Precis of Unified Theories of Cognition. Newell. Behavior and Brain Sciences 1992


<SOAR, and his last publication>

  1. His goal is to develop a model that covers all of cognition
  2. Soar is used as a theory for many things, from low-level immediate responses to learning, language, and problem solving
  3. Discusses his book on SOAR, its a personal perspective
  4. “You can’t play 20 questions with nature and win”
  5. Chapter 2: Foundations of Cognitive Science
  6. Knowledge systems – behavior is based on knowledge (we use knowledge to make decisions)
  7. Representation (of knowledge): Discusses the applicability of factored symbolic representations.  A trick is finding the particular representation
  8. Computation: universal computers
  9. Symbols: Symbol systems contain:
    1. memory with independently modifiable structures containing symbols
    2. symbols, which provide distal access to other structures
    3. operations, which take in symbols and output symbols
    4. interpretation: taking symbol structures and executing operations
  10. Architectures: “Unified theories of cognition will be formulated as architectures.”
    1. Much of the arch of the mind is the same <or at least similar> between individuals
    2. “in biological systems it is the level of neural structure that is organized to provide symbols.”
    3. “The architecture provides the boundary that separates structure from content…”
  11. Intelligence: “A system is intelligent to the degree that it approximates a knowledge-level system.
    1. The distinction between knowledge and intelligence is key… intelligence is the ability to use the knowledge the system has in the service of the system’s goals.  This notion answers many requirements of a concept of intelligence, but it does not lead directly to a quantitative measure of intelligence, because knowledge per se is not quantifiable.”
  12. Search and problem spaces
    1. How does processing lead to intelligent behavior? How does it use knowledge to accomplish something?  This occurs by search
    2. “Search is not just another cognitive process, occurring alongside other processes (the view prior to the cognitive revolution), but the fundamental process for attaining tasks that require intelligence.”
    3. Search is used when error predictions occur – what do I do now.
    4. Used when there isn’t any indication as to what to do already sitting in knowledge and it has to be figured out “generate and test”
    5. Using a problem space is a way of framing the problem so search is tractable (restricting what is considered must be a part of this)
      1. Knowledge can be used to decide what the problem space is.  With enough knowledge, the problem space is so small it is answered immediately
  13. Chapter 3: Human Cognitive Architecture “This chapter attempts to discover some generally applicable constraints on the human architecture.”  Admittedly the points here are speculative
    1. Humans specifically are a symbol system because we can do such an enormous variation of things and ways of thought.
    2. “Any system that is sufficiently flexible in its response functions must be a symbol system (i.e., capable of universal computation).”
    3. A hierarchy of symbol systems. “Higher system levels are spatially larger and run more slowly than do lower ones, because the higher levels are composed of multiple systems at the next lower level and their operation at a higher level comes from the operation of multiple interactive systems at the next lower level.”  The change in size and speed per level is an order of magnitude
      1. Argument of biological basis of this: organelles -> neurons -> neural circuits (1/10 sec).  Thats called the biological band; above that is the cognitive band with different amounts of thinking taking different orders of magnitudes of time (basic thought starting at 1 sec)
    4. “Only about 100 operation times are available to attain cognitive behavior out of neural-circuit technology.   This constraint is extremely binding. It provides almost no time at all for the cognitive system to operate. The constraint may also be expressed as follows: Elementary but genuine cognition must be produced in
      just two system levels. Neural circuits (at —10 msec) can be assembled into some sorts of macrocircuits (one factor of 10) and these macrocircuits must then be assembled to produce cognitive behavior (the second factor of 10).”
    5. Basis of speed the lowest level of hierarchy is based on minimal possible speeds it can take place
    6. The new cognitive band: Timing is set up at
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