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Dynamics, Control, and Cognition Chris Eliasmith

Summary: Dynamics, Control, and Cognition
Chris Eliasmith
Once upon real-time
A dynamic object is an object whose properties change over time. A static object is an
object whose properties do not change over time. Given such an idealization, the notion
of `static' lies at an extreme end of the spectrum of temporal relations between objects
and properties. Indeed, modern physics tells us that no objects are truly static.
Nevertheless, many of our physical, computational, and metaphysical theories turn a
blind eye to the role of time, often for practical reasons. So, perhaps it is not surprising
that in the philosophy of mind where physical, computational, and metaphysical
theories meet there has been a consistent tendancy to articulate theories that consider
function and time independently. As a result, contemporary theories in cognitive science
consider time unsystematically (see the next section for specific examples). In this
chapter, I suggest that the problem with this `ad hocery' is that the systems we are trying
to characterize are real-time systems, whose real-time performance demands principled
explanation (a point on which many of these same contemporary theorists agree). After a
discussion of the importance and roots of dynamics in cognitive theorizing, I describe the
role of time in each of the three main approaches to cognitive science: symbolicism,
connectionism and dynamicism. Subsequently, I outline a recently proposed method, the
Neural Engineering Framework (NEF), that, unlike past approaches, permits a principled


Source: Anderson, Charles H. - Departments of Anatomy and Neurobiology & Physics, Washington University in St. Louis


Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences; Biology and Medicine