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Conflicting Groups December 11, 2006

Posted by amahabal in Uncategorized.

Original post: Nov 21, 2006.


For the last couple of days I have been thinking about how to deal with conflicting groups. Here is the issue: suppose that we are trying to solve the sequence “2 1 2 2 2 2 2 3 2” then the right way to see the sequence is as “[2 1 2] [2 2 2] [2 3 2]”. However, can the following two groups coexist: the correct [2 2 2] just mentioned and the [2 2 2 2 2] group that jumps out at you?

Here are some relevant comments from Doug in FCCA, while talking about his program Jumbo (page 112):


A certain kind of parallelism is thus nonexistent in Jumbo— namely, the parallelism that would correspond to consciously entertaining two rival and very different full-fledged thoughts at once, or consciously perceiving something in two contradictory ways at the same instant. At any time, Jumbo has but one overall interpretation (the current contents of its cytoplasm). On the other hand, parallel dipping into or scouting out of alternative realities (i.e., slightly different alternative states of the cytoplasm) is permissible in Jumbo; in fact, it is of the essence. Jumbo is free to dip into, or muse about, many possible counterfactual worlds, as long as they are “close” to the current world, not radical variants thereof. In and of themselves, such musings do not affect the cytoplasm, which is why we call them “musings”— they are like inconsequential little daydreams.

Doug mentions though that the HEARSAY-II program that inspired Jumbo (and indeed all FARG architectures) does support contradictory views, but that he finds this not very cognitively plausible. However, consider now the following situation where perhaps we can and do notice parallel interpretations and the understanding of the situation crucially involves being aware of the multiple interpretations. Understanding physics involves knowing that both the particle and the wave interpretation can coexist. Alternatively, in the case of the sequence “1 2 2 3 3 4 4” the two interpretations “1 [2 2] [3 3]” and “[1 2] [2 3] [3 4]” are possible.


In trying to choose the strategy to deal with conflicting groups, one must also decide what to do when the program finds conflicting groups. One way is to prevent conflicting groups from ever existing (by demolishing one of the conflicting groups as soon as the conflict happens), and the other way is to keep both groups around but keep generating codelets that try to resolve the conflict. This latter way is like a nagging doubt that something is wrong.


What I am currently considering is the first alternative, of banning conflicting groups. My interpretation of when groups are in conflict is narrower, and the groups [1 1], [2 2] and [1 2] can peacefully coexist. I shall now try to define exactly when groups do not like each other, for I shall need a clear definition in order to program.


  1. If the two groups span exactly the same part of the sequence, they conflict. In other words, no part of the sequence can have two distinct interpretations.
  2. If neither group completely covers the other, they are not in conflict.
  3. If one group is just a single element of the other, they are not in conflict. This is an obvious rule because if a larger group were composed of other smaller groups then without this rule the larger group would conflict with its own parts.
  4. If one group consists of a few elements of the other, they are in conflict. Thus, [2 2 2] and [2 2 2 2 2] would conflict.

I need to think a little more about all this.


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