Archive for ‘cognition’

February 22, 2012

The Neil deGrasse Tyson discussions

by Neil Rickert

There have been several recent posts at Jerry Coyne’s site, related to the views of Neil deGrasse Tyson.  They began with “Neil deGrasse Tyson goes all militant“, and there are followup posts here and here.

My personal take on the first of those posts was that I did not see Tyson as going all militant.  In fact, I did not see his comments on religion as much different from what I have seen in other video talks, though he does raise some interesting questions.

In any case, those posts and the featured videos are worth reading and watching.

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February 5, 2012

Cognition is measurement

by Neil Rickert

The conventional view appears to be that perception is passive.  Observations somehow pop into our heads, and we just have to apply logic to determine what it is that we are observing.  However, getting useful information about the world is more difficult than that, as I suggested in an earlier post.

We often hear variations of the slogan “cognition is computation” and sometimes people seem to be taking that as fact rather than as a slogan or a hypothesis.  It is a slogan that comes from the idea of perception as passive.  I am suggesting “cognition is measurement” as an alternative slogan and hypothesis.  I use the term “measurement” broadly, to describe activity undertaken get useful information about the world.  So I will take perception to involve measurement activity.

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January 22, 2012

Getting information

by Neil Rickert

In an earlier post, I wrote:

That leaves, as one of the basic problems for a cognitive agent, the problem of getting information about the world.

In this post, I want to discuss why that is a problem.

Many people seem to hold the view that sensory cells in the body passively receive input from the world, and that how we perceive the world depends on what we do with that passively received data.  That seems to be the view of proponents of sense-data accounts and of proponents of computationalism.

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January 14, 2012

The cognitive agent’s problem

by Neil Rickert

A lot of theorizing about cognition has to do with the such questions as

  • What is thinking, and how is it done?
  • What is experience, and how come we have it?

Then, having selected such issues, theorists then set themselves the problem of how would one design an agent or a robot which can do such things as think and have experience.

When I started thinking about cognition, I took a different approach.  I looked at the problems that a cognitive agent needs to solve.  Most obvious, among those, is the problem of survival as a biological organism.  And, having settled on a problem that agent needs to solve, I set about trying to understand what could evolve to solve that problem.

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