In the age of computer art, the traditional division between art and science, between intuition and rationality does not make much sense any more. Minsky defines generating new forms of performance and understanding as the common goal of science and art. According to him, what matters is above all the exploration of these processes (understanding, creativity), especially as far as further development in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics etc. is concerned.
One day, walking through the laboratory, I met a colleague and asked about the course he was teaching. "I got into some trouble today ", the professor said. What I was explaining seemed so obvious that I couldn't see why the students couldn't understand it. I've taught this subject so many times that I can't remember which parts are hard. What do people mean when they say that certain conclusions are logical while others are intuitive? Are these really different types of thought? It seems to me that the differences lie less in the styles of thought themselves than in the degree to which we understand how they work. For, in general we're least aware of what our minds do best. We can usually explain, in much detail, how we perform a mathematical calculation or procedure; this is because we already know how to describe it in terms of its simpler parts and relationships.
But we're speechless when asked to explain how we speak, or of how we hear or how we see. Clearly, these accomplishments of everyday life involve immensely intricate brain-machines-yet to us they proceed with no effort at all. What makes such complex processes seem so simple to us?
To the computer programmer, one possible answer seems obvious: that our mostpracticed and most "common-sense" skills must be just the ones that we have converted or precompiled into procedures and scripts that can be executed unconsciously. It is only when those systems fail that we start to engage the special types of procedures and memory systems that comprise what we call "consciousness". Thus, we're more aware of processes that don't work well than of those that tend to work flawlessly. This means that we cannot trust our offhand judgments about which things we do are simple, and which engage complex machinery.