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VT The Ecological Approach to Mobile Communication Barry Smith Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information Science University of Leipzig http://ifomis.de Frank Zappa everything in the world is resonating to the One Big Note Murray Schaefer Tuning of the World

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the ecological approach to mobile communication
The Ecological Approach to Mobile Communication
  • Barry Smith
  • Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information Science
  • University of Leipzig
  • http://ifomis.de
frank zappa
Frank Zappa
  • everything in the world is resonating to the One Big Note
  • Murray Schaefer Tuning of the World
  • Tony Schwarz Resonance theory of communication
  • L (advertising follower of MacLuhan)
slide4
Formal Ontology

Institute for Formal Ontology

and Medical Information Science

roman ingarden
Roman Ingarden
  • Material Ontology
  • Realism
  • Theory of Causality
  • Theory of Relatively Isolated Systems
  • Modularity
adolf reinach
Adolf Reinach

Ontology of Social Reality

maurice merleau ponty j j gibson
Maurice Merleau-Ponty & J. J. Gibson
  • Ontology of Cognitive Prosthetics
slide9
Part One: Ontology of Cognitive Prosthetics
  • Part Two: Situated Computing and the Intentionality of E. Coli
  • Part Three: How is Unified Cognition Possible?
technologies of mobile communication
Technologies of Mobile Communication
  • Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
technologies of mobile communication13
Technologies of Mobile Communication
  • chemical
  • biological
  • … wearable computers
  • … brain-wave sensors to catch cheaters

Microsensors

palmpilot context aware
PalmPilot context aware
  • Display the wiring/plumbing behind this wall
  • Display seismographic features of a terrain a geologist is viewing
  • Display vital signs of a patient a doctor is examining
european media lab heidelberg
European Media Lab, Heidelberg
  • Tourism information services
  • Intelligent, speaking camera plus map display
  • Display all non-smoking restaurants within walking distance of the castle
  • Read out a history of the building my camera is pointing to
intelligent mobile phones
Intelligent mobile phones
  • Inform a person walking past a bar of his buddies in the bar
traditional syntactic semantic approach to information systems

derived intentionality

Traditional Syntactic/Semantic Approach to Information Systems

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husserl s methodological solipsism
Husserl’s Methodological Solipsism

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fodor s methodological solipsism
Fodor’s Methodological Solipsism

