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Dynamic, failure-driven memory
We have proposed that memory is dynamic. It adapts according to its experiences, changing the way memories are grouped together when it is found that some early clustering of memories is inadequate in some way. In a sense we are saying that there can be no learning without failure. The creation of expectations that succeed leads to forgetting. When we see something that in no way surprises us, it is also likely that it in no way interests us either.
What is exciting is failure. Not failure from a goal point of view, but failure from an expectation point of view. Memory is dynamic in that it adjusts to failure. Learning is the ability to change the way one sees the world on the basis of a failed expectation.
Such a view has consequences in a number of areas. One is education. Children learn by adapting to failed expectations. Thus, if we want to encourage learning we must encourage failure. This seems odd at first glance. But, most parents can tell you that children do not readily listen to advice on what to do in given situations. They prefer to try things out themselves. When they fail, it is tempting to say ďI told you so.Ē But, they will learn from their own failures. They, in a sense, take their own advice based upon their own experiences, more seriously then they take
advice based upon their parentsí experiences. Children need to fail. Since memory is organized around failure, and so is learning, this seems quite important
There are consequences of this view of dynamic memory from the point of view of Artificial Intelligence as well. We all too often try to build complete, error-free programs. In our own work, SAM, PAM, FRUMP, POLITICS, and so on, had one major flaw. They never got bored. Not once did they ever say that they had already read that same story twenty times, thank you very much, and ďCould I please see something new?Ē They didnít do this because they had no memories. More importantly, they didnít do it because theii algorithms did not include an attempt to find the most relevant related story in their experience to aid in processing. We find identity in the search for similarity after all
The work here should modify all that. AI programs must never use memory structures that are not dynamic. Every experience a program has must cause it to be different in some way. We are modified by our experiences and so must programs be modified in the same way. Using the ideas we have proposed here it should be possible to end the problem of the data base of information that gets worse as it gets more and more information in it. Data bases should get smarter with more information. And they would, if they could modify their existing structures on the basis of new experiences. Data bases must be dynamic
The same is true of expert systems There is a difference between compiled knowledge and episodically based knowledge. That is, there is a difference between what we say we know and how what we said is grounded in our experience. Expert systems must have dynamic memories that change each time the program is called into use Such systems will indeed out-perform the people they were originally modelled after, given enough experience.
The task before us is clear . To see if the notions expressed here are right we must begin extensive testing. We must seek to build a dynamic memory. One way to do this is to build a newspaper reader, for example, that is hooked into a wire service, that reads constantly on a given subject matter. Such a system would either soon become an expert on its subject, or else it would fall apart of its own weight. By attempting to build such a device, we will find out, experimentally, what the right parameters are for a dynamic memory. We will find what works as indices, when to alter a MOP, when to use a TOP, and so on.
Thus, I am proposing that we must begin to experiment, both on the computer in a way that we really ffave not tried before, and on people through reasonably well-controlled psychological tests. I say reasonably well-controlled because tights controls are probably impossible for tests of the kind that would be necessary. We cannot control a personís whole set of life experiences for the purpose of a psychological experiment. Yet it follows from what I have been saying that each personís memory structures should be quite different. Thus, a new concept of psychological test may need to be divised.
The conclusion from all this then is that we will really find out about memory when we begin to ask the right questions. Work focusing on static conceptions of memory asks the wrong questions. We learn from our failures. We generalize from our common experiences Without being conscious of it, we reorganize the information in our memories to enable us to perform better next time.
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