Tuesday, September 01, 2009

How To Generate New Ideas - Part 1

In this intriguing video presentation at MIT, Prof. Patrick Winston summarizes his recent research work on how to make computer smarter by developing algorithms to learn basic reasoning and associations, which he call "common senses".

The key insight is that creative thinking process of us humans, is not a linear progression of words or ideas, but rather a complex combination of images, languages, symbols, dialogues, and interactive feedbacks.

He summarizes four things to do in order to become smarter, which I agree and think are also the key points in coming up with creative new ideas.

1. Take notes - The act of taking notes forces us to reason about the thought, and use the logic of language to formalize the thought. With an iPhone in my pocket, it is now easier than ever for me to take notes anywhere, any time.

2. Draw pictures - We think with images. Even with things we have never experienced, we use our imagination to picturize sequences of images, no matter how blurry they might be.

3. Talk and imagine - We learn by talking. There are certain logic reasoning skills we acquire in our childhood only after learning how to talk. Talking not just solicits feedback of your ideas from others, but yourself also.

4. Tell stories - Life consists of stories. Ideas are illustrated best with real-life stories.

The video is rather long, but worthwhile to go through. If you're pressed on time, then check out the conclusions section, at around 41 minutes into the presentation.

video source MIT world