lecture: Machine Dreams

Dreaming Machines

Dream machine cutout

Artificial Intelligence provides a conceptual framework to understand mind and universe in new ways, clearing the obstacles that hindered the progress of philosophy and psychology. Let us see how AI can help us to understand how our minds create the experience of a universe.

Unlike the machine learning systems of the past, minds are not just classifiers or policy optimizers. Minds are not accumulators of knowledge about the world. Minds are generative systems: they actively produce the world that we subjectively experience. Ordinary day-time experiences are in fact dreams constrained by sensory data. This simple insight of contemporary cognitive science turns realist notions of embodiment on their head. The idea of the brain as a dreaming machine opens a way to understand the nature of our experiences.

This is the proposed fourth installment of a series of presentations about using AI perspectives to understand minds and their relationship to the universe. "How to build a mind" (30c3) suggested specifications for an architecture of cognition; "From computation to consciousness" (31c3) explored the mind's computational foundations; "Computational metapsychology" (32c3) discussed the individual and social construction of meaning. "Machine dreams" sketches how the computational machinery of our brains leads to our experience a subjective world. We will look at the conductor theory of consciousness, some of the mental structures contributing to our models of self and world, and the unreasonable effectiveness of neural processes in modeling physics.