Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why Computer is Dumb

Most people think computers will never be able to think.   That is, really
think. Not now or ever. To be sure, most people also agree that computers
can do many things that a person would have to be thinking to do. Then
how could a machine seem to think but not actually think? Well, setting
aside the question of what thinking actually is, I think that most of us
would answer that by saying that in these cases, what the computer is
doing is merely a superficial imitation of human intelligence. It has been
designed to obey certain simple commands, and then it has been provided
with programs composed of those commands. Because of this, the
computer has to obey those commands, but without any idea of what's

Indeed, when computers first appeared, most of their designers intended
them for nothing only to do huge, mindless computations. That's why the
things were called "computers". Yet even then, a few pioneers --
especially Alan Turing -- envisioned what's now called "Artificial
Intelligence" - or "AI". They saw that computers might possibly go
beyond arithmetic, and maybe imitate the processes that go on inside
human brains.

Today, with robots everywhere in industry and movie films, most people
think Al has gone much further than it has. Yet still, "computer experts"
say machines will never really think. If so, how could they be so smart,
and yet so dumb?

================== CAN MACHINES BE CREATIVE? ==================

We naturally admire our Einsteins and Beethovens, and wonder if
computers ever could create such wondrous theories or symphonies. Most
people think that creativity requires some special, magical "gift" that
simply cannot be explained. If so, then no computer could create - since
anything machines can do (most people think can be explained.

To see what's wrong with that, we must avoid one naive trap. We mustn't
only look at works our culture views as very great, until we first get good
ideas about how ordinary people do ordinary things. We can't expect to
guess, right off, how great composers write great symphonies. I don't
believe that there's much difference between ordinary thought and
highly creative thought. I don't blame anyone for not being able to do
everything the most creative people do. I don't blame them for not being
able to explain it, either. I do object to the idea that, just because we can't
explain it now, then no one ever could imagine how creativity works.

We shouldn't intimidate ourselves by our admiration of our Beethovens
and Einsteins. Instead, we ought to be annoyed by our ignorance of how
we get ideas - and not just our "creative" ones. Were so accustomed to the
marvels of the unusual that we forget how little we know about the
marvels of ordinary thinking. Perhaps our superstitions about creativity
serve some other needs, such as supplying us with heroes with such
special qualities that, somehow, our deficiencies seem more excusable.

Do outstanding minds differ from ordinary minds in any special way? I
don't believe that there is anything basically different in a genius, except
for having an unusual combination of abilities, none very special by
itself. There must be some intense concern with some subject, but that's
common enough. There also must be great proficiency in that subject;
this, too, is not so rare; we call it craftsmanship. There has to be enough
self-confidence to stand against the scorn of peers; alone, we call that
stubbornness. And certainly, there must be common sense. As I see it, any
ordinary person who can understand an ordinary conversation has
already in his head most of what our heroes have. So, why can't
"ordinary, common sense" - when better balanced and more fiercely
motivated - make anyone a genius,

So still we have to ask, why doesn't everyone acquire such a combination?
First, of course, it sometimes just the accident of finding a novel way to
look at things. But, then, there may be certain kinds of difference-in-
degree. One is in how such people learn to manage what they learn:
beneath the surface of their mastery, creative people must have
unconscious administrative skills that knit the many things they know
together. The other difference is in why some people learn so many more
and better skills. A good composer masters many skills of phrase and
theme - but so does anyone who talks coherently.

Why do some people learn so much so well? The simplest hypothesis is
that they've come across some better ways to learn! Perhaps such "gifts"
are little more than tricks of "higher-order" expertise. Just as one child
learns to re-arrange its building-blocks in clever ways, another child
might learn to play, inside its head, at Fe-arranging how it learns!

Our cultures don't encourage us to think much about learning. Instead
we regard it as something that just happens to us. But learning must itself
consist of sets of skills we grow ourselves; we start with only some of them
and and slowly grow the rest. Why don't more people keep on learning
more and better learning skills? Because it's not rewarded right away, its
payoff has a long delay. When children play with pails and sand, they're
usually concerned with goals like filling pails with sand. But once a child
concerns itself instead with how to better learn, then that might lead to
exponential learning growth! Each better way to learn to learn would lead
to better ways to learn - and this could magnify itself into an awesome,
qualitative change. Thus, first-rank "creativity" could be just the
consequence of little childhood accidents.

So why is genius so rare, if each has almost all it takes? Perhaps because
our evolution works with mindless disrespect for individuals. I'm sure no
culture could survive, where everyone finds different ways to think. If
so, how sad, for that means genes for genius would need, instead of
nurturing, a frequent weeding out.

================== PROBLEM SOLVING. ==================

We can hardly expect to be able to make machines do wonders before we
find how to make them do ordinary, sensible things. The earliest
computer programs were little more than simple lists and loops of
commands like "Do this. Do that. Do this and that and this again until that
happens". Most people still write programs in such languages (like BASIC
or FORTRAN) which force you to imagine everything your program will
do from one moment to the next. Let's call this "do now" programming.

Before long, Al researchers found new ways to make programs. In their
"General Problem Solver" system, built in the late 1950's- Allen Newell,
J.C.Shaw and Herbert A.Simon showed ways to describe processes in terms
of statements like "If the difference between what you have and what you
want is of kind D, then try to change that difference by using method M."
This and other ideas led to what we call "means-ends" and "do if needed"
programming methods. Such programs automatically apply rules
whenever they're needed, so the programmers don't have to anticipate
when that will happen. This started an era of programs that could solve
problems in ways their programmers could not anticipate, because the
programs could be told what sorts of things to try, without knowing in
advance which would work. Everyone knows that if you try enough
different things at random, eventually you can do anything. But when
that takes a million billion trillion years, like those monkeys hitting
random typewriter keys, it's not intelligence -- just Evolution. The new
systems didn't do things randomly, but used "advice" about what was
likely to work on each kind of problem. So, instead of wandering around
at random, such programs could sort of feel around, the way you'd climb a
hill in the dark by always moving up the slope. The only trouble was a
tendency to get stuck on smaller peaks, and never find the real mountain

Since then, much Al research has been aimed at finding more "global"
methods, to get past different ways of getting stuck, by making programs
take larger views and plan ahead. Still, no one has discovered a
"completely general" way to always find the best method -- and no one
expects to.

