Sunday, August 03, 2003

More AI Foo

One of the best new science fiction authors is Greg Egan. His physics and computer science are both great, and his website is way cool. I'm definitely jealous. My favorite is "Diaspora". It opens with a very believable account of the birth and development of a new artificial intelligence in a civilization of artificial intelligences.

Another brand new author who really "gets it" with directions on computing and AI is Charles Stross. His stories have been by far the best in the last three Dozois "Year's Best Science Fiction" -- the best place I have found to keep an eye out for new sf talent. Stross's 1st paper novel is due out soon.

One theme that seems to be taking firm hold in AI and cognitive science is that AI will have to be built on AE -- Artificial Emotion. I think that a lot of geeks have Star Trek's Mr. Spock as a role model. But, in Oliver Sacks' "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat", which is a great look into a number of the subagents and routines that compose the mind, there is one patient whose damage caused him to lose his emotions -- i.e., he became Mr. Spock. Problem was, he couldn't make any decisions. He could debate himself for hours on what to have for breakfast. The emotions are the raw drive that puts the mind in motion.

Another book I have read recently on this is "The Private Life of the Brain" by Susan Greenfield. Don't remember too many fun facts from this one, except the contention that mind is built on top of emotion.

I think anyone wanting to start coding in the area will want to use the model defined in "The Cognitive Structure of Emotion" by Ortony, Clore and Collins. Their model seems very workable. Some aspects are surprising -- for example, they define all emotions as polar -- if it can't have an opposite (love/hate), it ain't an emotion. So "surprise" isn't an emotion. What they have tho seems very workable. I have seen only one other model of emotions, by some Australian company, and it seemed a lot more arbitrary.

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