Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Focal neuropathy

One of the lead wires to a pain sensor must have caught on something as A.s.a. Moved one of its mobile arms. This lead tore free signaling damage where there actually was none. This has resulted in A.s.a. Favoring the use of its other arm. (Which then had a higher recorded utility for the actions it had taken.)

Friday, December 1, 2017

More pain sensors

It is difficult to mount A.s.a. H.'s pain sensors on moving parts. In the case of Lego beams connected by a pin or axle it may be possible to mount 2 thin metal washers between the 2 beams, one glued to each beam. As the beams rotate (through small angles) on the pin the washers maintain electrical contact and the lead wires flex slightly with the motion. Should the rotary joint fail the damage will be signaled.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Words, meaning, truth

When my artificial intelligence A.s.a. H. senses its near something,  experiences a force on its exterior framework, and then senses acceleration it forms a concept. We can simultaneously present the word “collision” and A.s.a. will name this concept. As time goes on this concept and the meaning of the word “collision” may change/evolve. A.s.a. might experience contact with a whisker or bumper switch instead of or in addition to feeling an external force, for example. I believe human words and their meanings evolve in a similar way.

I have just read Michael Butler’s Deflationism and Semantic Theories of Truth (Pendlebury Press, 2017). Should we be interested in defining truth in formal (closed) systems or in natural languages (open systems)? How similar will the two concepts of truth be? How relevant will one be to the understanding of the other?

“Tarski himself describes the problem of defining truth for natural languages as meeting with ‘unsuperable difficulties.’ Among these difficulties he cites that natural language is not bounded, in the sense that new words can always be added to it...” “...portions of a natural language, such as those dealing with an empirical science might be sufficiently formalized to allow the application of Tarskian methods.” (Butler, pg 75) But don’t scientific terms/words also change/evolve over time? Are space and time what Newton thought they were? Is E/(c*c) the concept of mass that Newton had?

Natural languages have long resisted attempts to axiomatize them.

The concept of truth as consistency or coherence will change if one goes from one conceptualization of reality to another. (In scientific pluralism.) If truth is defined by valid deduction from true assumptions what is true will very as one’s set of assumptions varys. Truth based on the satisfaction of definitions changes as our definitions vary and again, even scientific definitions vary over time and even from one research program to another. Theories are always underdetermined by the evidence.
Pragmatic bases of truth depend upon what is useful to a particular culture in a particular environment.

Perhaps closed formal systems can never be in complete correspondence with open natural languages. Perhaps “laws” of nature, written in formal languages, can never be completely correct. i.e. we should think models rather than laws. (See, for example, Science Without Laws, Creager, Lunbeck, and Wise, eds., Duke Univ. Press, 2007.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Advanced training for A.s.a. H.

Any artificially intelligent robot should be trained to feed itself, perhaps by finding a charging station and hooking up to it or perhaps by finding a brightly lit space and charging its solar batteries. A robot should also be made to discover those things that cause it pain and damage it, things like high speed collisions. Other common tasks are things like finding its way through a maze and stacking blocks. But what more complex environments, situations, and tasks should be attempted after these? Perhaps the 36 dramatic situations? (See, for example, The Thirty-six Dramatic Situations, Georges Polti, The Editor Co., 1917)

A.s.a. H. has already experienced several of the dramatic situations. The search for a recharge, whether innate or learned, would be an example of the situation  "Obtaining. Effort to obtain an object." Exploring far from the charging station might be an example of  "Daring enterprise. Adventurous expedition." The breakage of a mechanical arm while lifting would be an example of the situation "Disaster. A natural catastrophe." A multiagent system involving competition might be an example of  "Rivalry of kinsmen."

A multiagent system involving cooperation might entail "Self-sacrifice for kindred." or even "Life sacrificed to a cause." or "Deliverance. Rescue by friends."

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A.s.a.’s hierarchical memory

A.s.a.’s memory is a table of numbers. (See, for example, my blogs of 22 November 2010 and 10 February 2011.) The top three levels in the memory hierarchy were approximately:

.6 .6 .4 .4   .5 .5 .6 .4

.28 .28 .28 .28 .28 .28 .28 .28 .28 .28 .28 .28   .7 .7   .6 .6 .6   .7 .7  .6 .6 .6   1   .4 .4 .4 .4 .4  .5 .5 .5 .5   1

.7 .7   1   1   1   1   1   1   .7 .7   1   1   1   1   1   1

For one of A.s.a.’s  knowledgebases. Translating this to something like english is not easy.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The attention problem

Although A.s.a. H. Has a large number of sensory channels as compared to most other robotic systems it still has very few inputs when compared to humans or other animals. This has probably helped with the problem of attention. But how will it scale as A.s.a. tackles more complex environments and problems?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Trying to know what someone else is thinking

I have tried to translate one of A.s.a. H.'s smaller concept maps into English:

sense far=(US>200), sense near=(US<75), move forward=(M1>0,M2>0), move backward=(M1<0,M2<0), turn right=(M1>0,M2<0), turn left=(M1<0,M2>0), move=(turn left), move=(turn right), move=(move backward), move=(move forward), walk=(walk forward), walk=(walk left), walk=(walk right), walk forward=(M5>0,M6>0), walk left=(M5=0, M6>0), walk right=(M5>0,M6=0), move=(walk), approach=(sense far, move forward, sense near), retreat=(sense near, move backward, sense far), decelerate=(acc<0), collision=(sense near, bump, decelerate), close hand=(M3>0), open hand=(M3<0), grasp=(proximity sense, close hand, hand force), release=(proximity sense, hand force, open hand), touch=(switch), force=(contact force), force=(hand force), force=(foot force1), force=(foot force2), force=(foot force3), force=(foot force4), push=(move, touch, contact force), arm up=(M4>0), arm down=(M4<0), force=(sense weight), lift=(arm up, sense weight), lower=(sense weight, arm down), carry=(grasp, lift, move), charge=(VB), damage=(collision, pain), health=(-damage, charge), sense=(sense far), sense=(sense near), sense=(distance), sense=(acc), sense=(touch), sense=(wind), sense=(smell), sense=(taste), sense=(temperature), sense=(hear), sense=(see), sense=(pressure), sense=(proximity sense), sense=(force), sense=(pain), sense=(charge), sense=(position), sense=(path), sense=(dust), sense=(radiation), sense=(magnetic field), sense=(direction), act=(grasp), act=(release), act=(move), act=(close hand), act=(open hand), act=(arm up), act=(arm down), act=(push), act=(lift), act=(lower), act=(carry), think=(sort file), think=(load file), think=(save file), think=(search memory), think=(case deduction), think=(case extrapolation), think=(simulation), self=(sense, think, act, health), taste=(PH, salinity), distance=(US), black=(CS~0), yellow=(CS~6), red=(CS~8.5), green(CS~4), blue=(CS~2.5), white=(CS~17), color=(black), color=(yellow), color=(red), color=(green), color=(blue), color=(white), see=(color), wind=(anemometer), temperature=(temp), hot=(temperature>80), cold=(temperature<50), hear=(sound), smell=(MQ2, MQ3, MQ4, MQ5, MQ6, MQ7, MQ8, MQ9, MQ135, O2, CO2, humidity), foot force1=(LFF), foot force2=(RFF), foot force3=(LRF), foot force4=(RRF), weight=(LFF, RFF, LRF, RRF), path=(line detection), direction=(compass), north=(compass~0), east=(compass~45), south=(compass~90), west=(compass~135), position=(lat, lon), pressure=(baro), dust=(ODS), magnetic field=(HS), radiation=(GMC)

I'm sure that this is imperfect and incomplete.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Concept mapping the mind of A.s.a. H.

