Friday, September 24, 2004

Fresh Ideas

I swung by Marvin's place yesterday and he showed me a section he is drafting for his upcoming book The Emotion Machine. The basic idea is that there may be sections of the brain that are "consciousness activity detectors" -- agents that recognize that self-reflective processes are active. This could explain why there seems to be some uniformity to the phenomena we call consciousness, even if there are really many different kinds of processes at play.

It's awesome to see these ideas fresh from his mind; generally, it's been fascinating seeing the book evolve over the past ten years. It's very much been like watching someone else's child grow up -- you see the incubation of the early, ill-formed notions, the trying out of different variations, the changes of interest and focus, the sudden spurts of development, and eventually the maturation into a distinguished member of society. I expect this book will be one for the ages.

5 Comments:

Blogger Olmy said...

I am very excited by this news; looks like it will have been worth the wait!

September 24, 2004 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Grace said...

Hi, just want to say that it's been really cool reading about you and Prof. Minsky's research work. I was reading Prof. Minsky's draft online and enjoyed Chapter 6 on common sense. Hope someday I will get to build an intelligent machine. I'm looking forward to reading the actual book.

September 24, 2004 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger DustinSmith said...

I'm interested in hearing about these detectors -- are they at the highest level of the model, and what is their utility?

Maybe they'll give insight into how reflective states are controlled (when they are entered; how they are managed, to compete/cooperate, with reactive states).

I agree Push, these theories have been on a very impressive course of development -- and personally, though I've read the drafts many times, coming to fully understand the material took a span of months between each chapter. For the complexity of the subject, Marvin does a great job communicating, but the actual process of transferring those models to the readers' minds is intellectually demanding, but ultimately, immeasurably rewarding!

And I also think this book will make a lasting impact on human understanding, eventually (even if it's too high-level for the contemporary intellectual mainstream).

October 6, 2004 at 3:42 PM  
Blogger Bob Mottram said...

I admit that I havn't read Minsky's drafts. One common criticism that I come up with when reading books such as this about AI is that often modules and processes are proposed without the slightest reference to how they might be anatomically implemented in the brain, or how they might have evolved over time. Most people in AI seem to be either in denial or a blissful state of ignorance about the biological origins of human intelligence.

Have a look at the corona radiata - the neural connections going back and forth between the thalamus and cortex - and it's not hard to imagine how diverse areas of the cortex could be integrated into a kind of global unitary state which might be described as "consciousness". If these connections are cut permanent unconsciousness (coma) results.

December 19, 2004 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger Iza Firewall said...

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August 22, 2007 at 8:02 PM  

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