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Mentes y metáforas Print E-mail
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Recientemente planteé a mis alumnos la realización de un ejercicio complementario a la docencia en una asignatura de programción de computadores dentro del ámbito de la ingeniería de control.

El propósito del ejercicio era leer un artículo clásico del ámbito de la inteligencia artificial y realizar un breve comentario personal sobre él (Turing - Computing Machinery and Intelligence). Yo esperaba que hubiera alguien que lo leyera con interés y que escribiera un ensayo personal entre un mar de ensayos con comentarios rutinarios sobre el articulo.

Mi sorpresa ha sido lo contrario: los ensayos rutinarios son los menos; estando rodeados de un mar de opiniones, impresiones, juicios, esperanzas y miedos que me han hecho disfrutar de ver tantas mentes jóvenes, tan vivas y tan capaces de pensar por sí mismas. Ha sido sorprendente descubrir, en esta generación acusada de pasividad y desapego- chispas de alegría intelectual.

Mónica, una de mis alumnas, dice,

"Me gustaría ver como un computador puede sorprendernos. No me refiero con ello a los posibles fallos físicos o de software. Hablo de ser capaz de utilizar una metáfora o decirnos que le gustaría poseer la Luna. Y un ordenador no hará eso nunca a no ser que el programador quiera. Un niño querrá cogerla sólo con mirarla. Le parecerá bonita de manera innata, y querrá poseerla." -- Mónica Romero

En estos tiempos de crisis de la ciencia y la tecnología, me han devuelto una cierta esperanza. Estoy seguro de que alguno de ellos construirá El robot que poseyó la Luna. Un gran proyecto y un gran título para una novela de Lem o Heinlein.

Last Updated ( Friday, 17 February 2012 )
Visiting Research Fellowship at Sussex Print E-mail
Saturday, 14 January 2012

During the 2010-2011 course I have been a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Sussex to work on systemic models of consciousness. I was a research associate of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 14 January 2012 )
Graham - The Ghost of the Executed Engineer Print E-mail
Friday, 13 January 2012
Graham analises the history of soviet industrialisation -esp. its focus on huge-scale industry and infrastructures- from the standpoint of a humanistic view of engineering. The story of Peter Palchinsky -an engineer executed during the Stalin regime- serves as scaffolding for the argumentation against certain class of political-technological vision that governed the industrial development of the USSR with full underachievement considering the resources devoted to it.

Apparently, the lesson conveyed by Graham's analysis is that any political-technological system that centralizes control, prevents and fights criticism, and decides about industry ignoring human conditions will lead to failure. Apparently the neglect of humanist stances on industrialisation lead to industrial catastrophe. The analysis of Havel concerning the fall of the Soviet regime point to the idea that science only is a no-go strategy for technology.

In my perspective, the failure described in Graham's book came fully from the opposite side: industrial decisions were taken ignoring the engineering assessments when they did not fulfill the subjective, arbitrary and narrow visions of politicians.

My personal conclusion is that it is necessary to better educate the politicians in science and technology to limit their ignorance. Political norms will not change nature norms. Nature is quit stubborn concerning its own laws.

However, it is also necessary to stress the education of engineers in the sense that all that we do -I'm an engineer- shall be directed to improving the living conditions of humans. Palchinsky seemed to know this. Soviets didn't understand that the best way to serve humans is not dogmatic politics but rigorous, systematic and complete -putting human experiences into the equations- science and engineering.


The Ghost of the Executed Engineer:

Technology and the Fall of the Soviet Union

Loren R. Graham

Harvard University Press
128 pages
ISBN 0674354370


Value for time: 7

Main value: Get informed about the history of Soviet industrial policy.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 14 January 2012 )
Weinberg - An Introduction to General Systems Theory Print E-mail
Friday, 13 January 2012
Weinberg offers an introduction to the general systems way of thinking. It is more a manual on "how to think" than an introduction to the theoretical analysis of general systems. It offers, however, a collection of theoretical priciples that may be very useful in the formulation of theories about systems.

The book is indeed an epistemic manual: how to create mental models about systems based on general considerations about systemhood and our knowledge. This may prove very useful in avoiding traps in system modeling.


An Introduction to General Systems Theory

Silver Anniversary Edition

Gerald M. Weinberg

Dorset House
279 pages
ISBN 0932633498


Value for time: 7

Main value: Get insights on how to think about specifici systems from a general perspective.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 20 May 2012 )
von Glasersfeld - Radical Constructivism Print E-mail
Monday, 05 December 2011
This is a collection of introductory chapters to the idea of radical constructivism; emerging from the domain of postmodern pedagogy it pretends a universal epistemological theory and associated teaching practice: don't teach, make learning happen.


Radical Constructivism

A Way of Knowing and Learning

Ernst von Glasersfeld

213 pages
ISBN 0750705728


Radical constructivism is an epistemological theory offering an apparently new and radical alternative approach to questions about mind and reality in the context of human learning. It focus on the role that the thinker has in construing-up concepts. Glasersfeld offers a diverse and disperse theoretical account of radical constructivism -it is, basically a collection of re-edited essays that do not offer a uniform and coherent analysis of its concepts. Originally raised in the context of mathematics education it pretends to be a universal approach to human understanding of reality.

Value for time: 7

Main value: Awareness of the core idea

Last Updated ( Saturday, 14 January 2012 )
Andrew - A Missing Link in Cybernetics Print E-mail
Tuesday, 15 November 2011
Andrew captures a life-long effort in all the grounds of AI. The title refers to the distance between the discrete views of most AI and the continuous nature of most controllers in nature and artificiality. It is this link between continuity and discretion what is necessary to work out so solve the riddle of real, conscious AI.


A Missing Link in Cybernetics

Logic and Continuity

Alex M. Andrew

352 pages
ISBN 978-0-387-75163-4


Value for time: 7

Main value: Get informed about the history of AI and cybernetics.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 14 January 2012 )
Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures 2011 Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures 2011 Conference took place at Washington, USA on 4-6 November 2011.

The challenge of creating a real-life computational equivalent of the human mind calls for our joint efforts to better understand at a computational level how natural intelligent systems develop their cognitive and learning functions. BICA conference grew up from a AAAI Fall symposium, focusing on the emergent hot topics in computer, brain and cognitive sciences unified by the challenge of replicating the human mind in a computer.

In this event we presented a general model of emotion based on the interpretation of emotional processes as control reorganisations driven by values.

Concurrent control patterns deployed over neural components.

Adaptive systems use feedback as a key strategy to cope with uncertainty and change in their environments. The information fed back from the sensorimotor loop into the control architecture can be used to change different elements of the controller at four different levels: parameters of the control model, the control model itself, the functional organization of the agent and the functional components of the agent. The complexity of such a space of potential configurations is daunting. The only viable alternative for the agent –in practical, economical, evolutionary terms– is the reduction of the dimensionality of the configuration space.

This reduction is achieved both by functionalisation –or, to be more precise, by interface minimization– and by patterning, i.e. the selection among a predefined set of organisational configurations. This last analysis let us state the central problem of how autonomy emerges from the integration of the cognitive, emotional and autonomic systems in strict functional terms: autonomy is achieved by the closure of functional dependency.

This talk shows a general model of how the emotional biological systems operate following this theoretical analysis and how this model is also of applicability to a wide spectrum of artificial systems.

Get the slides of the talk.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 November 2011 )
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