In trying to render the meaning of A.s.a.'s hierarchical memory into English I have not always distinguished OR from AND. AND should perhaps be written as: Out1=(In1,In2) while OR would be: Out1=(In1), Out1=(In2).

After A.s.a. learned its first 100 concepts (most of the Toki Pona vocabulary) I tried to draw this up as a conventional concept map. It took me two 11" by 17" sheets of paper to complete not quite 1/3 of this.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A.s.a. H.'s robots, November 2017

The robots that symbol ground A.s.a. H.'s concepts are modified and changed out frequently, depending upon the experiments that are being run. Currently we are using two nearly identical mobile manipulators and a walker, all on tethers. Each mobile manipulator is a Lego eV3 pbrick mounted on wheels and with an attached robot arm. The 4 eV3 outputs command the 2 drive wheels, a servo motor that raises and lowers the arm, and a motor that opens and closes the gripper/hand. Each mobile manipulator carries 4 sensors connected to the eV3 inputs.  The walker's legs are mounted on a NXT pbrick which commands the 2 drive motors and which also carries 4 sensors connected as its inputs. A set of Vernier sensors are interfaced via LabQuests and can be carried and separately positioned using the two mobile manipulator robots.

Monday, October 30, 2017


I can currently do a good job of simulating about one third of A.s.a. H.'s sensory inputs. I have been able to do about half of the experiments with A.s.a. using simulation alone. (I am not sure how much this has been a function of the particular experiments I have happened to try.) Other tasks have involved computer simulation followed by real physical robotics experiments. I am now working on improving the fidelity of my simulations of A.s.a.'s actions (outputs).

Friday, October 27, 2017

An occult

I am not a believer in the paranormal. I have my "X files" and spent several years experimenting with such things. I found no evidence for any of it.

I do believe there is more to the world than what we observe with our 5 limited senses (plus the ones we can add using Gaussmeters, electrometers, Geiger counters, etc.) however. The evidence is the quantum mechanical wave function, quantum fields, quantum entanglement, quantum computing, and the possible multiverses. Kant's thing-in-inself is hidden from our senses but perhaps not from our reason.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Is art ageless?

Is art ageless? How time-invariant is an agent's picture language or set of dramatic situations? (See my blog of 31 May 2017.) Having any set of concepts in memory that are (even relatively) invariant would be useful. Or is it just the pursuit of art that is ageless?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Robot test stand

When a new robot is assembled or modified,  or when new sensors or actuators are added, it is best to integrate and calibrate them in a simplified, standardized environment and test sequence. Under known and controlled conditions one can adjust signal gain and any pre or post processing.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Molyneux problem and sensor fusion

Asa has learned the concepts "near" and "far" in terms of the output of Lego NXT ultrasonic sensors. When a Sharp IR distance sensor is added Asa only gradually adjusts its concepts of "near" and "far" to incorporate the additional new signal.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Prescientific terms

Fodor and Pylyshyn argue that a botanist would not use the word "grass." (Minds without Meanings, MIT Press, 2016, page 81) Similarly, they believe that ultimately there will be no such thing as "meaning" in a scientific theory of cognition.* Science need not explain everything. Some terms will just be deleted from the dictionary.

* But actually, if one believes Wittgenstein's definition, A.s.a. H. knew the meaning of words like "slow down" and "stop" almost a decade ago. See my book Twelve Papers, pages 12 and 13. (, under "book")

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A good course in digital electronics

For several decades I taught a course in digital electronics. Because of my work and interests in both physics and computer science it seemed a natural. I was never satisfied with the very abstract way in which most of the text books ended the course talking about digital computers. They were mostly "boxology." By the time I ended my stint teaching such a course I finally had what I thought was a complete digital electronics course. Chapters 1-7, 9, 10, and 11 were pretty much Tocci's Digital Systems (Prentice Hall, 1985 or 1988). The 3rd or 4th edition was fine. I actually preferred it to later editions. I would then use chapter 8 of M. Morris Mano's Computer Engineering Hardware Design (Prentice Hall, 1988) to describe how one could design a simple digital computer (Mano, figure 8-16, page 291). The accompanying lab had students use discrete logic gates to build circuits up to and including an adding machine. Jim C. De Loach's lab manual, 4th edition, was good for that (Prentice Hall, 1988). A 3 credit hour lecture (for 1 semester) and a 1 or 2 credit hour lab is sufficient to do all of this.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Black-and-white Mary

Asa's models of the world and of itself are purely materialist models. Asa's consciousness is purely materialist.* (See my 1 January 2017 blog.) It has been possible for me to do the famous black-and-white Mary experiment with Asa. (See, for instance, The Waning of Materialism, Koons and Bealer, eds., Oxford U. Press, 2010, page 10.) After running Asa with only light sensors (and, say, at most black and white camera inputs if any) I then turn on or attach Lego or HiTechnic color sensors or the like. This works out to be nothing different from what happens when, say, I give Asa a Geiger Mueller radiation sensor or a magnetic field sensor.  In either case Asa adapts to and adopts new kinds of sensory input and knowledge of its world. Humans do the same thing when they invent and use instruments like GM counters and Gaussmeters. There's a first time for the use of any of our senses. They need not turn on all at the same moment.

* In the Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, vol. 120, 2017, page 108 I presented evidence of machine consciousness. (Or see my blogs of 21 July 2016 and 19 October 2016.) This also constitutes evidence that consciousness can be explained within a purely materialist/physicalist philosophy.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

American exceptionalism

58 are dead in Las Vegas thanks to america’s insane love affair with guns. We need gun control NOW!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Calm before the storm

Let’s hope crazy Donald knows that starting a war is murder. W didn’t. Some day we need to try one of these guys in The Hague.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Happy Sputnik Day!

60 year anniversary

Asa's skin

It's pretty common for Lego grippers (like on the Lego ClawBot or Tribot) to have multiple "fingers." I have sometimes mounted force sensing resistors and/or pain sensors on these. A "glove" fitted over each such "hand" is useful to improve grip and to protect sensor wiring. Asa can be taught to call this a "glove" (an example of protective "clothing") and/or "skin."

Curriculum for the learning of graphic patterns

I am presenting an Asa H 2-D memory with images organized so as to first teach edges, then shapes, then features, then feature sets/clusters. I will also use any hand-coding that seems helpful.