Instead, today, many Al researchers aim toward programs that will match
patterns in memory to decide what to do next. I like to think of this as "do
something sensible" programming. A few researchers -- too few, I think
-- experiment with programs that can learn and reason by analogy. These
programs will someday recognize which old experiences in memory are
most analogous to new situations, so that they can "remember" which
methods worked best on similar problems in the past.

================== CAN COMPUTERS UNDERSTAND? ==================

Can we make computers understand what we tell them? In 1965, Daniel
Bobrow wrote one of the first Rule-Based Expert Systems. It was called
"STUDENT" and it was able to solve a variety of high-school algebra "word
problems"., like these:

The distance from New York to Los Angeles is 3000 miles. If the
average speed of a jet plane is 600 miles per hour, find the time it
takes to travel from New York to Los Angeles by jet.

Bill's father's uncle is twice as old as Bill's father. Two years from
now I Bill's father will be three times as old as Bill. The sum of their
ages is 92.
Find Bill's age.

Most students find these problems much harder than just solving the
formal equations of high school algebra. That's just cook-book stuff -- but
to solve the informal word problems, you have to figure out what
equations to solve and, to do that, you must understand what the words and
sentences mean. Did STUDENT understand? It used a lot of tricks. It was
programmed to guess that "is" usually means "equals". It didn't even try to
figure out what "Bill's fathers' uncle" means -- it only noticed that this
phrase resembles "Bill's father". It didn't know that "age" and "old" refer
to time, but it took them to represent numbers to be put in equations. With
a couple of hundred such word-trick-facts, STUDENT sometimes managed
to get the right answers.

Then dare we say that STUDENT "understands" those words? Why bother.
Why fall into the trap of feeling that we must define old words like
"mean" and "understand"? It's great when words help us get good ideas,
but not when they confuse us. The question should be: does STUDENT avoid
the "real meanings" by using tricks?

Or is it that what we call meanings really are just clever bags of tricks.
Let's take a classic thought-example, such as what a number means.
STUDENT obviously knows some arithmetic, in the sense that it can find
such sums as "5 plus 7 is 12". But does it understand numbers in any other
sense - say, what 5 "is" - or, for that matter, what are "plus" or "is"? What
would �say if I asked you, "What is Five"? Early in this century, the
philosophers Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead proposed a
new way to define numbers. "Five", they said, is "the set of all possible sets
with five members". This set includes each set of five ball-point pens, and
every litter of five kittens. Unhappily, it also includes such sets as "the
Five things you'd least expect" and "the five smallest numbers not
included in this set" -- and these lead to bizarre inconsistencies and
paradoxes. The basic goal was to find perfect definitions for ordinary
words and ideas. But even to make the idea work for Mathematics, getting
around these inconsistencies made the Russell-Whitehead theory too
complicated for practical, common sense, use. Educators once actually
tried to make children use this theory of sets, in the "New Mathematics"
movement of the 1960's; it only further set apart those who liked
mathematics from those who dreaded it. I think the trouble was, it tried to
get around a basic fact of mind: what something means to me depends to
some extent on many other things I know.

What if we built machines that weren't based on rigid definitions? Wont
they just drown in paradox, equivocation, inconsistency? Relax! Most of
what we people "know" already overflows with contradictions; still we
survive. The best we can do is be reasonably careful; let's just make our
machines that careful, too. If there remain some chances of mistake, well,
that's just life.

================== WEBS OF MEANING. ==================

If every meaning in a mind depends on other meanings in that mind,
does that make things too ill-defined to make a scientific project work?
No, even when thing go in circles, there still are scientific things to do!
Just make new kinds of theories - about those circles themselves! The
older theories only tried to hide the circularities. But that lost all the
richness of our wondrous human meaning-webs; the networks in our
human minds are probably more complex than any other structure
Science ever contemplated in the past. Accordingly, the detailed theories
of Artificial Intelligence will probably need, eventually, some very
complicated theories. But that's life, too.

Let's go back to what numbers mean. This time, to make things easier,
well think about Three. I'm arguing that Three, for us, has no one single,
basic definition, but is a web of different processes that each get meaning
from the others. Consider all the roles "Three" plays. One way we tell a
Three is to recite "One, Two, Three", while pointing to the different
things. To do it right, of course, you have to (i) touch each thing once and
(ii) not touch any twice. One way to count out loud while you pick up each
object and remove it. Children learn to do such things in their heads or,
when that's too hard, to use tricks like finger-pointing. Another way to
tell a Three is to use some Standard Set of Three things. Then bring �set of
things to the other set, and match them I one-to-one: if all are matched
and none are left, then there were Three. That "standard I Three" need
not be things, for words like "one, two, three" work just as well. For Five
we have a wider choice. One can think of it as groups of Two and Three, or
One and Four. Or, one can think of some familiar shapes -. a pentagon, an
X, a Vee, a cross, an aeroplane; they all make Fives.

o o o o o o o o
o o o o o o o o o o o
o o o o o o

Because each trick works in different situations, our power stems from
being able to shift from one trick to another. To ask which meaning is
correct - to count, or match, or group - is foolishness. Each has its uses
and its ways to support the others. None has much power by itself, but
together they make a versatile skill-system. Instead of flimsy links in
chain of definitions in the mind, each word we use can activate big webs
of different ways to deal of things, to use them, to remember them, to
compare them, and so forth. With multiply-connected knowledge-nets,
you can't get stuck. When any sense of meaning fails, you can switch to
another. The mathematician's way, once you get into the slightest trouble,
you're stuck for good!

Why, then, do mathematicians stick to slender chains, each thing
depending as few things as is possible? The answer is ironic:
mathematicians want to get stuck! When anything goes wrong, they want
to be the first to notice it. The best way to be sure of that is having
everything collapse at once! To them, fragility is not bad, because it helps
them find the perfect proof, lest any single thing they think be
inconsistent with any other one. That's fine for Mathematics; in fact,
that's what much of mathematics is. It's just not good Psychology. Let's
face it, our minds will always hold some beliefs that turn out wrong.

