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The Exhaustion of the Interaction of Words: Brainstorming with the ParaMind Brainstorming Program

1. Can Computers Generate New Ideas By Themselves?

Can helpful new ideas be discovered by computer-automated brainstorming? For anyone with an open mind and a bright outlook on the future, it should seem obvious that there are many important ideas that we have not discovered. Over the years, I have come to see it as a possibility that computer-automated brainstorming can help us get to these new fascinating ideas which may help us solve some of our most challenging problems.

I remember sitting in a friend's apartment one night while in college and wondering what some of the major new ideas would be. My friend was a computer science major, and I was undecided but leaning towards English composition.

I looked at many different books that had computer notations. My friend had one called "Combinatorics." I liked the sense of that word and what it could imply. At the time, I was of the opinion that a single person could come up with very startling and useful ideas, if he really applied himself to it. I still believe that. A lot of people will say 'there are really no new ideas' but I don't think this thought has any practical truth to it.

That night, I realized that if we were to take all our words and put them in every possible meaningful combination, we would then have every idea available to us, at least those ideas that could be expressed in our language. I thought that some kind of shorthand would then be needed to express new ideas that we do not have words for yet, and in the process, we would have to invent new words.

The idea of pre-existing language holding the key to future scientific progress can be seen in the following example. Imagine the time when Edison built the first phonograph. At that moment, some computer disc-drive or CD concepts and terminology were already with us. Someone back in 1910 could logically have seen the idea of the present personal computer if they looked at concepts such as the phonograph, the typewriter, and the motion picture. They just needed to combine the ideas all together, perhaps even with ideas of how the human brain works for memory, and think of new possible ideas that might have some value.

A good dictionary should contain all the words that the books of our library contain in that library's main language. Our library is merely the intelligent interactions of the words of our dictionary in meaningful ways. If we were to exhaust the meaningful interactions of our words, we would come up with new discoveries that we are bound to stumble upon in the future by the slower ways we currently come up with ideas.

I decided upon going with English in college and focused my personal studies on unusual ideas of composition and the layout of scientific information. I was an English major but I would come home from the library with books on every different type of science I could find. I was more interested in the terminology and structure of the textbooks for presenting language and ideas than actually understanding all the concepts written in them. I wrote several papers on this idea while getting my BA in English composition. There was hardly an assignment given that I couldn't somehow twist and use as an excuse to further my studies on this brainstorming idea.

A few years after I graduated, I decided that building the software was going to be my goal. The program I came up with I called ParaMind Brainstorming Software, "para-mind" meaning "beside the mind." I took it to mean "beyond" the mind or thinking outside of the "box" of the mind. The software uses copying and merging of texts that the user types in, combining these texts with new words that are grouped together in what we call "word categories." The word categories are words that have some relationship to each other, such as adjectives related to sight, or adverbs related to human motion and so on. There is a database available of over 1100 word categories, and users can add as many of their own new word categories as they like.

ParaMind Brainstorming Software has been selling versions of this software since late 1992. Many of the customers have been doctors and scientists, but basically it is the general public who are using ParaMind. Several of the buyers are from general types of businesses. One user told me that he was a holder of many patents and he thought my idea was a great one. Some buyers are creative writers, such as a very famous rock lyricist who doesn't seem to want people to know he uses the program. A person who works at the United Nations gave ParaMind a strong endorsement. Another person who bought the program and continues to purchase upgrades is a European ambassador. It's very good for anyone who may have a writer or thinker's block or who may need to get many variations on a single idea.

All versions of ParaMind automatically merge your sentence with the new word categories, creating thousands of new idea combinations, but the process of coming up with these new ideas has become a totally automated one with the last release of the ParaMind Professional Version. The user enters in their sentence, presses only one button, and the computer sends back hundreds of pages of ideas related to their sentence.

My answer to the question, "Can Computers Generate New Ideas By Themselves?" is, "No. It still takes a human, but computers can radically speed up the way humans generate new ideas." This book attempts to be both a conceptual book about this futuristic theory of ideas and also a book to explain the ParaMind program. The description of the software is needed in order to understand the concept, so it is explained in detail to better describe the theory.

Through this long story, through a long relationship with this idea, the idea becomes like an allegory of what else is out there in the future, in the universe, presently unknown to man.

ParaMind Book Chapter Two
ParaMind Book Chapter Three
ParaMind Book Chapter Four
ParaMind Book Chapter Five

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