Has anyone ever programmed a computer system to evolve theories?

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DaveC426913
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Why don't you make the statement false rather than simply unproven by giving us a definition of intelligence for which it would be possible (in the sense of Popper falsifiability) for a computer to pass?
The onus is not on me to bolster any claims. jVincent is making an unfounded claim based on faulty logic about what I/we might decide in the future. Why would I need to address that? All I need do is knock the pins out from under the claim.
 
CRGreathouse
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The onus is not on me to bolster any claims. jVincent is making an unfounded claim based on faulty logic about what I/we might decide in the future. Why would I need to address that? All I need do is knock the pins out from under the claim.
I didn't say you had to, I invited you to enlighten us.
 
like others have mentioned, a lot of this stuff is already being done. for small refinements on linear systems we use kalman filters. for less well-known stuff, system identification like what lennart ljung writes about. even then, you're dealing with mostly linear systems.

it's one thing to run cases based on mathematics that is well-known. but what if the thing you're studying doesn't behave according to the known models? maybe you've got to invent a new type of math to solve the problem. and even if you could do that, what are the chances that you get back something so complex that it is beyond your comprehension?
 
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it's one thing to run cases based on mathematics that is well-known. but what if the thing you're studying doesn't behave according to the known models?
That's the interesting part to me. Many of the interesting problem may be solved using ideas we haven't even thought of. It has to be able to invent or evolve new models and new math. What if you have it throw out random groupings of axioms and structures and have it analyze the consequences of each?

maybe you've got to invent a new type of math to solve the problem. and even if you could do that, what are the chances that you get back something so complex that it is beyond your comprehension?
Quite possible. In fact I read about a group that evolved electronic circuits to perform certain tasks. It turned out the the evolved versions worked much better than the conventional solutions but the scientists had no clue why. The evolved circuits were strange and counterintuitive but worked.

What about evolving ways for the computer to explain it that we will understand? How about a distributed computing project where the computer generates english language explanations and then people grade them as to how understandable they are. Then the system evolves the explanations themselves. Repeat until grokked. It's like a tutor....you don't get it this way? Well, look at it this way....no? how about this....etc... Start with simple things, then the system eventually gets an idea of what humans find understandable and what we don't. It can apply this knowledge to more complex explanations.

Also, it might be good to develop a taxonomy of the different types of relationships/interactions that 2 entities can possibly have. These would be used in generating theories and explanations. Things like this:
- a close to b
- a blocks b
- a accelerates b
- a similar to b
- a and b caused by c, a and b cause c
- a causes b, b causes a
- a same as b
- a prohibits b
- a enhances b
- a inhibits b
- a touches b
- a part of b
- a comes from b
- a is b
- a is not b
etc....

And you can stack them: (a enhances (b comes from (c prohibits d))) is similar to e

And that's hard to understand, so computer gives you this:
c prohibits d, thereby creating b, which is then enhanced by a. The enhanced b is simliar to e.

and then the explanation is further evolved:

c stops d and that makes b. Then a makes b stronger. Now b is like e.


ALSO.....now you can plug your data into these things and get starter theories. What if data is:
1) the existence of light
2) the existence of protons

So you could have these theories:
- light comes from protons
- light blocks protons
- (light enhances (protons cause light))
- light is protons
etc.

The it would have to look at the implications of each of these. That's harder.
 
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To create new theories computer would have to think imaginatly, which goes against pretty much everything of what a computer is. A computer follows a fixed alogrithm, and although it can modify this alogrithm, a computer could never spit out something like string theory, because that requires imaginative thinking.
 
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To create new theories computer would have to think imaginatly, which goes against pretty much everything of what a computer is. A computer follows a fixed alogrithm, and although it can modify this alogrithm, a computer could never spit out something like string theory, because that requires imaginative thinking.
Nah....If your brain can do it, so can a computer. Just an engineering problem at this point.
 
DaveC426913
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Meatbot is correct. Imagination is simply a feature of a very complex system. Have a computer complex enough and it'll be imaginative.
 
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You would have to create a neural network with as many neurons as a human brain, which is several billion, and each of those neurons would have thousands of connections, but I suppose that is just an engineering problem...
 
i think you could model imagination (to a degree at least) by throwing in some randomization. that's (part of) how the evolved circuits that Meatbot mentioned arrived at their "imaginative" solutions.
 
DaveC426913
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You would have to create a neural network with as many neurons as a human brain, which is several billion, and each of those neurons would have thousands of connections, but I suppose that is just an engineering problem...
There's also mimicing the subtletly of the stimuli and reinforcement between neurons.
 
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i think you could model imagination (to a degree at least) by throwing in some randomization. that's (part of) how the evolved circuits that Meatbot mentioned arrived at their "imaginative" solutions.
Modeling imagination seems like it could be done. How about modeling creativity? What if you have it to throw out random cancepts/situations/problems that are at first glance probably unrelated to the problem at hand, and then have it look for similarities between them. It also examines the other attributes of the 2nd item that don't SEEM TO match and considers whether they might really match somehow if you thought about it.

Take a lamp and a desk fan. Both have mass. Both use electricity. Both are made of quarks. Both are plastic. Both are white. Etc... Possibly useful. Ok, now what about a quality of the fan that doesn't seem to be present in the lamp at first glance. A fan makes air move. At first glance, most people would not say a lamp makes air move and would overlook that when listing the qualities of a lamp. But it does make air move by heating it, causing it to rise. A fan also cools people off. So ask if a lamp cools people off. I bet nobody ever asked that question before. Well, I suppose it might. Maybe it makes hot air rise above it, pulling cooler air in the bottom to replace it and creating a cooling air current. Even harder: a fan creates a force that tries to accelerate it. Does a lamp do that? Maybe. Does a lamp have something that spins? Does a fan create light? Maybe doing this kind of thing creates useful insight.

You can do the same thing with cause and effect, with a variable thrown in:
"x causes mass" vs. "removing energy from water causes ice"
So, possible questions (which can be starter theories as well):
- Is mass caused by a modification of something that already exists?
- Does removing energy from something create mass?
- Is mass equivalent to a solid?
- Is there a "liquid" form of mass?

Just throwing stuff out there...a rough sketch.

An interesting related link, the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving. Some of these techniques could be applied: http://www.mazur.net/triz/
 
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