Intuition Machine
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Intuition Machine

Meta-Levels of Fluency

All the affordances of an object in a context are not known to an agent unless it is derived. It parallels mathematics. The truths of equalities are unknown until they are tested (i.e. proven).

How do we come to know affordances, the useful ways we can interact with our reality, is at the core of intelligence. What is the knowing process? Is the knowing process different in machines? Is there more than one kind of knowing? How do the differences reflect in behavior?

From the framing of affordances, we can see how knowing is very different from remembering. One can only remember what one eventually recognizes. Episodic memory allows one to travel back into the past to recognize what one may have overlooked.

Looking back into the past is the same mechanism as looking forward to the future. Both lead to the possibility of generating a counterfactual reality. That is a virtual reality where one can explore the adjacent possible and discover new affordances.

An affordance is defined in relation to the subject and the context in which it is used. Episodic memory reminds one of the objects in context. But to see new affordances one has to blend previously discovered affordances into a new one. It’s a kind of analogy-making.

One may not imagine a pencil as a weapon, but a pencil does share all the pointy object characteristics of a spear. Applying a previously known affordance to a new one is the same as making an analogy. Analogy making is recognizing that two objects share the same similarity.

Two objects that share the same similarity is not the same as saying that they both are similar. It’s saying that they are similar in a subset of ways. A pencil is dissimilar from a sphere because it is much smaller and used differently.

We can discover in our minds new affordances by mentally playing with the objects in our minds. But another kind of thinking that is more subtle and is of a meta kind is to express the use of the object in language. Expressions about an object differ from playing with it.

It’s a transition from participatory knowing to perspectival knowing. Generating expressions of what one perceives creates yet another kind of virtual object. Expressions are information about things. These expressions themselves have their own affordances!

Thus what we call fluency in a language is a mastery of the affordances of a language. Knowing how to play with language implies knowing how to shape perception. Language at its core is instruction for imagination. Thus at this level, we know how to shape imagination.

There is a subtle difference between being immersed in the language and being able to treat language as an object of study. The 3rd meta-level of knowing is the realization that expressions themselves can be reordered. How one performs tasks can be changed.

Thus what we call fluency in a language is a mastery of the affordances of a language. Knowing how to play with language implies knowing how to shape perception. Language at its core is instruction for imagination. Thus at this level, we know how to shape imagination.

It is through this introspection of our own language, that we manipulate information about things in entirely newly different ways that we discover new ways of creating assemblages that lead to greater affordances.

The introduction of widespread literacy changed human civilization forever. More minds could explore alternative ways of expression that may have not been possible for agents immersed in a specific kind of habit.

The final meta-level of knowing is an application of analogy across a multitude of assemblages. What are the first principles that underpin different things? What are their similarities and differences and do they share the same principle independent of implementation?

This is propositional knowledge. It’s a generalization of a kind of affordance. That is, anything that is much longer than it is wide, has a pointy edge, and is rigid can be used as an effective weapon. Combinations of features make up principles.

These principles can morph into values that are share by entire societies. They can lead to top-down causation where truths discovered in the collective are applied down to the individual. Thus we see how higher levels of meta-level knowing influence the lower levels.

With new principles and values we participate in this world differently. Values lead to morality that lead to an emotional response to its violation. What we discover at the meta-level influences us at the subconscious level.

This is how humans know stuff. Knowing how (participatory)->knowing where (perspectival)->knowing when (procedural)->knowing what (propositional). I’m not sure why this is not obvious to many and seem to try to learn stuff in a backwards way. Knowing flows from the unstructured (play) to the structured (rules) and back again. Complexity is the process of inventing new rules to play at the next level. We level up by developing new ways of expression. Humans surprisingly are tuned for a specific kind of participation. The kind that involves language. We call this conversation. We can effortlessly attend to conversations. It’s so innate that we can even do so in our dreams.

General intelligence appears to always require tension between two kinds of thinking. Iconicity vs indexicality. Episodic memory vs procedural memory. Exploration vs exploitation. Generalization vs particularization. Intuition vs rationality. Divergence vs convergence.

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