Stanley & Lehman – Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned

Fascinating insights by Computer Science / Artificial Intelligence profs …

some have summarized their insights by writing: “only by doing activities that fulfill our curiosity without any pre-defined objectives, true creativity can be unleashed. They call this the ‘Myth of the Objective’: Objectives are well and good when they are sufficiently modest … In fact, objectives actually become obstacles towards more exciting achievements, like those involving discovery, creativity, invention, or innovation—or even achieving true happiness… the truest path to “blue sky” discovery or to fulfill boundless ambition, is to have no objective at all.”

some of Stanley’s and Lehmans insights:


  • “The flash of insight is seeing the bridge to the next stepping stone by building from the old ones. ”


  • “[Picbreeder] is just one example of a fascinating class of phenomena that we might call non-objective search processes, or perhaps stepping stone collectors. The prolific creativity of these kinds of processes is difficult to overstate”


  • “ measuring success against the objective is likely to lead you on the wrong path in all sorts of situations”


  • “You can’t evolve intelligence in a Petri dish based on measuring intelligence. You can’t build a computer simply through determination and intellect—you need the stepping stones. ”


  • “ambitious objectives are the interesting ones, and the idea that the best way to achieve them is by ignoring them flies in the face of common intuition and conventional wisdom. More deeply it suggests that something is wrong at the heart of search. ”



I find their books inspiring and insightful. Reframing questions and providing different lines of attack on AI and Search Optimization to Ambitious Goals …






AI, The Real History: McCorduck’s Machines who Think

“The occupational activities of children are learning, thinking, playing and the like. Yet we tell them nothing about those things.”  per AI Pioneer Seymour Papert –  In Pam McCorduck’s Machines who Think, (an outstanding book; Pam is a great author, turns out she’s the wife of Joe Traub who was Computer Science Dept Chair at Carnegie Mellon University & Columbia University … and had amazing insight into the real story 🙂 – not found elsewhere ) 

EXCELLENT EXCELLENT BOOK … It’s really packed with amazing insights and details hidden from the public view …

I didn’t realize Papert’s connection with Piaget and his deep understanding and interest in how children learn.  Of course Papert and Minsky’s Perceptrons were widely known [ and got a refresh boost . The Perceptron. ideas… which, in prehistoric times, with Marvin Minsky, helped pave the way to the AI we know today. — that’s where the real action was and maybe still is …  check the reboot. over at


Voevodsky and Computer verification of mathematical reasoning


Vladimir Alexandrovich Voevodsky Winner of the 2002 Fields Medal passed away earlier this year. Way too early.   Explore his UNIVALENT FOUNDATIONS (2014), where he stated:

I   think it was at this moment that I largely stopped doing what is called “curiosity-driven research” and started to think seriously about the future.  … It soon became clear that the only real long-term solution to the problems that I encountered is to start using computers in the verification of mathematical reasoning.