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

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Fri Apr 28 2006 - 14:04:13 MDT


> The one big distinction that I enforce, but which you might not do, is
> between what is in the background (not being thought about or perceived
> or deployed in any way) and what is in the foreground .... the latter is
> the sum total of what the system is thinking about (contents of
> consciousness). Why the distinction? Because I believe in putting the
> latter in a place where there is very rapid and extensive connectivity,
> so these things can link together and interact.

That is precisely the point of the separate memory unit we call the
AttentionalFocus, which deals only with currently highly "important"

> Now, when I talked about STM having perhaps thousands of things in it, I
> was referring to the thing I have called the "foreground" here.

Yes, I understand, and this notion exists in Novamente (we call it
AttentionalFocus rather than "foreground"), but it's not an identical
notion to the STM that psychologists hypothesize to (phrased loosely)
have a capacity of 7+/-2 distinct items...

> The foreground is not necessarily an undifferentiated module: it is
> likely to have several semi-specialized subcompartments (various aspects
> of language processing, for example), so this sounds a bit like what you
> call "units of the memory corresponding to particular 'interaction
> channels'".

We have InteractionChannel-specific AttentionalFocii, and also a generic one

(in the grand NM design, I mean -- the currently implemented NM in
fact has only one memory unit, but that is a matter of configuration,
we have chosen a simple one for initial experimentation)

> As to the chunking issue (the magic number seven), here is what I see
> happening: the foreground is allowed a ration, when it comes to
> configurations of items that are not strongly grounded by their
> connections to immediate sensory input or motor output, but which are
> instead floating free and independent of one another.

In Novamente, a 7+/-2 type number may or may not emerge from the
system's dynamics -- we haven't really run enough of the right
experiments to find out.

If it does emerge, it will be from the notion of a "map" -- a
collection of coordinatedly-tightly-interacting memory items. It may
be that there is some kind of emergent limit to the number of maps
that arises in the AttentionalFocus memory unit at any given point in
time. If so we should discover this in our experimentation during the
next year, unless funding crises intervene and push our staffing even

-- Ben

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:56 MDT