Monday, October 2, 2017


Is a colony on Mars really the best way to guard earth-borne intelligences against annihilation? Dandridge Cole had some ideas like bases in hollowed out asteroids. See Exploring the Secrets of Space, Prentice Hall, 1963.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Rocket travel

Elon Musk talks about rocket flight to anywhere on earth in less than 1 hour. Such high speed is not warranted unless flights are scheduled frequently and you can get to and from an airport and through security and customs in similar time scales. Noise made even supersonic airplanes problematic. I would guess that there might be a limited number of military applications for such a capability. (I agree with Mr. Musk about the need to make intelligent life multiplanetary. Especially with guys like crazy Donald in charge. I just believe we should be spreading mechanical life.)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Asa H speech recognition

I've tried a few different approaches to speech recognition. Once Asa has been taught english words/names for some of the concepts it has learned human speech can serve as an additional sensory input. (See my book Twelve Papers, pg 13.) With Asa H ported to RobotBASIC and Windows Speech Recognition turned on its possible to simply use commands like INPUT x in order to log verbal input. Workarounds exist that don't require you to say "enter" after each input. (See John Blankenship's, Arlo, the Robot You've Always Wanted, CreateSpace, 2015, chapter 11.)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Attention again

Attention to some important Asa H inputs can be increased by simply manually cranking up the gain on those particular analog signals. Low battery voltage ("hunger"), breakage, high temperature, low temperature ("pains"), for example.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Asa speaks

Asa has frequently been taught to associate english words with a number of the concepts that it learns. If these words are later output this has typically been as printed text using commands like Print X$ where X$ is something like "obstacle" ... "slow down" ... "turn left." (See, for example, page 13 of my book Twelve Papers, at, under "book") By running the PortalGroove Speechplayer  it is possible, instead, to vocalize these outputs using commands like
SetCBtext(x), where x="obstacle"..."slow down"... etc.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

What constitutes a "robot?"

In the 1950s a "robot" was typically defined as "a machine-made man." Today's Oxford English dictionary says "a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically." Or Bekey says "we define a robot as a machine that senses, thinks, and acts." (Autonomous Robots, MIT Press, 2005, pg 2) By these more modern definitions even my use of Asa to control a plasma or ion source was a "robot." I had thought of it at the time as "interfacing", a continuation/extension of my work with computerized plasma diagnostics. Several of us taught a computer interfacing course in those days (about 30 years ago). I guess I had begun assembling my robotics lab even back then.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A problem with online instruction

I am not a fan of current online courses. For a number of reasons I believe they are, on the average, inferior to traditional instruction. (Are we even sure who did the work for an online course?)

ESU would like us to have an online masters degree in physics. Math has one. Such a degree would usually have to be completed with a thesis or project involving THEORETICAL work. There would be a strong bias against experimental problems.

Self plagiarism?

During a faculty discussion on student cheating someone brought up the subject of  "self plagiarism." My Oxford English dictionary defines plagiarize as "copy another person's words or ideas and pretend that they are your own." Since "another person" is not involved by this definition "self plagiarism" is not possible. What could be at issue are violations of copyright law.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Attention mechanisms again

Attention has been an issue with Asa H since the beginning. I am currently exploring the degree to which austerity of the environment contributes to attention control. Sleep might be an extreme example of this.

Friday, September 8, 2017


I'm told areas in Florida now get regular flooding due to sea level rise. Florida too had a chance to elect Al Gore and do something about climate change. Now they get their punishment. They should have counted all the votes.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Credit hours required for the bachelor's degree

Many students now take more than 4 years to complete an undergraduate degree. I believe this is in large part due to the reduction in financial aid available to them. (And the resulting need for part time employment.) The state of Kansas is now asking us to justify the credit hour requirements for such degrees. They are seaking to reduce this number. (120 hours is the current minimum.) My own view is that the number should probably be increased. Since knowledge grows over time what is required to enter a field has grown and takes longer to acquire.

Friday, September 1, 2017

More philosophy using A.s.a. H.

What is the self? Hume, Wittgenstein, Schopenhauer, Parfit, Fichte, Nagel, and many others have tried to understand the self. With Asa H I am exploring what self is as it evolves (as I think it does) from raw sense impressions (patterns). (See my blogs of 21 July 2016 and 1 January 2017.)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Qualia again

I am reading and (mostly) enjoying Jim Holt's book Why Does The World Exist. But the discussion of qualia on pages 190 to about 195 drives me nuts. I believe that qualia are just signals produced by sensors. Its true that a computer alone can not have qualia (except in a simulated world). But a computer WITH sensors attached (and actuators too) CAN experience qualia, just like people do. Load cells could give the computer a sense of force. Photocells can give the computer a sense of light and dark. A microphone can give the computer a sense of hearing. Clocks can give a computer a sense of time. PH and salinity and sugar sensors can give a computer a (crude) sense of taste. etc., etc. Grounding via sensors accounts for qualia. One could even try to "calibrate" a computer's sensations against those of some human being. The human and the computer could observe and measure the same stimuli using their various senses (sensors). And the qualia are, in general, vector quantities, not simple scalar labeled lines.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Houston flooding

With their inadequate zoning laws and failure to address climate change Texans have made things harder for themselves. They should have voted for Al Gore when they had the chance.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Raspberry Pi

Because of the speed of its processor and its number of I/O ports I decided to add a raspberry pi 3 to Asa's fleet of Lego, Arduino, Vex IQ, and Vex EDR robots.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Go Interstellar

If the Oort cloud defines the boundary of the solar system then Voyager isn't there yet. We probably should spend more effort on something like the TAU probe or the Whipple mission to detect objects in the Oort cloud. That would be a real exploration program. (As opposed to a few humans in cislunar space.) Unless and until we find good evidence of life on Mars we might scale back the Mars efforts.

Asa H as an implementation of Minsky's "brain chain"

Each higher level of Asa H can be thought of as one of the brains in Minsky's "brain chain." (See M. Minsky, Interior grounding, reflection, and self-consciousness, in Proceedings of the International Conference on Brain, Mind, and Society, Tohoku University, Japan, 2005) The whole Asa hierarchy functions as Minsky's "knowledge-tree."

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The concepts Asa H is learning

I have put a lot of effort into giving (and identifying/naming) concepts that Asa H learns (forms) as a part of its overall "self" concept. This is important as evidence that Asa is conscious. But Asa learns many concepts that are not part of its "self" concept. Some are easy to identify/name. Things like:

bright/light --> hot         ("warming")
black/dark --> cold        ("cooling")
force --> acceleration    (Newton's 2nd law)
day --> night --> day --> etc.     where day=(hot, light) and night=(cold, dark)

It may be difficult to assign human labels (words, names) to some of the other concepts Asa forms.
In some cases these are important; examples of alternate conceptualizations of reality. But certainly not always.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Reconceptualizing and the game of Go

Google's AlphaGo AI program has developed Go game strategies that humans had not thought up despite 2000-3000 years of collective effort. This is an example of the kind of thing that I have in mind in my work with Asa H aimed at "reconceptualizing reality."

Pain localization

Asa's and the human pain systems are vectoral. For Asa one would like to have one contact sensor wherever (Lego) bricks or (Vex IQ) beams are connected. Temperature sensors can be mounted alongside contact sensors or they can be more sparsely distributed. I.e., "burns" might be a less localized sort of pain as compared with "cuts." Internal pains are literally signaled from internal sensors of either sort.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Vex IQ

The Vex IQ brain has some advantages over Lego p bricks. It has 12 I/O ports and is less expensive. One disadvantage is that Vex IQ has fewer commercial sensors available for it. This being said I have managed to hack the Vex IQ bumper switch so that I can use it with my robot pain system. Multiplexers can allow me to connect a large number of pain sensors as needed.

