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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: Cognitive Neuroscience and Artificial Systems: Vision
While I was living in Japan I was hashing out the fundamental mechanics of the brain and how it could be replicated in an artificial system, an AI if you will. I had several blinding epiphanies, the sort that nearly make you drive off the road as you suddenly start assembling a more complete view of a problem that's been troubling you for a while.

The problem I was tackling this day, c.2002, was the idea of image recognition. It's hard for machines, because the images they're presented are, basically, a bunch of colourful pixels. As I was driving across the bridge it suddenly dawned on my that one of the things that makes visual analysis so easy for us humans is an awareness of ourselves: we are mentally oriented and can recognize things around us because of this context.

Consider the place I was in at the time: Driving across a bridge that spanned a railway line. I knew I was in a car, I knew I was on a bridge. I knew from experience the height of my eyes from the ground, I knew how things get smaller in the distance. I was not trying to tear a two-dimensional image into its component pieces, instead I was using my contextual awareness to more quickly slot things into place.

Grey, flat, below me, white lines on its sides. That'd probably be the road then, and the thing blocking my central forward vision is another vehicle, recognized by its location (on a road), and its other features: matching my speed, red taillights, windows.

Knowing where the image comes from and where the viewer is makes a massive difference in our ability to comprehend the things we see.

This brought me to the next epiphany rather rapidly: how we learn about ourselves, our bodies, and start to place ourselves in our world.  The thing is, in order to have this context, you need to build it, and how does that happen?

That's for the next post. =)

(This was also posted to MyOpera blog)
Author name #2
Member since Oct 2007 · 316 posts
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Your discovery is valid and reasonable. It's not particularly original though, but that doesn't make it any less meaningful. The idea of information alone giving rise to intelligence in a machine has enough potential in it that there's a project in California that's working towards just that goal. The idea is that they're feeding all this contextual information into a single computer that's got some rudimentary sensors on it that are continuously running. The theory is that if they tell it about the human life cycle, about birth and childhood, adolescence and adulthood, reproduction and death, and then about birthday parties, it'll be able to figure out by itself that it's rude to ask a woman her age. I can't find my link to the project, but they estimate decades until they've got enough information in the thing.
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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My next post which I haven't fully sorted out yet involves the learning process: babies learn about their world by moving their limbs and assembling feedback tabls: If I move too fast and hit something too hard it hurts.  The basic human mimicry response is how we learn, and synaesthesiac crosswiring in the brain is how we think laterally and assemble new concepts, making intuitive leaps etc.

These are things I've been bouncing around for a decade or more, and now that I see other people are doing similar research I reckon it's time to write some of them down.  I have a history of these kinds of posts:

On the concept of the brain's processes being comprised of a dual-layer system, one symbolic, one detailed:

The mind as a physical construct affecting the person as a conscious entity:

Synaptic misfires being responsible for creativity and lateral thinking:

The idea above (35) is fleshed out a little more here.  This is one of my more interesting ramblings on the idea that we are built from synaptic misfires:

And something pointless:
This post was edited on 2007-12-07, 11:53 by NFG.
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