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“What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”
Herbert Simon
“A wealth of information creates a poverty of
attention.”
Herbert Simon
“The world is vast, beautiful, and fascinating… even awe-inspiring, but impersonal. It demands nothing of me, and allows me to demand nothing of it.”
Herbert Simon
“It is not my aim to surprise or shock you—but the simplest way I can summarize is to say that there are now in the world machines that can think, that can learn and that can create. Moreover, their ability to do these things is going to increase rapidly until – in a visible future - the range of problems they can handle will be coextensive with the range to which the human mind has been applied.”
Herbert Simon
“Reason, then, goes to work only after it has been supplied with a suitable set of inputs, or premises. If reason is to be applied to discovering and choosing courses of action, then those inputs include, at the least, a set of should's, or values to be achieved, and a set of is's, or facts about the world in which the action is to be taken. Any attempt to justify these should's and is's by logic will simply lead to a regress to new should's and is's that are similarly postulated.”
Herbert Simon, Reason in Human Affairs
“We see that reason is wholly instrumental. It cannot tell us where to go; at best it can tell us how to get there. It is a
gun for hire that can be employed in the service of whatever goals we have, good or bad.”
Herbert Simon, Reason in Human Affairs
“[Stated in 1965:] Machines will be capable, within 20 years, of doing any work a man can do.”
Herbert Simon
“In the past half century, however, an impressive body of formal theory has been erected by mathematical statisticians
and economists to help us reason about these matters-without introducing a new kind of logic. The basic idea of this theory is to load all values into a single function, the utility function, in this way finessing the question of how different values are to be compared. The comparison has in effect already been made when it is assumed that a utility has been assigned to each particular state of affairs.
This formal theory is called subjective expected utility (SEU) theory. Its construction is one of the impressive intellectual achievements of the first half of the twentieth century. It is an elegant machine for applying reason to problems of choice.”
Herbert Simon, Reason in Human Affairs
“These are the four principal components of the SEU model: a cardinal utility function, an exhaustive set of alternative strategies, a probability distribution of scenarios for the future associated with each strategy, and a policy of maximizing expected utility.”
Herbert Simon, Reason in Human Affairs
“We live in what might be called a nearly empty world-one in which there are millions of variables that in principle could affect each other but that most of the time don't. In gravitational theory everything is pulling at everything else, but some things pull harder than others, either because they're bigger or because they're closer. Perhaps there is actually a very dense network of interconnections in the world, but in most of the situations we face we can detect only a modest number of variables or considerations that dominate.
If this factorability is not wholly descriptive of the world we live in today-and I will express some reservations about that-it certainly describes the world in which human rationality evolved: the world of the cavemen's ancestors, and of the cavemen themselves. In that world, very little was happening most of the time, but periodically action had to be taken to deal with hunger, or to flee danger, or to secure protection against the coming winter. Rationality could focus on dealing with one or a few problems at a time, with the expectation that when other problems arose there would be time to deal with those too.”
Herbert Simon, Reason in Human Affairs
“What can we say for and about this behavioral version, this bounded rationality version, of human thinking and problem solving? The first thing we can say is that there is now a tremendous weight of evidence that this theory describes the way people, in fact, make decisions and solve problems. The theory has an increasingly firm empirical base as a description of human behavior. Second, it is a theory that accounts for the fact that creatures stay alive and even thrive, who-however smart they are or think they are-have modest computational abilities in comparison with the complexity of the entire world that surrounds them. It explains how such creatures have survived for at least the millions of years that our species has survived. In a world that is nearly empty, in which not everything
is closely connected with everything else, in which problems can be decomposed into their components-in such a world, the kind of rationality I've been describing gets us by.”
Herbert Simon, Reason in Human Affairs
“The situation has provided a cue; this cue has given the expert access to information stored in memory, and the information provides the answer. Intuition is nothing more and nothing less than recognition.”
Herbert Simon
“You do not change people's minds by defeating them with logic.”
Herbert Simon


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