I think it's bad psychology, when teachers shape our children's
mathematics into long, thin, fragile, definition tower-chains, instead of
robust cross-connected webs. Those chains break at their weakest links,
those towers topple at the slightest shove. And that's what happens to a
child's mind in mathematics class, who only takes a moment just to watch
a pretty cloud go by. The purposes of ordinary people are not the same as
those of mathematicians and philosophers, who want to simplify by
having just as few connections as can be. In real life, the best ideas are
cross-connected as can be. Perhaps that's why our culture makes most
children so afraid of mathematics. We think we help them get things
right, by making things go wrong most times! Perhaps, instead, we ought
to help them build more robust networks in their heads.

================== CASTLES IN THE AIR. ==================

The secret of what something means lies in the ways that it connects to all
the other things we know. The more such links, the more a thing will
mean to us. The joke comes when someone looks for the "real" meaning of
anything. For, if something had just one meaning, that is, if it were only
connected to just one other thing, then it wold scarcely "mean" at all!

That's why I think we shouldn't program our machines that way, with
clear and simple logic definitions. A machine programmed that way
might never "really" understand anything -- any more than a person
would. Rich, multiply-connected networks provide enough different ways
to use knowledge that when one way doesn't work, you can try to figure
out why. When there are many meanings in a network, you can turn
things around in your mind and look at them from different perspectives;
when you get stuck, you can try another view. That's what we mean by

That's why I dislike logic, and prefer to work with webs of circular
definitions. Each gives meaning to the rest. There's nothing wrong with
liking several different tunes, each one the more because it contrasts
with the others. There's nothing wrong with ropes - or knots, or woven
cloth - in which each strand helps hold the other strands together - or
apart! There's nothing very wrong, in this strange sense, with having all
one's mind a castle in the air!

To summarize: of course no computer could understand anything real --
or even what a number is - if forced to single ways to deal with them. But
neither could a child or philosopher. So such concerns are not about
computers at all, but about our foolish quest for meanings that stand by
themselves, outside any context. Our questions about thinking machines
should really be questions about our own minds.

================== ARE HUMANS SELF-AWARE? ==================

Most people assume that computers can't be conscious, or self-aware; at
best they can only simulate the appearance of this. Of course, this
assumes that we, as humans, are self-aware. But are we? I think not. I
know that sounds ridiculous, so let me explain.

If by awareness we mean knowing what is in our minds, then, as every
clinical psychologist knows, people are only very slightly self-aware, and
most of what they think about themselves is guess-work. We seem to build
up networks of theories about what is in our minds, and we mistake these
apparent visions for what's really going on. To put it bluntly, most of
what our "consciousness" reveals to us is just "made up". Now, I don't
mean that we're not aware of sounds and sights, or even of some parts of
thoughts. I'm only saying that we're not aware of much of what goes on
inside our minds.

When people talk, the physics is quite clear: our voices shake the air; this
makes your ear-drums move -- and then computers in your head convert
those waves into constituents of words. These somehow then turn into
strings of symbols representing words, so now there's somewhere in your
head that "represents" a sentence. What happens next?

When light excites your retinas, this causes events in your brain that
correspond to texture, edges, color patches, and the like. Then these, in
turn, are somehow fused to "represent" a shape or outline of a thing.
What happens then?

We all comprehend these simple ideas. But there remains a hard problem,
still. What entity or mechanism carries on from there? We're used to
saying simply, that's the "self". What's wrong with that idea? Our standard
concept of the self is that deep inside each mind resides a special, central
"self" that does the real mental work for us, a little person deep down
there to hear and see and understand what's going on. Call this the
"Single Agent" theory. It isn't hard to see why every culture gets attached
to this idea. No matter how ridiculous it may seem, scientifically, it
underlies all principles of law, work, and morality. Without it, all our
canons of responsibility would fall, of blame or virtue, right or wrong.
What use would solving problems be, without that myth; how could we
have societies at all?

The trouble is, we cannot build good theories of the mind that way. In
every field, as Scientists we're always forced to recognize that what we
see as single things - like rocks or clouds, or even minds - must sometimes
be described as made of other kinds of things. We'll have to understand
that Self, itself, is not a single thing.

============ NEW THEORIES ABOUT MINDS AND MACHINES. ============

It is too easy to say things like, "Computer can't do (xxx), because they
have no feelings, or thoughts". But here's a way to turn such sayings into
foolishness. Change them to read like this. "Computer can't do (xxx),
because all they can do is execute incredibly intricate processes, perhaps
millions at a time". Now, such objections seem less convincing -- yet all
we did was face one simple, complicated fact: we really don't yet know
what the limits of computers are. Now let's face the other simple fact: our
notions of the human mind are just as primitive.

Why are we so reluctant to admit how little is known about how the mind
works? It must come partly from our normal tendency to repress
problems that seem discouraging. But there are deeper reasons, too, for
wanting to believe in the uniqueness and inexplicability of Self. Perhaps
we fear that too much questioning might tear the veils that clothe our
mental lives.

To me there is a special irony when people say machines cannot have
minds, because I feel we're only now beginning to see how minds
possibly could work -- using insights that came directly from attempts to
see what complicated machines can do. Of course we're nowhere near a
clear and complete theory - yet. But in retrospect, it now seems strange
that anyone could ever hope to understand such things before they knew
much more about machines. Except, of course, if they believed that minds
are not complex at all.

Now, you might ask, if the ordinary concept of Self is so wrong, what
would I recommend in its place? To begin with, for social purposes, I don't
recommend changing anything - it's too risky. But for the technical
enterprise of making intelligent machines, we need better theories of
how to "represent", inside computers, the kinds of webs of knowledge and
knowhow that figure in everyone's common-sense knowledge systems.
We must develop programs that know, say, what numbers mean, instead of
just being able to add and subtract them. We must experiment with all
sorts of common sense knowledge, and knowledge about that as well.

