[NetBehaviour] analogy and AI poetry

Paul Hertz ignotus at gmail.com
Thu Jul 15 05:18:20 CEST 2021

Somewhat in haste...

AI in the late 80s, when Brooks wrote his essay, was apparently in crisis.
The efficacy of the models promoted by Marvin Minksy and other researchers
pursuing the sort of data-driven "expert systems" were already being
questioned. There were other models, as Alan mentions. Then too there were
subsystems that worked pretty well, out of which such fields as computer
vision and neural networks developed. N. Katherine Hayles examines some of
the history of AI and "artificial life" in her book How We Became
Post-Human, a mix of history of science and literary critique. She makes
the point, anent the confusion as to what "artificial intelligence" means,
that it was particularly intended as a phrase to pull in money for
research, as was "artificial life". Which isn't to say that a great deal of
research didn't get done, some of it very successful in the long run. Just
that the resounding phrase was never meant to be definitive.

Minsky's book The Society of Mind may be worth reading. I had the pleasure
of hearing him lecture many years ago. He may have been wrong about the
nature of the mind--he thought a mind could be stored on a hard drive--but
the nature of research is that it's frequently wrong.

-- Paul

On Wed, Jul 14, 2021 at 10:01 PM Alan Sondheim via NetBehaviour <
netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:

> Just briefly, want to point out that this was the same or similar idea
> that Terry Winograd had in relation to natural language processing, that
> the computer needed something to talk about, hence Blocksworld (if I
> remember correctly). Winograd is extremely interesting through this early
> work but also his later holistic thinking -
> See 1972. *Understanding Natural Language* Academic Press, New York, as
> well as
> 1986. *Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design*
> (with Fernando Flores <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernando_Flores>)
> Ablex Publ Corp.
> Note the dates. AI thinking, one way or another, circulates among the
> tropes of reality, real, imaginary, machinic, machinic desire, cyborgs, and
> so forth; this continues all the way to the present.
> Best Alan
> On Wed, Jul 14, 2021 at 9:51 PM Max Herman via NetBehaviour <
> netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:
>> Hi Paul,
>> Interesting essay!  It sounds like the author thinks the AI entity or
>> "creature" as he calls it needs to navigate a real environment and performs
>> tasks in it in order to "learn," rather than make a detailed map or
>> representation then logically deduce solutions from that.  That makes sense
>> to me but I have no idea how it relates to the AI field overall; is it
>> still a current approach now 30+ years later?  It sounds like the Morris
>> film would illuminate the matter so I will check it out, but moreso I'd be
>> interested to hear what others who know and work with AI might think.
>> One interesting point Brooks makes is about the necessity of visual
>> perception as a basic ingredient of a learning intelligence.  Leonardo
>> wrote about how knowledge and learning took form in humans by a mix of
>> visual perception, processing of the visual data by imagination (that can
>> include verbal imagination) and the "sensus communis" that blends inbound
>> modes of perception like hearing, sight, smell, etc. together, then storage
>> of the processed information in memory for later use or disuse.  A crude
>> schema to be sure but it reflects something like the see/assess/act cycle
>> Brooks suggests.
>> Just from an art standpoint (as perhaps one could call it) I can see the
>> relevance of blending for visual and verbal imagination as something like a
>> "braided" flow of analogy in real time.  This is kind of what Hofstadter
>> alluded to in his book's subtitle "*Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal
>> Golden Braid*," and what perhaps Mitchell is suggesting in the Quanta
>> article.  Calvino saw visual and verbal imagination intertwined both as the
>> information is perceived and as it is created or expressed.  This would
>> also make sense if you think of a primate or hominin group seeing things,
>> comparing the information to memory, discussing what they saw, pointing at
>> comparable things to communicate visual imagery or even drawing in the sand
>> with a twig or finger, on a stone with charcoal, etc., with simple drawings
>> eventually morphing into words or letters, everything permutating all the
>> time and all driven by the necessary and physical acts of finding water,
>> finding food, escaping predators, migrating, grooming, reproducing, i.e.
>> continual physical movement interrupted occasionally by sleep which is also
>> a kind of movement I guess.
>> It's almost certainly a mirage, but I see this cyclical idea of seeing
>> and doing as the fundamental structure of the painting I used to call the *Mona
>> Lisa* but now am experimenting with calling *Esperienza *(as I speculate
>> Leonardo may have titled it to himself, but chose to leave unspoken and
>> unwritten so as to "require work" of a specific sort from later viewers).
>> "Esperienza" means experience, as in the noun meaning stored information,
>> and the verb meaning to be aware of something in the present.  However it
>> also means "experiment" as in science and arguably art, a premeditated yet
>> improvisational action designed to do or see something not previously
>> understood.  These dual meanings illustrate the more passive process of
>> seeing, hearing, or otherwise absorbing information and the active process
>> of expressing, testing, or applying information on a partly improvised
>> basis.  Things are blurred of course but there is a parallel cycle of
>> seeing/doing, seeing/doing, and so forth.  Graziano's mention of necessity
>> also may relate to Brooks'.  Not sure if this diagram of where and how
>> "representation" should occur conforms to what Brooks is saying but it
>> seems it might.
>> As to "natural" versus "artificial" intelligence my lack of education
>> about the field makes me want to avoid the question by asking if a
>> naturally evolved organism may evolve to make art, or engage in artifice as
>> a behavior, or have an artificing intelligence.  If so, what then?
>> Leonardo writes in confusing aphorisms about the relationships among Art,
>> Nature, and Humanity, sort of knotting them all together dynamically
>> without saying they are the same.  Humans are part of Nature, but we also
>> make Art; in our Art we can sometimes choose to either follow the guidance
>> of Nature or reject it; our Art choices can cause horrific waste and
>> destruction or support human and other natural ecosystems.  He built robots
>> that did things like give people flowers, and I'm sure he had a sense of
>> how the robot looks like it is giving the person flowers but really is just
>> a collection of gears and pulleys running their courses.
>> "Artificial" intelligence implies that the intelligence is a product of
>> artifice, that it has been artificed, not that it is an artificer or
>> "Artificing Intelligence," though the Daedalus AI event mentioned recently
>> may see it both ways.  I do get confused whether words are being used
>> misleadingly about AI, and whether what is really meant by AI is "an
>> artificed non-intelligent machine that does or makes things that look like
>> the products of an intelligence but actually are not."  In which case, why
>> not call it "artificial artificing," or "machines that make information,"
>> or "machines that make machines that make information," rather than
>> "artificial intelligence"?  All in all I find it too tiring to really
>> understand in any depth!  🙂  Should we even distinguish between
>> "Conscious Intelligence" and "Non-Conscious Intelligence"?  Seems a waste.
>> I do actually think Leonardo cared about such questions and may even have
>> considered the eventual possibility of machines that make information.  He
>> had serious reservations about the printing press for example, which
>> separated the written word from the body that wrote it and in a sense
