Made-Up Minds addresses fundamental questions of learning and concept invention by means of an innovative computer program that is based on the cognitive-developmental theory of psychologist Jean Piaget. Drescher uses Piaget's theory as a source of inspiration for the design of an artificial cognitive system called the schema mechanism, and then uses the system to elaborate and test Piaget's theory. The approach is original enough that readers need not have extensive knowledge of artificial intelligence, and a chapter summarizing Piaget assists readers who lack a background in developmental psychology.
The schema mechanism learns from its experiences, expressing discoveries in its existing representational vocabulary, and extending that vocabulary with new concepts. A novel empirical learning technique, marginal attribution, can find results of an action that are obscure because each occurs rarely in general, although reliably under certain conditions. Drescher shows that several early milestones in the Piagetian infant's invention of the concept of persistent object can be replicated by the schema mechanism.
About the Author
Gary L. Drescher is an independent scholar and was recently Visiting Fellow at the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from MIT in 1989 and is the author of Made-Up Minds: A Constructivist Approach to Artificial Intelligence (MIT Press, 1991).
"In this remarkable book, Gary Drescher shows in sharp detail how certain ideas about the early stages of human sensory-motor learning can be developed into a powerful and mathematically economical system that actually functions in computer simulation. While many of these issues were raised and developed in qualitative form by Jean Piaget, the specific mechanisms proposed by Drescher are distinctly new, and I predict that this work will soon be regarded as a landmark in the foundations of theories of learning"
—Marvin Minsky, MIT