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knowledge
Knowledge =
  • what can be transmitted down a wire
  • (effectively reducible to patterns of 1s and 0s)
humans machines and the structure of knowledge
Humans, Machines, and the Structure of Knowledge
  • Harry M. Collins
  • SEHR, 4: 2 (1995)
knowledge down a wire
Knowledge-down-a-wire
  • Imagine a 5-stone weakling who has his brain loaded with the knowledge of a champion tennis player.
  • He goes to serve in his first match
  • -- Wham! –
  • his arm falls off.
  • He just doesn't have the bone structure or muscular development to serve that hard.
types of knowledge ability skill
Types of knowledge/ability/skill
  • those that can be transferred simply by passing signals from one brain/computer to another.
  • those that can’t:
i know where the book is
I know where the book is
  • = I know how to find it
  • I know what the square root of 2489 is
  • = I know how to calculate it
not all calculations are done inside the head
Not all calculations are done inside the head
  • Not all thinking is done inside the head
a clark being there
A. Clark, Being There
  • we rely on
  • external scaffolding = maps, models, tools, language, culture
  • we act so as to simplify cognitive tasks by "leaning on" the structures in our environment.
merlin donald
Merlin Donald
  • Origins of the modern mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture andcognitionCambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991
merlin donald30
Merlin Donald
  • radical transition in the emergence of modern human culture when humans began to construct elaborate symbolic systems ranging from cuneiforms, hieroglyphics, and ideograms to alphabetic languages and mathematics
merlin donald31
Merlin Donald
  • from this point human biological memory becomes an inadequate vehicle for storing and processing our collective knowledge.
  • from this point the modern mind is a hybrid structure built from vestiges of earlier biological stages together with new
  • external symbolic memory devices
types of knowledge ability skill32
Types of knowledge/ability/skill
  • those that can be transferred simply by passing signals from one brain/computer to another.
  • those that can’t:
  • -- here the "hardware" is important;
  • abilities/skills contained
  • (a) in the body
  • (b) in the natural world
  • (c) in the marked-up world
slide33
From
  • The Methodological Solipsist Approach to Information Processing (Fodor, Husserl)
  • To
  • The Ecological Approach to Information Processing (Gibson, Merleau-Ponty)
ecology
Ecology
  • The digital streams connecting one mobile phone to another are not so important
  • What is important is the environment in which both are embedded
slide35
Deliberative intellectual reasoning is not so important
  • Hayek: General concepts are tools for being lazy
fodorian psychology
Fodorian Psychology
  • To understand human cognition we should study the mind/brain in abstraction from its real-world environment
  • (as if it were a hermetically sealed Cartesian ego)
gibsonian ecological psychology
Gibsonian Ecological Psychology
  • To understand human cognition we should study the moving, acting human person as it exists in its real-world environment
  • and taking account how it has evolved into this real-world environment
  • We are like tuning forks – tuned to the environment which surrounds us
fodorian view of information systems
Fodorian View of Information Systems
  • To understand information systems we should study their manipulation of syntactic strings
gibsonian ecological view of information systems
Gibsonian Ecological View of Information Systems
  • To understand information systems we should study the hardware as it exists embedded in its real-world environment
  • and taking account the environment for which it was designed and built
  • Information systems are like tuning forks – they resonate in tune to their surrounding environments
merleau ponty
Merleau-Ponty
  • what we see, what we experience, what the world in which we find ourselves is like
  • depend upon our purposes of the moment
the basic layer of experience
The Basic Layer of Experience
  • When seeing an event, reading a page
  • we find, as a basic layer of experience, a whole already pregnant with an irreducible meaning: not sensations with gaps between them, into which memories may be supposed to slip, but the features, the layout of a landscape or a word, in spontaneous accord with the intentions of the moment ‘
  • (Phenomenology of Perception, 21f.)
special role of the body
Special Role of the Body
  • If my arm is resting on the table I should never think of saying that it is beside the ash-tray in the way in which the ash-tray is beside the telephone. The outline of my body is a frontier which ordinary spatial relations do not cross. This is because its parts are inter-related in a peculiar way: they are not spread out side by side, but enveloped in each other. (PoP, p. 98)
affordances
Affordances
  • The bench, scissors, pieces of leather offer themselves to the subject as poles of action … they delimit a certain situation … which calls for a certain mode of resolution, a certain kind of work. The body is no more than an element in the system of the subject and his world, and the task to be performed elicits the necessary movements from him by a sort of remote attraction (PoP, p. 106)
gibson environment as array of affordances
Gibson: Environment as Array of Affordances
  • “The affordances of the environment are what it offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or evil.”
  • James J. Gibson, The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception
gibson we are tuned to our environment
Gibson: We are tuned to our environment
  • the phenomenal forces at work in my visual field elicit from me, without any calculation on my part, the motor reactions which establish the most effective balance between them,
  • the conventions of our social group, or our set of listeners, immediately elicit from us the words, attitudes and tone which are fitting. (PoP, p. 106)