Such is the focus of some present-day Al research. True, most of the world
of "Computer Science" is involved with building large, useful, but shallow
practical systems, a few courageous students are trying to make
computers use other kinds of thinking, representing different kinds of
knowledge, sometimes, in several different ways, so that their programs
won't get stuck at fixed ideas. Most important of all, perhaps, is making
such machines learn from their own experience. Once we know more
about such things, we can start to study ways to weave these different
schemes together. Finally, we'll get machines that think about themselves
and make up theories, good or bad, of how they, themselves might work.
Perhaps, when our machines get to that stage, we'll find it very easy to
tell it has happened. For, at that point, they'll probably object to being
called machines. To accept that will be will be difficult, but only by this
sacrifice will machines free us from our false mottos.

================== KNOWLEDGE AND COMMON SENSE ==================

We've all enjoyed those jokes about the stupid and literal behavior of
computers. They send us silly checks and bills for $0.00. They can't tell
when we mean "hyphen" from when we mean minus They don't mind
being caught in endless loops, doing the same thing over again a billion
times. This total lack of common sense is one more reason people think
that no machine could have a mind. It's not just that they do only what
they're told, it's also that they're so dumb it's almost impossible to tell
them how to do things right.

Isn't it odd, when you think about it, how even the earliest Al programs
excelled at "advanced" subjects, yet had no common sense? A 1961
program written by James Slagle could solve calculus problems at the
level of college students; it even got an A on an MIT exam. But it wasn't till
around 1970 that we managed to construct a robot programs that could see
and move well enough to handle ordinary things like children's building
blocks and do things like stack them up, take them down, rearrange them,
and put them in boxes.

Why could we make programs do those grown-up things before we could
make them do those childish things? The answer is a somewhat
unexpected paradox: much "expert" adult thinking is basically much
simpler than what happens in a child's ordinary play! It can be harder to
be a novice than to be an expert! This is because, sometimes, what an
expert needs to know and do can be quite simple -- only, it may be very
hard to discover, or learn, in the first place. Thus, Galileo had to be smart
indeed, to see the need for calculus. He didn't manage to invent it. Yet any
good student can learn it today.

The surprising thing, thus, was that when it was finished, Slagle's
program needed only about a hundred "facts" to solve its college-level
calculus problems. Most of them were simple rules about algebra. But
others were about how to guess which of two problems is likely to be
easier; that that kind of knowledge is especially important, because it
helps the program make good judgments about what to do next. Without
this such programs only thrash about; with it they seem much more
purposeful. Why do human students take so long to learn such rules? We
do not know.

Today we know much more about making such "expert" programs -- but
we still don't know much more about making programs with more
"common sense". Consider all the different things that children do, when
they play with their blocks. To build a little house one has to mix and
match many different kinds of knowledge: about shapes and colors, space
and time, support and balance, stress and strain, speed, cost, and keeping
track. An expert sometimes can get by with deep but narrow bodies of
knowledge - but common sense is, technically, a lot more complicated.

Most ordinary computer programs do just the things they're programmed
for. Some Al programs are more flexible; when anything goes wrong,
they can back up to some previous decision and try something else. But
even that is much too crude a base for much intelligence. To make them
really smart, we'll have to make them more reflective. A person tries,
when things go wrong, to understand what's going wrong, instead of just
attempting something else. We look for causal explanations, or excuses,
and, when we find them, add them to our networks of belief and
understanding. We do intelligent learning. Some day programs, too, could
do such things -- but first we'd need a lot more research to find out how.

================== UNCONSCIOUS FEARS AND PHOBIAS. ==================

I'll bet that when we try to make machines more sensible, we'll find that
learning what is wrong turns out to be as important as learning what's
correct. In order to succeed, it helps to know the likely ways to fail. Freud
talked about censors in our minds, that keep us from forbidden acts or
thoughts. And, though those censors were proposed to regulate our social
activity, I think we use such censors, too, for ordinary problem solving --
to know what not to do. Perhaps we learn a new one each time anything
goes wrong, by constructing a process to recognize similar
circumstances, in some "subconscious memory".

This idea is not popular in contemporary psychology, perhaps because
censors only suppress behavior, so their activity is invisible on the
surface. When a person makes a good decision, we tend to ask what "line
of thought" lies behind it. But we don't so often ask what thousand
prohibitions might have warded off a thousand bad alternatives. If
censors work inside our minds, to keep us from mistakes and absurdities,
why can't we feel that happening? Because, I suppose, so many thousands
of them work at once that, if you had to think about them, you'd never get
much done. They have to ward off bad ideas before you "get" those bad

Perhaps this is one reason why so much of human thought is
"unconscious". Each idea that we have time to contemplate must be a
product of many events that happen deeper and earlier in the mind. Each
conscious thought must be the end of processes in which it must compete
with other proto-thoughts, perhaps by pleading little briefs in little
courts. But all that we do sense of that are just the final sentences.

And how, indeed, could it be otherwise? There's no way any part of the
mind could know everything that happens in the rest. Our conscious
minds must be like high executives, who can't be burdened with the small
details. There's only time for summaries from other, smaller parts of
mind, that know much more about much less; the ones that do the real

================== SELF-CONSCIOUS COMPUTERS. ==================

Then, is it possible to program a computer to be self-conscious? People
usually expect the answer to be "no". What if we answered that machines
are capable, in principle, of even more and better consciousness than
people have?

I think this could be done by providing machines with ways to examine
their own mechanisms while they are working. In principle, at least, this
seem possible; we already have some simple Al programs that can
understand a little about how some simpler programs work. (There is a
technical problem about the program being fast enough, to keep up with
itself, but that can be solved by keeping records.) The trouble is, we still
know far too little, yet, to make programs with enough common sense to
understand even how today's simple Al problem-solving programs work.
But once we learn to make machines that are smart enough to understand
such things, I see no special problem in giving them the "self-insight"
they would need to understand, change, and improve themselves.

