• AMMDI is an open-notebook hypertext writing experiment, authored by Mike Travers aka mtraven. It's a work in progress and some parts are more polished than others. Comments welcome! More.
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from VTR on Society of Mind
from Notes on Daybreak
  • OK, very Marvin Minsky/Society of Mind here. I like the scare-quotes...and the struggle...not sure what he means by "our intellect is going to have to take sides", is not our intellect composed of all of these struggling and vehement drives?
from Agency at the Media Lab
  • Or it could be that I just focused on the wrong aspect – I got hung up on the word "agent" and agency, and as you can see I'm still hung up three decades later. In The Emotion Machine, a sequel to Marvin Minsky/Society of Mind, Minsky abandoned the word "agent" for the components of his mental theory, substituting "resource":
from Carl Hewitt
  • Actors is a formalism for describing concurrency, but there were rather less formalized versions of the underlying ideas, such as The Scientific Community Metaphor. It also is quite obviously related to Society of Mind. Minsky was Hewitt's advisor.
from Marvin Minsky
from Marvin Minsky/on holism
from Marvin Minsky/on Religion
  • There's some fierce old-school atheism in Society of Mind. On a whim, I've tracked down every mention of religion:
    • 4.3 The Soul
      • Fulminates against the idea of a soul in general, but based primarily on its changelessness.
      • People ask if machines can have souls – And I ask back whether souls can learn. It does not seem a fair exchange — if souls can live for endless time and yet not use that time to learn — to trade all change for changelessness. And that's exacty what we get with inborn souls that cannot grow: a destiny the same as death, an ending in a permanence incapable of any change and hence, devoid of intellect.
        • Huh that really resonates strongly with that Burroughs quote OGU vs MU. Minsky and Burroughs are pretty different minds (Burroughs hated scientists) but maybe they are on the same side in the larger spiritual war.
      • What are those old and fierce beliefs in spirits, souls, and essences? They're all insinuations that we're helpless to improve ourselves.
      • The immortality and changelessness of the soul I think can be traced back to Socrates. The body is temporal, changeable, but inert, while the soul is ideal, immortal, unchanging yet the source of action. Of course this split is at the root of everything wrong with Western civilization.
      • And Minsky rightly observes that if we care about learning or development of the individual, that can only be done in the realm of the body, the changeable.
    • 4.7 Long-range plans
      • (not really about religion, but it quotes the Buddha)
      • What are our slowest-changing agencies of all? Later we'll see that these must include the silent, hidden agencies that shape what we call character. These are the systems that are concerned not merely with the things we want, but with what we want ourselves to be — that is, the ideals we set for ourselves.
      • Suggests a version of pace layers for the self. Surely someone's done that...
    • 6.10 Worlds out of mind
      • When victims of these incidents [mystical experiences] become compelled to recapture them, their lives and personalities are sometimes permanently changed [but I thought change was good]. The others seeing the radiance in their eyes...are drawn to follow them. But to offer hospitality to paradox is like leaning towards a precipice. You can find out what it is like by falling in, but you may not be able to fall out again. Once contradiction finds a home, few minds can spurn the sense-destroying force of slogans such as "all is one".
      • Huh the disdain and fear of paradox does not seem characteristic.
      • The idea that "all is one" is mind-destroying is however very characteristic, that is pure Marvin, aware of the generative or suppressive power of ideas.
    • 12.9 The Exception Principle
      • Artificial realms like mathematics and theology are built from the start to be devoid of interesting inconsistency. But we must be careful not to mistake our own inventions for natural phenomena we have discovered.
      • Epistemological humility, OK
from Oliver Selfridge - Pandemonium
from subself
  • See of course Freud, Ainslie, Society of Mind, and too many other pages here to list. In fact don't I have an appropriate page for this concept already? Hm, no! Weird. It's too pervasive I guess.
from goddinpotty/TODOs
  • DONE bug On Dennett, link to The Society of Mind not rendering
    • also the italics in that quote come out with the stars rather than rendered properly. Might be a thing with quotes?
from Dennett
  • Many of those same theorists [who support Fodor modules] have been lukewarm-to-hostile about Marvin Minsky's Agents, who form The Society of Mind (1985). Minsky's Agents are homunculi that come in all sizes, from giant specialists with talents about as elaborate as those of Fodorian modules, down to meme-sized agents (polynemes, micronemes, censor-agents, suppressor-agents, and many others). It all looks too easy, the skeptics think. Wherever there is a task, posit a gang of task-sized agents to perform it—a theoretical move with all the virtues of theft over honest toil....
    • – Consciousness Explained, p261

Marvin Minsky/Society of Mind

07 Mar 2022 11:34 - 16 Jul 2022 10:46
Open in Logseq
    • The original Society of Mind formulation was very agentic, to the point where parts of the mind were conceived of as sub-selves engaging in conversation with each other:
    • The mind is a community of “agents”. Each has limited powers and can communicate only with certain others. The powers of mind emerge from their interactions for none of the Agents, by itself, has significant intelligence. [. . . ] Everyone knows what it feels like to be engaged in a conversation with oneself. In this book, we will develop the idea that these discussions really happen, and that the participants really “exist”. In our picture of the mind we will imagine many “sub-persons”, or “internal agents”, interacting with one another. Solving the simplest problem – seeing a picture – or remembering the experience of seeing it – might involve a dozen or more – perhaps very many more – of these agents playing different roles. Some of them bear useful knowledge, some of them bear strategies for dealing with other agents, some of them carry warnings or encouragements about how the work of others is proceding. And some of them are concerned with discipline, prohibiting or “censoring” others from thinking forbidden thoughts.
    • In later days, presumably in attempts to make it seem more like an implementable theory, the agentic language was toned down, and in Marvin Minsky/The Emotion Machine, Minsky's follow-up to The Society of Mind, he explicitly disavows such talk:
    • Note: This book uses the term "resource" where my earlier book, The Society of Mind, used "agent. "I made this change because too many readers assumed that an "agent" is a personlike thing (like a travel agent) that could operate independently, or cooperate with others in much the same ways that people do.
    • 4.4 The Conservative Self
      • To understand what we call the Sell we first must see what Selves are for. One function of the SeIf is to keep us from changing too rapidly. Each person must make some long-range plans in orderto balance single-purposeness against attempts to do everything at once. But it is not enough simply to instruct an agency to start to carry out our plans. We also have to find some ways to constrain the changes we might later make-to prevent ourselves from turning those plan - agents off again! If we changed our minds too recklessly, we could never know what we might want next. We'd never get much done because we could never depend on ourselves.
        • it me!