Issues in the study of abstractions


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May 20, 2000: "Issues in the Study of Abstractions". Presented at the Eighth
Interdisciplinary Conference on General Evolutionary Systems, sponsored by the Washington Evolutionary Systems Society.

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Issues in the study of abstractions

  1. 1. Cover Page   Issues in the Study of  Abstractions  Author: Jeffrey G. Long ( Date: May 1, 2000 Forum: Talk presented at the Eighth Interdisciplinary Conference on Evolutionary Systems, sponsored by the Washington Evolutionary Systems Society.   Contents Pages 1‐15: Slides (but no text) for presentation   License This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit‐nc/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.  Uploaded June 27, 2011 
  2. 2. Issues in the Study of Abstractions Jeffrey G. Long WESS Conference May 2000
  3. 3. Overview• Changing Our Minds Ch i O Mi d• The Reality of Abstractions• Types of Learning• Making Notational Engineering a Real Discipline
  4. 4. Changing Our Minds: Four People• Adam-1: Born 200,000 years ago• Adam-2: Born 100,000 years ago Ad 2 B 100 000• Adam-3: Born today• Adam-4: Born 100,000 years hence
  5. 5. Assumptions• Th people are all modern H The l ll d Homo sapiens i sapiens• The people are genetically identical• The people g p p grow up to be competent at p p living a normal life for their times
  6. 6. If Brought Together, Could They Communicate?• B i capabilities always reliable: Basic biliti l li bl – Smile, cry, show other emotions – Basic cognition: differentiate 3 > 2• Basic ontological assumptions/beliefs are very different• Effectively, each exists in a different world y,
  7. 7. The World of Adam 1 Adam-1• No language N l• No numbers• No time• No shape• No relations• No l N value
  8. 8. The World of Adam 2 Adam-2• Language L• No numbers• No time• No shape• No relations• No l N value
  9. 9. The World of Adam 3 Adam-3• Language L• Numbers• Time• Shape• Relations• Value V l
  10. 10. The World of Adam 4 Adam-4• All of th previous, plus new abstractions f the i l b t ti that we cannot even imagine – New concepts of language, numbers, time, shape, relations, value – Wh ll new abstractions Wholly b i – Wholly new media – Wholly new values and behaviors
  11. 11. Changing Our Minds• Th mind of Hss is what evolves The i d f H i h t l• It evolves via new abstractions and the application thereof• This creates a new ontology gy• There is a major chasm between people having vastly different ontologies
  12. 12. Are They Real or Inventions?• Wh t criteria could we use to determine What it i ld t d t i this?• What are the consequences of one or the other?
  13. 13. What criteria could we use?• H d we k How do know anything is “real”? thi i “ l”? – Intersubjective agreement – Functional utility – Cultural convention• Are there parallels to the way we learn to see objects? – Piaget’s developmental stages
  14. 14. What are the consequences?• If abstractions are “real” then: b t ti “ l” th – There is some biological/ontogenetic perception process that allows us to see them ti th t ll t th – There may be some way to see new abstractions more q ickl or s stematicall quickly systematically – It changes the nature of reality: what we think is real is only “surface structure surface structure”
  15. 15. Types of Learning• N Ab t ti New Abstraction: See something t t ll S thi totally new in the environment• New Paradigm: Change our unconscious beliefs about a system or situation• New Knowledge: Extend our conscious beliefs about a system or situation y
  16. 16. Making Notational Engineering a Real Discipline• University Research Lab/Program U i it R h L b/P• Private Foundation• For-Profit Corporation• Federal Research Lab• Primary requirement: results