Economics Dictionary of Arguments

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Robustness/resilience/Artificial Intelligence/Minsky: Most machines that people build stop working when their parts break down. Isn't it amazing that our minds can keep on functioning while they're making changes in themselves? How could anything be so robust? Here are some possibilities:
Duplication: It is possible to design a machine so that every one of its functions is embodied in several duplicated agents, in different places.
Self-Repair: Many of the body's organs can regenerate — that is, they can replace whichever parts are lost to injury or disease. However, brain cells do not usually share this ability. Consequently, healing cannot be the basis of much of the brain's robustness. ((s) Cf. >Brain/McGinn: the brain has a theory of the brain.)
Distributed Processes: It is possible to build machines in which no function is located in any one specific place. Instead, each function is spread out over a range of locations, so that each part's activity contributes a little to each of several different functions.
Accumulation: Consider any learning-scheme that begins by using the method of accumulation — in which each agent tends to accumulate a family of subagents that can accomplish that agent's goals in several ways. Later, if any of those subagents become impaired, their supervisor will still be able to accomplish its job, because other of its subagents will remain to do that job, albeit in different ways. >Software-Agents/Minsky.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Minsky I
Marvin Minsky
The Society of Mind New York 1985

Minsky II
Marvin Minsky
Semantic Information Processing Cambridge, MA 2003

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