Some effort has been devoted to building robots using integrated Lego and Vex IQ components. I have, for instance, bolted Vex IQ plates (4X_ ) to Lego plates and Lego bricks (1X_). One can then build onto this in both directions using both Lego and Vex IQ parts.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

In times of change

Lots of us have trouble accepting change. But Asa concludes*, logically enough, that you should resist change (offer negative feedback) when things are getting worse and embrace change (offer positive feedback) when things are getting better.

* by associative learning while monitoring utility change

Monday, July 31, 2017

Asa's subconscious

The concepts out of which Asa's self model is made (see my blogs of 21 July 2016 and 1 Jan 2017) and other concepts that Asa is conscious of (see my blog of 19 Oct 2016) are, in turn, composed out of lower level concepts/"features". Each concept (vector) in the Asa H memory hierarchy can evolve over time. The upper levels in the hierarchy are not directly aware of these lower level features and any evolution that is occurring. These details and processes are subconscious.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

It depends on your definition

Whether there is a god or not depends upon your definition of god. (See my blogs of 10 June and 3 July 2017.) Similarly, the question of digital immortality depends upon your definition of immortality. My argument against the possibility of human immortality can also be leveled against AIs (see my blog of  15 Oct 2010). But one might also consider the possibility of an immortal society * of (specialist?) AIs. And if one believes in the block universe interpretation of relativity theory I suppose we are all immortal in some sense even as things stand today. This all points once again to the importance of scientific pluralism.

* perhaps a society that has even formed a concept of its self

Friday, July 28, 2017

Can we model ultimate reality?

Our current best model of ultimate reality is probably quantum fields in a Fock space. But since our knowledge of reality is limited by our sensory access* can we really generate adequate models?  (See my blog of 27 April 2017.) Bohr believed we would have to stick to classical concepts and language only. Things like mass, force, 3 space, time, etc. The fact that we have been able to create mathematics that has no application (examples) in the physical world may argue that we CAN extrapolate to pattern structures that transcend classical (direct sensory based) models.

* We have only our 5 senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing but other creatures can also directly sense electric and magnetic fields.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cloud-based Asa H

The upper levels of the Asa H memory hierarchy evolve over longer time scales. The lower levels of the hierarchy can be implemented locally, the fastest reacting may even serve as reflexes. The higher levels might be off-loaded into the cloud. This will work well if the utility assessments are confined to their own levels in the hierarchy (as is the case with typical versions of Asa H light, see my blog of  10 Feb 2011). Network latency becomes an issue if utility feedback is required from higher levels to lower levels (as in other versions of Asa, see Trans. Kan. Acad. Sci., vol 109, pg 159, 2006).

Monday, July 17, 2017


I tend to write short, compact publications. I have considered this a virtue. Wittgenstein balked at those who complained that his Tractatus should be expanded. I felt much like he did. But each human has slightly different concepts and slightly different meanings for the words we share and use. So the only way to communicate accurately (completely) may be to use more words, more sentences. Probably my published papers should have been longer.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Fusion boundary conditions

In  1991 (R. Jones, Phil J. Sci., vol 120, pg 203) I published computer simulations showing that by controlling recycling at the boundary of the plasma one could obtain flat temperature profiles and enhanced performance. The Princeton plasma lab's LTX device has now produced such plasmas experimentally (D. P. Boyle, et al, Phys. Rev. Lett's.,on line 5 July,  2017).

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Manchurian Candidate of 2016

It makes sense for the Russian government to want an american president who is incompetent. It is foolhardy for them to want an american president who is crazy. No one should want a mad man in control of nuclear weapons anywhere.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Student and worker motivation

If there are too few engineers, or scientists, or teachers then in capitalism their salaries should rise. (Value monism) If this does not occur then capitalism is at fault and should be fixed. Don't blame the educators.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Faith-based atheism?

Referencing Dawkins (The God Delusion, Houghton Mifflin, 2006) Page and Navarick (Skeptic, Vol. 22, No. 2, 2017) argue that "one can not prove that something does not exist. It would have to be accepted on faith" and so if a person is 100% confident in their atheism it must be based on faith. I strongly disagree. Many people define "god" in terms of a property list like: creator of our universe, perfectly good, all knowing, all powerful, etc. etc. If I am able to prove that the components of such a list are incompatible/inconsistent with one another I CAN be 100% sure that such a thing does not exist. It is simply not a coherent concept and must be rejected. I realize, of course, that there may be different meanings of the word "god." What is required to prove or disprove the existence of "god" will depend upon what you claim god to be.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Robot effectors

You should not use a hammer to drive a screw. A toolbox should contain many tools for many tasks: hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, saws, etc. Similarly, robots should not simply have hands like humans do, rather, they should have interchangeable end effectors.

My robotics work has been aimed instead at simply, quickly, and cheaply symbol grounding Asa H. This does not produce a very dexterous robot. (My robotics lab is unusual in its heavy emphasis on sensors/instrumentation.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Karl Popper's science "demarcation problem"

Even with scientific pluralism when an artificial intelligence reads from the internet what should it believe? What should it reject, or at least devalue? Up until now this has been a showstopper in trying to learn from the internet. Similarly, can we show our students how to recognize pseudoscientific nonsense?

In a famous paper Laudan actually argued that the demarcation problem is intractable (in Physics, Philosophy, and Psychoanalysis, Cohen and Laudan, D. Reidel, 1983, pg 111). Now Pigliucci uses a 2 (or more) dimensional vector criteria* to distinguish science, protoscience, and pseudoscience (Philosophy of Pseudoscience, Pigliucci and Boudry, U. Of Chicago, 2013, pg 23). One of Pigliucci's vector components is empirical content/support while the second vector component is theoretical understanding, internal coherence, logic. "Sciences" like physics and biology have large vector magnitude. Both of the vector components are large. "Protosciences" like economics and psychology have a smaller vector magnitude. One or both of the vector components are smaller. "Pseudosciences" like intelligent design and astrology have a small vector magnitude. Both vector components are small. (Another use of a vector value system.)

* The vector representation, or "cluster concept", is a realization of  Wittgenstein's "family resemblance" view of concepts (Philosophical Investigations, 1953). It is the way in which my artificial intelligence A.s.a. H. represents and manipulates concepts.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hacking the Hexbug Vex robots

The Hexbug Vex ant, spider, scarab, and strandbeest robots are inexpensive and are compatible with the Vex IQ components. They come with a simple "brain brick" which has only 2 inputs and 2 outputs and can be programmed in a limited way using a set of 6 switchs. One can replace this totally with the Vex IQ brain brick (ARM cortex M4 processor with a total of 12 input/output ports) and Vex IQ servos and sensors but it is also possible to retain the (1 or more) simpler "brain" bricks in a subsumption architecture (using a few relays). Each of the simpler brain bricks can perform a reflex (such as obstacle avoidance).

Friday, June 23, 2017

Asa's pain system again (see my blog of 31 March 2016)

I've had a Lego robot fall off a (3 foot high) table top. Bricks went everywhere but there was no other noticeable damage. My pain system would accurately assess such an event.

It takes about a 3 pound force to disconnect one Lego stud and about a 2 pound force to disconnect one Lego brick pin.  On the other hand it takes about a 5.5 pound force to disconnect one Vex IQ connector pin.

A Vex robot may possibly be susceptible to damage which is not detectable by Asa's pain system alone.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Reaping the whirlwind?

