器、网络搜索软件此类的东西。我们只是在努力地理解人类概念的本质和人类思考的根本机制。我们更像是哲学家或试图探究人类心智奥秘的心理学家,而非旨在制造聪明的计算机或机灵程序的工程师。我们是一群老派的纯粹主义者,我们的动力源于内心深处的哲学好奇心,而不是制造实用设备的欲望(遑论赢得大笔金钱的欲望!)。”

这些年来,关于“思考是什么”,侯世达取得了一定进展,但更多的还是失败——FARG开发的程序常常得出可笑的结果,远远谈不上“智能”。不过,侯世达看着这些失败“很开心”,因为“要是我们的任何系统真的在其微领域中获得了与人类相颉颃的智力,我们将痛心至极,因为那将是很可怕的:这意味着人的智力并非如我们所想的那样复杂或深奥。这意味着短短几十年的研究就足够人类解开人类思维的奥秘”。在他看来,程序真正具有智能将是人类的悲剧。

侯世达认为,思考的关键在于美、在于品味,与逻辑或真理无关。这与大数据、大算法的现代人工智能格格不入。“形式化的研究方法得出的是极其生硬的‘智能’,毫无洞见可言。” 他的人生目标是创造出许多绝美的事物。他选择了一条少有人走的研究道路,他在路上遇到了许许多多至臻至美的事物,他说“我宁愿当个独立思考的人,不总是站在人们注意力的最前端。我觉得不被大多数人注意到没什么不好;但我相信最终我的想法会被更多的人知道。”

“至于有没有可能我选错了路,这当然是可能的,但我并不担心这一点。人生苦短,我相信我自己的观点,而且我会捍卫它们。毕竟,俗话说得好,你都不相信自己,谁还会呢?”

果壳网带你走近侯世达,谈谈他心目中的思考、大数据、美,还有人生。
 

系列一:侯世达谈思考

上世纪70年代,侯世达凭《哥德尔、埃舍尔、巴赫:集异璧之大成》开启了整整一代年轻人对A.I.的探索。但是,在人工智能领域掀起一个高潮后,他却从公众视野中消失了,因为他认为,计算机并没有真正在“思考”。

果壳网:这么多年来你一直在思考“思考是什么”,你得出什么结论了吗?

查看英文                                       
Guokr: All these years you have been thinking about “what is thinking”. Have you reached any conclusion, or maybe intermediate ones?

侯世达:嗯,关于思考究竟是什么,我当然有所思考——很多的思考。我无法告诉你我在这个大问题上的全部思考。不过,就这次采访而言,让我姑且这么说:思考就是尝试去触及你身处境况的本质。我解释一下这句话的意思。

每当我说话或写作时,我总是在寻找用最恰当的字词传达我的意思。我每每惊讶于多少次我话说到一半停下来问我自己和我的听众,“我要说的那个字是什么来着?”我真的对此很在意,会尽可能地去找到它、也很感激对方的建议。有时候在共同努力下我们找到了我想要的表达,有时候则找不到。但一旦找到了,就是莫大的欢喜和畅快;找不到时,我总是难以释怀。对我而言,在所有的表达中找到最精准的字词非常之重要,因为只有它们才真正切中了我要说的意思。

查看英文                                       
Well, of course I have thoughts — many thoughts — about what thinking really is.  I couldn’t possibly tell you all my thoughts on this deep question.  For the purposes of this interview, though, let me just say that thinking is the attempt to put one’s finger on the essence of the situation that one is facing.  Let me try to explain what I mean by this.

Whenever I’m talking or writing, I’m always searching for the best words or phrases to use to convey my meaning.  It’s amazing to me how often, while speaking, I will stop mid-sentence and ask myself and my listeners, “What’s the word I’m looking for?”  And I really care, and I will try to find it, and I will appreciate my listeners’ suggestions.  Sometimes collectively we find it, and sometimes not, but when we do, it’s a great relief and a source of joy, and when we don’t, I always feel frustrated.  To me it matters a great deal to find the best possible words and phrases, because they truly pinpoint what I mean.

