The book

I am working on “Brain Wars”, a book for the general public structured around these debates. The title is intentionally ambiguous: “wars about the brain” and “wars between brains”. As well conveying the some of the ideas being debated, their history, and their importance, I plan to talk a bit about the nature of intellectual wars: Why do they happen? What are their costs and benefits?  I hope that I’ll finish it by 2021, the 50th anniversary of Frank Rosenblatt’s death. Special thanks to Paul Smolensky for the first contribution to this website, the recordings of his 1988 debate with Fodor and Pylyshyn. Thanks also to Alex Cristia, Jenny Culbertson, Farrell Ackerman, Rob Malouf, Stephanie Shih, Ramesh Balasubramaniam and Chris Kello for conversations that planted the seeds for the book idea. (Joe Pater Jan. 11th 2016).

Just finally googled “Brain Wars”, and found that there is already a (not-very-related) book of the same title (but different subtitle).  (JP Feb. 11, 2016)


4 replies on “The book”

I ended up putting this project on indefinite hiatus – I published a paper with some of this material and theme as:

Pater, Joe. 2019. Generative linguistics and neural networks at 60: foundation, friction, and fusion. Language 95/1, pp. e41-e74. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/lan.2019.0009.

Aaaarrrggghhh! I’ve been waiting for the book for years. I check back here every once in a while, to see what’s new. “Indefinite hiatus” is disappointing.

Your “Brain Wars” site is great, as far as it goes. The particular niche you carved out here hits me right where I live. I was looking forward to more.

I encourage you to pick up the book project again, perhaps in a couple more years, when the dust from deep learning hype has settled.

For what it’s worth, another UMass Amherst fella had a large influence on me: Michael Arbib, who did a guest lecture in one of my engineering classes at Boston U. I spoke to him alone right after (missing my next class), and he gave me a copy of one of his papers. Decades later, I’m still digesting his prodigious output. He’s always been a boundary-crosser, traversing seamlessly between brains, artificial neural networks, cog sci, language, AI, robotics, and so on.

Thanks for the encouragement – who knows, maybe I’ll pick it up again.

I’ve heard lots about Arbib, being here at UMass…

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