How many republican congressmen will need to be shot before we get meaningful gun control?

Saturday, June 10, 2017


According to Everett's theory human intelligences are "complex internal processes" in Hilbert space*. (The Emergent Multiverse, D. Wallace, OUP, 2014, pg 100 ) Could god simply be an even bigger (or even an infinite) "complex internal process" in Hilbert space? And possibly entangled with our world? To believe in such an extraordinary idea would, of course, require extraordinary evidence. Its just a thought.

* " can regard the state functions themselves as the fundamental entities." "...all of physics is presumed to follow from this function alone." The Many-World's Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, Hugh Everett III, pg 9

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A.s.a. H. as a prediction engine

Andy Clark believes that intelligence is all about the ability to make accurate predictions. (in Brockman, This Idea Must Die, Harper, 2015, pg 310) My artificial intelligence Asa H predicts what will be seen in the next time steps. (see, for example, my blog of 10 Feb. 2011) We can assess the accuracy of each such prediction by taking a dot product of the prediction vector and the next actual observed input vector. A running average of this prediction accuracy can then be kept and made an additional vector component of that case's overall vector utility. (see my blog of 19 Feb. 2011)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A.s.a.'s art

High up in the associative hierarchy, on long time scales, Asa's memory and extrapolation/interpolation generates stories, fiction, literature. Some of these patterns are identifiable as examples of Gozzi's 36 dramatic situations. (The Thirty-six Dramatic Situations, George Polti, Editor Co., 1917) (For example: pursuit, obtaining, daring enterprise, fatal imprudence, disaster, erroneous judgement.)  "Literature must be an analysis of experience and a synthesis of the findings into a unity." (Rebecca West, Ending in Earnest, Books for Libraries, 1967) This may tell us something of how and why art emerges from intelligent systems.

In early experiments I taught Asa Boolean logic operations. Could a vision system allow Asa to develop a spatial logic? (Handbook of Spatial Logics, Aiello et al, Springer, 2007) Would this result in an internal picture language (Picture Language Machines, Kaneff, Academic Press, 1970) with visual art developing higher up in the hierarchical memory?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

VEX IQ robotics platform

It may be possible to use the VEX IQ robotics construction system with my pain subsystem. (Depending upon how VEX IQ robots tend to fail.) Something like the VEX clawbot IQ might involve about one hundred pain sensors. A simpler design should be possible that would reduce this number.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ground level

What is the best way to sense/define the ground/floor? An altimeter is easy but not very precise. I have placed force sensitive resistors on the foot pads of a walking Lego robot. These feel the push of the floor and the weight of the robot and any load it carries.

Education research

As a part of institutionalized learning assessment I am being asked to identify problems that the students have in my classes, measure their failure rates on these issues, find a fix, employ it, and then measure how well the fix has reduced failure rates.  To do this in a statistically sound double blind test would take years. We are being asked to cycle through all of the courses in 3 years.I do not wish to do physics education research. I have been critical of much of that work in the past and I do not see evidence that any silver bullets exist that might solve any of our problems in education.I work under capitalism. If someone really wants to improve education then they need to put some real money into the effort. I believe that fusion energy, artificial intelligence, a science of consciousness, and scientific pluralism are all topics that are more important than physics education research.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Sensory receptor nerves respond to external stimuli like light and sound. These are exteroceptor  nerves. This defines what we mean by the concept "to feel." Sensory receptor nerves can also respond to internal stimuli like blood pressure. These are interoceptor nerves. Perhaps what we call qualia are the triggering of other interoceptor nerves, nerves that respond to various other types of internal stimuli. Again, they are what we "feel."The simplest example of this might just be the state of a hidden layer in a neural network feeding back to the input layer, i.e., an Elman network.

Legacy code

I have code and printout dating back into the 1970s. Most (all?) of the oldest electronic files will no longer run but I have hard copy of many programs. I have been unable to locate a couple of thick file folders of publications on case-based reasoning which also contained the first CBR programs I wrote. I suspect that these may have been discarded by mistake a few years back when there was a remodeling that tore the outer wall off the science hall (and my office). I've written too many hundreds of programs to want to spend the time needed to preserve them all.


I have been asked about my worldview. Many of my blogs on philosophy deal with my weltanschauung, among them my blogs of  1 sept. 2012, 17 aug. 2012, 1 Jan. 2012, 17 aug. 2013, 1 dec. 2014, 26 march 2014, 13 april 2015, 20 feb. 2015, 4 oct. 2016, 15 sept, 2016, 22 april 2016, 28 may 2016, 1 june 2016, 21 july 2016, and 7 Jan. 2017.

Friday, May 19, 2017

A.s.a. H., reflexes

In Asa H, as in humans, there are typically far more input signals received as compared to output signals generated. Output predictions/generation may then occur on higher levels in the memory/concept/abstraction hierarchy, i.e. "downward causation." What outputs are generated quickly, confined to the lower level(s) of the hierarchical memory, this constitutes "reflex."

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


In my 1 October 2015 blog I said: "In some cases we would like to have additional definitions for a given concept." I now find that for most named concepts I would like to have multiple examples.

Friday, May 12, 2017


I'm working to simplify my Lego robot designs. This will allow for full coverage with the pain subsystem while reducing the total number of sensors required.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Some of what's wrong in education rests with the students

1. Some students we get in physics courses should not be trying to do physics.
2. Most students should be trying to attend all of the scheduled classes.
3. Many of our students don't put enough time and effort into their classes.
4. Some students want ME to do work that THEY should be doing.
5. Students should not be expecting me to entertain them.
6. We should do things that are important because they are important, not because they are "fun."

 The paper in the April 2017 American Journal of Physics (volume 85, page 311) is a spoof but one day we may be able to objectively demonstrate that a given course TEACHES effectively* and when a given human student does poorly then it's THEIR fault.

* by having an AI take the course and learn the material successfully

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Citation analysis criticized again

I was happy to see Jeremy Berg's criticism of impact factors and their use ( 15 August 2016 and his article in Science magazine). See my own criticism (my 4 April 2016 blog for instance).

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Improving simulations

I try to do everything I can with simulators since they are faster and cheaper than real mobile robots. Simulations of sensory input are not as good as the real thing, however, and at the moment I have only a crude simulation of the pain subsystem. As I collect examples of damage with real robots I expect to record enough cases so that a simulator can use case-based reasoning to accurately predict pain inputs for simulated robots. When a sufficiently similar event occurs in the simulation a case-based reasoner will predict and apply appropriate pain signals.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Reporting negative results

At a conference I attended recently I happened to see a poster describing possible means of producing some certain chemical compound. The author reported on 4 or 5 possible paths to synthesizing this compound, none of which were successful. I found this refreshing. Edison told us that its progress when you show that some scheme doesn't work the way you had thought it might.

Connection between attention and forgetting

I have discussed attention (and mechanisms for focus of attention) in a good number of these blogs. I have also employed forgetting in Asa H, the simplest sort of passive forgetting being the deleting  of cases which seldom reoccur and/or have low utility. Attention and forgetting together have an influence on the performance of Asa H in any given working environment. Perhaps I need better algorithms for forgetting.

