A computer program is like a recipe. It's a set of instructions.
Ellen Ullman points out that this metaphor doesn't work when you look at a recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking--she looks at a recipe that mentions "important guests" and "a good bordeaux". These are real-world concepts, not easily expressed as computer data structures.
This leads Ms. Ullman to some musing on the topic: AI is a hard problem. More specifically, creating artificial intelligence that will interact with humans is a hard problem. But she wrote this article for non-technical people, so she doesn't talk about various past AI techniques which flopped. Instead, she talks about the peculiarly human thinking we do automatically at a dinner party: sitting in a chair, understanding the utility of an ice-cream spoon; tasting.
Then it gets weirder. What a fun essay.
Labels: book, programming, yeah i care about nutrition