the ecological approach to human communication
The Ecological Approach to Human Communication
  • When I motion my friend to come nearer, my intention is not a thought prepared within me and I do not perceive the signal in my body. I beckon across the world, I beckon over there, where my friend is; the distance between us, his consent or refusal are immediately read in my gesture; there is not a perception followed by a movement, for both form a system which varies with the whole. (PoP, p. 111)
embrangled styles
Embrangled Styles
  • When I chat with a friend whom I know well, each of his remarks and each of mine contains, in addition to the meaning it carries for everybody else, a host of references to the main dimensions of his character and mine, without our needing to recall previous conversations with each other. These acquired worlds … (PoP, p. 130)
geometry in the legs
Geometry in the Legs
  • the word ‘sediment’ should not lead us astray: … acquired knowledge is not an inert mass in the depths of our consciousness. My flat is, for me, not a set of closely associated images. It remains a familiar domain round about me only as long as I still have ‘in my hands’ or ‘in my legs’ the main distances and directions involved, and as long as from my body intentional threads run out towards it. (PoP, p. 130)
the unity of the body is not simple coordination
the unity of the body is not simple coordination
  • I desire a certain result and the relevant tasks are spontaneously distributed amongst the appropriate segments ..I can continue leaning back in my chair provided that I stretch my arm forward …. All these movements are available to us in virtue of their common meaning. (PoP, 149)
language
Language
  • The speaking subject does not think of the sense of what he is saying, nor does he visualize the words which he is using. To know a word or a language is … not to be able to bring into play any pre-established nervous network. But neither is it to retain some ‘pure recollection’ of the word … (PoP, p. 180)
speaking as being faithful to one s self
Speaking as: Being Faithful to One’s Self
  • I do not need to visualize the word in order to know and pronounce it. It is enough that I possess its articulatory and acoustic style as one of the modulations, one of the possible uses of my body. (PoP, p. 180)
language52
Language
  • one particular cultural object [plays] a crucial role in the perception of other people: language. In the experience of dialogue, there is constituted between the other person and myself a common ground; my thought and his are interwoven into a single fabric, my words and those of my interlocutor are called forth by the state of the discussion, and they are inserted into a shared operation of which neither of us is the creator. (PoP, p. 354)
a miniature civil society
A miniature civil society
  • We have a dual being, where the other is for me no longer a mere bit of behaviour in my transcendental field, nor I in his; we are collaborators for each other in consummate reciprocity. Our perspectives merge into each other and we co-exist through a common world. (PoP, p. 354)
spontaneous unification
Spontaneous unification
  • Consider how the human mind copes with complex phenomena in the social realm, e.g. a promise, which involves (REINACH):
    • experiences (speaking, perceiving),
    • intentions,
    • language,
    • action,
    • deontic powers,
    • background habits,
    • mental competences,
    • records and representations
prosthetic cognition
Prosthetic Cognition
  • When a typist performs the necessary movements on the typewriter, these movements are governed by an intention, but the intention does not posit the keys as objective locations. It is literally true that the subject who learns to type incorporates the key-bank space into his bodily space. (PoP, p. 145)
the organist
The Organist
  • Between the musical essence of the piece as it is shown in the score and the notes which actually sound round the organ, so direct a relation is established that the organist’s body and his instrument are merely the medium of this relationship. Henceforth the music exists by itself and through it all the rest exists. There is here no place for any ‘memory’ of the position of the stops, and it is not in objective space that the organist in fact is playing. (PoP, p. 145)
the organist57
The Organist
  • In reality his movements during rehearsal are consecratory gestures: they draw affective vectors, discover emotional sources, and create a space of expressiveness as the movements of the augur delimit the templum.
templum
TEMPLUM
  • from the Greek „terminus“: to cut off
  • templum = any place which was circumscribed and separated by the augurs from the rest of the land by a certain solemn formula
slide60
Part One: Ontology of Cognitive Prosthetics
  • Part Two: Situated Computing and the Intentionality of E. Coli
  • Part Three: How is Unified Cognition Possible?
computerized agents
Computerized Agents
  • computer systems
  • situated in an environment
  • capable of flexible, autonomous action in that environment
  • interacting with other agents, including:
  • communicating, negotiating, coordinating actions
  • often within some organizational context
orthodox methodology
Orthodox methodology
  • described by Brooks
  • as the SMPA view
slide64
SMPA
  • Sense Model Plan Act
  • the agent first senses its environment through sensors
  • then uses this data to build a model of the world
  • then produces a plan to achieve goals
  • then acts on this plan
slide65
SMPA
  • belongs to the same methodological universe as Fodorian cognitive science (solipsism)
  • If we want to build an intelligent agent, there need to be representations (‘models’) inside the agent of the domain within which the agent acts
  • The agent’s reasoning processes act not on the real-world environment but on these models
brooks engineering approach
Brooks’ Engineering Approach

