by M. Perkowski


    All existing Brain/Robot/Human theories such as symbol manipulation or evolutionary computing are no more than powerful metaphors. New metaphors may be more appropriate to develop intelligent humanoid robots. This paper argues that it is more scientifically interesting and fruitful to evolve a society of robots rather than to program a robot. The high-technology industry, the internet, the quantum computer, the earth's ecology, and the theater are all powerful metaphors that can be used to build robots and their societies. Both holistic and reductionistic approaches may contribute to the creation of humanoid robots, and the proper balance between them is advocated.


There is presently a debate about the best paradigms to build intelligent robots. Below I will present my opinion in this debate.
  1. Ideas and systems should be considered together with their whole environment, including history. Every scientific idea, even revolutionary, reflects the knowledge and beliefs of its time. There has always been an establishement of ideas (council of elders, Church, state, community of noted scientists) and revolutionary ideas that violated these paradigms. Both were useful and necessary from the point of view of the mechanism of emergence and acceptance of new ideas/systems. It was so, it is so, and most likely it will remain so in the years to come. Establishment, revolution, acceptance of revolution within the system, constitute a cyclic process, that has to be understood in order for us to be able to model it. This concerns also the brain/man/robot debate.

  2. I believe the following:

  3. In this text I will use the names "brain theory", and "robot theories" interchangeably. I will discuss some weaknesses of previous theories and, in this context, I will propose a new approach to robotics. I will understand this approach, however, as only one more metaphor for intelligent robot design, and not a statement about the nature of intelligence or life.


Goedel Heisenberg other?


All theories and systems of the past have been reductionistic or holistic. Both approaches are useful, to a degree, and both are incomplete. Disregarding one of the approaches is a mistake, but in this text I cannot keep apologizing that I am not taking everything into account. This paper should be treated as both reductionist and holist.


All past reductionist theories now look to us very naive from the perspective of history: Therefore new theories, present-day myths, have been and are being created: which in future will most likely share the destiny of the old theories but will prove fruitful, nevertheless in computer science, genetics, etc. And their introduction will revolutionize the society, making it more complex and thus extending the horizon of understanding the human.

The dogmatic reductionists had always to retract their previous opinions. It is typical to meet scientists who change their reductionist theory every few years, and every time claim that this is a universal theory of everything. Observe, that the same researchers who few years ago claimed that the "brain is a computer from meat", now say that the brain is a quantum computer, because quantum computer can solve NP-complete problems in polynomial time. They withdraw from their previous claims about human thoughts being Turing-like computations, now when a better model of computing has been found which is stronger than Turing-equivalent.

AI-reductionists and AL-reductionists seem to be dogmatic believers it their own published theories. On the other hand, when you talk to them in person, you appreciate that their reductionist view is only to express their views uniformly and self-advertize, which is necessary for getting funding and recognition of their ideas. In reality they are more holist than you may expect. The truth is that true holists and true reductionists do not exist on a certain level of sophistication.

All robot researchers should honestly admit, that the reductionists will always take the current most powerful model of computing as the base of their model of brain and spirituality. They have to agree that all robot theories are only ANALOGIES and are thus not true in the real sense. The Universe being infinite, maybe requires an infinite sequence of models to be accurately modelled. Only the Universe can be a correct model of itself with no loss of information. There may be also a physical phenomena that we are completely not aware on quantum level or below, for instance, a brain may have a holographic model of the Universe. Brain may be part of the Universe in the way we are not yet able to understand, so the theories of spiritual robots will always be follow-ups to new ideas in physics and biology. Creating a human is definitely simpler than creating a Universe, but how much simpler - we have no base to say, and the problem if a spiritual robot can be created is perhaps unsolvable.

In conclusion, reductionist models are not true but useful. On the other hand we do not know if they are models of "spiritual beings" as they are, or if these are models of "alive-like creatures as they can exist". Thus, based on these theories, we cannot know if we can build humans, or something else that would behave as alive.


