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:
BRUTE SANITY... Read More »

Perhaps you have seen pictures or videos from the 1960s of rhesus monkey babies clinging to inanimate surrogate mothers.

These experiments were by Harry Harlow, who eventually went against the psychology mainstream to demonstrate that love--namely caregiver-baby affection--was required for healthy development.
To create an artificial intelligence system that is similar to humans or other animals, it has to have some way to generate meaning. A potential mechanism of meaning is an emotional system which has built in symbol grounding.

When I talk about mental symbols in this article, I assume that ideas, concepts, knowledge, representations, etc. are all composed of mental symbols.

Before getting into emotions, lets take a higher level look at development levels of children.

Development Levels

A day after its release, I strolled into the Harvard Co-Op bookstore and read most of Ray Kurzweil's new book, How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed. I then quietly placed it back on the shelf and wandered out of the store in a state of wonder. Wondering, that is, if Kurzweil was going broke and this was a last ditch attempt to make some cash.

Don't get me wrong. I like Ray Kurzweil. I have met him and I have attended many of his public presentations. He used to be a decent writer (last century). And I am a transhumanist, although not a Singularitarian.
Many writers use a metaphor of the type "theory T has failed to explain phenomenon P" or "the field of F has failed..."

For example:
How do organisms generate meaning during their development? What designs of information structures and processes best explain how animals understand concepts?

In "A Deepness in the Mind: The Symbol Grounding Problem", I showed a three layer diagram with semantic connections on the top. I'd like to spend some time discussing the bottom of the top layer.

At the moment, there seems to be a few worthwhile avenues of investigation:

  • Emotions

  • Affordances

  • Metaphors and Blends
Look what I found in my closet:

Motorola 68HC11 on an eval board made by Axiom Manufacturing

This is my old Motorola 68HC11 microcontroller board. Here's a close up photo of the microcontroller itself:

Motorola 68HC11 Microcontroller IC

For those who aren't familiar with these terms, a microcontroller is basically a computer on a chip. They are often very tiny and low powered, and are ubiquitous whether you realize it or not.