Friday, October 03, 2008

minsky 2: attachments and goals

Overview of Chapter 2 of The Emotion Machine (summary, online draft, buy)

This chapter is about how people choose which goals to pursue, through the strong self conscious feelings such as Pride and Shame. Pride or Shame (as distinct from not so strong emotions such as Pleasure or Dissatisfaction) play a unique role in determining our values, goals or ends (as distinct from learning methods of how to achieve a goal once we have it)

A sketch of a difference engine, which works to reduce the difference between your present situation and a goal, is introduced

Imprimers: a new word is introduced by Minsky (derived from imprinting):
"An imprimer is one of those persons to whom a child has become attached"
The "caregiver" word is not sufficient since attachments can form without physical care

Limits of behaviourism: The idea of learning by being "reinforced" by success or by "trial and error" does not explain how we develop completely new goals or "values" or "ideals". It would be potentially dangerous if strangers could easily alter our higher level goals.

Several different ways in which a child might change:
  • Positive experience
  • Negative experience
  • Aversion learning: when a stranger scolds ...
  • Attachment praise: imprimer praises
  • Attachment censure: imprimer scolds
  • Internal impriming
How could we elevate a goal? By moving it up the 6 level model, eg. from Deliberative thinking to Self-Conscious emotions

"The problem we faced" and "the action we took" are not simple objects that we can connect. Minsky argues that we also need to make structures which represent both external events and relevant internal mental events. We need reflective resources to choose which things to remember out of all the things we were doing when solving a particular problem. Minsky calls these "credit assignments"

No comments: