Updating the Frame Problem for Artificial Intelligence Research

Journal of Artificial Intelligence and Consciousness 7 (2):217-230 (2020)
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The Frame Problem is the problem of how one can design a machine to use information so as to behave competently, with respect to the kinds of tasks a genuinely intelligent agent can reliably, effectively perform. I will argue that the way the Frame Problem is standardly interpreted, and so the strategies considered for attempting to solve it, must be updated. We must replace overly simplistic and reductionist assumptions with more sophisticated and plausible ones. In particular, the standard interpretation assumes that mental processes are identical to certain kinds of computational processes, and so solving the Frame Problem is a matter of finding a computational architecture that can effectively represent relations of semantic relevance. Instead, we must take seriously the possibility that the way in which intelligent agents use information is inherently different. Whereas intelligent agents are plausibly genuinely causally sensitive to semantic properties as such (to what they perceive, desire, believe intend, etc.), computational systems can only be causally sensitive to the formal features that represent these properties. Indeed, it is this very substitution of formal generalizations for genuinely semantic ones that is responsible for the way current AI systems are brittle, inflexible, and highly specialized. What we need is a more sophisticated way of investigating the relationship between computational information processing and genuinely semantic information use, so that these two senses of using information are not conflated, but instead the question of how they are related to one another can be studied directly. I apply the generative methodology I have developed elsewhere for cognitive science and AI research (Miracchi, 2017, 2019a) to show how the Frame Problem can be appropriately updated.

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Lisa Titus
University of Denver


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