"Whatever Next? Predictive Brains, Situated Agents, and the Future of Cognitive Science"
Abstract: Brains, it has recently been argued, are essentially prediction machines. They are bundles of cells that support perception and action by constantly attempting to match incoming sensory inputs with top-down expectations or predictions. This is achieved using a hierarchical generative model that aims to minimize prediction error within a bidirectional cascade of cortical processing. Such accounts offer a unifying model of perception and action, illuminate the functional role of attention, and may neatly capture the special contribution of cortical processing to adaptive success. The paper critically examines this 'hierarchical prediction machine' approach, concluding that it offers the best clue yet to the shape of a unified science of mind and action. Sections 1 and 2 lay out the key elements and implications of the approach. Section 3 explores a variety of pitfalls and challenges, spanning the evidential, the methodological, and the more properly conceptual. The paper ends (sections 4 and 5) by asking how such approaches might impact our more general vision of mind, experience, and agency.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Our brains as prediction machines - a unified view of mind and action
Anything Andy Clark writes is totally worth reading (I used his charming essay "I am John's brain" when I first began teaching my "Biology of Mind Course" at the University of Wisconsin in the 1990's), and so I pass on this manuscript of an article on which comments are currently being solicited. It is a fascinating read, lucidly and clearly written.