Motivations, Values and Emotions

Posted 14 Nov 2007 at 21:26 UTC by steve Share This

University of Memphis researchers Stan Franklin and Uma Ramamurthy have released a new paper titled, Motivations, Values and Emotions: Three Sides of the Same Coin (PDF format). The paper talks about the interrelationships of the three concepts in autonomous agents, whether they are robots or humans. "Motivations prime actions, values serve to choose between motivations, emotions provide a common currency for values, and emotions implement motivations." As always, one needs to understand how the researchers use the terms. In this case, the authors seem to be using the words feelings and emotions in opposite roles from those I've seen defined in the past. They define feelings as raw sensory inputs such as heat, pain, or thirst and emotions are defined as feeling with cognitive content. Normally, I see feeling defined as the subjective or phenomenological aspect of emotion rather than the other way round. Of course, many people still use the two words interchangeably, so any distinction is helpful. Otherwise, the authors rely on the LIDA (Learning Intelligent Distributed Agent) model of cognition.

what's more important to debate, posted 15 Nov 2007 at 20:01 UTC by imajeff » (Apprentice)

Thank you for pointing out the article. I appreciate your summary and comments. I believe all should ponder those relationships, even if not building AI.

Not trying to cause more debate, but... I think we all deal with "moving targets" often. I see this as one of them. In the past I have been motivated to debate definitions when I think someone has missed root meanings of specific human language. Lately however, I observe that the more effort we spend debating terminology, the less time we have to colaborate on what to do with resulting terms.

What is more important? Which term means what: less important. Keeping terms consistent between scientific minds: more important. I believe that we should allow some distinguished organization to solidify the terminology, and then use it as a foundation for work. Has this been done before? If so then why debate terminology any more? Of course there would be a requirement, that there is sufficient terms to distinguish finite elements and not leave many holes. Still, since I feel smart today, I beleive that I can handle adapting to resources which I find available. Adaptation is our human strength. If we give that to our creations, fine. Until then, we should use ours. Those elements may evolve the same way any development suite does, but it gives a common foundation for universal research on a higher level. I don't mean too much by all this, but see a need for some common tool that uses fundamental "english" terminology, and helps us model systems, make libraries, etc.

It seems to me some software "suite" should already exist, but I'm new to this colaboration. What is already out there (but is apparently dismissed because humans tend to resist personal adaptation)?

That said, I do have some opinions:

  • I agree that "feeling" serves better as a term for raw sensory
  • I observe that other words used in original post are often confused, like "choose". How does a human choose? Not the same way an "autonomous agent". We choose using something termed "free angency". I see obvious differences. We only called it a "decision" in software because it was the best word we could come up with at the time. This brings me to the next point...
  • While it may be a common term to define both humans and robots as autonomous agents, that is often the reason for our failure in designing a good autonomous robot. We are most definitely not the same. No matter how advanced all our "human technology" has become, there is absolutely no invention for a robot to have "free agency" as humans do. Even if I wanted to believe it was true with all my soul, I could not argue against that.

semantics, posted 15 Nov 2007 at 21:42 UTC by steve » (Master)

Thanks for the insightful comments.

I've found most debates over anything eventually boil down to semantics. But precisely defining words and concepts is a necessary step in science. Emotion, feeling, consciousness, free will and the like are all terms that have been used with little or no precise meaning for hundreds of years and it will take a while to nail down what, if anything, they describe in the real world. These words have been mostly used in the realm of religion and philosophy until recently. Psychologists and now cognitive scientists are trying to sort out the mess and refine the definitions into something, as you say, that can be used as a foundation for work.

Regarding your points, it sounds like you're saying you don't think humans are autonomous agents! But, again, you may mean something different by "autonomous agent" than I do. Free will is as hotly debated today as ever and there seem to relatively few arguments on either side that I find coherent, with the exception of Dennett's.

There seem to be roughly three classes of opinion on free will 1) nobody has it 2) agents made of meat (humans) can have it but agents made of silicon (robots) can't 3) any sufficiently autonomous agent can have it.

Sounds like you fall into group 2. I'd put myself in group 3. In either case, though, it's purely speculation at this point.

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