The Emotion Machine.
- Commonsense thinking, AI and the future of the human mind.
of Marvin Minskys book, July 2010 by Simon Laub
July 18th, 2010 - by Simon Laub - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This page as plain text.If you ''understand'' something in only one way, then you hardly understand it at all.
|It would be very easy to get stuck in too much detail or to be too superficial. But somehow Minsky finds the right balance. So overall, the Emotion Machine is a brilliant introduction to how our minds work.||Psychology might give us an overview of human behaviour, mental functioning, and experience. And through cognitive psychology we might understand more about the mental processes underlying mental activity. Which could then lead us to (computational) neuroscience and so forth. But finding the right balance between detail and overview is obviously quite difficult.|
-- Values, Ideals --
- Self - conscious emotions -
- Self reflective thinking -
- Reflective thinking -
- Deliberative thinking -
- Learned reactions -
- Instinctive reactions -
-- Instinctive behavioral system --
|The lowest level corresponds to the most common kind of instincts. The highest level supports the sorts of ideas that we aquire later and call by names like ethics and values. In the middle layer are layers of methods we use to deal with all sorts of problems, conflicts and goals. In the deliberative layer you might consider several actions to take, then image the effects of each, and then compare these alternatives. On top of that, at the reflective levels you may wonder if you decisions at lower levels were good decisions. And final you may ''selfreflect'' and see if your actions were in line with your ideals.|
Sometimes, love hurts. Why? Well, there might be plans,
and there might be disruptions!
Actually, if you can only follow one particular kind of procedure,
using one kind of representation - that is not all that
impressive. Obviously, human brains can describe and represent
problems in multiple wasys - giving many more
ways to solve problems [p. 296, Emotion Machine].
And when we have learned something, solved a problem, we should be able to make useful abstractions. If we represent something in the wrong way - like say binary numbers in a connectionist net - it becomes very difficult yo make useful abstractions of that knowledge. On the other hand when something is expressed in say everyday language, there is much more expressiveness [p. 296, Emotion Machine].
High IQ people perform better
only when you tell them what to do.
Think of minds as searchlights. IQ measures
the brightness of the search light,
but where we point it also matters.
A higher wattage in itself is no
protection against pointing in the wrong
RQ - Rational intelligence - on the other hand, measures the brains capacity to ''point in the right direction''. It is possible to have a high IQ and a low RQ, and vice versa. Obviously, you do best if both are high. ''What Intelligence Test Miss''  by Stanowich, James Madison University.
Quoted in New Scientist, Oct 31. 2009.
Minsky thinks that consciousness is a suitcase-like word
that we use to refer to many different mental activities.
Which obviously is why it is so difficulet to talk about what
consciousness really is!
Is it imagery, thinking, decision making, awareness, attention,
the concept of self?
Aaron Sloman (1994) makes it even more explicit: People are too impatient. They want a three line definition of consciousness and a five line-line proof that a computational system can or cannot have consciousness. They dont want the hard work of unravelling complex and muddled concepts.
Conscious vs. unconscious.
According to psychologist Ap Dijksterhuis , we should value unconscious decision-making more: Conscious decision making is good when you want to be precise, and are only dealing with a few attributes and a relatively simple task. However, conscious decision making is not so good when you are dealing with a complex problem. Unconscious decision-making, on the other hand, isn't precise, but it handles complexity rather well.
Probably not all that surprising when you consider that humans can consciously handle between 10 and 60 bits per second. But the entire human neurological (unconscious) system can handle something like 11.200.000 bit per second.
Conscious rational decision-making is obviously still necessary. However, under certain conditions the old sayings like ''sleep on it'' and ''put it on the back burner'' (i.e. use unconscious decision-making) make good sense. See my review of ''the Decisive Moment'' .
Coordination with brainwaves?
Brainwaves.E.g. it would have been nice with a few words about the binding problem , but sadly there is nothing about this in the book. Luckily, New Scientist deals with it July 10th 2010:
Exactly where brainwaves are generated in the brain, and how they communicate information is somewhat of a mystery. But they must obviously do something these alpha-, theta-, beta- and gamma- waves. When we look at an apple, the apples redness and its roundness are picked up by different cells in the brain, but we don't see red and round - we see one thing. The rhythmic activity of the brain waves ensures that all the relevant signals relating to a sensation arrives to a binding region at exactly the same time, where they can be recombined into a single sensation. Faulty synchronization between parts of the brain responsible for planning, executing and sensing speech could mean that a person fails to recognize that words he has just uttered is in fact his own words (as in schizophrenia).