>> destroyed an essential aspect of its information.  (Coincidentally, he
>> tried to invent a way of printing a page with handwriting and drawing on
>> it, but didn't succeed, and it wasn't until Blake that such a tech was
>> found.)  Leonardo distrusted the value of automation, and saw informational
>> institutions (like the academy, political entities, etc.) as in some ways
>> gigantic photocopiers that reproduced duplicate information without having
>> any awareness whether the information was real, true, relevant, or even
>> what it was.  He described this as "authorities who can only repeat what
>> they have read in books but cannot create or discover anything directly
>> themselves" (I paraphrase), or really, even "see" anything.  Would such
>> people be, in the practical sense, a form of Artificial Intelligence?
>> It seems to me that as a highly practical person by necessity, i.e. a
>> free-lancer wherever he could make something useful, Leonardo often tried
>> to "cut to the chase" rather than explain ad infinitum.  So, I find it
>> entirely plausible that he may have encapsulated his take on all this in
>> his allegory of *Esperienza, *which he wrote down in story form, as the
>> source and guide he used to "make his own clothes" -- his metaphor --
>> artistically and scientifically speaking rather than just wearing what was
>> handed down as his critics did.  Might he not have also tried to paint such
>> an allegory, after having written it, of a human intelligence in a
>> technological environment following principles of nature to create its own
>> garment?  This is what I see in Esperienza's ever-so-slightly pointing
>> right index finger: a pen or brush creating image or symbol, or even just
>> drawing a line in dust without an instrument as the earliest writers and
>> artists may have done, the simplest synapse of human artifice.
>> Leonardo did write that all the arts and sciences -- math, engineering,
>> painting, drawing, music, writing -- derive from the making of line, and he
>> defined the very first art ever created using the traditional legend of a
>> person tracing the line of their shadow.  This may be a kind of analogy, or
>> analogue, or analog "line that makes an image" and not much at all like
>> what computer or digital intelligence does.  Unfortunately "digit" means
>> finger, so maybe "binary digital intelligence" is the necessary term!
>> I think that may actually be a much better term from my not-at-all-expert
>> point of view: Computer Intelligence, CI, or Digital Intelligence, DI, not
>> Artificial Intelligence.  Maybe the whole mess is just a result of a typo
>> or verbal tic!  After all, birds artifice their songs and their nests but
>> we would never dream of calling them Artificial Intelligence.  And kind of
>> by definition, intelligence is that which artifices and not that which can
>> be passively artificed, so artificial is grammatically flawed (maybe too
>> impulsively borrowed from "artificial color" and "artificial flavor" which
>> were very prevalent terms back in those days).  Paintings are artificial,
>> to be sure, and replicate information, but do we call what they do
>> "Artificial Intelligence"?  Maybe we could, I don't know.  If we did though
>> it would soon become panpsychism perhaps where emails have their own
>> intelligence, CD's, newspapers, etc.; we kind of already ascribe this to
>> our phones automatically.  "Pencil Intelligence"?  "Paper Intelligence"?
>> Furthermore, we know not all that artifices is intelligent, like a coffee
>> maker.  Organic Intelligence?  Inorganic Intelligence?  And if there ever
>> were a Brooks-type machine that interacted with the world and became able
>> to do everything human intelligence can do might we not have to call such
>> an entity a natural form of intelligence?  Confusinger and confusinger.
>> Norbert Wiener declared a distinction between human and machine
>> intelligence though and I think that's fair enough.
>> All best,
>> Max
>> PS -- I'm sure I've made 27 complete errors in the above, please feel
>> free to point out!  🙂
>> ------------------------------
>> *From:* Paul Hertz <ignotus at gmail.com>
>> *Sent:* Wednesday, July 14, 2021 2:36 PM
>> *To:* NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <
>> netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
>> *Cc:* Max Herman <maxnmherman at hotmail.com>
>> *Subject:* Re: [NetBehaviour] analogy and AI poetry
>> There's an essay, "Intelligence Without Representation" that Brooks wrote
>> in 1987, http://people.csail.mit.edu/brooks/papers/representation.pdf,
>> that offered what was then a new point of view on how to consider AI.
>> // Paul
>> On Wed, Jul 14, 2021 at 2:10 PM Paul Hertz <ignotus at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi Max,
>> The robotics researcher Rodney Brooks back in the late 1980s argued the
>> AI based on the construction of a "knowledge base" was bound to fail. He
>> made the case that a robot adapting to an environment was far more likely
>> to achieve intelligence of the sort that humans demonstrate precisely
>> because it was embodied. Some of his ideas are presented in the movie Fast,
>> Cheap, and Out of Control, directed ISTR by Errol Morris. If you haven't
>> seen it yet, I can recommend it.
>> -- Paul
>> On Wed, Jul 14, 2021, 1:38 PM Max Herman via NetBehaviour <
>> netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> I know virtually nothing about AI, beyond what the letters stand for, but
>> noticed this new article in Quanta Magazine.  Does it pertain at all?
>> Interestingly it concludes that in order for AI to be human-like it will
>> need to understand analogy, the basis of abstraction, which may require it
>> to have a body!  🙂
>> https://www.quantamagazine.org/melanie-mitchell-trains-ai-to-think-with-analogies-20210714/?mc_cid=362710ae88&mc_eid=df8a5187d9
>> I have been interested in the book *GEB *by Hofstadter for some time,
>> and have been researching how it was referenced (specifically its Chapter
>> IV "Consistency, Completeness, and Geometry" and its Introduction) by Italo
>> Calvino in *Six Memos for the Next Millennium*, so Mitchell's connection
>> to Hofstadter and *GEB *is interesting on a general level.
>> Coincidentally I contacted her a year ago to ask about the Calvino
>> connection but she replied she hadn't read any Calvino or the *Six Memos*.
>> However, his titles for the six memos -- Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude,
>> Visibility, Multiplicity, and Consistency -- might be exactly the kinds of
>> "bodily" senses AI will need to have!
>> All best,
>> Max
>> https://www.etymonline.com/word/analogy
>> https://www.etymonline.com/word/analogue
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