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    • Jim N.
      March 9, 2011

    Delving Into the Depths of Computational Intelligence


     "Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of the universe in which there are far more galaxies than people." - Dr. Carl Sagan

    I have many times been awe-struck by the complexity and vastness of the cosmos as it is revealed through our execution of the scientific method. The more we look outward is the more we look inward; and in doing so we find many uncomfortable truths that illuminate facets of our psyche that, in horrid revelation, hinder us from unbiased understanding of our natural world. And, undoubtedly, of ourselves. Once we accept our insignificance in the galactic cycle, we will then understand our place in the universe. Or at least I think so, I have to take a few guesses here...
     
    But I can take a few educated ones. Consciousness is one phenomenon that we humans believe is solely ours in the natural world, and with it we have been able to create language, convey concepts, and build rockets to Mars and beyond. Yet tool use of this kind is present, an alarming notion to most people, and prevalent in nature when we study monkeys, apes, birds, and our domestic companions, cats and dogs. They dream, use tools, and display complex social interaction through various biological emotive structures. Modeling these complex interactions has proven difficult and illuminating.
     
     
    The digital computer has expanded our ability to model natural systems in ways that have changed our philosophies and methodologies over the past 70 years. Quantum mechanics and computing has recently just begun to fill in the gaps where our traditional digital systems fail, and the computational theory has allowed us to categorize problems that we know can be and can not be solved. To P or NP, seems to be the question, and the answers over the years have been revolutionary. 
     
    There was once a time, long before I was born, when the young scientists of digital computation believed that the modeling of intelligence was a reduction from a vastly complex natural system to a few simple and highly algorithmic processes. And given a computer with enough computational ability, they would be able to model and mimic our form of intelligence.; thus, finally understanding the science of the 'Mind'. But this was not to be so; enter the 'halting problem'. The supposed death nail for Strong A.I.
     
    The debate as to what processes are responsible for consciousness still rage, and no one has come close to modeling a conscious machine in hardware nor software in all these years of research. The answer to this simple question, 'What is "Mind"?', is as elusive as the question to the answer of "42" (though I'm dying to ask IBM's Watson, he may know). "What causes consciousness to arise?". "What is being?". Who, where, what, how, and why? All good questions, only two we know for sure, with one well in the works. Yet, with each new discovery, more questions arise and further from the answers we seem to get. The beauty of science.
     
    This page is not a complete thesis on the subject of the 'Mind'. For that I refer you to the following texts which, as I hope, will encourage all who read to continue to search for the answers to the most provocative and contraversal questions of our time.
    1. The Emotion Machine - Dr. Marvin Minsky
    2. The Emperor's New Mind- Dr. Roger Penrose
    3. How the Mind Works - Dr. Steven Pinker
    4. The Quest For Consciousness - Dr. Christof Koch
    5. Computing the Universe - Dr. Seth Lloyd
    6. Chaos - Dr. James Gleick
    7. Robot: Mere machine to Transcendent Mind - Dr. Hans Morevic
     
    I am a computer vision researcher, a graduate student at Northern Kentucky University, and an armchair astrophysicist. I follow the fringe sciences, as well as the formal and traditional ones as I move from project to project, trying to not limit myself via over specialization, learning as much as about as many things as I can. I do not know a great deal, and with each passing year I realize I know even less. Nonetheless, I use these pages as stepping stones in my current research to better myself as a scientist and my career as a researcher in hopes that I may at least obtain a small piece of understanding. I wish to attain knowledge about our extraordinary world and comprehension of our own amazing ability to think, perceive and interact via logic, be it rational or the square root of 2, with each other and our computational cosmos.
     
    The following definition is important to understanding the methodologies used in my current research.
     
    Intuition: Defined by dictionary.reference.com as
    -noun
    1. Direct perception of truth, fact, etc..., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension. 
    2. a fact, truth, etc., perceived in this way.
    3. a keen and quick insight.