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Roger Schank is president and CEO of Socratic Arts, and a leading visionary in artificial intelligence.
Schank was formerly professor of computer science and psychology at Yale University and director of the Yale Artificial Intelligence Project. In 1989 he was hired by Northwestern University to found the Institute of Learning Sciences, that later was absorbed by the School of Education as a separate department, and helped found the Center for the Learning Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University]. He founded Learning Sciences Corporation (later Cognitive Arts) as the commercial arm of ILS, and led it until it was sold in 2003,
Schank was one of the premier thinkers in artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology in the 1970s and 1980s. Schank's major innovation in these fields were his concepts of case based reasoning and Schank's Dynamic Memory. Both of these were opposed to more traditional views of memory and reasoning in the field. The classic cognitivist view of cognition popular at the time viewed cognition as being the rule (or algorithm) bound manipulation of symbols. Schank on the other hand stated that memory was in the form of meaningful 'stories' (not merely inert decontextualized information) and that problem solving progressed by using 'cases' or examples stored in memory. So for example, in the 'classical' view, when we walk to the store, we accomplish this because we have access to a stored algorithm that tells us 'step one, open door, step two, step into street' and so on. In Schank's view on the other hand, we accomplish this because we have access to a stored 'schema' based on previous experience of what it is like to walk to the store, and we don't need rules to describe this.
- Roger Schank, Tell Me A Story: a new look at real and artificial memory, Scribners, 1990. People learn very easily from stories -- so easily that they can be taught to firmly believe things that aren't true, as Schank notes in passing.
- Roger Schank, The Connoisseur's Guide to the Mind: How we think, How we learn, and what it means to be intelligent, Summit Books, 1991. Brilliant tour de force explaining general ideas of learning, memory, and understanding all in the specific context of Schank's culinary adventures in gourmet wining and dining. Why would you want to know what French weather was like during grape-harvesting in the 1970s? So you can order good wines (relatively) cheap from restaurant wine lists in the late 1980s.
- Roger Schank and Chip Cleary, Engines for Education, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishing, Hillsdale, New Jersey, 1995. Gives specific examples of software built at ILS to implement Schank's ideas about case-based exploratory learning.
- Schank, R. and Abelson, R. (1977) Scripts, Plans, Goals and Understanding: an Enquiry into Human Knowledge, Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
- Schank, R.C. (1975b) Conceptual Information Processing, Amsterdam: North-Holland.
- Schank, R. C. (1984) The Cognitive Computer: On Language. Learning, and Artificial Intelligence. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Chapters in books
- Schank, R.C. (1975a) The role of memory in language processing. In C.N. Cofer (ed.) The Structure of Human Memory, San Francisco: W.H. Freeman.
- CMU Center for the Learning Sciences
- Cognitive Arts
- Socratic Arts
- EDGE Magazine interview with Roger Schank
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