takes its inspiration from evolutionary biology

lends very little weight to the role of representations or models

AI should use the world in all its complexity in producing systems that react directly to the world

the starting point for our understanding of intentionality
The starting-point for our understanding of intentionality
  • should be the insect’s relations to its surrounding physical environment
the movement of e coli as a biased random walk
The movement of E. coli as a biased random walk
  • In the absence of a stimulus, E. coli simply wanders around, smoothly swimming by rotating its flagella counterclockwise.
  • These runs are terminated by chaotic events, called tumbles, when flagella rotate clockwise.
  • Following a tumble, the cell runs again, picking a new direction, more or less at random.
  • When the cells swim in a spatial gradient of a chemical attractant, runs that happen to carry it up the gradient are extended, whereas those that happen to carry it down the gradient are not.
  • Thus, the cell drifts in a favourable direction …
the life of e coli
The life of E. coli
  • is a life of falling
  • down
  • sugar
  • wells
the bacterium is a single cell
the bacterium is a single cell,
  • Thus it does not have a multicelled nervous system
  • But it has receptor molecules acting as sensors, it has a signal transduction system, and a highly complex machinery of movable flagella.
  • Different receptors react to different stimuli, including single oxygen molecules as well as bigger carbohydrate molecules.
  • See Bruce Alberts et al.: The molecular biology of the cell
e coli bacteria
E. coli bacteria
  • react to differences in concentrations of sugar molecules with a behavior shift (as a dog reacts to a smelt trace of another animal)
attribution of intentionality
Attribution of intentionality
  • does not depend upon the existence of a nervous system
  • we can ascribe simple biological intentionality to single, movable cells;
  • intentionality is dependent only upon the existence of sensors, information mediation (automatic interpretation, if you like)
  • and motor responses resulting in adaptable behavior.
e coli bacteria76
E coli bacteria
  • are attracted by peaks of sugar density
  • – but they can be fooled
brooks engineering approach77
Brooks’ Engineering Approach
  • An intelligent system embodies a number of distinct layers of activity (compare: sub-personal layers of human cognition)
  • These layers operate independently and connect directly to the environment outside the system
  • Each layer operates as a complete system that copes in real time with a changing environment
  • Layers evolve through interaction with the environment (artificial insects/vehicles/teenagers SMS-module…)
brooks an intelligent system
Brooks: An intelligent system
  • must be situated
  • it is situatedness which gives the processes within each layer meaning
  • because
  • the world serves to unify the different layers together and to make them compatible/mutually adjusting
organisms especially humans
Organisms, especially humans,
  • fix their beliefs not only in their heads but in their worlds, as they attune themselves differently to different parts of the world as a result of their experience.
  • And they pull the same trick with their memories,
  • not only by rearranging their parsing of the world (their understanding of what they see), but by marking it.
  • They place traces out there [and this] changes what they will be confronted with the next time it comes around. Thus they don't have to carry their memories with them.
  • “Intelligence without Representation”
j j gibson the ecological approach to visual perception
J. J. Gibson The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception
  • we are like (multi-layered) tuning forks – tuned to the environment which surrounds us
  • (we have evolved in such a way as to be attuned to our environment;
  • in part because we ourselves have created it via what Lewontin calls ‘ecosystem engineering’)
organisms are tuning forks
Organisms are tuning forks
  • They have evolved to resonate automatically and directly to those quality regions in their niche which are relevant for survival
  • – perception is a form of automatic resonation
  • – when the insect stumbles through uneven terrain the insect’s motor system is resonating to the reality beyond
merlin donald82
Merlin Donald
  • the modern mind is a hybrid structure built from vestiges of earlier biological stages together with new
  • external symbolic memory devices
  • together with cognitive prosthetic devices
  • (keyboards, touch-screens, mobile phones, … )
a new biological theory of intentionality
A New Biological Theory of Intentionality
  • – cognitive beings like ourselves resonate to speech acts and to linguistic records
  • – cognitive beings like ourselves resonate deontically
  • – mathematicians resonate to the structures of mathematical reality
gibson s ecological approach
Gibson’s Ecological Approach
  • To understand cognition we should study the moving, acting organism as it exists in its real-world environment
  • and for human organisms this is a social environment which includes records and traces of prior actions in the form of communication systems (languages), storage systems (libraries), transport systems (roads), legal systems
