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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:
BRUTE SANITY... Read More »

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The Symbol Grounding Problem reared its ugly head in my previous post. Some commenters suggested certain systems as being symbol-grounding-problem-free because those systems learn concepts that were not chosen beforehand by the programmers.

However, the fact that a software program learns concepts doesn't mean it is grounded. It might be, but it might not be.
In my innocent early teenage years of computer programming I started dabbling in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

I wanted my computer to write stuff in English. I'm not sure why, but I think the main triggers were:

  1. I found a BASIC version of ELIZA, the "THE PSYCHOANALYTIC CONVERSATIONALIST". ELIZA is a chatbot originally created in the 1960s (possibly the first chatbot ever).

What the Hyped News Article Implies

An anonymous--aka spineless--person wrote a Kurzweilai.net article a few days ago titled "Robot learns ‘self-awareness.’" Self-awareness is in scare quotes. I'm not sure what that's supposed to imply...maybe it was just a huge joke? Various other news sources are claiming similar things (e.g., BBC's "Robot learns to recognise itself in mirror").

The Kurzweilai article begins audaciously:
"Only humans can be self-aware."

The Early Years



When I was in elementary school, a consultant who offered optional advanced studies taught a small group of us some basic algebra. This was amazing to me at the time--solving for the mysterious x!

The next amazing mathematical concept I learned of was imaginary numbers. Just like pornography, I learned about it long before I was supposed to.
Debugging a program--or any system, such as a robot--often involves reducing the amount of unknowns until only one culprit is left. The situation is like a mystery story. A detective interrogates all the suspects and gathers clues until everybody but one suspect has an alibi. Along the way various red herrings lead the hero astray. But with sufficient confidence that there must be a logical explanation, the mystery is eventually solved.

Fictional detective Hercule Poirot, here played by Peter Ustinov in Evil Under Sun (1982)
The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander [1] was exciting. As I read it, I kept making parallels between building/town design and software design.

Architecture


We're not talking any kind of architecture here. The whole point of the book is to explain a theory of "living" buildings. They are designed and developed in a way that is more like nature in many ways--iterative, embracing change, flexibility, and repair.