Sunday, July 22, 2007

Schank Final Chapter: Stories & Intelligence

The final chapter summarizes Mr, Schank's theoretical perspective that "People think in terms of stories. They think in terms of stories that they have already understood. New events and or problems are understood to old previously understood stories and are explained to others in terms of stories."

Schank theorizes that: "Stories are very basic to the human thinking process. But people also use stories to avoid thinking." He then addresses what he believes to be the seven dimensions of human intelligence in terms of how they operate via story recognition.

According to Schank, the seven dimensions of intelligence are:
  1. DATA FINDING: "Intelligence is characterized by the ability to get reminded. Reminding has a purpose. It is the means by which our memories present us with data for our consideration. We might want to recall an experience because of who was involved in it, where it took place, an unusual experience related to it, or one of many points that was derived from it." Personal Note: Schank's description of the Jimmy Swaggart story skills in chapter 7 seem to fit this dimension.
  2. DATA MANIPULATION: "Some people can find matches that do not directly fit and instead of rejecting them, use them. They have learned old to adapt old data for new situations....The more successfully you adapt old stories, the more creative you are." Personal Note: This dimension seems to fit well with the story skeleton, chapter 6. The distillation, combination, etc. to create the gist of the story.
  3. COMPREHENSION: "...we can connect new stories to old stories...Part of being intelligent is figuring out where the actions of others fit." Personal Note: From what we have learned in the past and embedded in our minds through scripts, the process is simplified.
  4. EXPLANATION: "It seems rather obvious that speculating about what may be going on in an anomalous situation is an important part of thinking...From what I said above, it follows that intelligence is intimately connected with failure...Change comes about because of failure...Failure is valuable because it encourages explanation." Personal Note: This is easier to understand in the Jimmy Swaggart story in Chapter 7.
  5. PLANNING: "How is it that planning is possible by beings who are not overwhelmingly intelligent? The answer is that most beings don't create plans, they copy plans...The ability to create brand-new plans is one of the real hallmarks of intelligence" Personal Note: Basically, Schank uses a lot of generalization to support his point, e.g. cooks and recipes; drivers traveling to a new destination; chess players and generals looking for a new strategy. Generalization is typically due to lack of data in the high tech world.
  6. COMMUNICATION: "Intelligent beings communicate. Some people can tell stories that are not simply direct descriptions of what has happened to them. They have learned how to generalize, crystallize, and elaborate so that they tell stories that express insights not obvious to the original story.... Knowing that it is possible to entertain people in various , storytellers learn to hone the skills necessary to be entertaining." Personal Note: Though technical on occasion, the communication dimension was inspirational for one wanting to become a better communicator.
  7. INTEGRATION: " "As a matter of course, we understand stories that we have been told. " Personal Note: This is a shift section to the concept of computers conversing with humans. To support his point Schank refers to an artificial intelligence project in the late 1970's and then moves forward with more technical discussion regarding artificial intelligence and how: "The day of interactive storytelling is coming."

Personal Assessment: Much of what was said in this chapter was based upon generalizations and personal opinion. If the day of interactive storytelling does arrive communication via stories will shift from oral to written.

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