Marvin Minsky:

THE SOCIETY OF MIND (Simon & Schuster, 1985)

(Copyright © 2015 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
This book summarizes all of the cognitive ideas of Minsky, from frames to K-lines.
In a similar vein to Dennett's homunculi, the cognitive architecture of the society of mind assumes that intelligent behavior is due to the non-intelligent behavior of a very high number of agents organized in a bureaucratic hierarchy. The set of their elementary actions and their communications can produce more and more complex behavior.
Minsky assumes that a data structure called "K-Line" (Knowledge Line) records the current activity (all the agents currently active) when a perception or problem solving task takes place and that the memory of that event or problem is a process of rebuilding what was active (the agents that were active) in the mind at that time. Agents are not all attached the same way to K-lines. Strong connections are made at a certain level of detail, the "level-band", weaker connections are made at higher and lower levels. Weakly activated features correspond to assumptions by default, which stay active only as long as there are no conflicts. K-lines connect to K-lines and eventually form societies of their own.
Minsky defines a frame as a packet of information that help recognize and understand a scene, represent sterotypical situations and find shortcuts to ordinary problems.
Memory is a network of frames, one relative to each known concept. Each perception selects a frame (i.e., classifies the current situation in a category) which then must be adapted to that perception; and that is equivalent to interpret the situation and decide which action must be performed. Reasoning is adpating a frame to a situation. Knowledge imposes coherence to experience.
The frame offers computational advantages (because it focuses reasoning on the information that is relevant to the situation), is biologically plausible (it does not separate cognitive phenomena such as perception, recognition, reasoning, understanding and memory).
A frame is the description of a category by means of a prototypical member (i.e., its properties) and a list of actions that can be performed on any member of the category. Any other member of the category can be described by a similar frame that customizes some properties of the prototype. A prototype is simply a set of default properties. Default values express a lack of information, which can be remedied by new information (unlike with classical logic, which is monotonic).
A frame provides multiple representations of an object: taxonomic (conjuctions of classification rules), descriptive (conjunction of propositions of the default values) and functional (a proposition on the admissible predicates).

The "I" does not exist. The "I" is a bureaucracy of minds.

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