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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Argumentation Maps Help Navigate Intellectual History
Conceptual Maps Provide Better Grasp of Structure and Context
of Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence Debates
Seattle--Can Computers Think? Scientists and philosophers have been debating this question for at least half a century. "Under pressure from the computer, the question of mind in relation to machine is becoming a central cultural preoccupation. It is becoming for us what sex was to Victorians-threat, obsession, taboo, and fascination," according to MIT sociologist Sherry Turkle.
The question of whether computers will ever replace the human brain is truly a millennial question because it deals with who we are as human beings. But, to date, it has been too arcane and diffuse to include anybody but the experts in cognitive science, philosophy or artificial intelligence (AI), keeping countless students and other interested readers a the margins of the debate.
Until now there's been no way to track either the history or the current status of the debate.Robert E. Horn, author of Mapping Hypertext, the late 1980's work on organizing Web-based information, has solved the problem with a new communications approach. Leading a pioneering group of "information cartographers" Horn has produced a set of maps that promise to revolutionize argumentation and philosophical debate. "We originally conceived of these maps only as a teaching tool," explains Horn, who is a visiting scholar at Stanford University's Program on People, Computers, and Design at The Center for the Study of Language and Information. "But as they neared completion we realized that we had created both a remarkable intellectual history of the fifty-year-old debate and a clear picture of where the arguments stand today."
Can Computers Think? is a set of seven "Issue Maps®"measuring 3 x 4 feet each and with text and graphics showing both the topical and chronological organization of the debate . Horn's maps display arguments beginning with Alan Turing's 1950 claim that computers would be capable of thinking and move through over 800 individual claims, rebuttals, and counterrebutals. Each map plots an average of 100 major claims, representing the nearly 400 cognitive scientists, philosophers, AI researchers, and mathematicians, who have weighed into the argument in a significant way.
Visually, the maps are groundbreaking as well. Several hundred icons and illustrations and about 60 photographs help the reader navigate, providing easy landmarks and crystal-clear visual representation of the arguments. A small handbook contains a complete bibliography, an author index, an introduction to the new mapmaking methodology, an in-depth exploration of the cartographic metaphor, a discussion of eleven major criteria for argument selection, and frequently asked questions.
"Bob Horn is the new Mercator, a pioneering navigator of knowledge. His argumentation maps open a whole new way of looking at information." says Robert Jacobson the Editor of Information Design forthcoming from MIT Press. (Editors note: Gerhardus Mercator (1515-1594) was a Flemish geographer and cartographer who developed the first modern type of map projection, one that is still the most frequently used.)
In 1950 the great British mathematician and invetor of the computer Turing wrote in the journal, Mind: "I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted." "Turing would be surprised," says Horn. "Anyone looking at the maps can see that the debate is far from settled."
Can Computers Think? the first in the series
of the Mapping Great Debates project started in 1995 by
MacroVU®, Inc., a company founded to usher in the post-information
explosion age with innovative visual language tools. The set of
seven maps retails for $99 and is available from the publisher
by calling (206)780-9612 or by faxing (206)842-0296.