Doing some science

Well, last week I briefly got to do a tiny bit of programming after seeing my former "research officer" Jan Drugowitsch and getting all caught up with our software. But this week I am concentrating on getting some papers out for deadlines. I have two short abstracts for invited workshops and one longer paper for a symposium. The first abstract I finished, it was about the role of AI digital assistants in society. I said their proper role was slave / owned object, and people that is wrong are very confused about ethics and why it is wrong to enslave people. The other short abstract I am writing is more scientific / technical --- it is about the role of hierarchy in intelligence, which was a big part of my PHD, and now I am thinking about it anew in terms of the way intelligence is transmitted socially.

But right now I'm mostly working on a longer paper about the technical role of emotions and other drives (e.g. hunger) in intelligent control. People used to think these things were chemical and slowish to change just because they were "primitive", but I think there's a reason for why they have been preserved during our evolution. Basically, some things just need longer attention so you have a good chance of completing a task (running away, getting food). If you are distracted too easily, then you waste time going back and forth between projects. But if you aren't distracted easily enough, you get eaten. So you evolve a whole range of different emotions & drives that correspond with particular goals and have duration characteristics appropriate for the typical completion time for the behaviour they motivate.

It's great to think about this stuff and I have had some insight today into how to make my system simpler by adding this in. Of course, adding anything in makes something more complicated, but there may be an important tradeoff here. Still, I'd like to get to really programming and running some models.

The weather here is still great, though a little cooler. The trees are starting to turn colours. Friday I'm attending a big one-day conference on consciousness at the University of Vienna, and then Friday night Will will be here for a week. :-)


Tom said…
It is really great that Will gets there and can spend some time. What is the mode and time for traveling to Vienna?
Joanna said…
He sometimes flies Ryan Air directly to Brataslava from Nottingham, but more often we fly something like Lufthansa and KLM and go through Birmingham with a change. EasyJet will be flying direct from Luton starting at the end of this month so we may try that.