The Story of My Intellectual Life
In the early 1970s I discovered that “Kubla Khan” had a rich, marvelous, and fantastically symmetrical structure. I’d found myself intellectually. I knew what I was doing. I had a specific intellectual mission: to find the mechanisms behind “Kubla Khan.” As defined, that mission failed, and still has not been achieved some 40 odd years later.
It’s like this: If you set out to hitch rides from New York City to, say, Los Angeles, and don’t make it, well then your hitch-hike adventure is a failure. But if you end up on Mars instead, just what kind of failure is that? Yeah, you’re lost. Really really lost. But you’re lost on Mars! How cool is that!
Of course, it might not actually be Mars. It might just be an abandoned set on a studio back lot.
That’s a bit metaphorical. Let’s just say I’ve read and thought about a lot of things having to do with the brain, mind, and culture, and published about them as well. I’ve written a bunch of academic articles and two general trade books, Visualization: The Second Computer Revolution (Harry Abrams1989), co-authored with Richard Friedhoff, and Beethoven’s Anvil: Music in Mind and Culture (Basic Books 2001). Here’s what I say about myself at my blog, New Savanna. I’ve got a conventional CV at Academia.edu. I’ve also written a lot of stuff that I’ve not published in a conventional venue. I think of them as working papers. I’ve got them all at Academia.edu. Some of my best – certainly my most recent – stuff is there.
If you don’t mind, I’ll make a remark.
If it had been up to me, which it most certainly wasn’t and isn’t, it would be called the complex dynamics of transformers, or perhaps LLMs, because that’s what it seems to be. That’s where the math is from and where it’s been most developed. I just ignore the semiotics part of the name. In any event I tend to think the notion of semiotics has long been overgeneralized to the point where it has little meaning. As far as I can tell there’s not much of a connection with any of the intellectual traditions that fly the semiotics flag.
As you say, there’s “a barrier of communication and extra translation cost for many readers.” Well, yeah, if anyone wants to publish or post this work outside of LessWrong, the terminology is likely to prove problematic. If you look around you’ll find that that’s an issue in several posts, communicating with the larger intellectual world. I have no idea how that’s going to work out in the long run.