Re: Fwd: We Can Understand Anything, But are Just a Bit Slow

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Fri Apr 28 2006 - 12:30:16 MDT

To give just a hint of how these distinctions manifest themselves in a
fleshed-out AGI design, in Novamente:

1) items in all memory units are associated with various importance
indices, e.g. "short term importance", "medium term importance", "long
term importance" -- and these indices are continuous-valued not

2) in additional to the main memory unit, there is also a specialized
unit of the memory devoted only to items with very high short or
medium term importance [but note that a memory, if represented as a
distributed pattern across many elementary knowledge-items, may
sometimes be present in this specialized unit but only to a lesser
degree than in the main memory unit]

3) there are units of the memory corresponding to particular
"interaction channels", containing memory items recently useful for
dealing with that interaction channel (this covers perception/action
specific STM)

4) in all units of the memory, there are caches that enable rapid
access to recently accessed items [another kind of "STM", one could

We have not tried to imitate the way the human brain handles the
STM/LTM distinction (which no one really understands) but have tried
to handle it in a rational and workable manner.

-- Ben G

On 4/28/06, Richard Loosemore <> wrote:
> Ben Goertzel wrote:
> > Richard,
> >
> > If you think that
> >
> >> what is probably happening in STM is that
> >> there are several thousand things in "short term memory" at any given
> >> moment,
> >
> > then either
> >
> > a) you are flat wrong, and making an assertion refuted by experimetns
> > already,
> >
> > or
> >
> > b) you are not defining STM in the same way as is standard in
> > cognitive psychology currently
> >
> > I assume that b) is probably the case...
> >
> > Now, this may be fine: perhaps, for example, your definition of STM may
> > correspond better to brain structure than the standard definition. The
> > area of STM/working-memory/whatever-you-want-to-call-it is the
> > subject of plenty of debate in contemporary cog psych.
> >
> > But I would be curious for you to clarify exactly what your definition
> > is...
> >
> > Please note, it is not obvious that a mind needs to have a rigid
> > STM/LTM distinction. Novamente does not exactly have such a
> > distinction, though it has a couple different distinctions that are
> > somewhat related to this one.
> It is b), of course, but I don't think the literature is as clear cut as
> you suggest: the presence of a large number of "partially-activated"
> concepts is what I have in mind, and although people do not normally
> refer to this as STM, the distinctions that *they* make between STM and
> whatever place these partial activations are situated is not so clear.
> They would like it to be LTM, but partialy activated, and I have
> (repeatedly) chalenged them to be clear about the whys and wherefores of
> that way of looking at it, without much success.
> I am stretching the concept of STM, but I am doing so in a way that most
> cognitive psychologists would not say is wrong, just open to
> interpretation. They do not often want to get into a discussion about
> the distinction I am making here, because it is difficult for them to
> think of experiments to clarify the distinction, but if I take a <let's
> build a system that actually works"> perspective, I find that this issue
> comes up immediately, whether or not they can address it experimentally.
> Richard

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