  1. Thus, we can safely say that none of the brain theories is true, and all are true to a certain degree. The reductionists do the same mistake as religions have done in their early phases; to treat what is symbolic, literally; and what is analogous, as a one-to-one mapping.
    Regretfully, the reductionists are not able to recognize their mistake. I did not see this idea of ANALOGY in writings of Minsky, Simon, De Garis [DeGaris93,DeGaris97,DeGaris00,Buller98], Moravec and other hard-AI-believers. When I read their books I have the impression that they truly believe that IT IS SO AS THEY WRITE.
    Observe, however, that this dogmatism is indeed their strength. As it happens, the people who try to see all aspects and understand from all sides are very slow to reach conclusions. Meanwhile, one who looks briefly and speaks quickly, a.k.a. the reductionist, can make an impact with more speed.
  2. The advocates of the reductionist theories have strong appeal to public with their catchy simple ideas. They have therefore a strong influence in a short run. Such theories are easy to explain and thus have some appeal, especially to an unsophisticated mind (nazism, communism, primitive churches and sects, advocates of primitive interpretations of cybernetics or darwinism). In a long term they cannot win, because you cannot explain the complex system by a reduction to a simple system. If they were right, the human and the nature would be finite, and thus the real progress in science would be soon stopped, because all questions would be answered (the "end of science theory"). And with this they cannot agree. Again, locally in time and space these theories may have positive impact, and even wars and sufferings caused by them are non-zero sum games and may be necessary elements of humanity growth [Wright99].
  3. When applied to Robot, all current "hot" theories such as Genetic Algorithms, Evolutionary Computing, intelligent agents, Neural Nets, Symbol Manipulation, Fuzzy Logic modeling, brain modeling, "brain building", despite the much influence they have now, will share the fate of former reductionist theories, but will still remain useful components in the evolutions of science, technology and human society.


  1. Now that we criticized the reductionist theories, let us observe that holists have their own sins.
  2. If a theory is too general and too holistic, it can be understood by very few people and it tries to accomodate too much to make any point. Telling everything truthfully, it tells nothing of use or of interest. By trying to make no mistakes, it avoids telling some local truth that may be useful. By trying to avoid bias, no learning can be accomplished. Every learning process involves certain bias and hence the learning without bias is not possible. Induction is nearly always false ("all birds fly") but is the main way to learn. Holistic theories tend to concern themselves with observing phenomena and stating facts and rarely trying to explain the phenomena. If they do try to explain, it is usually not very constructive. It must be asserted that holistic theories rely on a very passive paradox. They are often collections of obvious and unexciting truisms. The God of holism truly needs the Satan of reductionism to make the world. The infinite cannot be explained without the finite, nor the complex without the simple.
  3. With these irrationalities and pragmatic impediments the great literature and the holy texts of many religions took another approach to tell the all-encompassing truth - that of paradoxes and contradictions. The solution was to tell stories that can be understood more or less metaphorically. The story of Original Sin is here a perfect example because it allows for so many interpretations, and each of them quite creative.

  4. It is extremely difficult to create a complete holistic and constructive theory of everything (and a theory of robot is theory of everything!).
  5. Such theory would be necessary to build truly humanoid robots - the "spiritual robots" (we distinguish here between humanoid robots that certainly will be build and will exceed humans in many areas, and the philosophical concept of "spiritual robots" [Kurzweil99] as a new form of life).
  6. Because it seems very unlikely to create such a theory, we are left with two discourses. One, allow the robot science to remain in the realm of the dialectically understood reductionist/holist loop of theories. Two, free the robot science from the loop in favor of a theatrical interpretation: one that offers insights through metaphor, drama and allows the observer any number of creative interpretations. We do not know what will be evolved, but we will intentionally create an environment in which the mystery of creation in narrower, theatrical sense, can happen.


