The Society Of Mind

The Society Of Mind by Marvin Minsky - ISBN 0671607405 - Simon & Schuster 1988



Classical book by a founder of artificial intelligence. Watched the associated MIT class before and also visited CSAIL.

Pre-reading model

Draw a schema (using PmGraphViz or another solution) of the situation of the area in the studied domain before having read the book.


  • 1 Prologue
    • defining agents and agencies as constituents of the distributed mind
  • Chapter 14.5 Brainstorming
    • "However, when you are really stuck, you might as well tried wilder ways to find new ideas." (p143) similar principal to Seedea:Seedea/BackEnd and generalized Wikipedia:Simulated annealing
      • also discussed with Raphael regarding creativity, Saint-Maur flat July 2010
  • several mentions of Piaget
  • mention of Thomas Kuhn, see TheStructureOfScientificRevolutions
  • the quote of Ernst Hans Gombrich regarding art can also be seen as an evolution of point of view, nearly an application of TreeOfKnowledge to art (see also Art)
  • quoting Jakob von Uexkull
  • Hofstadter on creativity
  • definitions of concepts linking language, memory and specific cognitive usages (see the glossary)
    • pronomes, close to a deictic function but from an agent perspective, temporary (see also K-lines)
    • polynemes, permanent
    • isonomes, a more functional role over agencies
    • paranomes, parallely activated pronomes
    • superpolynemes, superisonomes, superpronomes
  • 30 Mental Models

See also

Overall remarks and questions

  • if a society of mind is a set of interacting agents loosely coupled the ability to cooperate (or refuse to do so) is also required to have a proper understanding without having to rely on emergence
  • important use of dialogues to question a presented viewpoint
  • "society" can seen as an alternative to network with its interacting nodes, see also Cognition#HistoryOfDominantCognitiveModels for a more generalized view on popular models
    • e.g. society of
      • "agents", "minds", "ideas", "muscles, bones, and joints", "more", "mental agencies", "nearness relations between places", "different ways to learn", "many smaller mechanisms", "different kinds of processes"
    • see also the glossary
  • after about half of the book more and more terms being defined makes the comprehension harder
    • micronemes/pronomes/polynemes/isonomes/frames/trans-frames
    • what might seems for the reader like vague redefinitions is most likely for the author a fruitful and practical conceptual framework despite the cost of it not being broadly shared and used
  • is there a software applications of the individual ideas and the overarching principle?


So in the end, it was about X and was based on Y.


Point A, B and C are debatable because of e, f and j.


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Post-reading model

Draw a schema (using PmGraphViz or another solution) of the situation of the area in the studied domain after having read the book. Link it to the pre-reading model and align the two to help easy comparison.


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