Friday, March 31, 2017

Mobile robots

Asa H is currently operating a set of 3 Lego mobile robots; a steerable walker similar to Dawson et al's "strandbeest" and two robotic arms. If one of the arms has a fixed mount and the other is mobile then Asa learns "handedness" like most humans do. If both arms are mobile then Asa is "ambidextrous" and does not favor one hand/arm robot over the other. By using Lego we can quickly and easily modify the robots. Construction sets like Meccano don't lend themselves to the use of the pain system that I've developed. (See my blog of 31 March 2016.)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Steerable Lego walkers

In order to physically ground Asa's concept of "walking" we gave it control of a Lego robot walking machine. To make this a useful agent we mount on the walker some of the devices/sensors that we wish to have mobile; cameras, solar batteries, etc. For this to be practical the walker needs to be able to turn. Dawson, et al's "strandbeest" (From Bricks to Brains, AU Press, 2010, pg 135) and Valk's "strider" (The Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Discovery Book, No Starch, 2010, pg 121) are possible examples.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Oppositional concepts: alternative facts

The value of retaining and exploring oppositional concepts is discussed in books like Oppositional Concepts in Computational Intelligence, Tizhoosh and Ventresca, Springer, 2008. See also my blogs of 30 January 2017 and 5 July 2016. Oppositional concept pairs can be taken to be examples of legitimate alternative facts.  (In physics an especially important example might be the fact that a photon is a wave and the fact that a photon is a particle. Again, however, I do not wish to legitimize examples which are simply outright lying.) My artificial intelligence Asa H has made use of oppositional concepts.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Intelligent agent teams

Asa H specialist agents can be organized into teams. What teams should be formed? How should they be organized? Some can probably be identified from and operate like various human industries.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Dusty air

I have added a Sharp model GP2Y1010AU0F dust sensor to Asa's sensory array.

Friday, March 17, 2017


It has been difficult to give an objective definition of progress. (J. B. Bury, The Idea of Progress, Dover, 1955, L. Laudan, Progress and its Problems, Univ. Calif., 1977, M. H. Nitecki, Evolutionary Progress, Univ. Chicago, 1988) I have argued that science and intelligence are not value free. (R. Jones, Trans. Kan. Acad. Sci., 119, # 2, pg 249, 2016) Progress is then defined by continuing positive feedback observed over time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cluster concepts

Daniel Stoljar defines "cluster concepts" as "Concepts that can be associated with, and defined in terms of, a range or cluster of features." (Physicalism, Routledge, 2010, pg 233) Asa H's "vector concepts," or "cases" are then cluster concepts of a particular kind, organized hierarchically, and manipulated using vector mathematical methods.

Friday, March 10, 2017

(A certain amount of) Danger was good for you

In a benign environment an optimal survival machine might invest relatively few of its material and energy resources in thought and mind. In an extremely challenging environment there may be no opportunity to evolve a mind. The process may be just too costly to undertake. Only in an environment offering just the right mix of danger and resources will brain and mind evolve. The environment itself may then change of course. When a sea squirt adapts to its new living environment it absorbs its "brain" and gives up the (then) unnecessary act of "thinking." Intelligence is an adaptation to (an emergent specialization in) a particular range of environments, it is not always ideal/warranted.


Our senses give us a window on the world but they also limit what we see. For millions of years we hominids had no idea that there were such things as magnetic fields even though bacteria may sense and respond to them. (See Scientific American, December 1981, Blakemore and Frankel) We see that the sky is blue but that is as much a result of the limitations of our vision as it is the result of Rayleigh scattering. The eyes of birds do not let them see a blue sky. We may live today in a vast Hilbert or Fock space of which we experience only a tiny fraction. The concepts we create in order to describe the world depend in part on the array of senses we happen to have. This is one reason I have tried to give Asa H as wide a range of senses as possible.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

An interfacing concept

I am interested in the different ways in which Asa H conceptualizes reality. Because of its use controlling things like my plasma physics experiments Asa has formed a concept we might term "interfacing." Asa knows that it can be connected to and then take control of certain electrical and electromechanical devices/systems.  Humans with prostheses might learn a similar concept.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Asa's inner speech?

Asa H has been taught names for some of the concepts it learns. These can be externalized or spoken when they occur as predictions/outputs. (See, for example, chapter 1 of my book Twelve Papers available at When only weakly activated, or during extrapolation, or interpolation, or chaining, etc the words may not be externalized (output) but may still contribute to chaining, etc (learning, for instance). Is this Asa's version of "inner speech?" (See, for example, C. Fernyhough, The Voices Within, Basic Books, 2016)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sense of taste

Asa H has pH and salinity sensors.  I have experimented with commercial blood glucose meters and sensors in an effort to give Asa a way to measure "sweetness."  Unfortunately these sensors can not be reused and do not seem to work over the range of concentrations I'd be interested in.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Signs of old age

My artificial intelligence Asa H notices when erratic servo rotation occurs (due to worn and/or stripped gears) and unsteady signals are seen from such things as electrochemical sensors.  These give Asa a definition for (concept of) "old age."
I have some old BASIC stamp and Lego RCX robotics hardware but most now is Lego NXT or newer. With Asa we can hope to replace all of his aging components, unlike with humans. I hope that artificially conscious agents will suffer less than humans, not more. (Contrary to T. Metzinger's, The Ego Tunnel, Basic Books, 2010)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Sense of smell

I am adding a Vernier O2-BTA gas sensor in order to give Asa H a richer sense of smell.