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2014: Postmortem

Oh no! I forgot to post a personal postmortem1 for the year 2014 like I did for the previous year...

Cognitive Abstraction Manifolds

A few days ago I started thinking about abstractions whilst reading Surfaces and Essences, a recent...

On That Which is Called “Memory”

Information itself is a foundational concept for cognitive science theories.But the very definition...

Polymorphism in Mental Development

Adaptability and uninterrupted continuous operations are important features of mental development...

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Samuel KenyonRSS Feed of this column.

Robotics software engineer, AI researcher, interaction designer (IxD). Also (as Sam Vanivray) filmmaker, actor.

Working on my new sci-fi movie to be filmed in 2016:
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Psychologist Lera Boroditsky says she's "interested in how the languages we speak shape the way we think" [1].

This statement seems so innocent, and yet it implies that language definitely does shape thought1. It also leads us to use a metaphor with "shape."

Causes and Dependencies

Does language cause thought? Or at least in part? Or is it the other direction--thought causes language?

Is language even capable of being a cause of thought, even if it isn't in practice?

Or in an architectural sense, is one dependent on the other? Is thought built on top of language?

Or is language built on top of thought?

Does language influence thought at all, even if one is not dependent on the other?
We all share the concept of rooms. I suspect it's common and abstract enough to span cultures and millennia of history.


The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity. (One is unable to notice something because it is always before one's eyes.)
--Wittgenstein

Rooms are so common that at first it seems silly to even talk about rooms as an abstract concept. Yet, the simple obvious things are often important. Simple human things are often also quite difficult for computers and artificial intelligence.
I conjecture that all minds are real-time control systems.



In this post I will explain what that means and why it seems to be true.

Creatures and Real-Time Systems

Consider, if you will, artificial creatures that exist in either the real world or some model thereof. These [ro]bots do not know the environment beforehand, at least not all of it. Sure they may know and learn some universal traits of the environment. But there will always be changes.
I have mentioned the book The First Idea by Greenspan and Shanker many times recently. Lest anybody assume I am a fanboy of that tome, I wanted to argue with a ridiculous statement that the authors make in regards to consciousness and artificial intelligence.

Greenspan and Shanker make it quite clear that they don't think artificial intelligence can have consciousness:
Ryan Norbauer is pretty sure that:
Not only are all religions manifestly false, but so too are all the secular narratives (humanism, positivism, liberalism, libertarianism) that, like religions, attempt to craft a system of positive values out of the epistemologically questionable notion that something can be transcendently and meaningfully true merely because it would be nice if that were the case. Reasoning by appeal to platitude or an implausible alternate-universe utopia is not reasoning at all. These facts may not delight us overmuch; they are still true.
It seems like all human babies go through the exact same intelligence growth program. Like clockwork. A lot of people have assumed that it really is a perfect program which is defined by genetics.

Obviously something happens when a child grows. But surely that consists of minor environmental queues to the genetic program. Or does it?

Consider if the "something happens as a child grows" might in fact be critical. And not just critical, but the major source of information. What exactly is that "nurture" part of nature vs. nurture?

What if the nurturing is in fact the source of all conceptual knowledge, language, sense of self, and sense of reality?