A fascinating essay by the philosopher Daniel C. Dennett on human intuition and computational processes in Technology Review. He discusses the case of chess matches between computers like Deep Blue and players like Kasporov.
...the search space for chess is too big for even Deep Blue to explore exhaustively in real time, so like Kasparov, it prunes its search trees by taking calculated risks, and like Kasparov, it often gets these risks precalculated. Both the man and the computer presumably do massive amounts of "brute force" computation on their very different architectures. After all, what do neurons know about chess? Any work they do must use brute force of one sort or another.
It may seem that I am begging the question by describing the work done by Kasparov's brain in this way, but the work has to be done somehow, and no way of getting it done other than this computational approach has ever been articulated. It won't do to say that Kasparov uses "insight" or "intuition," since that just means that ÂKasparov himself has no understanding of how the good results come to him. So since nobody knows how Kasparov's brain does it--least of all Kasparov himself--there is not yet any evidence at all that Kasparov's means are so very unlike the means exploited by Deep Blue.
In one way - I am out of my depth here, so beware - it appears like Dennett is taking the mechanistic view (held by Laplace, for instance) to the computational space.The essence of his argument, as I understand, is that neurons are in the end machines with trillions of moving parts and plausible explanations other than computational approach has never been articulated. To me atleast, this argument is very persuasive. We may uncover something that we have been unaware so far - a quantum mechanical process that shines new light on how the brain works (as suggested by Roger Penrose in The Emperor's New Mind). For now though, I think, Dennett's argument provides one of the better frameworks to understand questions on consciousness, intuition and computation.
I wasn't aware that a computer of Deep Blue's sophistication is nevertheless unable to anticipate every possible move and nail Kasparov every time.. unless it was intentionally designed to allow him some leeway. Interesting.
Nice blog and I'm amused by your profile description under your photo!
We may uncover something that we have been unaware so far - a quantum mechanical process that shines new light on how the brain works (as suggested by Roger Penrose in The Emperor's New Mind).
Try that one on a few of your neuroscience friends, and see how long they laugh.
Dennett gave The Emperor's New Mind a sound thrashing in his 1995 book, Darwin's Dangerous Idea.