Allen Newell Quotes
6 Sourced Quotes
If you think there is nothing problematic or mysterious about a symbol system solving problems, then you are a child of today, whose views have been formed since mid-century. Plato (and by his account, Socrates) found difficulty understanding even how problems could be entertained, much less how they could be solved. Let me remind you of how he posed the conundrum in the Meno: "And how will you inquire, Socrates, into that which you know not? What will you put forth as the subject of inquiry? And if you find what you want, how will you ever know that this is what you did not know?"
It has been a long road from Plato's Meno to the present, but it is perhaps encouraging that most of the progress along that road has been made since the turn of the twentieth century, and a large fraction of it since the midpoint of the century. Thought was still wholly intangible and ineffable until modern formal logic interpreted it as the manipulation of formal tokens. And it seemed still to inhabit mainly the heaven of Platonic ideals, or the equally obscure spaces of the human mind, until computers taught us how symbols could be processed by machines.
Computer science is an empirical discipline. [...] Each new machine that is built is an experiment. Actually constructing the machine poses a question to nature; and we listen for the answer by observing the machine in operation and analyzing it by all analytical and measurement means available. Each new program that is built is an experiment. It poses a question to nature, and its behavior offers clues to an answer.