Archive for category AI and AL

Is AI, or Artificial Intelligence, a meaningless term?

Several times now I have been confronted with the proposition that AI — artificial intelligence — is so squishy a word that we just can’t say what it means. The implication apparently being that it can be legitimately used for just about anything. I disagree. Strongly. While there may be room for plenty of “squishyness” on this road, the problem right now is that no one has even gotten on the road.
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Consciousness: on the Nature of the Inherently Inexplicable

In this essay I will describe my take on what consciousness is, and by process of elimination, what it is not. To further an understanding of my ideas on the matter, I’m going to briefly describe the nature of some software to you. It is not artificial intelligence software. Even so, there is a notable, relevant thing that happens to the user’s perception of this software when it is being executed by a computer. I very strongly suspect that this parallel points precisely to the absolute nature of consciousness.
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A Theory of Mind

Consciousness and the mechanism of thinking in general have remained an opaque block to science overall and specifically to researchers in the area. Here I attempt to lay out the fundamental underpinnings that support consciousness, as well as other related mental activity, and then place consciousness and related function into the context so established. I make a concerted effort not to lapse into jargon.

About the Title

As it turns out, “Theory of Mind” has some previous associations, so please note it was only intended as a description of the content here, not a declaration of association with these ideas.

I will present a description of how the brain operates. Not a metaphor — metaphors tell you what things are like, not what they are — but my conclusion as to how the brain, and therefore the mind, actually works.

I’m working backwards on this, as are we all — but after almost forty years of examining the problem I have come up with a model that has turned out to satisfy every question that I have about thought and consciousness in what I can only describe as a manner satisfactory to myself. Which is, I think, in itself notable. If for no other reason than everything I have ever come up with previously, or read about, has utterly failed to do so. So, dear reader, please come along as I try to explain myself. Literally.
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Demolishing AI’s “needs a body” argument

robbyI am engaged in research in the presently nascent field of artificial intelligence. I also do some work along the lines of artificial life and evolutionary software. One consequence of this is that I am often exposed to opinions and ideas from others with the same interests. Here, I’m going to take on – and take down – one of the less well thought-out ideas that are currently making the rounds; that idea that, in order to have intelligence, that device must also have a body.

Where does this idea come from, you may ask? Professor Alan Winfield, Hewlett Packard professor of electronic engineering at the University of the West of England, says “embodiment is a fundamental requirement of intelligence in general” “a disembodied intelligence doesn’t make sense.” Susan Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University’s Lincoln College, says “My own view is that you can’t disembody the brain.”

So there’s the setup, as it were. Here’s the knockdown.

If a person is born deaf, do they fail to develop intelligence? No. If deaf and blind? No. If deaf, dumb and blind? No. Further, if a deaf, dumb and blind person suffers a spinal injury and loses nervous system contact with the body, do they suddenly become unintelligent? No. And so it goes. Intelligence is not about any particular sense, and it is not about mobility, nor, in the end, is it about structure.
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