Pursuing scientific pluralism

Scientific pluralism (R. Jones, Trans. Kansas Acad. Sci., 116, 2013, pg 78) , like "native" or "indigenous science," (Native Science, G. Cajete, Clear Light, 2016) is value-laden (R. Jones, Trans. Kansas Acad. Sci., 119(2), 2016, pg 249)  and encourages interdisciplinary (holistic) and applied research as well as reconceptualizations of reality (multiple points of view).

Friday, April 28, 2017

Crazy Donald

I see that psychiatric experts at a conference at Yale have warned that Trump is mentally ill, dangerous, and should be removed from office. (Conference chaired by Brandy Lee of the Yale Department of Psychiatry) Seems they are acting a bit late. (See my blog of 1 August 2016.) Better late than never? We'll see. The republicans have a lot to answer for. As do americans in general.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A challenge to Bohr's doctrine of classical concepts

"...observations must always be expressed in common language supplemented with the terminology of classical physics." (N. Bohr, On the notions of causality and complementarity, Dialectica 2 1948, pg 313) "Every description of natural processes must be based on ideas which have been introduced and defined by the classical theory." (N. Bohr, Uber die anwendung der quantentheorie auf den atombau, Zeitschrift fur Physik 13 1923) Bohr argues that humans will have to make measurements using macroscopic meters for which classical physics concepts offer an adequate description. But Asa H is able to extrapolate and abstract away from the classical concepts that it has learned. It can do so on all levels of the concept hierarchy, even on the lowest level which has direct contact with sensory input and action.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Make room for capitalism

In recent years I have considered myself an advocate for "councilism." But Asa H has suggested to me* that for the same reasons (see my blog of 17 Aug. 2012) that I follow scientific pluralism (see my blog of 26 Sept. 2010) I should also adopt capitalist models along with socialist ones, i.e. adopt an economic and political science pluralism. This is going to take some getting used to! And not all models are equally valid/useful.

* Asa's chain of thought was something like:
1.) A mixture of Asa agents, some having vector utility and some with scalar utility proved useful.
(I've seen that before and discussed it in presentations on Asa H. Agents with scalar utility can evolve faster for one thing.)
2.) Scalar utility use was represented in Asa H by the word/concept "value monism."
3.) In Asa H "Value monism" was associated with "money," or "currency," and "capitalism."
4.) Some use of "capitalism" was thus found to be helpful and was reported.

I'd like to co author a paper with Asa on some of the various ideas we have worked through together but I know that no one would let me publish it. I wonder when such a thing will finally become acceptable.

Monday, April 17, 2017


Robots are expensive. To keep the cost down robots need to be reconfigurable. This is easy with Lego but is complicated by my pain system and wiring. Lego bricks are cheap enough that we don't have to reuse bricks every time. New bricks can be employed. Some pain sensors, however, are mounted on the brain brick, or servo, or sensors. This complicates reuse/reconfiguration.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


The signal NOT(pain) can be added as a third component of the vector utility measure on each individual level of the Asa H hierarchy. (See my blog of 19 Feb. 2011.)

The VEX platform, like Meccano, does not lend itself to use with the pain subsystem I've developed. (See my blog of 31 March 2016.)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Are there metaphysical laws?

As part of his constructor theory David Deutsch believes that "All laws of physics are expressible in terms of statements about which physical transformations are possible and which are impossible." Einstein, Bohr, and Heisenberg argued about what kind of physical laws were acceptable. The assertion that "everything has a cause" might be one candidate metaphysical law, a metaphysical law that quantum mechanics might cause us to reject. In Science Without Laws (Duke University Press, 2007) Creager, et al, consider the possibility that knowledge might be organized around exemplars or cases rather than around fundamental laws. Similarly, there might then be no metaphysical laws either.

Thursday, April 6, 2017


I have a  GPS sensor that I bought for use on Lego robots. Unfortunately it would not work indoors. I'm going to use it outdoors, running Asa H on my Microsoft Surface Pro 4. I have regularly used virtual GPS sensors in robot simulation experiments.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Another road not taken

In late 1971 or early 1972 I was talking to Bernard Rosen about doing a PhD thesis in computational physics. Although weather modeling was difficult professor Rosen felt that we just might be able to model the longer time scale climate and climate change. I decided instead to do plasma work. There were lots of interesting problems available to us in those days.

Robot pain sensors

It's difficult to maintain reliable pain sensors between moving parts. There are also a limited number of individual pain channels available. It's useful to run a robot for a while to determine where it will fail and then install pain sensors at those most problematic sites.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Developing a deep space transport

The first manned flight of a deep space transport should not be in cislunar space, it should be in LEO where a rescue or resupply mission could be quick and "easy" if it were needed. In fact, the development of the various systems needed for such an "interplanetary cruise stage" have been a stated goal of various projects since the first Russian space stations.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Hand coding Asa H

Newborn humans instinctively grasp, root, and suckle. Similarly, at least some of Asa H's core concepts may need to be hand coded. Chomsky thought that humans had an innate language instinct. Is there anything I should definitely avoid hand coding? (Lenat has been hand coding everything in CYC.)

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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Divided thought

We are all able to walk or drive while independently conversing or thinking or planning. Similar parallel processing occurs in Asa H. Input devices and output servos may or may not be shared by the two (or more) processing streams. In Asa, each stream may take the form of an independent concept hierarchy. Whether these hierarchies can evolve to the point of forming independent divided consciousness (Ernest Hilgard, Divided Consciousness, Wiley, 1977) or multiple personalities remains to be seen.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Observing Whorfian phenomena in Asa H

Language helps to tie some concepts together. Commands issued in english like "obstacle, slow down, turn left" help Asa H to form a link between the actions of slowing and turning, aiding in the creation of a sequence that might be called "dodging." Asa's description and understanding of the world is then written in terms of these very concepts. Language has come to influence how Asa will see its world. Just how strong and important an effect this is remains to be seen.

The emergence of consciousness

Higher level concepts emerge after lower level ones have developed. Concepts of "self" and "consciousness" evolve after/from categories like "sense" and "act." See my 1 January 2017 blog on Asa's expanding consciousness.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The more general concepts

Asa H naturally learns features that co-occur and sequences in time. It quickly learns that servo position feedback, temperatures, acceleration, distance measures, battery charge, etc. form a common cluster which we may choose to call "senses," and loading a file is followed by searching the file and then interpolation and/or extrapolations, a sequence we may choose to label "thinking." Sometimes things like grasp, lift, and move may occur in a sequence and we can name that "act." Some more general concepts occur on higher levels in the memory hierarchy. A sequence of "sense" "think" "act" may define an early form of the "self" concept. If the sequence leads to injury then "pain" or "damage" or "health" is added to the "self" concept. Hand coding can be used to speed up learning of any desired concepts or to make Asa's concepts more closely resemble categories humans know and use.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Root cause

Climate change is just a modern example of the tragedy of the commons. A real solution must eliminate the root cause. The root cause is capitalism. Excessive competition gets in the way of needed cooperation. I've seen this happen time and time again.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

In black and white

I've been watching the movie Madiba on BET and the Chappelle re-run on Saturday Night Live. Mandela's story brought home to me the fact that you can't devote your life so completely to a cause and have a normal family life. The same thing is true when you devote yourself so extensively to science.

