Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My externalism

Sometimes I have to go look up what I believe. I have recorded my best arguments on various difficult subjects (some of these here in my blogs).  Like a complex math proof or calculation I've done they are not on the tip of my tongue, something I can just rattle off.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


I now have a copy of Gobet and Lane's CHREST 4 cognitive architecture running in my lab. I am interested in how attention works in CHREST, the size of fragments of stimuli that are learned, and how chunks grow incrementally larger as learning continues. These are all related to similar issues in my Asa H architecture.  Having had different prior experiences CHREST extracts different concepts/chunks and models subsequent experiences differently.  It experiences an alternate reality like Asa does.

Monday, February 23, 2015


It is not surprising to find that having knowledge of final conditions plus knowledge of initial conditions may tell us more than having knowledge of initial conditions alone. In a game of Russian roulette we might have initial conditions at time t0.  We might know that the cylinder was spun, the gun was pointed at the victim's head, and the trigger was pulled.  Given just these initial conditions we have a 5/6 chance of hearing a click and a 1/6 chance of hearing a bang at time t1. (t1 after t0)  But, given the added final condition that we know the victim is dead from gunshot wounds at time t2 (t2 after t1) we have increased the chance that a bang was recorded back at t1.  No retrocausation is implied.  To have retrocausation we want to be able to control the final condition at t2 (not just have a record of it) and cause a change at t1.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Spiking neural networks

Although it has limited learning capability I was quite impressed by Eliasmith et al's computer model of the human brain, Spaun.  (see Science, vol. 338, 30 Nov. 2012, pg 1202 for example)  In order to play with spiking neurons myself I downloaded a copy of Carnevale and Hines' NEURON 7.3 simulation environment.  I have this software up and running but need to order a copy of Carnevale and Hines' book.

Is nothing something?

Martin Heidegger claimed that the most fundamental question of philosophy was why is there something rather than nothing.  But perhaps nothing is something too.  Nothing has properties: length, width, depth, duration, permeability, permittivity, etc. and these properties can be measured by our senses or by instruments.  If one then asks why a particular thing has the properties that it has the answer may be that we define the properties we define exactly so as to be able to distinguish things, one from the other.  i.e., to categorize and organize, to describe. (And there is no need for everyone to define the same properties and the same categories. Reality can have alternate descriptions. And we are all free to create categories like unicorns that aren't really observed.) Again, "nothing" would be just another "something."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Concepts and emergence

A concept valid and useful at one level in the concept hierarchy might not be valid at other levels.  Consider the concept of wetness.  Water is wet.  Hydrogen, oxygen, and atoms in general are not wet.  A useful description at one level in our hierarchy of models may not be valid or useful at other levels.

Asa as a tool for philosophical research

Asa has been (and is being) used as a platform to explore things like:

alternate conceptualizations of reality (see blogs of 31 Dec. 2010 and 22 April 2013)
consciousness (see blogs of 29 June 2011 and 15 Oct. 2014)
free will (see blog of 21 Jan. 2015)
imagination (see blog of 12 Feb. 2015)
values (see blog of 9 Jan. 2015)