6.868J | Fall 2011 | Graduate

The Society of Mind


[EM] = Minsky, Marvin. The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind. Simon & Schuster, 2007. ISBN: 9780743276641. The text is also available online on Professor Minsky’s homepage.

Students are expected to have read The Society of the Mind before the semester starts.

———. Society of the Mind. Simon & Schuster, 1988. ISBN: 9780671657130.

1 Introduction [EM] Introduction
2 Falling in Love [EM] Chapter 1
3 Cognitive Architectures

Warburton, D. M., ed. “Pleasure systems in the brain.” In Pleasure: The Politics and The Reality. John Wiley & Sons, 1994, pp. 5–14 + refs. ISBN: 9780471942290.

Sagan, Carl. “A high level overview of minds.” Chapter 11 in Cosmos. Random House, 2002. ISBN: 9780375508325.

4 Question and Answer Session 1

[EM] Chapter 2 
What drives people to act? Where do people acquire their original goals?


Hobbs, Jerry R. and Andrew Gordon. “Goals in a formal theory of commonsense pychology.” (PDF) Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Formal Ontology in Information Systems (FOIS-2010), Toronto, Canada, May 11-14, 2010. 
Hobbs and Gordon explain a technique for modeling folk theories of intentional behavior. Introduces the notion of the top-level “Thrive” goal.

5 From Panic to Suffering [EM] Chapter 3
6 Layers of Mental Activities Schwartz, Barry. “Pitfalls on the Road to the Psychology of Hope.” (PDF) In The Science of Optimism and Hope. Edited by J. Gillham. Templeton Foundation Press. 2000. pp.399-412. 
Ethical dilemmas for positive psychology—do they have the right to meddle with people’s top-level goals? … or to induce happiness?
7 Layered Knowledge Representations [EM] Chapter 4 
What is Consciousness? Minsky answers this, first by showing this question is ill-founded.
8 Question and Answer Session 2

[EM] Chapter 5 
Model–6 and the layered critic-selector architecture.


Langley, Pat, John E. Laird, and Seth Rogers. Cognitive Architectures: Research Issues and Challenges. Cognitive Systems Research 10 no. 2 (2009). 
Discusses current cognitive architectures that exist for organizing large artificial intelligence projects. Also, shared properties of cognitive architectures as well future directions for what is needed is discussed—a rare overview of a very complicated field. This paper was referenced in class when Minsky was wondering if there is a good overview of different types of representations and what problems they are both good and, more importantly, bad at solving.

9 Common Sense

[EM] Chapter 6


Singh, Push, Ian Eslick, et al. “Computing Commonsense.” (PDF) BT Technology Journal 22 no. 4 (2004). 
An Overview of How the Commonsense Computing Approach to Building Commonsense Reasoning Systems.

Mueller, Erik T. “Automating Commonsense Reasoning using Event Calculus.” (PDF) Communications of the ACM 52 no. 1 (2009). 
Event Calculus is an extention of First Order logic designed for effectively reasoning about events. While still committed to logical inference, this is a well defined approach to commonsense reasoning and Mueller is very clear communicator.

Open Mind Commons 
The current web-based commonsense knowledge acquisition effort at the MIT Media Lab. The data can be downloaded from http://conceptnet5.media.mit.edu/.

OpenCYC References 
Links to resources and data about Doug Lenet’s CYC project, the largest commonsense knowledge base (but unlike OpenMind, it represents its knowledge in its own formalism: CycL, an extension of FOL). Although the company is private, they made the knowledge base open source with OpenCyc. Check out the KB explorer to see examples of its knowledge.

GoogleTalksArchive. Human Computation: Luis von Ahn, July 26, 2006. August 22, 2012. Accessed March 3, 2013. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tx082gDwGcM
A highly-entertaining video of CMU researcher’s thesis on collecting knowledge from people. This approach, known as “human computation”, is taken in the OpenMind project.

GoogleTalksArchive. Computers versus Common Sense: Douglas Lenat, May 30, 2006. August 22, 2012. Accessed March 3, 2013. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAtn-4fhuWA
A very nice talk Lenat gave at Google about the motivations behind the Cyc project and its current state.

10 Question and Answer Session 3 [EM] Chapter 7 
A short chapter describing many different techniques for inference and problems with reasoning.
11 Mind vs. Brain: Confessions of a Defector [EM] Chapter 8 
What distinguishes genius from everyday thinking? What are the ways to learn from mistakes?
12 Question and Answer Session 4

[EM] Chapter 9


Dennett, Daniel. “The Origin of Selves.” Cogito 3 (1989): pp. 163-173. 
Short, easy to read discussion of philisophical notions of selfhood, the boundaries of selves, a discussion of multiple selves and multiple personality disorder.

Kosslyn, Stephen. “On the Evolution of Human Motivation: Social Prosthetics.” In Evolutionary Cognitive Neuroscience. Edited by S.M. Platek, T.K. Shackelford, and J.P. Keenan. MIT Press, 2006. 
Suggesting “self models” may extend in scope to include other people. Interesting and uplifiting paper by Harvard vision psychologist.

13 Closing Thoughts None.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2011
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Written Assignments