This might not be so wise to do. But what if it turns out that the only way
to make computers much smarter is to make them more self-conscious?
For example, it might turn out to be too risky to assign a robot to
undertake some important, long-range task, without some "insight" about
it's own abilities. If we don't want it to start projects it can't finish, we'd
better have it know what it can do. If we want it versatile enough to solve
new kinds of problems, it may need to be able to understand how it
already solves easier problems. In other words, it may turn out that any
really robust problem solver will to understand itself enough to change
itself. Then, if that goes on long enough, why can't those artificial
creatures reach for richer mental lives than people have. Our own
evolution must have constrained the wiring of our brains in many ways.
But here we have more options now, since we can wire machines in any
way we wish.

It will be a long time before we learn enough about common sense
reasoning to make machines as smart as people are. Today, we already
know quite a lot about making useful, specialized, "expert" systems. We
still don't know how to make them able to improve themselves in
interesting ways. But when we answer such questions, then we'll have to
face one, even stranger, one. When we learn how, then should we build
machines that might be somehow "better" than ourselves? We're lucky
that we have to leave that choice to future generations. I'm sure they
won't want to build the things that well unless they find good reasons to.

Just as Evolution changed man's view of Life, Al will change mind's view
of Mind. As we find more ways to make machines behave more sensibly,
we'll also learn more about our mental processes. In its course, we will
find new ways to think about "thinking" and about "feeling". Our view of
them will change from opaque mysteries to complex yet still
comprehensible webs of ways to represent and use ideas. Then those
ideas, in turn, will lead to new machines, and those, in turn, will give us
new ideas. No one can tell where that will lead and only one thing's sure
right now: there's something wrong with any claim to know, today, of
any basic differences between the minds of men and those of possible

Twenty Healthy Foods

When it comes to eating healthy most people think of dull, boring food that's green in color. In reality, most of the world's healthiest foods not only taste great, they also come in a vast array of vibrant colors. Many require little, if any preparation, yet provide you with the energy and stamina to get through the day. They are the ultimate fast food!

Although fresh, whole fruits and veggies are amongst the world's healthiest foods, it's also important to consume an assortment of grains, nuts, seeds and foods rich in essential fatty acids. Experts recommend consuming a daily total of 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-4 servings of fruit, 6-11 servings of grains, and 1-2 servings of nuts and seeds.

One serving of vegetables is equivalent to1/2 cup cooked or chopped raw vegetables, or 3/4 cup vegetable juice, or 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables (cabbage, lettuce, collard greens). One serving of grains equals 1/4 cup of cooked grains. A serving of nuts and seeds equals one ounce or approximately two tablespoons sunflower seeds or 12 whole almonds.

Essential fatty acids are obtained through a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. Daily intake should be between 1 and 3 grams. The omega-3 and omega-6 oils are the essential fatty acids. There are omega-9 oils, but these are not essential because the body can produce them naturally.

Omega-3 and omega-6 oils must come from your diet because the body cannot make them. Not only must you consume both oils, you must consume them in the proper balance. The human brain contains omega-3 and omega-6 in a ration of 1:1. Unfortunately, the typical American diet has most people consuming the omegas at a 1:10 ratio.

Foods rich in omega-6 EFAs include vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains. Foods rich in omega-3 EFAs include flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, green leafy vegetables, grains, and spirulina.

Scientific research has shown eating a balanced diet provides a host of benefits. Eating healthy foods can provide you with more energy, brain clarity, less aches and pains, restful sleep and more.

Here you will find twenty of the world's healthiest foods and the health benefits they provide. Start by adding one new food each day. In just 20 days you will be well on your way to a healthier you!


Apricots: These beauties are rich in the antioxidant beta carotene; the molecule that gives fruits and vegetables their orange color. Apricots also contain an abundant supply of iron and potassium. They help regulate blood pressure and maintain regular bowel function. If you ever experience constipation, eat an apricot!

One fresh apricot or a handful of dried apricots, provide an adult with one-fifth of the daily recommended value of potassium. It also packs a whopping 20 percent of the RDA of vitamin A, 8 percent vitamin C, and 5 percent fiber. Apricots contain tryptophan, which helps to induce sleep and relaxation.
Avocados: Oftentimes, people shy away from avocados because of their fat content. However, avocados contain "good" fat and are rich in vitamins C, E, and B6. They are also a good source of potassium.

Studies have shown avocados possess the ability to reduce cholesterol. Individuals diagnosed with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) can obtain health benefits by consuming two to three avocados per week. Avocados are high in calories, so limit weekly consumption to a maximum of three.

Bananas: Need a quick energy boost? Eat a banana. This delectable fruit contains only 62 calories and is rich in potassium and vitamin B6. It also boasts a healthy dose of vitamin C and dietary fiber. Look for bananas which are fully ripened because they contain more starch than "green" bananas. Banana starch is converted to sugar, making this fruit a good choice for people with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Bananas are probably one of the most versatile health foods available. They can be eaten with every meal, as a snack or dessert. You can add them to frozen yogurt or a fruit salad. They can be grilled, broiled, sautéed or flambéed. One of my all-time favorite banana recipes is to insert a popsicle stick into a banana, coat in melted carob, roll in chopped nuts and freeze. There's nothing better on a hot summer night!

Blueberries: This tart berry has been shown to reduce inflammation; making blueberries a good choice for individuals with arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Research shows that eating thirty blueberries per day can help alleviate aches and pains in the joints.

In addition to being an anti-inflammatory fruit, blueberries also offer anti-blood clotting and antibacterial effects. They can help ease the pain associated with diarrhea or food poisoning. Blueberries contain the highest level of antioxidants and are said to possess anti-aging properties.

One cup of blueberries contains less than 100 calories, yet provides nearly 30 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, 10 percent vitamin E, and 15 percent dietary fiber. They can be added to cereal, oatmeal, fruit salads, and yogurt or eaten plain. Add dried blueberries to granola and eat as an afternoon snack for a quick-pick-me-up.

Mangoes: Mangoes contain beta-cryptoxanthin, a potent antioxidant that prevents free radicals from damaging your cells and DNA. Recent studies have shown that mangoes may help to reduce the risk of colon and cervical cancer. Mangoes are rich in beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A within the body. It's important to note that beta-cryptoxanthin is best absorbed by the body when eaten with fat. For best results, consume mangoes as part of a meal.

