Decomposing creation through the lens of letter-strings.

How a micro-world invented 30 years ago provides helpful perspectives over today’s copyright challenges in the light of AI.

Riccardo Zanardelli
5 min readSep 5, 2023

This brief piece takes inspiration from the approach described by Hofstadter and Mitchell in the making of Copycat, as extensively illustrated by Melanie Mitchell herself in the book “Analogy-Making and Perception” (1993). In the book, Mitchell perfectly arguments the advantages of the micro-world made of letter-strings in the study of high-level perception, conceptual slippage and analogy making. Similar advantages could be beneficial in the analysis of some intellectual property questions in the times of AI -this is my perception.

In her own words:

“The point of working in a microdomain in cognitive science is to isolate a phenomenon (such as analogy making), strip it down to its bare bones, and get rid of its extraneous real-world trappings while returning its essence so that it can be investigated more clearly”

Our stylised little world.

In our micro-world, entities exist only in the form of letter-strings (i.e. “abc”).

In our micro-world, we create new letter-strings by…



Riccardo Zanardelli

Digital Platforms @ Beretta | PhD student in Statistics & Data Science @ AEM, UNIBS | Engineer | Only personal opinions here | Code is Law (cit.)