Building an†information-processing system

Imagine a situation in which you had to design a physical agent that could collect information from its environment, then store and process that information to help it respond appropriately to novel situations. What kinds of information should it attend to? How should the information be represented so as to allow efficient use and re-use? What kinds of constraints and trade-offs would there be? There are no unique answers. In this paper, we discuss some of the ways in which the need to be able to address problems of varying kinds and complexity can be met by different information processing systems. We also discuss different ways in which relevant information can be obtained, and how different kinds of information can be processed and used, by both biological organisms and artificial agents. We analyse several constraints and design features, and show how they relate both to biological organisms, and to lessons that can be learned from building artificial systems. Our standpoint overlaps with Karmiloff-Smith (1992) in that we assume that a collection of mechanisms geared to learning and developing in biological environments are available in forms that constrain, but do not determine, what can or will be learnt by individuals.

Chappell, J., Demery, Z. P., Arriola-Rios, V., & Sloman, A. (2011). How to build an information gathering and processing system: lessons from naturally and artificially intelligent systems. Behavioural Processes, 1–20. doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2011.10.001

© Zoe Demery 2012