Friday, April 26, 2019


Switching over to newer Windows PCs is no big deal. (I do end up having a big pile of old floppy and optical disks lying around.) But switching from BASIC Stamp and Cromemcos to Lego pbricks then to Arduinos and to Raspberry Pis is another matter. Even just the upgrade from Lego NXT to Lego EV3 impacts the software that can be used.*

* RobotBASIC for example, RobotBASIC Projects for the Lego NXT, Blankenship and Mishal, 2011.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Pain components

Breakage sensors, excessively high or low temperatures, low battery charge,* and high acceleration constitute the standard A.s.a. H. pain components. Other possible pain signals might be: excessive force seen by any of the robots' force sensors, excessive electric currents,** excessively bright light, excessively loud sounds, and excessive acidity seen by a PH sensor. Excessive dust or smoke might also be considered.
One might forgo the current breakage sensors, and the resulting snap together construction*** requirement, if you have enough alternative pain sensors.****

* i.e., hunger pains
** motor stalls for example
*** i.e., Lego, Vex IQ, Velcro, etc.
**** For a given robot preliminary experiments can seek to identify what levels of force and acceleration produce breakage for example.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


In humans and in A.s.a. H. pain is an important feedback signal, part of our value system. Forgetting is important for learning and death is forgetting taking place at a high level in the memory hierarchy.* Nick Lane argues that death is one of evolution's 10 greatest inventions.**
I've considered the question of immortality in various blogs.*** I had thought that we humans spent too much time in training and too little time working in our "prime." (15 Oct. 2010 blog) But perhaps if we come to live longer we will simply find ourselves attacking even tougher problems and will then have to spend proportionately more time in our "training" phase.

*e.g.,  "Science advances one funeral at a time."
** Life Ascending, Norton, 2009
***15 October 2010, 31 March 2018, 2 and 5 April 2018, and 16 March 2019 for example.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Must we abandon classical logic or a single reality?

Frauchiger and Renner argue that "we are forced to give up the view that there is one single reality."*
Now Fortin and Lombardi argue that quantum propositions have a non-Boolean structure and Frauchiger and Renner were wrong to make use of classical logic in their proof. Specifically, they argue that one can not apply the classical inference rule of transitivity of a conditional when dealing with quantum propositions.** I, of course, have considered abandoning both purely classical logic and a single reality. See my blogs of 2 and 4 November 2018, 1 December 2018 and 1 January 2019.

* "Single-world interpretations of quantum theory cannot be self-consistent," 2016
** "Wigner and his many friends: A new no-go result?", 2019

Monday, April 15, 2019

More robotics sets

The "Robotics U" kits from Abilix are another robotics set compatible with A.s.a. H.'s pain system and which can be upgraded using processors like Arduinos, Raspberry Pis,* and the like. (With Arduino and Raspberry Pi there are numerous third party sources for sensors, actuators, software,  hardware, etc.)

* The light version of A.s.a. H. In my 14 May 2012 blog will compile and run as is in gcc and Raspbian. The Arduino IDE will also compile the A.s.a. H. code but you must edit the i/o commands of course. (And, typically, adjust them to each different robot you deploy.)

Saturday, April 6, 2019


Aristotle, the ancient Greeks, and later Christian thinkers felt we should value the virtues: temperance, generosity, magnificence, high-mindedness, controlled anger, friendliness, modesty, humility, chastity, obedience, faith, love, frugality, industry, cleanliness, tranquility, civility, courage, compassion, courteousness, dependability, fairness, honesty, justice, loyalty, and moderation. They felt we should avoid the vices: envy, lust, cruelty, gluttony, anger, covetousness, sloth, greed, selfishness, impulsiveness, insensitivity, and recklessness.* There is not a lot of overlap between these values and typical values that I’ve given A.s.a. H. (See, for example, my blog of 21 September 2010.)

* Nils Ch. Rauhut, Ultimate Questions, 2nd ed., Penguin Academics, 2007, page 250

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Why do philosophy?

Some scientists try to argue that philosophy is a useless waste of time*. It's not that I decide to do philosophy, rather I am led into doing it even when I am trying to do something as practical as engineering.

Any learning system must be able to measure its performance and decide what to change and what not to change ("learn"). It must have a value system. If there are multiple things it must assess then it may need to consider a vector value system. One is forced to do/study axiology.

More advanced learning systems may need to monitor the time spent doing various things like searching memory, comparing quantities, feature extraction, deduction, interpolation, extrapolation, etc. Such systems will be "conscious" of what they do, the times spent on various actions, and any improvements which result.

Even simple Lego servos have built-in rotation sensors for feedback control. They are self-aware in this simple way. Similarly, a robot may need to detect and measure things like wheel slip and damage ("pain").

And when I'm teaching, the students will naturally ask me what the wave function is, and if quantum computers are able to do vastly more processing than classical computers then where is that processing happening? I have to think about how to best answer such questions.

*For example, Neil deGrasse Tyson, see Scientia Salon, 12 May 2014.
Or Steven Hawking, in The Grand Design, Bantam, 2010.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

More mobile robots

Matt Timmons-Brown has designed a robot using a Raspberry Pi, Lego, and Velcro which is compatible with A.s.a. H. and its pain system. (Learn Robotics with Raspberry Pi, No Starch Press, 2019) As it stands it has no gripper but it does have an interesting vision system that allows it to identify, push, and chase a yellow ball around.