我的夫人林葆芬是中国人,她常常会无意识地使用形象的四字成语为她的中文语句添色。唉,这些成语我是几乎听不懂,但换做母语是中文的人,不但会认得,还会觉得这是简洁生动表词达意的好法子。比方说,假如葆芬看到有人在一场精彩的舞蹈演出中哈欠连天,她或许会说这是对牛弹琴。这一形象的中文短语可谓“敲钉子敲中了钉子头”(用一个美国的俗语,意思是“正正好抓住了本质”)。要是我用英语描述这个烦人的哈欠家伙,我大概会说这是把珍珠洒在了猪面前(casting pearls before swine)。而我若是用法语,我会说“还不如拿果酱去喂猪”(autant donner de la confiture aux cochons)。这三种表达都既生动又形象,每一种在其母语讲述者看来都抓住了情况的本质。能够用简练而熟悉的短语囊括复杂情形的关键所在是件非常开心的事情。这就像是做了一次绝妙而又精确的简化——漂亮地将榔头不偏不倚敲在了钉子头上。

查看英文                                       
My wife Lin Baofen (林葆芬), who is Chinese, often spontaneously spices her Chinese sentences with colorful four-character phrases (成语), which I seldom understand, alas, but which a native speaker of Chinese would not only recognize but would find to be very helpful ways of conveying meaning efficiently and picturesquely.  For example, if Baofen were speaking of someone who was yawning all the time during a beautiful dance performance, she might say it was a case of 对牛弹琴.  That pithy Chinese phrase really “hits the nail on the head” (to use an American idiom that means “it captures the essence perfectly”).  If I were speaking of the same annoying yawning person in English, I might say that this was a case of casting pearls before swine.  Or if I were speaking in French, I would say autant donner de la confiture aux cochons (“might as well feed jelly to pigs”).  All three expressions are vivid and colorful, and each one captures what, to the speaker, seems to be the essence of the situation.  One feels much pleasure when one is able to encapsulate the crux of a complex situation in a tiny, familiar phrase.  It feels like a perfect act of precise simplification — a perfect act of hitting the nail exactly on the head.
 

如果我去商店不止买了一瓶我要的牛奶,还捎上了一盒我儿子想要的麦片,我可以用“一块石头打死了两只鸟”(I killed two birds with one stone)来概括这次小小的双重收获,指我出去一趟达成了两个目的。在中文里,你也许会说“一箭双雕”。这两个词组都简明扼要地将我“双重行为”的显著特征表达了出来,而说话者——在这里就是我自己——则会当即体味到求仁得仁的喜悦体验。要是我用中文说出来,我会比中文母语者还要喜出望外,因为一个词恰逢其时跃入脑中,这种感觉是名副其实(哪怕微乎其微)的胜利。

再来看另一种截然不同的情形。假设一位紧张的主人请了20位客人吃大餐。轮到甜点时,他决定上一种非常高档的冰淇淋,然后,在最后一刻他突发奇想在每份冰淇淋上都撒了辣椒粉。这个举动显得非常荒谬,因为它破坏了原本已经完美的东西。像我这样的人,都会希望找到最好(即最简洁、最鲜活)的方式概括他对这位主人考虑欠佳的行为的看法。在我看来中文里恰好有一个描述这类情况的成语。你能想到这个词吗?你是没费力气一下子就想到了,还是得有意识地找一会儿?

查看英文                                       
If I go to the store and purchase not only a bottle of milk that I need but also a box of cereal that my son wants, I can summarize this small dual exploit by saying, “I killed two birds with one stone”, meaning that in one single trip I accomplished two independent goals.  In Chinese, one would say “一箭双雕”.  Both phrases capture the salient quality of my “double action” very concisely and elegantly, and a speaker — myself, in this case — will savor the experience of finding and uttering this phrase in real time.  If I say it in Chinese, I will experience even more joy than a native speaker would, because having it pop to mind just exactly when it fits the situation like a glove feels like a real (if microscopic) triumph.

Let’s take another situation of a quite different sort.  Suppose a nervous host has invited 20 guests to a fancy dinner, and has decided to serve, for dessert, a very fancy kind of ice cream, and then, as a last-minute thought, sprinkles hot chili peppers on top of each serving of ice cream.  This choice seems rather ridiculous, since it ruins something that would have been perfect by itself.  If one is like me, one wants to find the best (i.e., most terse and most vivid) way to summarize one’s perception of this host’s ill-considered action.  It seems to me that Chinese offers a perfect four-character phrase for this kind of situation.  Can you think of it?  Does it come to you effortlessly and instantly?  Do you have to search consciously for it?

