|Intelligent Systems And Their Societies||Walter Fritz|
What Is A "Present Situation"?
In tracing the functioning of the brain, we have looked at the environment, at the sense organs that perceive this environment, and how the IS creates concepts based on information received from these sense organs. From these elementary concepts, the IS builds up something that we call a present situation. This is the situation in which the IS finds itself at present.
For instance, if you intend to walk across a street, you would first ask yourself a few appropriate questions such as: Is the path clear? Is a vehicle coming from the left? Is one coming from the right? Is there a traffic light? If so, what color is it? After you have answered these questions, this information can be coordinated and linked to build a conceptual model of the situation in which you find yourself. Only when you have build up this present situation can you can cross the street safely.
Enhancing The Present Situation
While building up the present situation, the brain often recognizes some of the concepts as being part of a previously build up concept. When this happens, the brain replaces these concepts in the situation with the one (total) concept that has all of them in its links to parts concepts. Thus, it creates a composite situation. For example, when the brain recognizes a hood and two doors as parts of a car body, it verifies that the concept "car" is valid by finding the wheels, and then puts the concept for "car" into the current situation.
Other concepts may be examples (concretes) of some previously build up concept. If this is so, the brain replaces them by their abstract concept and thus creates an abstract situation. For instance, on seeing a dachshund, the brain adds the concept for "dog" into the present situation.
The artificial IS uses all three present situations, the one composed of elementary concepts, that consisting of (total) concepts and that composed of (abstract) concepts, in selecting a response to be done. Also the human being selects the response to be done based on the present situation.
Verification Of The Present Situation
To function at its best, an IS should have a consistent picture of its environment. As part of this, an IS should not blindly accept all of the information it receives from other IS's, directly or indirectly. It should, instead, review all the incoming information, especially if this information is about important matters.
A human IS, for example, should review all of the important information that it is receiving from others. It should ask itself:
If the new information passes all tests, previous contradictory information should be deleted.
This is especially true during the early parts of a human IS's life because this is a time where its limited experience has resulted in a knowledge base that is not extensive or well interconnected and is also still subject to frequent inconsistencies. Obviously, the vast experience that is available later in life makes available a much more useful collection of response rules and concepts against which to check the correctness and usefulness of the information that it has received.
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The Nature Of Experience
Many experiences are first hand. We remember what we have seen, heard and done. But others are second hand: we hear about experiences that others have had when we hear stories, read books, or see television.
There is a fundamental difference between firsthand experiences, which are always concrete experiences, and secondhand experiences. These are experiences, lived by others, that have been told to us. Because of this, they can more easily be skewed or false, whether intentionally or without intention. Unfortunately, the "degree of truth" is not easily detectable to us. This is not the case, however, with firsthand experiences. While personal experiences may also sometimes be distorted (such as with optical illusions, or because of excessive noise), careful reflection about what and how we observed/experienced will generally allow us to become aware of illusion.
A possibly interesting addendum to the above distinction is the observation that illusions generated by hypnotism are actually secondhand experiences. This is because these experiences do not reach us directly through the senses. They are instead the result of our understanding of the words of the hypnotizer. Further, the fact that many persons believe something does not make it necessarily true. As examples we can state: Most Indians believe that they should not eat cows; Most Chinese believed in the past that they could chase off spirits with mirrors; and All humanity at one time believed that the earth was flat.
Having build up an accurate present situation is not a suitable end goal; it is just one step in the long process of finding an adequate response rule so that the IS can do the corresponding action.
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