humans
Humans
  • resonate on many levels to patterns
  • and to patterns of those patterns
  • Humans differ from animals in that they can train themselves to resonate to new sorts of patterns
  • (… nursing expertise …)
gibson environment as array of affordances86
Gibson: Environment as Array of Affordances
  • “The affordances of the environment are what it offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or evil.”
  • The environment of a commercial organism includes affordances such as prices.
the world of affordances
The world of affordances
  • includes not merely walls, doors, furniture, temperature gradients, patterns of movement of air and water
  • but also: traffic signs, instructions posted on notice boards or displayed on computer screens – whole strata of what is marked by signs
roger g barker s eco behavioral science
Roger G. Barker’s Eco-Behavioral Science
  • Gibson: Ecological Psychology of Perception
  • Barker: Ecological Psychology of Social Action
  • P. Schoggen, Behavior Settings: A Review and Extension of Roger G. Barker’s Ecological Psychology. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1989.
roger barker niche as behavioral setting
Roger Barker: Niche as Behavioral Setting
  • Niches are recurrent settings which serve as the environments for our everyday activities:
  • a newspaper kiosk in the morning rush-hour,
  • your table in the cafeteria,
  • the 5pm train to Long Island.
behavior settings
Behavior Settings
  • Each behavior setting is associated with certain standing patterns of behavior.
  • We are tuned to an environment of behavior settings
the systematic mutual fittingness of behaviour and setting
The Systematic Mutual Fittingness of Behaviour and Setting
  • The behaviour and the physical objects … are intertwined in such a way as to form a pattern that is by no means random: there is a relation of harmonious fit between the standard patterns of behaviour occurring within the unit and the pattern of its physical components.
settings for barker
Settings, for Barker,
  • are natural units in no way imposed by an investigator.
  • To laymen they are as objective as rivers and forests
  • — they are parts of the objective environment that are experienced as directly as rain and sandy beaches are experienced. (Barker 1968, p. 11)
barker on unity of social reality
Barker on Unity of Social Reality
  • “The conceptual incommensurability of phenomena which is such an obstacle to the unification of the sciences does not appear to trouble nature’s units.
  • Within the larger units, things and events from conceptually more and more alien sciences are incorporated and regulated.”
barker on unity of social reality94
Barker on Unity of Social Reality
  • “As far as our behaviour is concerned, … even the most radical diversity of kinds and categories need not prevent integration”
  • Because we have been tuned both phylogenetically and ontogenetically to resonate to environments like this
lacan
Lacan
  • The style is the man
  • to whom one is speaking
the life of a human being
The life of a human being
  • is a life of falling
  • down
  • style
  • wells
slide98
Part One: Ontology of Cognitive Prosthetics
  • Part Two: Situated Computing and the Intentionality of E. Coli
  • Part Three: How is Unified Cognition Possible?
how does a global positioning system work
How does a Global Positioning System work?
  • Your GPS device knows its location because at any given moment it is receiving quite specific signals from satellites
  • and because these signals contain information to which it is sensitive in virtue of its precise location in any given moment.
organisms are tuning forks100
Organisms are tuning forks
  • Homing pigeons are sensitive to highly nuanced features of the earth’s magnetic field.
  • Human beings are sensitive to the information contained in other human beings’ faces.
  • Human beings who can drive are sensitive to traffic signs, to small variations in movement of the vehicles around them.
  • Human beings who can read are sensitive to the astonishingly variable types of information contained in printed texts.
recall how the human mind
Recall how the human mind
  • copes with complex phenomena in the social realm, involving
    • utterances,
    • intentions,
    • action,
    • deontic powers,
    • background habits, style, mental competences of the speaker,
    • records and representations
how do we directly and spontaneously bring about the integration of such transcategorial phenomena
How do we, directly and spontaneously, bring about the integration of such transcategorial phenomena?
  • ANSWER: We do not
  • It is the world which is responsible for unification
a theory of intentionality
A theory of intentionality
  • must be a (biologically based) theory of the sorts of environments, on different levels of granularity, into which human beings have evolved and are still prosthetically evolving
  • our patterns of behavior and cognition on different levels are unified together not via some central monad but by the world itself
  • (our environments fit together physically)
the riddle of representation
The riddle of representation
  • two humans, a monkey, and a robot are looking at a piece of cheese;
  • what is common to the representational processes in their visual systems?
answer
Answer:

The cheese, of course