A General Problem Solver in the 21st Century

Gratefulfrog: gratefulfrog_at_gmail_dot_com

September 14, 2008

Abstract:

In 1957 Herbert Simon and Allen Newell built a universal problem solving machine called the General Problem Solver or simply the GPS (cf. Google Books or Search). Although it could solve many problems, there were many it could not solve. In this paper I propose a slightly different approach which is not fully automatic but which could potentially solve any problem.

Describe, Search, Name, Search, Refine, Solve

The 21st century provides us with a great linking engine: the Internet. The Internet enables anyone to link together the the collective experience of humanity into a chain. This chain can be used to link any problem to its solution:

For a given problem, it would be impossibly unlikely that you are the only person who has ever faced it. It is simply a question of creating the Internet linking chain from you, through the combined experience of humanity, to the solution.

The only question is how to approach the linking problem in the general case and in the most efficient manner? Internet is really a huge knowledge-base, and as with any big database, even if the information is out there, it may not be easy to find it. Indexing is everying. In our world, indexes are created dynamically via search. If you know what to look for, you can find it.

Here's how to solve any problem:

Describe:
At first, we have 2 goals:
  1. solve the problem,
  2. or, as a second choice, find the exact technical name for our problem.
Think of a precise but short description of the problem. First try in English, but beware that accurate translations into other languages may be advantageous since it may be easier to describe a problem more precisely in one language over another.
Search:
Use your favorite search engine on the description. Remember, the goal at this point is to either find a solution or find an exact technical name to put on the problem. You may have to look over more than just the first page of search results. Keep a very open mind and explore all responses in the order that seems right. If you are swamped in off-subject responses, try another description or language.
Name:
At this point you have found the technical terminology coresponding to your problem. Note this and perhpaps its translations into as many languages as you know.
Search:
Now feed the technical name back into your search engine. This should give you much better results than the previous search, i.e. bring you much closer to potential solutions.
Refine:
Use the previous results to refine the search until potential solutions appear. These should be attempted in the order of most reversible first.
Solve:
The problem is solved.

Voilà.

bob 2008-09-14