[FRIAM] Mirror Neurons & Intersubjective Reality

Steve Smith sasmyth at swcp.com
Thu Nov 16 15:04:13 EST 2023

EricS wrote:
> Here is one of several research stories that Elwyn Berlekamp told to 
> me during a visit to SFI many years ago in which I was his host (the 
> closest I will ever come to the experience of those who hosted Erdos).

We were just visited by an old friend of Mary's who has been "homeless" 
for roughly 10 years in the same sense as Erdos... she made her living 
as an artist/teacher into her late 60s before "hitting the road" and has 
been couch/SUV surfing ever since.

  Her 40 year old son and 70's year old sister do catch the large end of 
hosting her, but only months out of the year en-toto.   She is a delight 
to have visit for a day or three and seems to know well how to bring new 
things to her visits every time and manages to never stay too long.  It 
is a fascinating skill.   A few years ago she would probably have 
engaged in co-creation of art pieces with us... now we just sit and 
yak.  I think a lot of her hosts have been other educators and artists 
who she at least provides good consulting/insight/advice.

I think Frank has a great ErdosAnecdote of his own...

> 1.  For pieces placed on a board by computer-random number generators, 
> the experts and the novices were not much different in speed or 
> reliability of replacing pieces.
> 2. When the arrangements were not randomly generated, but rather taken 
> from various stages in the play of games by high-level players, 
> suddenly a big gap opened up.  The novices did about the same as they 
> had done for randomly placed pieces at similar sparseness etc.  The 
> experts got much faster and more reliable.
> The experimenters, of course, wanted to say something mechanistic 
> about why.  To do this they put eye-trackers on the subjects, to find 
> out what they were looking at when presented with the blankened board 
> and asked to rebuild.  So: what did the experts look at first?  This 
> is where the tension of the joke is set up, to prepare for the punchline.
> 3. The place the experts looked first was at the “next good move” from 
> what had been the position, and they then backfilled the pieces in the 
> positions that had made it the next good move.
> I find this story delightful.  If I were less lazy and really needed 
> it for anything, maybe I would do the work to find out how reliable it is.

My first kneejerk question was whether there were board position 
combinations which were unreachable by any combination of legal moves?   
Certainly there would be a (huge?) suite of position combinations which 
could not be reached through anything like "reasonable play".

And among the patently absurd ones, it seems that those one or two 
adjacent possible moves from a totally reasonable one would be acutely 
memorable for anyone who understands chess play, not just rules?

It is a fascinating anecdote... I look forward to the possibility there 
will be more discussion about this and similar problems.

  - Steve

More information about the Friam mailing list