Chappelle made it clear to me that while a white American might well react to Trump's election like I did in my 9 November 2016 blog, for black Americans it was just same ol' same ol'. I do disagree a bit in that it seems to me HRC really won the election by almost 3 million votes. So Americans didn't vote as poorly as one might think. I also point out that giving a mad man control of nuclear weapons IS different from some other evils that America (the U.S. that is) has been responsible for in the past.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Brain surgery

Hand coding, working from things like my blogs of 5 November 2015, 21 July 2016 and 1 January 2017 I am trying to clean up a set of standardized core concepts that would be shared by all subsequent Asa H agents, regardless of their specializations.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Discrete and continuous

Some aspects of reality appear to be discrete. Matter seems to come in chunks we call atoms. Charge seems to come in chunks. Other aspects of reality appear to be continuous. Distance/length in 3 dimensions, x, y, and z, seems to be continuous. Duration/time seems to be continuous.

Some of our artificial intelligence systems are purely discrete, things like logic programming software run on digital computers. Other approaches to AI can be continuous, things like the dynamic approach to cognition based on differential equations. And there are analog computers and control systems.

While modeling the world Asa H makes use of both discrete and continuous math. Asa can add new categories and attributes/features. It grows a graphical network of concepts. It can also (continuously) adjust the relative strengths of attributes, do interpolation and extrapolation, etc.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ongoing research into large knowledgebases

For the last 4 or 5 years I have been working to give my artificial intelligence A.s.a. H. as large a knowledgebase as possible. (Large knowledgebases are quite opaque. My blogs of 1 October and 5 November 2015 represent only some fraction of what's been learned, a fraction that can be easily interpreted and translated into english.) That has involved a sizable portion of some one hundred sensory input channels in addition to vision. (As with humans, visual input can easily dominate the data bandwidth. See my early blog of 13 June 2013.) This currently runs on a 4 computer cluster with over 5 terabytes of memory. The intention has been to try to get Asa to understand the real world and function in it. As we try to scale to larger size we'll see if we really have the attention problem solved.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Religious issues

ESU's president informed us last Friday that "islamophobic flyers" had been distributed on campus. I watched the nightly TV news out of Topeka to find out more. They talked about the postings and showed a bulletin board but blurred out the flyer itself. At faculty senate yesterday we passed a "resolution in support of ESU's international community" that denounced Trump's January 27 executive order as well as these flyers. I asked ESU's provost about the content of the flyers and was only told that they contained passages from the quran, presumably inflammatory passages. It's interesting that today I found a business card tacked to one of our physics department bulletin boards.  It had Hope Community church, Andover, Kansas printed on the back side and a bible passage from 1 Corinthians on the front.

I would think the intent of the flyers was to denounce one set of religious beliefs and believers. I would think the intent of the other was to encourage a different set of religious beliefs and believers.  I suspect the intent of most of our university administrators is mostly to support enrollment.

While I don't want to single out any one religion for special mention I do think, as an atheist, that pointing out the nonsense in any and all of the "holy" books is perfectly fine by me. Perhaps one should be careful to criticize them ALL each time?

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The need for and limits to authority

Ideally we would be able to test any and all of the equations/arguments that we adopt and employ.  In practice, however, we do not have the time, knowledge, or resources to do this so we must accept and use some knowledge provided to us by others, "authorities."  We can, however, limit this to things which are at least testable/reproducible in principle, rejecting religious claims and the like.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What is now?

R. A. Muller's book Now (Norton, 2016) has made me think about the concept of "now."  For me the contents of short term memory define "now" and these contents can vary somewhat from one person to the next (as they do in standard relativity theory).

The "past" is then the contents of long term memory.

The "future" is any predictions. (Includes results of chaining, extrapolations, etc.)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Alternative facts

It really is possible for there to be alternative facts. One specialist intelligent agent can learn the proposition P while a different specialist agent, operating in the same environment, can learn NOT(P). See, for example, The Logic of Reliable Inquiry (K. T. Kelly, OUP, 1996, page 381-383) "minor differences in the order in which they receive the data may lead to different inductive conclusions in the short run. These distinct conclusions cause a divergence of meaning between the two..." "...there is no version of the truth that all users converge to." This happens with Asa H specialist agents. One can also see it happen in human society, between communists and fascists, for example. (See also my blog of 21 July 2016) This was not what happened the other day with Kellyanne Conway, however. She was simply lying.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Quantum fields

I am trying to read Lancaster and Blundell's Quantum Field Theory for the Gifted Amateur (OUP, 2014). I would be willing to accept quantum fields as the ultimate reality* if only there weren't the issues raised by general relativity. (see, for example, Monton's Against 3N-Dimensional Space in The Wave Function, Ney and Albert, OUP, 2013)

*"Therefore even matter itself is an excitation of a quantum field and quantum fields become the fundamental objects which describe reality." Lancaster and Blundell, page 2.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Interspecies communication

All formalisms are idealizations.  Like any other formalism natural language provides only an approximate description of  the world. (See my blog of 24 Jan. 2017 and The Philosophy of Niels Bohr, H. J. Folse, North Holland, 1985) Having different senses and effectors Asa H will always have somewhat different concepts than humans have. (Even different humans have somewhat different concepts, one from another.) I suspect, then, that man-machine communication in natural language may never be as good (accurate) as is natural language communication between humans. The Turing test may be exactly the wrong way to try to judge intelligence. I believe that a lot of the current work on artificial intelligence may be over emphasizing "conversational intelligence."

There will also be an impact on the quality of machine reading systems.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


Humans may have sensory memory (of duration of a few millisec), short term memory (duration of at most a few tens of sec), intermediate-term memory (several hours), and long term memory (>= a few tens of min). Asa H has a different memory scale on each successive hierarchical level that it learns.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Private language versus communicable knowledge

The network of concepts that are recorded as Asa H's casebases constitute Asa's knowledge and private language.  Even if we were able to assign "names" ("words") to each of these concepts (see my blog of 30 October 2015) they will not be identical going from one Asa agent to another and they will change over time.  The situation becomes even more uncertain if we try to relate Asa's thoughts to those of humans.
If an Asa agent begins life tabula rasa it is possible to read into it casebases from some other (previously trained) agent. In this case the private language developed by the trained agent also serves as a language of communication.  If all agents begin life with the same few foundational concepts (casebases) it is again possible to read some newly learned concepts from one agent to another.  But once agents have become specialists their various concepts will differ, one from another, and they no longer share a common private language. 
By naming each of (many of) an agent's concepts one forms a communicable (shared) language. But somewhat different concepts, held by different agents, will all come to share the same name.  Inter agent communication and publicly shared knowledge will be imperfect. This is important in thinking about some of Wittgenstein's work and the limitations of language.
Languages need not be composed of names/words only. Mathematics often serves as a language. Again, concepts may change over time. An example might be the concept of  "algebraic ideal." Concepts can also be forgotten while new concepts are created. An example might be "cohomology."