我认为,说出这样一个词的喜悦和一个人对这个词的理解深度成正比。字词越是能准确地概括你的想法,找到并说出它的喜悦也就越大——尤其是在你能迅速做到这一点的情况下。速度绝对很重要,因为想到得太晚就没用了。在法语里有个短语专门形容事后才想到该说的话那种强烈的挫败感:“l’esprit d’escalier”,直译过来就是“楼梯妙语”。这个短语描绘的场景是:聚会上有人对你出言不逊,但你在种种社会压力之下,没能做出有力的反击。你觉得输了。稍后,离开聚会后不久,在你下楼梯的时候,一句完美的回应划过你的脑海——但现在为时已晚。找到了朝刚才那个讨厌的土老帽儿抡过去的绝好棒子却无处可施,其懊悔之情可想而知。这就是“楼梯妙语”的概念,这个短语凸显了迅速找到当前情况核心的重要性。现在你知道了一个表达特定社交场合本质的法语短语(至少知道了它的英语版),它会适时从你脑子里冒出来。新添了这个小小的“思考工具”,你的思想又充实了一点。

查看英文                                       
The pleasure of using such a phrase is proportional, I feel, to the depth of understanding that one feels is provided by using it.  The more accurately a word or phrase summarizes what one is feeling, the greater the joy in finding it and uttering it — especially if one can do so very quickly.  And speed really does matter, because if one thinks of it too late, it will be useless.  There is even a short phrase in French that summarizes the acute frustration that one feels in finding just the right phrase but too late to use it:  l’esprit d’escalier, which literally means “staircase wit”.  The image behind this phrase is that you are at a party and someone makes a crude and unkind remark to you, but you, under social pressures of many sorts, are unable to retort in an effective fashion.  You feel defeated.  Moments later, shortly after leaving the party, while you are walking down the stairs, the perfect comeback flashes to your mind — but now it’s too late.  It is so upsetting to have found the ideal putdown to the offensive boor only at a moment when it is no longer of any use.  That’s the idea of “staircase wit”, and the phrase underlines the importance of finding the crux of a situation quickly.  Now you know a French phrase (or at least an English version of it) that captures the essence of certain social situations, and that phrase just may pop to your mind in appropriate moments.  Your mind has just been enriched through the addition of a tiny new “thinking tool”.
 

刚才你想到了形容那位慌张主人傻决定的“那个”四字成语了吗?很可能你想到了,但万一没有的话,答案是:画蛇添足。我希望你同意我说的这个短语将选择在冰淇淋上洒辣椒粉的精髓表达了出来,而找到这一精准凝练的概括——这个小“金块”——是很开心的事情。说到金子,在英语里我们会说那位慌张的主人到头来“给百合花镀金”(意思是,将一种美丽的花儿染成金色以作修饰,也因此将其美破坏殆尽)。

所有上述例子都显示了人脑是如何受驱使去尝试总结当前所处的境况——找到其本质、确定其关键概念。你的思维无时无刻不在试着将你所处的新情境和你曾经遇到过的其他情况作比较,也即在更高的抽象层面上理解新的情境 ;这涉及剔除无关和多余的细节,分离出真正重要的东西。如果你在各种情况中都能很好地做到这一点,意味着你是一个善于思考的人。

简言之,思考包含了刨去表面看深层。

查看英文                                       

Were you able to find “the” Chinese four-character phrase that describes the nervous host’s silly decision?  Probably you were, but in case not, here it is:  画蛇添足.  I hope you agree with me that this short phrase captures the crux of the chili-peppers-sprinkled-on-ice-cream choice elegantly and pithily, and that one has a feeling of joy in finding this very terse and precise summary, this little “gold nugget”.  And speaking of gold, in English we would say that the nervous host wound up “gilding the lily” (that is, decorating a beautiful flower by painting it gold, thereby pretty much destroying its beauty).

All of the above examples show how the human mind is driven to try to summarize the current situation it is faced with — to find its essence, to pinpoint its conceptual crux.  Your mind is constantly trying to see how each new situation in which you find yourself resembles other situations you have already encountered, which means perceiving this new situation at an abstract, high level; this involves stripping away irrelevant and superfluous details and isolating what really matters.  If you can do this reliably in all sorts of situations, then you are a deeply insightful person, which means that you think very well.

Thinking, in short, involves stripping away the superficial and focusing on what is deep.

 

系列二:侯世达谈大数据

侯世达认为,思考的关键在于美、在于品味,与逻辑或真理无关。这与大数据、大算法的现代人工智能格格不入。“形式化的研究方法得出的是极其生硬的‘智能’,毫无洞见可言。”(详细二

系列三:侯世达谈人生

侯世达很多年都没参加过人工智能的学术会议了,也基本不跟同行有交流。他无疑是这个领域里不可忽视的人物,但他的学术思想已经不再为人熟知。对此,侯世达似乎并不担心:“我宁愿当个独立思考的人,不总是站在人们注意力的最前端。不被大多数人注意到没什么不好;但我相信最终我的想法会被更多的人知道。”(详细三

 

The End

发布于2014-03-04, 本文版权属于果壳网(guokr.com),禁止转载。如有需要,请联系果壳

举报这篇文章

侯世达

果壳作者

pic