RE: Is complex emergence necessary for AGI?

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Tue Sep 20 2005 - 13:21:57 MDT

> > 12. Finally, my objection to claims about the value of Complexity theory
> > were summed up by one critic's comment that "Wolfram's 'A New Kind of
> > Science' would have been fine if it had been called 'Fun With Graph
> > Paper'". The field has produced a vast amount of hype, a small amount
> > of interesting maths and very few useful predictive theories in other
> > domains. Its proponents are quick to claim that their ideas apply to
> > virtually everything, when in practice they seem to have been actually
> > useful in rather few cases. This opinion is based on coverage in the
> > science press and would be easy to change via evidence, but to date
> > no-one has responded to Eliezer's challenge with real examples of
> > complexity theory doing something useful.
> I asked for Complexity math applicable to *cognition* in humans or
> elsewhere, which produces specific predictions better than
> maximum-entropy distributions over the same phenomena.

That is a different request from just asking for "examples of complexity
theory doing something useful", indeed.

Complexity theory has done a lot of useful things, but I'm not sure that
it's done anything useful for the scientific analysis of data regarding
human cognition.

There has been interesting work regarding the complex dynamics of human
*perception*, e.g. Walter Freeman's work on olfaction in rabbits.

And there is e.g. Paul Rapp's interesting work on the nonlinear dynamics of
EEG's in humans as correlated with various psychiatric conditions.

But none of this is about cognition. The truth is that complex systems
theory is basically about DYNAMICS, and we lack really rich time series data
regarding human cognition. Until we have data of this form, complexity
theory will not tell us much about human cognition.

I am quite confident that the brain is a nonlinear dynamical system, and
that complexity-science concepts will be useful for understanding how this
nonlinear dynamical system gives rise to human cognition. However, to
validate this would require richer neural time series data than we now

Whether one can make AI's that are not well analyzed in terms of complex
dynamical systems theory is a totally different question.

-- Ben G

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