28 February, 2012

Senslessness of software patents...

Why I don't support them:

1) Patents in software tend to be granted for trivial, non novel solutions that any competent engineer with a few minutes or hours to think about the problem will emerge.

2) Innovations in software and hardware engineering are much more difficult to reverse engineer making them more stable when subject to attempts to copy. Reverse engineering much of software code (algorithms) is rendered impossible depending on how the code is implemented or made available for end use. The innovation is in the secret of the algorithm(s) which is locked in the implementation, as long as that is kept away from prying eyes it is a *defacto patent*. Reverse engineering such tech. is either very hard or impossible (especially for web services) so again lessening the need for formal patents in the space.

3) Once granted a trivial patent is like a hammer that prevent others from right to apply trivial methods and forces money into licensing deals instead of paying for more *innovation* in the form of R&D on new products and services.

4) Once granted and later defended or used to defend, large bulks of money go to lawyers...who in no way contribute to building innovation which can change human lives, it's wasted *human* investment.

5) In industries were patents don't apply there is rampant innovation (take fashion) and no shortage of competition or players willing to invest time to create new ideas (in clothing) ...if something is copied fine, they just innovate some thing new for the next season. We need that type of rapacious innovation to take hold in technology, and eliminating patents in the space (to some ironically) would do that.


Ted talk on fashion and innovation by Johanna Blakely


Ringing different songs of perception in the mind...

I've been doing a lot of thinking on the cognitive under pinning of language the last few years and the increased level of discourse that I've engaged in social networks like facebook has allowed me to analyze how amazingly varied the *perception* of word meaning and sentence intent varies from one person to the next.

It's obvious that as a consequence of the variance in assumed definitions for words that this would be so (trivially) but the difficulties go far beyond simply associated the first order meaning of words used in a sentence. There are nth order effects, resonances in meaning that automatically emerge when we link words into sentences. For example :

"Looking forlorn, Lisa traced circles in the sand sitting in her chair...hair, wind aloft."

You will perceive that sentence differently from how I do for several reasons:

1) Punctuation, placement of commas and ellipses are not universally utilized according to the specifications of the linguistic devices that they are. "wrong" application of them in reading the line will inspire "different" perception of the sentence. Note , "wrong" inspires "different" not wrong inspires wrong. When probed I might correct any interpretation that does not align with my intention assuming I had an intention that was not ambiguous. For example the phrase "Lisa traced circles in the sand sitting in her chair" was designed precisely because it is ambiguous...is she sitting in her chair tracing circles in the sand (say with her extended foot) or is she kneeled before a chair with sand on the seat and is she using her fingers to trace the sand? where "sitting" is used metaphorically to describe the "sand"...both reads are legal from that part of the sentence.

2) Word definitions, forlorn is a rather old word that has gone out of favor as used to describe a mental state and was used here on purpose. Some will see it as synonymous to "pensive" others might make it seem akin more to "sad" others will mix both to imply "pensive sadness or longing". Depending on the meaning that has strongest significance to the reader that will change the "flavor" of the entire sentence. That's just one word...the same may be said of the last phrase "hair, wind aloft." which may paint different images depending on the strength of the imagined wind...a gentle breeze or a stronger rush? The words paint different images in different minds depending on the assumed meanings.

3) Sentence structure, taken together words of variable definition perception and intensity coupled with variable understanding of punctuation create a third order of complexity in perception. The first phrase, the middle ambiguous phrase and the ellipses separated third short phrase combine to paint an image that is unique. An image that we all fill in with our own meanings for those concepts but not just meanings but we fill in our own experiences of those concepts. We read a sentence as reflected through our experience set of words, meanings and punctuation...a hierarchical layer cake of cognitive concepts that is distinct to our perception.

I, as the author and using words; can paint a canvas and have each person that looks at it *see a different painting*. It is a remarkable aspect of the dynamism of language to simultaneously encapsulate the rough boundaries of concepts we wish to relay while opening up mixing of ideas in the minds of those that hear or are given those concepts that emerge new perceptions or ways of thinking about what is being relayed.

