“The Emotion Machine”

Our Own Code

“Without access to ones own internal code, 

one cannot program or modify their own life, 

by default someone else must write their code.”-Gump

A Synopsis of “The Emotion Machine” (Marvin Minsky) with some of my thoughts sprinkled in.
Marvin Minsky is a cognitive scientist professor at MIT. He is a leading researcher in the field of Articifial Intelleigence, and has worked with some of the greatest minds in the last one hundred years, including Von Neumann, Einstein, Oppenheimer and Turing.

The book argues that emotional states are not especially different from the processes that we call “thinking”; instead, 

Emotions, according to Minsky, are certain ways to think that we use to increase our “resourcefulness“;
That is, when our passions don’t grow so out of control that they handicap us, we can be very resourceful, or intelligent as Minsky replaces intelligence by “resourcefulness”.

And this applies not only to emotional states but to all of our mental activities: 

If you “understand” something in only one way, then you scarcely understand it at all—because when you get stuck, you’ll have nowhere to go. This getting stuck leads to frustration and eventual lazy thinking and low barriers to belief justification.

But if you represent something in several ways, then instead of getting frustrated, you can switch among different points of view, until you find one that works fir you! 
*Frustration is a result of the inability to understand and slow brain circuitry, held up by internal psychic chaos, bicameral differences between our cerebral hemispheres and negatively primed brain pathways (Schema).

Accordingly, when we design machines to mimic our minds—that is, to create Artificial Intelligences—we’ll need to make sure that those machines, too, are equipped with sufficient diversity of thought.

If a program (a brain) works in only one way, then it gets stuck when that method fails, it gets frustrated. But a program that has several ways to proceed could then switch to some other approach, or search for a suitable substitute. This is intelligence (creativity), based on ones freedom and speed of thought, without this tether intelligence and our solutions to problems are greatly reduced.

Minsky views dignity as stemming from what we each have made of ourselves: a colossal collection of different ways to deal with different situations and predicaments. We must be actively engaged in our own mental processes. It is that diversity that distinguishes us from most of the other animals—and from all the machines that we’ve built in the past.

Our minds are always affected by our assumption, values, beliefs and our purposes/agendas. Pure logical and rational thinking is a Myth

We only have control over our own perceptual-emotional-cognitive development. 

We must begin by clarifying our own perceptions, through psychic integration (shadow and introjected superego work), reflective thinking and belief assessment and ownership. After our lens or prism is deploarized we free the internal conflicts that slow brain processes down and we can now go about integrated our knowlegde base and cerebral hemispheres. 

Their are about 400 structures that have been identified in the brain that have definable duties. We don’t know how these processes work, but each possesses a set of genetic rules. Science is really a technique for determining the rules of how things function. 

Artificial Intelligence needs to understand the rules behind thought, choice, consciousness, and the hundreds of variables that influence human decision making. 

We need to apply Goethean science, where the essence of the whole is understood, not merely how and what the separate parts function and do. Synthetic thinking allows us to understand complex entities that revolve around life and existence, like oursleves. Analytical thinking works well for material objects, not so good for things as abstract as human thought.
Humans can think reflectively, we can think about our thoughts, which if done properly can lead to new powerful ideas and ways to think and intuit.

We do not understand from a traditional scientific perspective, imagination, consciousness, creativity, human thought processes, or emotions and feelings, etc. very well.

Occams Razor: all things being equal the most simple explanation is usually the right one. This form of Abducitve Logic, has been over used and misused by the lay public and scientists alike. When it comes to life, we cannot employ a form of logic that was intended to hypothesize a premise about a physical object. 

When studying life and human behavior, we cannot employ simplified techniques, we must embrace the complexity and intuit the whole to understand what the peices do. When it comes to abstract concepts such as feelings, emotions and consciousness, we need to find more complex and wholistic ways to explain our most familiar mental events. To understand the mind, the more complicated the better, then we can go about asking smaller questions, as derived from the whole.

Brain “Resources“: The identifiable structures of the brain that appear to have separate and distinct functions.

ie.) Anger: arouses resources that make us react with great speed and strength, while suppressing resources that we would otherwise use to plan and act more wisely. Anger replaces cautiousness with aggressiveness, it fades sympathy with hostility.

ie.) Fear: In contrast to Anger, engages resources that cause us to retreat.

Major Emotional States: Result from turning certain resources on while turning other resources off, changing the way our brain and we behave.