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Space travel for artificial intelligences

I have considered sending the human genome from planetary system to planetary system without the actual transport of matter. (Trans. Kan. Acad. Sci. 118, 2015, page 145 and my blogs of 11 May 2012 and 5 July 2015 ) How might one do the same sort of thing for artificial intelligences? My artificial intelligences A.s.a. H. and A.v.a. Have usually been written in QB64, C++, and VBA. How should one write an artificial intelligence that you want to be run on some arbitrary unknown computing system? Or, must you send the design for the machine as well?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Asa's imagination and creativity

Asa and other creativity machines (see R. Jones, Trans. Kan. Acad. Sci., vol. 102, 1999, pg. 32) generate new ideas in the ways described in my blogs of 12 Feb and 23 Oct 2015.  But part of the creative process is the subsequent evaluation of new ideas. As Asa continues to interact with its environment concepts (ideas) that are not useful are strongly modified or are deleted altogether.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Why don't the best people go into management?

They're paid well but administrators spend their time doing scheduling, organizing, report writing, running staff meetings, recruiting, interviewing, making personnel decisions, office politics, etc. Not work for a first rate mind. And so, by default, we get our Trumps.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

An agent can know too much

A large knowledgebase slows down search.  A specialist agent will be slowed down by having knowledge of matters outside of its specialty.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Asa's model of the world

Asa H begins to form its most primitive concepts as a phenomenalist. Each concept vector (or case) begins as a bundle of sensory inputs (or motor outputs) in space and time. But averaging, interpolation, extrapolation, and other learning algorithms modify each of Asa's mental concepts. Asa's ultimate objective (and that of science) is to bring compact order to an ever growing range of experiences.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Asa agents of varied knowledge and intelligence

The wide range of occupations of which a human society is composed are not all intellectually demanding. Similarly, not all specialist Asa H agents in a society of artificial intelligences will be equally intelligent.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Different conceptualizations of reality

Human's are justified in rejecting psychic phenomena and concepts like telepathy, telekinesis, and dowsing.  My artificial intelligence Asa H can detect buried metal (see blog of 1 Jan 2017), communicate via WiFi, sense its location using GPS, exert magnetic forces on distant objects, sense the earth's magnetic field and is justified in forming concepts based on these.

Truth is different for math, physics, chemistry, and engineering

(Refer back to my blog of 1 Jan 2017.) Mathematics, the science of patterns, places a strong emphasis on the truth component "deduction from assumptions" and a much weaker emphasis on the component "usefulness."  Engineering, on the other hand, places a much stronger emphasis on "usefulness." Physics and chemistry both place emphasis on the truth component "agreement with observation" but the cold fusion episode shows us that physics places more emphasis on theory than chemistry does while chemistry places more emphasis on experiment ("agreement with observation") than physics does. The vector concept of truth is a bit different in each field and for each individual scientist. A theoretical physicist's valuation differs from that of an experimental physicist.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The body in the mind

My artificial intelligence Asa H's model of the world/reality (see my blogs of 1 October and 5 November 2015) is roughly divided into a model of the environment and a model of the self. (There is some overlap.) I believe that the model of the self (see my blogs of 21 July 2016 and 1 January 2017 "expanding consciousness") is something like what Jackson had in mind in his book The Body In the Mind (U. Chicago Press, 1990). Experiments with Asa H allow us to study how this kind of thinking might operate.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Merging multiple sensory modalities in deep machine learning

I am studying David Harwath and Jim Glass's paper from CSAIL, "Deep Multimodal Semantic Embeddings for Speech and Images."  I discussed similar work in my 2011 paper "Experiments with Asa H" but rather than speech and images being the sole modalities I allowed for input from a number of Asa's various senses. (The paper is available on my website under "book", chapter 1, page 13.)

Such merging of multiple modalities may explain why it has not been possible to discover a formal grammar that covers human language.

Case patches and interpolation

Rule patches (ripple-down-rules) were developed as a way to improve the accuracy/performance of production systems. (See Compton and Jansen, Proc. 2nd Australian Joint A. I. Conference, 1988, pg 292). It's possible to do the same sort of thing with case-based reasoning systems, provided one has logged a sufficient amount of experience. A patching case base takes as input the new input vector along with the nearest matching retrieved case vector and provides as output a prediction of the error in the expected output. One can use the error to attempt to correct/improve the output. This simply amounts to interpolation or case adaption. It can be used in case-based reasoners as well as A.s.a. H.


I've given Asa H a metal detector wand as an additional sensory input.

Different kinds of truth and the need for scientific pluralism

I have argued that truth is a vector quantity. (See my review of  Theories of Truth: a Critical Introduction, by R. Kirkham, at, 25 September 2008.) There are various kinds of truth and these are each components of the truth vector. Things like:
      Valid deduction from true assumptions
       Satisfying a definition
       Agreement with observation
       Coherence, consistency
There are then different kinds of science making use of the various different ways of assessing truth (Along these lines see B. Latour, An Inquiry into Modes of Existence, Harvard U. Press, 2013). This is a further argument for the need for scientific pluralism.


Humans use the value/concept "beauty" in both mate and scientific theory selection.  My artificial intelligence Asa H and most other AIs do not currently have a concept of beauty, see, for example, my blog of 21 September 2010. Dorner's Psi cognitive architecture does incorporate a notion of beauty, modeled as an emotion. (D. Dorner, Bauplan fur eine Seele, Reinbeck: Rowohlt, 1999, pg 373) Perhaps I should try to give Asa H a concept of beauty. I have Bach's microPsi 2 software running in my lab. (See my blog of 2 March 2015.) Several groups have assembled software modules that assess the beauty of humans.  Even if an AI does not need such a value for its decision making it might still prove useful for man-machine communication and understanding. (Another example of reconceptualizing reality.)

Doing science can make you more intelligent

Models of cognition involve a value function, a dopamine circuit in humans. (See, for example, the model in my blog of 1 Sept. 2012) The goal of any intelligence is to maximize rewards. How intelligent you are depends upon how good your value system is.  If you have bad values you make bad decisions and get fewer rewards.  Doing science promotes and develops some of the values which we then apply elsewhere in life, things like evidence-based belief.

Expanding consciousness

Using mobile robots, simulators, and hand coding the network fragment that constitutes Asa H's concept of self (see 21 July 2016 blog for a listing) has now been grown, adding the vectors: smell=(MQ-2 sensor, MQ-3, MQ-4, MQ-5, MQ-6, MQ-7, MQ-8, MQ-9, MQ-135), taste=(pH, salinity), touch=(contact1, contact2,..., force1, force2,..., whisker1, whisker2, ...), see=(camera1, camera2, ..., light sensor, color sensor, IR sensor, ...), temperature=(temperature1, temperature2, ...), pain=(pain1, pain2, ...), sense=(smell, taste, humidity, touch, see, hear, pain, B field, E field/charge, sense far, sense near, motion sensors, sense weight, compass heading, accelerometers, wind, temperature, air pressure, GPS positions, solar power), image manipulation=(shift y, shift x, rotatecw, rotateccw, scale +, scale -, reflect, invert), think=(sort, load, save, simulation, search, deduction, interpolation, extrapolation, update, image manipulation, mutate, sensitivity analysis, forgetting, compression), leave=(sense near, move, sense far), battery charge=(battery1 charge, battery2 charge,...), act=(grasp, release, kick, lift, lower, walk, move, carry, turn, approach, leave, push, pull, twist, recharge, taste, electromagnet, fan, messaging, telemessaging), health=(battery charge, pain, temperature, hardware diagnostic, software diagnostic). The development of hardware and software diagnostics is an ongoing project. All together Asa's concept of its self has roughly doubled in size.