The work in neuroscience of the last few years involving the mapping of the linguistic centers are showing us the complexity of the language processing system and these complexities will be used by researchers (such as myself) to provide insights into how to simulate processing of language by artificial agents. This being one of the reasons for my fascination with the current work in the space, still I find it beautiful (and a reason why I occasionally create poetry) that words strung into sentences ring different songs of perception in the minds of those that read them...making them a truly unique signal from most other types of sensed information which have more or less objective (physical) bases of similarity across individuals. For example....you see the same blue I see....more or less..


27 February, 2012

When your smart phone comes alive.

A recent post in the Strong AI discussion group on Facebook inspired me to formalize some ideas I've been having regarding the optimal physical substrate upon which to build a cognitively dynamic entity, otherwise known as an artificial intelligence.

Along the lines of my writings in this area I have stressed the critical importance for the simulation (or creation in fact) of autonomic and emotional drivers for the cognitive entity. I have asserted that absent those modules the agent would be little more than the very advanced neural network and pattern matching algorithms and solutions that are currently making a great deal of waves by being incorporated in various ways into all types of human problems. From use in machine vision to language processing to analyzing data sets (Watson) the use of pattern matching AI and in particular the use of statistical approaches to learning are revolutionizing the usefulness of AI in both software and hardware roles. In hardware the examples range from their use in enabling robots to "learn" how to ambulate across dynamic and shifting surfaces as is done by the Boston Dynamics projects, BigDog and Petman. As well , the flight dynamics of the Quadrocoptor programs seen from the University of Pennsylvania and the "catch" playing Quadrocopters from Germany demonstrate just how powerful these methods are without requiring the astonishing amounts of processing muscle that had once been believed to be required to solve these problems.

The use of hardware systems to train AI's gives us a foundation upon which to design a general artificial intelligence. We all don't own quadrocoptors and we surely don't have access to the custom designed advanced robotic skeletons of BigDog and PetMan...how could we emerge an AI on hardware that is relatively cheap to procure?

The answer is in your pocket, your smart phone is that device.

We'll first create not quite strong AI (already have) that are a bit more intelligent at pattern matching than current generation technology. The "cognitive resolution" will be improved the more sensory emulations we provide to the agents, an excellent substrate (electronic) upon which to build an AI is in your pocket right now, the smart phone. Smart phones have the ability to simulate almost every human sense...they can touch the world through their screens, they see the world through two "eyes" (front and back facing camera), they have "ears" (microphone) and a sense of balance (accelerometer), they can be equipped with air born particle detectors making them both olfactory and gustatory (smell and taste) sensors..they also go beyond us...by having sensory capabilities we don't have and that can be used to explode the cognitive dynamism of any agents we build on that substrate...such as:

Sense of GPS (for global navigation)

Sense of Bluetooth (for short distance communication)

Sense of NFC (for contact close communication)

We can conceivably add other senses as well via add on modules for example, add a SQUID device to a smart phone and one now has a very sensitive magnetometer for measuring local magnetic fields. The point is that each sensation provides a new dimension that expands the cognitive possibilities of the device should we correctly design an AGI core that can "learn" by experiencing the world through the senses we've provided to the devices.

As I explained in those earlier articles a sense of autonomic drive is critical to provide the agent with intention and a smart phone has a perfect set of internal markers for drive that can be used to modulate how the agent will select actions based on the signals it is getting from it's internal states...for example, humans have an autonomic drive to seek air with oxygen in it to breath, not so of a smart phone but a smart phone requires battery power to run. To any agent on such a phone, having power to run is a critical autonomic signalling mechanism that if keyed properly to the emotional modules we design will shape the "behavior" that emerges from such an agent as it goes through various physical cycles, we would have to do less autonomic modelling if we use the hardware limitations of the devices we build the AI in to guide the autonomic/emotional drive sub algorithm.  The question remains though of how different a cognitive emergent mind would be if it has 9 "senses" instead of just 5 as we do? Does having additional cross independent sensations increase the rate of cognitive emergence? Recent work in mapping how the brain cross connects information from different regions shows that slight changes in how signals are routed can lead to interesting modulations of experience.....are these native systems aspects of a hardware based connection algorithm in the brain that is unique to humans and emerges over time as experience connects the brain together or are the pathways themselves emergent and a consequence of the continuous process of relating incoming sensory experience to stored experience?

