COGNITION AND AFFECT: PAST AND FUTURE
Monday 24th April 2017
School of Computer Science
University of Birmingham
(DRAFT: Liable to change) Organiser: Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham
I have received some interesting comments from one of the people who attended the workshop. They are now available in a 'Comments' page here.
If anyone else who attended, or has comments or questions, wishes to send them to me, please feel free.
There is also an old 'CogAff' email list maintained in this school. If you would like to join it please let me know (a.sloman [AT] cs.bham.ac.uk). It has recently been used only for announcements, but it also can be, and has been, used for discussions. (It incorporates a spam blocker.)
NOTE: There will be an independently organised philosophical workshop on
Cognition and Affect at this university on 9th June. Details here:
The project attempted to investigate evolutionary origins, architectural (information processing) underpinnings, and the variety of types of affective phenomena that needed to be accounted for, including those commonly referred to as emotions, attitudes, values, preferences, ambitions, desires, moods, and personality traits, among others.
Later, work on attachment (co-supervised by Gillian Harris in psychology), contributed to work on development and attachment by Dean Petters.
The key idea -- inspired by Herbert Simon (1967) -- was that these are all phenomena concerned with information-based control of actions and information-processing ("controls of cognition" according to Simon). Where possible, we tried to demonstrate and test ideas with computational models, though these were mainly illustrative toy examples, since they were not sufficiently complex to model or explain affective states and processes in humans or other animals. (This could be said of ALL such models so far.)
The hope was that an architecture-based understanding of emotions and other affective phenomena would eventually be comparable to how the architecture-based understanding of matter could account for the Periodic table of the elements, as opposed to observations and statistical theories extracted from data (as in alchemy, before modern chemistry).
The most important types of architecture and the hardest to identify are not
physical mechanisms but components of virtual machinery -- created by biological
evolution long before human engineers discovered the power of virtual machinery
during the 20th Century. An introduction to the philosophical
importance of increasingly complex forms of virtual machinery can be found in
this paper on Virtual Machine Functionalism (VMF), contrasted with Atomic State
A list of research students associated with the project since 1991 is here:
Tools developed here between 1991 and about 200 to support development of fairly complex information processing architectures, with multiple concurrent types and levels of control included The Poprulebase Rule interpreter, which was part of the Simagent toolkit.
RECENT COGAFF-RELATED WORK:
Several of those who were involved in the project were participants in the
Symposium on Computational Modelling of Emotion: Theory and Applications
at the AISB Convention at Bath University 19-21 April 2017.
(Three accepted papers, and one invited keynote talk.)
A closely related symposium at the AISB convention is on
The Power of Passion: Human Reason and its Emotional Foundations
A (still incomplete) draft collection of papers related to the CogAff project
(and earlier work at the University of Sussex) is under construction here:
Which of these can be, or necessarily must be, involved in anger:
beliefs, preferences, desires, intentions, plans, decisions, hopes, values, fears, regrets, percepts, inferences, reasons, reasoning processes, reflexes...?Where possible justify your answers with examples.
Has any necessary feature of anger been left out of the above list?
Are there some features that are not necessary but may be involved as part of a state of being angry? (I.e. can episodes of anger vary in their contents as molecules can vary in their contents?)
Does being angry have to be a static state (like being tall, or heavy, or dead), or does it, sometimes, or necessarily always, involve processes? Physical processes? Mental processes?
Which of the states and processes vary along linear scales, or combinations of linear scales, e.g. with numerical values, and which do not, e.g. because they include grammatical or semantic structures)?
How much of this can be, or has been implemented in artificial intelligence systems -- e.g. robots, or artificial companions?
Are any of the features impossible for such machines?
Do answers to these questions have implications for any well-known theories, or methodologies, in psychology, neuroscience, AI, or philosophy?
PARTIAL ANSWERS to the above homework questions are available online
in an article published in 1982, here:
"Towards a grammar of emotions"
New Universities Quarterly, 36, 3, pp. 230--238, 1982
This exercise provides an example of the important philosophical technique of
"conceptual analysis", which can be done well or done badly. A fairly detailed
tutorial on how to do conceptual analysis (mainly inspired by work of J.L.
Austin, Gilbert Ryle, and Ludwig Wittgenstein) can be found in Chapter 4 of The
Computer Revolution in Philosophy (1978) here:
-- 2pm-2.20 Aaron Sloman (CS@Birmingham) http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/~axs Summary of the history of the project and some of the key ideas that have emerged, including unanswered questions. The project overview can be found here http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/ (Summarised briefly above.) -- 2.20-2.30 Comments and questions arising -- 2.30-3pm Luc Beaudoin (Simon Frazer University and CogZest) http://cogzest.com/about/founder (Work done with Sylwia Hyniewska and Eva Hudlicka) Perturbance -- a unifying, architecture-based concept. Luc Beaudoin's slides (PDF) Related papers -- 3-3.15pm Comments and questions arising 3.15-3.25pm SHORT BREAK -- 3.25-3.55pm Dean Petters (Birmingham City University) http://www.bcu.ac.uk/social-sciences/about-us/staff/dean-petters (Work done with Emily Coyne Coyne-Umfreville and Jason Martens) From Attachment to Defensive Exclusion and Pride For more information related to Dean's talk see these recent papers: Towards Modelling Adult Attachment Patterns as Control States. http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/~ddp/CME-2017_10_paper_18PettersCoyne.pdf Bowlby's Attachment Control System Approach: An Alternative History of Emotion Modelling http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/~ddp/CME-2017_1_paper_12PettersWaters.pdf -- 3.55-4.10pm Comments and questions arising -- 4.10-4.25 General discussion (Part 1) SHORT BREAK followed by optional final session. -- 4.30-5pm General discussion (Part 2), including What Next? Where Next? E.g. what are the hard and important unanswered questions worth pursuing, and how should that be done? Possible continuation in University bar in Staff House.
A partial index of discussion notes is in