Robert Kroese's Reviews > Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas R. Hofstadter
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's review
Aug 14, 2009

it was amazing
Read in August, 2007

GEB: EGB is basically an exploration of the idea of intelligence, artificial and otherwise. Hofstader's goal is to shed some light on how intelligence / consciousness / self-awareness happens. Hofstader believes that self-awareness -- the "I" -- ultimately arises from recursion. To put it very simply, at the highest levels the brain is a system that deals with symbols, and the "I" is the symbol for the system itself.

There is much, much more to this book. There are lengthy tangents into mathematics, philosophy, biology (the section about the recursion that takes place in the copying of DNA is particularly fascination), etc.

Thankfully the book is organized into sections that alternate between straight exposition of some concept and a fictional dialogue that illustrates the concept. Still, it's not light reading, and I did wish at points that there was a Reader's Digest version that would just give me the main points without going off on a tangent for 30 pages about wasps or something.

Godel, Escher, Bach made me rethink a lot of my preconceptions about consciousness and artificial intelligence, and is well worth reading the next time you have three months to spare.
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