If the former the problem of creating AGI may be most efficiently performed by modelling of AGI that already works (us) by looking in detail at the human brain. This work is being done in earnest thanks to the revolution of function MRI that has taken neuro science by storm in the last decade but it is showing us that the internal pathways connecting different regions of the brain for different sensory actions are legion. If the latter is true the problem would be much easier for it would only require that we get the correct dynamism in the emergent intelligence and let the problem of connecting regions emerge over time through experience of the world we've created for the agent by it's senses and autonomic drivers.

That said, the smart phone seems like a perfect test bed upon which to start building these algorithms and also because of it's ubiquitous nature and it's portability makes for an easy to "train" agent as it is taken about and experiences the world along with us. The "siri" assistant recently released with the Apple Iphone is a first start though it is a long way from an AGI it shows how convenient the smart phone device is as a platform for training and possibly emerging a dynamic cognitive agent using that device substrate.  Along with an emotional/autonomic core that allows it to empathize with humans this closeness during the process of learning will be key to our avoiding pathological entities in my mind and having them with us all the time provides the perfect way to foster a closeness between human and artificial agent that we will want to exist to avoid any "issues".

22 February, 2012

Rough road to dynamic cognition...

With the completion of the ADA (action delta assessment) algorithm that expands Action Oriented Workflow from explicit workflow creation to implicit workflow that is inferred over time. I've laid out the sketch of an approach to building a fully dynamic cognitive agent that uses a statistical learning model as employed by ADA and that converges to stable in the emotional areas that we must ensure before building such an agent. We must safe guard against instability for two reasons, first once the cognition emerges it will learn using the model of emotions that we build into them. Emotions serve as sensory import factors that link the consistent metronome of autonomic signals to the comparison module of the brain. The comparison module consists of the linked input sensory processing regions against the stored memory (that maps to those senses).The second reason has to do with avoiding cognitive paranoia.

Avoiding paranoia

It may be easier than we think to create a constantly paranoid entity, continuously shocked by the experiences of the world. It is important that the mind can converge on and change experiences roughly at the same rate as humans or faster in order to avoid interaction difficulties on our part. Refining a theory of emotion that can be used for this model is an on going task that I am publicly debating in posts here to my blog. In previous articles I've covered the importance I feel emotion has to emerging consciousness of the type we possess and have laid out how it should be connected roughly into the cognitive machine. In this post I will talk about emotional resolution, the idea that not only is it important for us to simulate emotions (and the key autonomic drivers that essentially base line them) but we must do so with enough fidelity or resolution across each emotion to enable the nuanced experience that social animals possess that we had better build into our cognitive agents. In order for them to be desirous to work for us they will need to feel they can work with us and that won't happen if we do not build the necessary emotional resolution.

Summary of sensation

The story revealed so far on sensation is that it comes in from the world via our 5 traditional senses, gets shuttled to processing in the neocortex, is compared to stored memory of similar sensations if present from deep memory (hippocampus), is referenced for import(emotional factor, amygdala) to current autonomic signals (brain stem, medula) and then modulates action as the processed sensory bundle (it's more than "experience" so I can't call it that...and it is not what some neuroscientists call "qualia" so I can't call it that) is compared in real time to the next momentary sensory bundle...because all sensory experience requires the emotional import retrieval step and emotional import spans the space of possible sensory emotions..I believe it gives is a clue as to what we need to know to model the algorithms correctly for creating the dynamic flow of continuous states of "experience" which to me exist in the echoes of sensory comparison that occur as external sensation is essentially compared to internal sensation (autonomics) continuously.

Animal guide to emotional resolution

So to me it makes sense that as we look across animals of various cognitive complexity we always see a correlation, not between neocortical area and intelligence...that is only a loose correlate, more important is comparison of mapping between the emotional centers and the processing regions deeper in the brain. I assert smarter animals have higher resolution in being able to assign import, or autonomic meaning to compared sensation and that massively increases the space of possible reactions to sensory experience and that set of possible reactions coupled with the processing comparison (surface area of neocortex) combined are what emerge very fluid dynamic emotionally variable cognition.

Autonomic meaning is retrieved from the internal physical drives of the system, hungry or sated, in pain (internal) or in pleasure. These drives would have to be simulated in some way in order to provide a metronome upon which all the subsequent conscious emergence is clocked.

