What $4,500/yr Gets You
Happy-as-a-clam to be affiliated with The University of Toronto

The Merits of Interdisciplinary Study
     There are none. Okay, that's not true, there are lots - but you have to be me to appreciate them. Well, that, or you have to at least think like me. In which case you don't need me to explain the merits of interdisciplinary study to you. The only merit I can see that most people will acknowledge, even people blessed with the ability to not think like me is this -- I get to say:

My Hon. B.Sc. will Include:
  • A Specialist in Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence
  • A Major in Computer Science
  • A Major/Minor in Psychology
  • A Minor in Philosophy
Q: What exactly is Cognitive Science?
     I don't know. That's not true, I do know, but it's rather difficult to explain. It's the combined work of Psychology, Computer Science, Neuroscience, Linguistics, and Philosophy, with contributions from Anthropology, Neurobiology, and anyone else that has something to say about Cognition. I study thought. Oooh, that sounds pretty cool, and isn't too far off the mark. How we think, how we might make computers think, how information could possibly be organized in the big throbbing mass of neurons that occupies the average skull. If that still leaves it unclear, I'm not surprised, but the next best explanation I can give is "take a year, take my courses, then you'll know." Or become good friends with John Vervaeke. My second year Intro To CogSci prof, and one of the smartest, most interesting people I've ever met. One of those people whose knowledge is contagious. Being in a room with him necessarily means you will leave the room knowing more than when you entered. I want to be one of these people if/when I grow up. Suggestions are welcome. See also below (chapter 4).
The Wacky World of Cognitive Science Essays
     This section is here for two groups of people. First, it's here for people who have too much time, and for some reason, are reading this page. These people are probably friends of mine, and may be getting tired of me babbling randomly, so I have provided some of my essays written for various Cognitive Science classes, so that they may watch me babbling with structure and purpose. The second group is composed of people I don't know as well, who came to this site hoping to see some of my work, and are looking for something, anything of mine that they can take seriously. I guess these are more serious than my work on The Coming Revolution. Some may note that there is a third group not mentioned here: Those who are actually interested in the novel and profound contributions I have made to the understanding of Cognitive Science. These people have been deliberately excluded since they are obviously grade-A wackmobiles.

A Final Note: I'm Lazy. As a result, these essays have been converted to HTML using the standard in 'who cares' conversion, MS-Word's 'Save As HTML...' command. Unless the formatting was really terrible, I've left these alone. I'll post more as I get a chance to write/convert them, I've tried to stick to ones that actually had something to say about CogSci related issues. I wrote them, so I stand by them, but that doesn't mean I currently hold the opinions expressed, nor that I feel the essays are without fault.

Mutual Eliminativism - A critical analysis of the conflict between Classical and Connectionist theories of Cognition.

Conceivability And Qualia – A Response To Block’s China Argument

From Above and Below - Problems with Boden's Theory of Human Creativity.

Chapter 4
     In which The Author attempts to explain what exactly cognitive science is; a short diatribe on Intensional and Extentional definitions; an unnecessarily long list of little significance.
     The TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) has started this neat program where they fill the empty spaces between ads with poetry, usually by Canadian authors. There's one from P. K. Page that kind of neatly sums up what we Cognitive Scientists do (which I reprint without permission - sadly P. K. Page is long since dead (though see update), but the insight is rather timeless):
aged eleven
looked at the baby and said
"when he thinks it must be pure thought
because he hasn't any words yet"

and we
proud parents
admiring friends
who had looked at the baby

looked at the baby again.

Update: April 28th, 2001 - I received email today from a fan of P.K. Page who assures me that she is alive and well. Born in 1916, she's still kicking and in addition to the poetry is exhibiting paintings to boot. Thanks Kajsa!

A Letter from My Brother
     Feb. 29, 2000: Today I got an email from my younger brother David. He had some pretty fair questions about AI, what it was we were actually trying to accomplish, and whether maybe we just weren't looking at things properly. My answer was about 15 times longer than his email, but I've posted them here as yet another attempt by me to explain what I do.