Mango salsa makes an excellent companion with chicken and pork. They add a tart, yet sweet flavor to fruit salads and smoothies. Mangoes can be frozen, but be certain to remove the skin and core and store in a freezer bag.

Artichokes: This odd-looking vegetable is fat-free, a good source of complex carbohydrates, and contains fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a non-digestible fiber. The human body does not possess the enzymes required to break down FOS. However, bacteria found in the large intestine and colon does contain the enzymes. For this reason, artichokes are beneficial to people who experience bowel problems.

Artichokes are a good source of iron, potassium, magnesium, copper and manganese. They provide nearly 20 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, 23 percent of vitamin K and 17 percent folate.One artichoke contains around 76 calories.

Broccoli: Research has proven broccoli has the potential to prevent cancer. That fact alone should make you want to eat it on a daily basis. Broccoli has also been proven effective in lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Broccoli is rich in beta carotene, calcium, iron, folate, vitamin C and E, and zinc. Broccoli contains about 15 percent of tryptophan; an essential amino acid that aids in sleep and relaxation. Eat this food throughout the day and for an evening snack to keep your nerves calm and to obtain a peaceful sleep.

Garlic: One of the most notable benefits of garlic is its ability to reduce blood pressure. Garlic is also known for its antibacterial properties, which can reduce the risk of infection and illness. Recent studies show garlic may also help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

At only 9 calories per clove, it is a perfect vegetable for those watching their weight. Garlic is a good source of manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C and calcium. Garlic can be eaten raw, added to nearly every recipe, or baked for a delicious garlic spread. Garlic salt or garlic powder can be used as a salt substitute.

Onions: Not only are onions a good source of fiber, potassium, and B vitamins, they also possess anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Research indicates onions may help to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, and relieve bronchial congestion.

At only 36 calories per medium-sized onion, these flavorful veggies can be abundantly consumed on a daily basis. Raw onions provide the highest level of health benefits. Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil to onion slices and toss on the grill. Fresh herbs and spices can be added for an extra punch of flavor.

Tomatoes: Perhaps one of the most versatile vegetables is the tomato. It can be eaten raw, cooked, steamed, grilled, baked, juiced, or pureed. Tomatoes are compatible with nearly every type of food including meats, vegetables, potatoes and rice.

One tomato contains a mere 17 calories, making it an excellent choice for those following a weight management program. Tomatoes contain a high level of antioxidants and are a good source of vitamins C and E. Just one cup will provide you with more than 50 percent of the RDA of vitamin C, 20 percent of vitamin A and 15 percent of vitamin K. Tomatoes also contain lycopene, a phytochemical known to reduce the risk of heart disease.


Barley and rye: These grains are high fiber whole grains and contain five times more fiber than any other whole grain. Studies show barley can slow the progression of atherosclerosis and may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. It is believed these grains reduce estrogen levels, help prevent the risk of heart disease, and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Barley and rye are both good sources of potassium and fiber. They contain small amounts of iron, Pantothenate, vitamins B1 and B6, and zinc. One cup of cooked grains contains 270 calories. These grains are a good choice for dinner, as they are high in tryptophan and can aide in restful sleep.

Oats: Starting your day off with a bowl of steaming oats can provide you with energy and brain clarity. Studies have shown eating oats on a daily basis can help to lower blood cholesterol. Oats also have the ability to stabilize blood sugar levels and maintain regular bowel function.

Oats are a good source of fiber, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E. One cup contains less than 150 calories, making it an excellent choice for those who are watching their waistline.

Quinoa: Pronounced keen-wa, and known as the "Mother of all Grains", this grain contains more protein than any other. Quinoa is an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, iron, and copper. It is a light grain that can be substituted for rice or pasta and makes a nice addition to soups and stews.

Rice: Rice is a good source of both magnesium and potassium. It also contains fiber, iron, niacin, vitamins B1 and B2, and zinc. Rice provides a quick energy boost and is easily digested. Rice helps to maintain bowel health and stabilizes blood sugar levels. There are many varieties of rice including white, brown, basmati, jasmine and saffron.

Wheatgerm: This super grain has been used for centuries to relieve constipation. Studies show wheatgerm supports the heart and may reduce the risk of heart disease. It strengthens the immune system and may help maintain cognitive function as we age.

Wheatgerm is rich in antioxidants and folate. It also contains vitamins B1, B6, and E and is a good source of potassium and zinc. It is recommended to consume two tablespoons of fresh wheatgerm on a daily basis. Sprinkle wheatgerm on cereal, oatmeal, fruit salad or yogurt.


Almonds: Classified as a nut, almonds are actually the seed of the fruit of an almond tree. They offer a delicate and mild flavor to dishes and can be added to vegetables, meats, fruits and desserts.

Eating twelve almonds per day can provide you with the recommended daily allowance of essential fatty acids. Almonds are rich in potassium and are considered a "good" fat. These fruit seeds are high in calories, so limit your intake to no more than twelve per day. Unblanched almonds are considered to be the healthiest choice. Avoid dry roasted almonds or almonds covered in sugar, honey or salt.

Brazil nuts: Brazil nuts contain all the essential amino acids, making them a complete protein. Brazil nuts contain exceptionally high levels of selenium; a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Brazil nuts are an excellent source of zinc, which is essential to digestion and metabolism. Brazil nuts contain a high level of fat and should not be consumed more than three times per week. One serving equals eight nuts and is equivalent to 30 grams of fat.

Chestnuts: These nuts pack a wallop of beneficial carbohydrates, making them an excellent choice for people trying to gain weight. Chestnuts are cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and a good source of dietary fiber.
Additionally, chestnuts contain small amounts of vitamin C, thiamine, and riboflavin. Although chestnuts are considered a "good" fat, they should not be consumed more than four times per week. One serving of chestnuts equal five whole nuts. It's best to roast chestnuts at home by baking them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 5-6 minutes.

Pumpkin seeds: Research shows pumpkin seeds to be effective in lowering cholesterol levels, promoting prostate health, and supporting the function of the immune system. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of potassium, omega-3 fatty acids and zinc. One and one-half ounces of pumpkin seeds can provide over one-third of an adult's daily zinc requirements. However, pumpkin seeds are high in calories and should be eaten in moderation. Limit consumption to no more than three times weekly.