So then the question is asked why would some animals have more emotional "resolution" than others? I think the answer is clear when we examine the social sphere. Social animals were paid with survival by being able to gauge the interpersonal nuance of other members of the group, the awareness of the states of "self" (itself an illusion of the dynamic cognitive process of comparison that all individuals engage) of other beings would be enabled by being able to identify those states ...to recognize the slow brooding that leads to explosive anger or the shifts in body language that might indicate movement into estrus. Those individuals with high emotional resolution could more easily read the "shades" of import associated with the experience reports of others as they take in the world...this is obviously an evolutionarily advantageous ability in a social species and thus propagated as it conferred survival advantages. Mammals and more directly Primates were privy to quite a good deal of this type of selection as they evolved under ecological conditions of always being the underdog until after the opening of the ecological niches left empty by the extinction of most dinosaurs...forced to hide away in the brush, this planted the first seeds of social living as ....when you can't run free you've got not much choice but to stay with others like you and doing so makes it important to identify and learn from their internal states of cognition.

Thus the social revolution has fueled the cognitive dynamism that defines mammal like conscious states and using it as a model we can best create agents that are in line with the social substrate that enables us to relate in part to one another. I am still thinking if empathy needs to be formally defined in this emotional module or if it is something that itself is emergent a reflection simply of a feedback loop between current comparison and previously stored emotional import and then back to the sensory source in some way, still lots to think about but that is the next area to which I will devote more mind time.






15 February, 2012

Points beyond political debate that some keep arguing over.

Things that Republicans support for the most part that SCIENCE and/or endless data shows are false:

1) Trickle down economics. It doesn't work...in fact it instead robs our country of potential innovation by enabling people who already have more than they need to sack away more instead of deploying that to the nation to invest in others that can innovate.

2) Maintaining the war on drugs. Does not work. All over the world examples of liberal policies on drug decriminalization or legalization have been met by *double digit* reductions in drug use and associated costs (crime), treatment costs have gone up (particularly in Portugal) but that is more than compensated by all the savings from no longer needing to actively police drug use.

3) Object to Abortion. It should be a right for every woman to chose up to the point that biologically a fetus is viable outside of the womb...period end of story...but conservatives and their insane beliefs that there are imaginary men in the sky granting them favors, or defining when human life beings, are reluctant to just give it up.

4) Objection to Gay Marriage. Again...Science shows clearly that a persons sexual identity is about as much in their control as choosing ones hair color at birth....ie. not in your control at all. Beyond that, who you fall in love with and want to share your life with is your fracking business...and government has no say in it. Arguments regarding difficulties assessing fraud...and other such monetary conditions are irrelevent...as those same issues exist for heterosexual couples.

5) Objection to Immigration. Conservatives apparently never learned that this is an immigrant country. That a healthy influx of people "starving masses yearning to breath free" was the life blood, the engine that led to competition and innovation in the "we can do anything" spirit that is AMERICA. You, descendent from immigrant Italians...me descended from immigrant Haitians...the new generatirons coming from Ukraine, Romania, Honduras, Argentina...we should not lock these people out. If any one has the balls and grit to get themselves on a plane or boat to come to a country where they have no idea how to speak the language....that's the spirit we are built on, and any talk of excluding them....shows absolutely blindness to the history of awesomeness that is our country and highlights the hateful xenophobia that inspires the objection.

6) Objection to Social services, the view that every one should scrap for themselves in an absolute world where there are no rules but survival of the fittest is not only insane it is incredibly selfish.

We live on the same planet, we share the same resources...locally or globally then it means by definition YOU ARE YOUR BROTHERS KEEPER. I am not Religious it is simply a read of the very social efficiencies that led our species to dominate:


Republicans want to let the mob rule, hoping that innovation will sprout here and there ...and it will...just as it did in the natural world...one species to the next...but in our society ...we don't have billions of years to wait for something efficient to evolve from the chaos. We are smart because of the billions of years of evolution that have given us these brains and we should USE THEM to provide guidance to the future of social systems. That means...if disequity exists we should seek to construct means to normalize it...why?

See: French Revolution.


So yes, In America, neither party is perfect...but the answers we need are not all of one way or all of another, and regarding those 6 points above...well the only people denying them are the same type who denied the truth of Copernicus when he uttered them, denied the truth of Einstein when he derived his equations...those more concerned with maintaining the status quo because it suited them rather than embracing change that could benefit ALL.

The time for that type of selfishness is behind us.