  1. The fundament of life is reproduction and survival, including competition (for space, for food, for female). Thus, no true humanoid robot can be created that would be not able to reproduce freely in a real world environment. If we believe in evolution, let the evolution create such robot, otherwise we are creating robot for us and not for Universe, so we are not creating true intelligence. Because science did not (yet?) create a technology that would allow for real reproduction, and we model robots without their real need for survival, we are not working on true models of life yet. Cyborgs will be humans with protheses, it will be not really a new life form. Only if we would create life from scratch on nano-technology level (Drexler) it would be a true emergence of life. Everything else is a simulation. One may figuratively say that we are cheating in our competition with God, because He created humans using "his own ash" and we try to use His ash). Only if Earthly "genotype seeds" would be send to another planet, and would create life, would we be able to talk about creating life and intelligence in a philosophical sense. But this is still science fiction.

    Let us then take another approach.

  2. Much of human race's current efforts to model brain and build robots are just plays similar to a theatre. Theater can be great and deep, it tells much about life and world, but it is not the world itself. Theater is a good metaphor. Primitive religions and societal powers originated from theater, so theater is a natural way to express symbolism outside purely material means of comunication. It is the oldest art and the source of symbolic thinking. Reconstructing the emergence of human society cannot be done without understanding the theater. The role of theater was recognized by many great thinkers, anthropologists, and theater theorists/reformers [Campbell, Elliade,Stanislawski, Grotowski, Kantor]. Greek science and philosophy were preceded by hundreds if not thousands years of mystery plays and theatre. We will especially concentrate on great myths of ancient cultures, such as the myth of Prometheus. Theater is at the origin of all civilizations and is easier to model by robots than the sexual reproduction or the "survival of fittest" between human races or societal organizations. Interestingly, one of the first books ever written on theater, by Hero of Alexandria, as early as in the first century, was devoted to a robot theater [Hero-of-Alexandria]. "Interactive radio" was also predicted by great theater reformer and director Bertold Brecht in a book "Radio Theory", in late twenties [Brecht67]. Brecht wrote about a transformation of broadcasting from distribution only to a communication system in which the listeners actively influence the contents of the action. But he was not able to predict the Internet technology of today. Ramon Lullus; the medieval priest Anzelm, philosopher-teacher of Saint Thomas; the rabbi from Prague; Pascal; Descartes and Leibnitz; they were all fascinated by robots, mechanical puppets, Golems, mechanical men and talking heads. There is a long-term link between robotics and theater, creation and mystery, and this relation has never been just for entertainment, or only accidental. Time has finally come, that it can be investigated in its fullest.

  3. Here I will propose a new theory for a robot, understanding that it is only a one more hypothesis in a long chain of theories that will be as long as humanity - a growing and emerging system by itself - will exist.

    The presented theory is based on four analogies:
  4. In contrast to other researchers, I do not treat these analogies literally, just metaphorically. My claim is only heuristic, and I believe that only a practical success verifies the theory, and only locally.

    Because every theory is useful only locally in time and in its application area (the most successful computer/robot applications were based on very limited principles - Deep Blue chess program, Samuel's checkers program, ping-pong robot, etc.), a better theory is the one that allows to create better limited robots in a given moment of time. Not one that creates unverified general claims. Ultimately, every real robot will include a system of many theories.

    So, the Genetic Algorithm theory is in no way "philosophically better" than for instance the heuristic search theory. They are both models, and one of them can be locally better to model some particular behavior of a robot.

    I am not a purist, I am a pragmatist and I do not believe in any particular theory for building robots. My goal is to take metaphors from the world to build interactive plays/games for a robot theatre/society. In the past our research group took methods from Logic Synthesis and applied them to Data Mining, being part of a robot [Perkowski99a, Perkowski99c]. I believe that the science and world are full of analogies, all of them could be useful if just the robot researchers would find time and interest to study them.

  5. Let us now explain first the analog methodologies (models, theories) listed above, and next how they will be used in the Oregon Cyber Theatre, our reductionist/holist robot model.

  • VIII. TO EVOLVE THE HUMAN WITHOUT CHEATING. to use internet morally to find the experimental solution to the top question of science, philosophy and technology. we have to replicate milliards of years of universe in quantum computers to evolve humans in quantum matter (Lem).



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