Sunflower seeds: One of the most popular seeds consumed, sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E and known to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Studies have also shown them effective in guarding against cataracts. Experts recommend eating two tablespoons of sunflower seeds each day. Doing so will double your intake of vitamin E. However, they are high in calories and should be eaten in limited quantities.

Friday, March 14, 2008

100 Ways to Cut Calories

REACHING YOUR FAT-LOSS GOALS may be easier than you think. To lose a pound of fat a month, all you need to do is cut 100 calories a day from your diet, assuming the intake and expenditure of all other calories remains the same. That's because a pound of body fat is equivalent to about 3,500 calories. So if you cut 100 calories a day for 31 days, you're cutting 3,100 calories--or about a pound.

Wait...a pound a month? Isn't that a little slow? Well, mounds of research indicate that you're more likely to keep weight off if you lose it slowly. Besides, losing a pound a month doesn't require drastic changes in your eating habits. It can be as simple as eating two egg rolls with your Chinese stir-fry instead of three. Here are 100 painless ways to cut 100 or more calories a day. As a bonus, they all reduce fat or sugar, which means, calorie for calorie, you're getting more vitamins and minerals.

1. Spread 1 tablespoon of all-fruit jam on your toast rather than 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter.

2. Replace 1 cup of whole milk with 1/2 cup of nonfat milk.

3. Eat 2 poached eggs instead of 2 fried eggs.

4. Replace 1/2 cup of granola with 2 cups of Cheerios.

5. Instead of using whole milk and eggs to prepare 2 slices of French toast, use nonfat milk and egg whites.

6. Snack on an orange and a banana instead of a Snickers candy bar.

7. Munch on 35 pretzel sticks instead of 1 ounce of dry-roasted peanuts.

8. Replace 1 cup of sweetened applesauce with 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce.

9. On your lamb-and-vegetable kabob, replace 2 of the 4 chunks of meat with fresh whole mushrooms.

10. Dip an artichoke in 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise instead of 1 1/2 tablespoons of regular mayonnaise.

11. Steam your asparagus rather than sauté it in 1 tablespoon of butter or oil.

12. Instead of a 5-ounce glass of wine, opt for cherry-flavored sparkling water.

13. For a chewy snack, have 1/2 cup of dried fruit rather than 9 caramels.

14. Replace 3 slices of bacon with 3 slices of Light & Lean Canadian bacon.

15. Eat a Lender's egg bagel instead of a Sara Lee egg bagel.

16. Select 1 cup of home-style baked beans instead of an equal serving of baked beans with franks.

17. Replace 2 biscuits with 2 dinner rolls.

18. When making a sandwich, use 2 slices of Roman Light 7-grain bread instead of Pepperidge Farm wheat bread.

19. Eat 1/2 cup of steamed fresh broccoli instead of 1/2 cup of frozen broccoli in cheese sauce.

20. Make a burrito with 1/2 cup of fat-free refried beans and 1 ounce of nonfat cheese instead of the same amount of traditional refried beans and cheese.

21. Replace an apple muffin with a high-fiber English muffin.

22. Reduce a typical serving of chocolate cake (1/8 of a two-layer cake) by one-third.

23. Switch from 1 cup of whole-milk hot chocolate to 1 cup of steamed 1% milk flavored with a dash of almond extract.

24. Replace 1 cup of caramel-coated popcorn with 2 1/2 cups of air-popped popcorn.

25. Switch from 1/2 cup of yogurt-covered raisins to 1/2 cup of plain raisins.

26. Snack on 1 cup of nonfat plain yogurt instead of 1 cup of custard-style yogurt.

27. Top your celery sticks with 2 tablespoons of fat-free cream cheese instead of 3 tablespoons of regular cream cheese.

28. Replace 2 fried-chicken drumsticks with 2 roasted drumsticks and a cup of peas and carrots.

29. Instead of eating 5 chocolate-chip cookies, savor the taste of 2.

30. Lighten your 2 cups of coffee with 2 tablespoons of evaporated nonfat milk instead of 2 tablespoons of half-and-half.

31. Replace a 12-ounce can of cola with a 12-ounce can of diet cola.

32. Thicken your cream sauce with 1 percent milk and corn starch instead of a roux of butter and flour.

33. At the appetizer tray, choose 4 fresh raw mushrooms instead of 4 batter-fried mushrooms.

34. Use 2 tablespoons of fat-free sour cream instead of regular sour cream (on baked potatoes or in stroganoff). If done twice in the day, 100 calories will be cut.

