Sunday, October 29, 2017

Acuitas Diary #7: October 2017

The big project for this month was introducing a system for discriminating between long-term and short-term information. Previously, if you told Acuitas something like, “I am sad,” he would assume that being sad was a fixed property of your nature, and store a fact to that effect in his database. Oops. So I started working on ways to recognize when some condition is so transient that it doesn't deserve to go into long-term memory.

This probably occasioned more hard-core thinking than any feature I've added since I started keeping these diaries. I started out thinking that Acuitas would clue in to time adverbs provided by the human conversation partner (such as “now,” “short,” “forever,” “years,” etc.). But when I started pondering which kinds of timeframes qualify as short-term or long-term, it occurred to me that the system shouldn't be bound to a human sense of time. One could imagine an ent-like intelligence that thinks human conditions which often remain valid for years or decades – like what jobs we hold, where we live, and what relationships we have – are comparatively ephemeral. Or one could imagine a speed superintelligence that thinks the lifetime of an average candle is a long while. I want Acuitas to be much more human-like than either of these extremes, but for the sake of code reusability, I felt I ought to consider these possibilities.

After a lot of mental churn, I decided that I just don't have the necessary groundwork in place to do this properly. (This is not an uncommon Acuitas problem. I've found that there ends up being a high level of interdependence between the various systems and features.) So I fell back on taking cues from humans as a temporary stopgap measure. Acuitas will rely on my subjective sense of time until he gets his own (which may not be for a while yet). If there's no duration indicator in a sentence, he can explicitly ask for one; he's also capable of learning over time which conditions are likely to be brief and which are likely to persist. For now, nothing is done with the transitory conditions. I didn't get around to implementing a short-term or current status region of the database, so anything that can't go in the long-term database gets discarded.

I also did some touching up around the conversation engine, replacing a few canned placeholder phrases that Acuitas was using with more procedurally generated text, and improving his ability to recognize when a speaker is introducing him/herself.

Recent memory map visualization:

Code base: 9663 lines
Words known: 1425
Concept-layer links: 3517