"It’s obvious to anybody that the mind does much more than solve problems," Yale computer scientist David Gelernter says in his Big Think interview
ut in a more fundamental way, it is obvious to anybody—maybe obvious to anybody who is not in AI—that if I am working at my computer and I get tired and I lean back and look out the window and just watch the passing scene, I’m still thinking; my mind hasn’t shut down." Blending analytical thinking with dreaming and feeling
is central to Gelernter's prescriptions for artificial intelligence—just as blending intellect and passion has long been a mark of Gelernter's own work.
The legendary computer programmer and author of such books as "The Muse in the Machine" spends most of his time these days painting; he describes himself as a professional "image thinker.
" Despite some trepidation about what technology will bring in the years ahead, he finds the expanding graphical capabilities of our computing devices "tremendously exciting
," and looks forward to a future practically tailor-made "for showing pictures, for seeing pictures, for seeing things."
Gelernter also discusses his latest book, "Judaism: A Way of Being," and why he believes the Jewish tradition to be the most important intellectual development in Western history
. The survivor of a nearly fatal attack by the Unabomber in 1993, he notes the special perspective Jewish people have on terrorism—it "has always," he says, "been a weapon of choice of Jew-haters and Israel-haters"—but declares bluntly that he is "not a victim," and stresses his refusal to let the incident deter him in any way from his intellectual (and emotional) pursuits.