HLI: Introducing the Artificial Child

Begin of Document: April-11, 2006

Last Changes: March-11, 2006
Status of Document: First considerations; draft
Gerd Döben-Henisch

While bootstrapping we are arranging all the known factors as a frame of reference for the upcoming projects. In this part 3 we will set up first assumptions leading to the starting point of a first experimental set up.

As before we assume an ongoing evolutionary process which is generating populations including the human species. As part of a population individual members will be born which grow up according to certain constraints, which are learning all their life, and then they will die as usual.

Evolutionary Roots

All the time such a human system is interacting with its environment. These interactions are changing the physical states of the body as well as does the human system change the environment physically.

Besides common ways of thinking one has to consider the fact that the distinction of body and environment or brain and body is quite superficial; from a physical point we could say that there are fields of energetic states which are interacting.  Because these fields are differently organized there are different kinds of constraints inducing typical modes of interactions. What makes these different fields 'different' to 'pure' physical states are these different kinds of organizations which we call 'biological' as distinct from 'physical'.

Interwoven Energetic Fields

Thus taking into account these different kinds of organizations (and hereby different kinds of constraints) we can also speak of different kinds of organizational layers which we name 'body' and 'brain' distinguished from the environment of a body. But one has to keep in mind that these body- and brain-layers are highly dynamical; they never are reaching a completely static situation. The seemingly 'static nature' of the body is an artifact of the way how human systems are perceiving their environment. From a certain point of view is a body compared to the environment of the body something 'fixed', 'static', has some 'duration'. But the body as such is built up of smaller units (cell assemblies, cells) which as such are dynamic systems, always in motion, always changing, growing and dying. The body is a radical dynamic system of enormous complexity, far beyond of being really understood until today (April-11, 2006). And this holds for the brain too, perhaps even more.

Dynamic Layers

The brain is co-existing with the body. From the very beginning certain cells are starting to evolve into a dynamical structure which we are used to call neural system, brain. From 'inside the brain' (try, to define it exactly...) there are certain neurons, which function as 'sensor neurons' as part of the body surface. Other neurons 'peripheral' to the neural system, are 'ending up' in the 'surrounding' body.  because the 'signals' produced in the peripheral neurons are physically all the same there is directly no distinction between body and the realm beyond the body. Such a distinction has to be established on 'higher levels' of processing. So to speak of the body as the window for the brain into the surrounding world is only partially true; the external sensory neurons are 'directly connected' to the external world.

Body as Window for the Brain

If energy is traversing from the peripheral neurons 'into' the network following these  'first' neurons this energy is mixing up with other energy flows in an incredible complex way. But we know today that there are 'regions' in the brain which can be interpreted as 'representations' of energetic events elsewhere, e.g. mapping the energetic field of a sensor field at the periphery of the brain in an area  inside the brain. There can be mappings of mappings, mixing of mappings, filtering of mappings, etc. There is also the phenomenon of 'consciousness': a human system is able to 'speak' about some 'experiences' it 'has'. This speaking is another kind of mapping: mapping some 'known' internal states into a linear sequence of sounds; a limited  substitute of speaking is writing. Speaking  and writing is 1-dimensional (1D). Other kinds of 'articulation' can be 'drawing' (2-dimensional, 2D), or even 'gesturing' with the whole body (3-dimensional, 3D). Today we know that not every state of the brain is 'conscious'; to be consciously known is a special property compared to 'only' being an internal state. The core of the conscious states seem to be the different kinds  perceptions, the visual, the acoustic, the tactile etc. 

Dimensions of Consciousness

Besides the conscious states there are internal states which we presuppose all the time without knowing them directly: one example is 'memory'. We experience certain reactions of the memory under certain conditions, but the memory process as such is not 'perceivable'. The training of associating faces with names and vice versa is a conscious activity, but the mechanism realizing the associations and causing the reactions are not. If I see a face and --luckily-- a name is 'coming up' I am perceiving a reaction of my memory system, but without 'seeing' how this works. If no name is coming up, I have a problem. But I can actively not doing anything, only 'wait' o try again later.

Articulations of the Brain

Thus there is a 'before' an articulation and an 'after': the character of the knowledge before articulation seems to be a bit fuzzy. Some times the knowledge  appears in the conscious to being 'clear', but at the moment you should communicate this clear knowledge you can perceive some inability, some vagueness, how to 'say it'.  Similar is the phenomenon that you are talking or writing (or painting) and while you are doing this you have the feeling that now things are clearing up, you see some structure, you feel more certainty; only through the articulation you are 'having' that, what you before 'meant'.

Articulations: Before and After

It seems that the character of the representation (1D, 2D, 3D etc) does furthermore influence the 'clearness' of the 'things you want to communicate'. Abstract pictures are clearly different from mathematical formulas or from written texts.
A side effect is the question to which degree the kind of representation is forcing back into your consciousness? Can it bee that your representation is not only the effect of articulation but simultaneously also a 'force' which is causing the 'content of consciousness' being reorganized, structured in a new way?
These processes are far from being clearly understood, even today.

Perceptional-Articulative Loops

There is the other problem of coordination of more than one brain. To establish a mapping of internal states into articulated events in a manner which is shared between different brains there are hard obstacles to overcome. As one can show mathematically there exist the necessity of strong isomorphisms at the perceptional level of different bodies as well as on the processing level. Without minimal isomorphisms it is impossible to explain, how different bodies with different brains can synchronize their mappings.
Part of the synchronization problem is the problem of being able to select those events which are 'intended for a special usage by the other bodies/brains'.  There can be many sounds, but only a certain subset of the possible sounds is use for a language L. There can be many signs or body movements, but only a few are those which another body 'intends' to use as signs of a language.
The same holds for the activation part: there can be many possible movements with the body, the legs and arms, the hands and fingers, etc., but only a small subset is useful for some actions, only a few are used for signs.

Finding the 'Intended' inside the 'All'

Therefore has the synchronization task --despite the necessary structural presuppositions-- to deal with the task of 'learning' to identify the 'right events' and to use the 'right movements'. This implies the learning of 'categories of things and events', learning 'sequences' of certain categories, learning 'associations' between sequences of categories and complex patterns of conscious states.

Learning as Process of Adaptive Selectivity

This leads to the pattern of the learning child. To understand better  what a human system is doing while it is growing and learning one has probably to reconstruct the learning child as an artificial child, an experimental device to enabling better theories.

Enabling the Artificial Child (and Teacher)