35. Reduce the size of your steak from 4 1/2 ounces to 3 ounces.

36. Grill a cheese sandwich with nonstick cooking spray instead of margarine.

37. Replace 1 cup of chocolate ice cream with 2/3 cup of nonfat chocolate frozen yogurt.

38. Snack on 2 ounces of oven-baked potato chips instead of regular potato chips.

39. Instead of topping your salad with an ounce of croutons, get your crunch from 1/4 cup of chopped celery.

40. Instead of 1 cup of macaroni salad, eat 3 1/2 cups of spinach salad with 2 tablespoons of low-calorie dressing.

41. Cut the peanut butter on your sandwich from 2 tablespoons to 1 tablespoon.

42. Serve your turkey with 1/4 cup of cranberry sauce instead of 1/2 cup.

43. Order a sandwich on cracked wheat bread instead of a croissant.

44. Complement your hamburger with 1 1/4 ounces of oven-baked tortilla chips instead of a side of fries.

45. Split an apple Danish with a friend rather than eat the entire thing.

46. Order 2 slices of cheese pizza instead of 2 slices of pepperoni pizza.

47. Grab a Dole Fresh Lites Cherry frozen fruit bar instead of a Sunkist Coconut frozen fruit bar.

48. Snack on 1/2 cup of fruit cocktail canned in water instead of 1 cup of fruit cocktail canned in heavy syrup.

49. Switch from 1 cup of fruit punch to 1 cup of sparkling water flavored with 2 teaspoons of concentrated orange juice.

50. Instead of eating garlic bread made with butter, spread baked garlic cloves on French bread.

51. Rather than snack on 1 cup of grapefruit canned in syrup, peel and section 1 small grapefruit.

52. Dip your chips in 1/2 cup of salsa instead of 1/2 cup of guacamole.

53. Switch from 1/2 cup of Frusen Gladje butter pecan ice cream to Breyers butter pecan ice cream.

54. Use 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise in your tuna salad instead of 2 tablespoons.

55. Hold the tartar sauce on your fish sandwich, and squeeze lemon on it instead.

56. Replace 3 fish sticks with 3 ounces of grilled halibut.

57. In sandwich spreads or salads, use 3 teaspoons of dijonnaise instead of 4 teaspoons of mayonnaise.

58. Use 2 tablespoons of light pancake syrup instead of 2 tablespoons of regular syrup.

59. Top your pasta with 1 cup of marinara sauce instead of 1/2 cup of alfredo sauce.

60. For each serving of pasta salad you make, reduce the oil or mayonnaise by 1 tablespoon.

61. Replace 1/2 cup of peaches canned in extra-heavy syrup with 1/2 cup of peaches canned in water.

62. Prepare 1/2 cup of steamed peas and cauliflower instead of frozen peas and cauliflower in cream sauce.

63. Cut back on sampling during cooking. The following "tastes" have 100 calories: 4 tablespoons of beef stroganoff, 3 tablespoons of homemade chocolate pudding, 2 tablespoons of chocolate-chip cookie dough.

64. At an Italian restaurant, snack on a large breadstick instead of a slice of garlic bread.

65. Eat a 3/4-cup serving of pudding made with skim milk rather than a 1-cup serving of pudding made with whole milk.

66. Choose 1/2 cup of brown rice instead of 1 serving of frozen rice pilaf with green beans or 1 serving of frozen Oriental rice and vegetables.

67. Compliment your sandwich with 3/4 cup of split-pea soup instead of 1 cup of chunky bean and ham soup.

68. Replace 3 tablespoons of strawberry topping on your ice cream with 3/4 pint of fresh strawberries.

69. Pass on the second helping of mashed potatoes.

70. Eat 3 grilled prawns with cocktail sauce instead of 3 breaded and fried prawns.

71. Make a pie crust with 1 cup of Grape-Nuts cereal, 1/4 cup of concentrated apple juice and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, instead of using a traditional graham-cracker crust. You'll save 100 calories per slice.

72. Replace 8 sticks of regular chewing gum with sugar-free chewing gum.

73. Snack on a papaya instead of a bag of M&Ms.

74. Substitute 3 ounces of scallops for 3 ounce of lean beef in your stir-fry.

75. Rather than spread 4 tablespoons of cream cheese on two slices of raisin bread, dip the bread in 1/2 cup nonfat apple-cinnamon yogurt.

76. Munch on 1 cup of frozen grapes instead of an ice cream sandwich.

77. Rather than drink a strawberry milkshake, make a smoothie of 2/3 cup of low-fat milk, 1/2 cup of strawberries and 1/2 a banana.

78. Replace 2 brownies with 2 fig bars.

79. Eat 2 meatballs instead of 4 with your spaghetti.

80. On a hot day, quench your thirst with a glass of ice water with lemon or mint instead of a can of light beer.

81. Eat 1/2 cup of black beans instead of 3 ounces of roast beef.

82. Replace 1 1/2 tablespoons of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spread with 1 1/2 tablespoons of Nucoa Smart Beat margarine.

83. Choose 1 serving of vegetarian lasagna instead of lasagna with meat.

84. Eat 2 Kellogg's Nutri-Grain bars instead of 2 Kellogg's Pop-Tarts.

85. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of low-calorie French dressing on your salad instead of 2 tablespoons of blue cheese dressing.

86. Replace 1 large flour tortilla with 1 six-inch corn tortilla.

87. Eat a turkey sandwich instead of a chicken salad sandwich.

88. Choose 4 1/2 ounces of tuna packed in water instead of 4 1/2 ounces of tuna packed in oil.

89. At Burger King, have a Whopper Jr. Sandwich with regular fries instead of a Whopper With Cheese Sandwich.

90. Order your Quarter Pounder without cheese.

91. At Jack in the Box, eat a regular taco instead of a super taco.

92. Fix 1 cup of turkey chili with beans rather than regular chili with no beans.

93. Use 1 cup of fat-free cottage cheese instead of regular cottage cheese.

94. Order a sandwich with barbecued chicken instead of barbecued pork.

95. Replace 1 cup of corn with 1 cup of carrots.

96. Reduce your helping of turkey stuffing from 1 cup to 2/3 cup.

97. Have a single scoop of ice cream instead of a double scoop.

98. Replace 2 ounces of corn chips with 2 ounces of SnackWell's wheat crackers.

99. Eat 1 hot dog at the baseball game instead of 2.

100. Shred 2 ounces of fat-free cheddar cheese on nachos instead of regular cheddar.

Waves - A source for Renewable Energy

Orecon’s Wave SystemNowadays many companies are implicated in the development of devices capable of producing alternative energy and currently the most efficient are solar and wind energies. But there is one technology that could be successful and compete against solar and wind power - wave power.

A company which is willing to develop full-scale machines in order to produce wave energy is called Orecon and it has received until now $24 million from Advent Ventures, Northzone Ventures, Venrok and Wellington Partners. If their research will meet the expectations, then they will begin to manufacture and to commercialize wave power machines.

Orecon has already developed a project and their idea consisting of a buoy destined to crop power. The power coming from the waves hit the buoy and when this happens, the pressure created bestirs a turbine which finally produces the long-expected energy. According to the U.K. company, a system like that will produce around 1.5 megawatts of energy and it will last more than 25 years.

Among the U.K., Ireland is one of the countries that is trying to install wave power systems. WaveBob, an Irish company, is already testing an 1/4 scale device in the waters near Galway and in a few years they it will be complete and will produce 1 megawatt of energy.

Currently, this technology is very expensive and they are not very efficient (only 250 kilowatts per system) and another set-backs are the environmental challenges. Some reports say that this technology is expected to be commercialized as of 2010 or 2015.