Monday, October 06, 2008

minsky 5: levels of mental activities

Overview of Chapter 5 of The Emotion Machine (summary, online draft, buy)

Minsky proposes a 6 level model of mind, which is described in some detail (for a little more detail see the wiki):

Psychologist: I find it hard to see the difference between your top most three levels
Student: No theory should have more parts than it needs

Minsky: The boundaries are indistinct but psychology is not like maths or science. When you know that your theory is incomplete then leave some room for other ideas you might need later!

Individualist: Where is the Self that makes our decisions? What decides which goals we'll pursue?

Minsky: It would be dangerous to locate all control in one single place because then all could be lost from a single mistake. Our minds use multiple ways to control themselves. Freud anticipated this with his ideas of superego, ego and id

"We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are" - Anais Nin

... most of what we think we see comes from our knowledge and our imagination
Abraham Lincoln (vague patches of darkness and light)

We don't know how our brains achieve this. "Seeing" seems simple because the rest of our minds are blind to the processes that do it for us. Perception is complex and invisible

More abstract, higher level descriptions are more powerful and efficient. Minsky is arguing for the importance of higher level semantics here as compared with inefficient processing of visual images

We internalise prediction machines. Nevertheless, such a system will never be very resourceful until it knows a great deal about the world it is in. This leads into the next chapter (Common Sense)

Dennett's Creatures is a bit similar to Minsky's model of mind
Skinnerian creatures ask themselves, "What do I do next?"
Popperian creatures ask themselves, "What do I think about next?"
Gregorian creatures ask themselves, "How can I learn to think better about what to think about next?"

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