Critics“: Are resources specialized to recognize certain conditions and then they activate a specific collection of other resources. 

Instincts: are “Critics” we possess from birth (pre-wired), such as anger, hunger, fear and thirst. They promote our physical survival. 

*Anger/Fear evolved for our defense and protection.

*Hunger/Thirst evolved for our physical nutrition.

Intellectual Mental States:

When a challenging problem presents itself our mind will, to one degree or another, start to switch among different ways of thinking;

*By selecting different sets of resources that can help us divide the problem into smaller parts. (Left Brain Analysis).


*Find suggestive analogies or metaphors. (Right brain Synthesis).


*Retrieve solutions from memory. (Semantic from the left brain and/or Episodic memory from the right brain)


*Ask another person for help. (We defer to others to answer/think for us, or we seek others as counsel to clarify our own thinking).

Whichever way we think results from turning certain resources on, while turning others off, which results in a change in our behavior.

Our cognitive-perceptual-emotional maturation level and development is ultimately displayed when complex challenges are presented to us. 

If we are actively in control of our own learning, emotional and perceptual processes, we have assessed all of our beliefs and clarified what they are so that they may be fully our own. In this way they are ours and with them comes potency, passion, conviction and creativity.

A polarized psyche, that is too heavily influenced by subconscious projections, and introjected assumed and adopted beliefs of others, cannot actively or intuitively intend it’s own focused awareness. We act and wrongly behave without the guidance of our emotions, but fueled by their passion. 

An integrated psyche is requisite for intentional control and emotional accuracy.   

Our overly emotional states result when certain ways of passive thinking, usurp and suppress the use of resources that we require, but now have no access to. 

ie.)Infatuation: or uncontrolled want of something, suppresses our resources that otherwise might rationally find fault in our object of desire.  

What’s your Religion?

Scott Peck said, figure out a persons “Religion”, and you can understand and help them. 

Their “Religion”, is their map of interacting with reality, it is the lens through which they see and interpret the world. 

If we don’t fully know our own lens, how we manage it and why we’ve been using it to see, we cannot see others. It is the foundation of Empathy.

Motivating Employees

I had coffee with a CEO friend of mine, and he asked me my opinion on personality testing employees. It may difficult to imagine but I have a pretty strong opinion on the matter.😉

I believe executives like personality tests as we are used to testing and labeling in our society. 

I think the logic goes something like this; Since people are so resistant to opening up and being themselves in the work environment (or ever), let’s give them a label that has some truth to it, and they will feel valued and more willing to take specific suggestions per their label. 

Personality testing also is supposed to be valuable for assigning employees with suitable roles, though my experience is it leads to specialization, not the team work we all want.

The problem is that people begin to identify with the labels they collect. When other people also got labeled with the same test, they begin referring to one another by their labels and it becomes a bit funny, and serves as a weak inductive justification for ones own and others behaviors. 

If a “Dominant” personality normally does X, and that is a justification for them not doing Y, then their lack of mature expression and growth is understandable.

When Carl Jung formulated his Introvert and Extravert tendencies, he did not mean for people to get comfortable with those labels. Being in the middle, comfortable with both introversion and extraversion was the goal. Tests measure things at one point in time, grades and labels are intended to show us where we are when we take them, and also where we can go!

Motivation Internal vs. External

Though Labels limit and separate, those who are externally motivated, require them as they define their world providing them a sense of certainty and security.

When ones focus is directed outward, motivation is largely a matter of what one can procure from outside of themselves. 

To re-motivate oneself in this game, guilt, comparisons and doing what you’re supposed to do rules all thought processes. Adopted values, beliefs and cat posters assist these folks in reasoning through what feels wrong to them inside.

When ones focus in directed from the inside, motivation cannot be instilled by guilt, the threat of loss, the stigma of breaking arbitrary rules or the legalism the externally motivated rely so heavily upon.

The externally motivated, will never suppose to understand the internally motivated, unless they are externally successful in their eyes.

The internally motivated, were once externally motivated to some extent, so they understand the externally motivated.

Two completely different perspectives, one pushed the other drawn.

Motivation or Inspiration

People forget that it takes motivation to do things that are not natural for them. 

To function in a game so crazy as the rat race that we play here, one needs internal or external motivation. 

If you’re used to being motivated externally, it’s easy to plug in, that’s what you’re supposed to do! Guilt works as a great motivator.

When you’re internally motivated, there’s not much pulling you to plug into the rat race, one must be inspired to act.