RE: Review of Novamente & a2i2

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sun May 05 2002 - 23:26:44 MDT

Hi Justin,

I'm sure there are big individual differences between individual cognitive
styles, and that these are to some extent rooted in physiological

For instance, I'm a bit synesthetic: I tend to see sounds and smells. I
can't hear a melody with out seeing it too, at least in a kind of
multicolored ghostly afterimage type of way. As a result I also often hear
"visual imagery" in my mind, even very abstract imagery that is only visual
in some odd multidimensional sense.

On the other hand, I have some thoughts that just appear in no way at all
sensorially connected to me. They feel like pure thought-forms. I can't
even hear them.

In "The Psychology of Mathematical Invention", Hadamard discusses interviews
he did with a buttload of great mathematicans, discussing the nature of
their thought processes. A lot of visual thinkers, some linguistic
thinkers, some non-sensory-image thinkers. The one I remember vividly is
George Polya, who claimed to think mostly in terms of grunts like "Uh" ...
"ah" ... "ooh" and so forth. Very fucking weird!!!

To me what this says about AGI is that there are a lot of different ways to
skin a cat. The perception/action/cognition interface is important, but
there may be a lot of different ways to implement this interface, and still
have functional general intelligence. There is so much diversity even in
how various *human* minds work in this regard...

-- ben g

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf
> Of Justin Corwin
> Sent: Sunday, May 05, 2002 10:44 PM
> To:
> Subject: RE: Review of Novamente & a2i2
> >In case it wasn't evident from context, this message was intended for
> >Eliezer
> Maybe so, but it does raise an interesting point.
> See, I've always been perplexed by something. Most people seem to
> identify
> and categorize concepts and thought-complexes(what most people jargonize
> into meme-plexes or paradigms) very very differently than I do.
> I was on the sidelines for this exchange wondering to myself what Eliezer
> would make of the fact that I spend much of my life with a 'silent' mind.
> There aren't any named concepts or thought streams running
> through my head.
> Just virtual-kinesthetic feelings. It's only when I switch on
> what I think
> of as my analytic mind (or occasionally I turn on an internal
> narrator for
> preciseness) that the inside of my head gets noisy.
> I have repeatable used concepts that I can't think about in
> English without
> confusing myself. For example, (I have to kind of explain around this, so
> bear with me) in some situations a certain confluence of factors (people,
> activities, objects) give a 'directionality'(for lack of a better
> term, to
> events around me. I've learned to rely on this directionality in order to
> skew social dynamics in my preferred direction. Strangely, the
> best metaphor
> I can come up with is the way I can sense intent when sparring or
> fighting
> with someone(particularly kendo and fencing).
> This feeling actually had me convinced for a while that I was
> psychic(embarrassing experiments in my early teens to follow).
> Other people don't seem to have structures like this.
> Yet others have structures that I have difficulty understanding. I have a
> friend that can't think about music without categorizing it by
> it's 'shape'.
> (Most Bach materializes as green polyhedrons, apparently) I have another
> friend who has internal invented words for smells!!!
> This sort of variance in internal thought life really creeps me out, and
> makes me think that introspection on the subject of cognitive
> science may be
> really really wrong.
> Some time ago now(yipes I'm getting old, nostalgia, run! ) I devised a
> metric for determining internal cognitive process based on some simple
> selectors. It was intended to be plugged into customized learning
> protocols
> I had designed. Some of the learning tests was surprisingly effective. We
> had kids speaking russian and italian way ahead of median
> learning curves,
> and I broke several people's problems with learning advanced geometry. We
> didn't exactly had new Euclids running around, but it was
> impressive to our
> investors, anyway.(One of the test cases was an investor's kid who
> beforehand had been flunking algebra I)
> What we learned from our experiments is that Internal modeling of
> concepts
> is sometimes bizarrely varied between people, and that the
> modeling of said
> concepts is often a bottleneck in learning. Translation is a bitch.
> One of our more repeatable conclusions is that the best 'generalized'
> learners were those who could use generic mental structures to
> the greatest
> effect. Particularly those who used mental object analogy, and visual
> categorization specifically.
> Anyways, didn't mean to ramble too much, but this kind of plugs into the
> wordless concept debate here.
> notes:
> -I did at one point have a bit of investor money lined up for an
> experimental accelerated learning program for a small sample population,
> based on my research, and some example projects the team had.
> -Yes, I did this in high school. I was frustrated by my lack of
> ability in
> some areas, and originally approached this as a self improvement project
> that snowballed. I unfortunately was never able to helpfully
> categorize my
> own mental gymnastics. So my learning is as slow as ever. I still believe
> that if I could get someone competent trained in the system I
> designed, an
> accurate profile could be designed, and my various learning
> disabilities and
> disconnects could be corrected, But in the meantime, tough cookies.
> -I apologize to anyone I've been corresponding to, and the people who've
> been getting emotional and nonsensical emails, or none at all. I'm in the
> midst of kind of a familial tragedy, and most of my projects and
> correspondence have been derailed. (which is probably also why
> I'm rambling
> about one of my most beloved and failed attempts.)(Spectacular failure,
> really)
> Anyway, Questions to Ponder:
> 1. Do these mental-object differences imply significant neuroanatomical
> differences between people? (we never really investigated it, we
> didn't have
> the expertise or the time. We were more about what worked, than why)
> 1A. Does that matter at all, if it does?
> 2. What impact on artificial minds does this difference entail?
> 2A. Are these neccesary differences, or can they be ignored?
> 2B. Do these differences convey significant advantages in cognitive
> processing that an artifical minds may take advantage of?
> alrighty, back to your normally scheduled Ben vs. Eli AI-athon:
> >
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From:
[]On Behalf
> > Of Ben Goertzel
> > Sent: Sunday, May 05, 2002 8:51 PM
> > To:
> > Subject: RE: Review of Novamente & a2i2
> >
> >
> >
> > One more thing.
> >
> > I am quite perplexed by your notion that concepts need to be *named* to
> > useful.
> >
> > Don't you believe in content-addressable memory???
> >
> > This is one of the design principles that Novamente inherits from
> > attractor
> > neural nets (ANN's), actually.
> >
> > Semantic nets, which you dislike, involve addressing concepts by name.
> >
> > ANN's involve addressing concepts by *specifying part of their
> > contents* or
> > *specifying a collection of related entities*.
> >
> > In Novamente (an integrative design), *some* concepts are addressable by
> > name, but *all* concepts are addressable ANN-style (because concepts are
> > represented by "maps", which are much like attractors in ANN's).
> >
> > -- Ben
> >

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