Gradual transformability

Am increasingly convinced that concepts need to be malleable, nebuluous – in Hofstadter’s words, fluid. To do this, you need to be able to tweak them in order for them to most cleanly fit into the niche that the environment has defined for them (given the way we interact with it). This is kind of what I think that Holland et al. (Induction) are getting it with their arguments for directed environmentally situated and embodied induction, though I’m putting Lakoff’s words into their mouths.

My current plan is to try and represent concepts as functions. I need to elaborate on what I mean by this (xxx). I considered going all the way back to basics, and trying to use Turing machines as the most elementary building blocks of these concept-functions. I’m now thinking about jumping up a few levels of abstraction to some high-level programming language. But then we’re back to the problem of brittleness. What about, instead of using source code concept-building blocks, using neural nets? This too needs much elaboration. (xxx)

Steve Larson on Minsky’s model 6 framework

“The six-level model of mind (model six) is detailed in the fifth chapter of The Emotion Machine. At the bottom of the model are instinctive reactions such as reflexes and reactions that we have at birth. Learned reactions are the next level up, and are made up of those reactions that we acquire over time. Deliberative thinking, on the next level, describes forward looking kinds of thought which can test and act out hypothetical plans. Further up, reflective thinking allows us to look back on the results of deliberative thought, recognize patterns, and improve our future deliberations. Further up yet, self-reflective thinking adds a model of self to the actions of the world, and considers that self’s actions from an outside perspective. Finally, self-conscious thinking incorporates the perceived opinions of others into evaluations about what the self should be doing.”


“Unlike biological offspring, which are made by chemical processes just like those that make bacteria, robots will be consciously shaped by our uniquely human minds, by thoughts more representative of who we are than the unconscious biochemistry in our cells. The first generations of robots will start with our values, skills and dreams and take them much further than our old form possibly could. They will certainly be descended from us (from who else?). Sure, the medium which carries information from generation to generation will have changed from DNA to something more versatile. But, as in the case of the transition from vinyl records to music CDs, it is the tune that matters, not the platter.” – Moravec