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Samuel Kenyon
Works at Basis Technology Corp.
Attended Northeastern University
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Samuel Kenyon

Artificial Creativity  - 
In 1944, Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel created an animated film that depicted the motion of two triangles and a circle as they moved in and around a box that alternated between being opened and closed. Heider and Simmel asked people to describe what they saw in what is now considered a classic work in the field of social psychology. The subjects responded with creative narratives that ascribed human-like goals, plans, beliefs and emotions to the moving objects. Popular themes included romantic relationships and prison breaks.

[Andrew] Gordon wondered if a computer could be taught to do the same thing. Thus, the Heider-Simmel Interactive Theater — a Web-based application that allows people to make their own movies and write their own stories using triangles — was born. A companion site is called Triangle Charades. Here, people can make their own animations of different actions and guess the intended actions in other people’s animations.

“This research is trying to solve a fundamental problem in human computer interaction,” Gordon said. “The end goal is to collect enough data to test and train our systems to recognize actions and narrative so that computers will tell stories that are as creative and compelling as the ones people are telling.”!/article/60670/can-a-computer-learn-to-tell-compelling-stories/
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You mean a computer programmer, then sure.
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Samuel Kenyon

General Purpose AI  - 
Some thoughts on polymorphism and parameter ranges as a way to analyze animal cognition and also for synthesizing adaptable and robust AI.
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Samuel Kenyon

Learning and Developmental Systems  - 
New blog post: Polymorphism in Mental Development
Nothing revolutionary, just a few thoughts.

"Adaptability and uninterrupted continuous operations are important features of mental development.
There are a couple computer-ish concepts that might be useful for analyzing and synthesizing these aspects of mental development:

1. Parameter ranges
2. Polymorphism
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interesting take on continuity; my observation with continuity is ,I can not bring that in without bringing a concept of time;  a simple functional rendering will be fn(t) = fn ; to associate any other attribute with continuity invariably brings the discreteness inherent in mathematics; the time also puts the concept of background continuity as an integration over time which is important for metal development; in software perspective I look continuity a s a flow or multiple flows  which  stays constant over time and thus can instantiate  several scenes in discrete fashion -  scenes are effectively functions , that participate in multiple flows and functions do not know/care to know which flows they are in.; then the background becomes the attribute of each flow . This essentially gives a sense of direction to mental states. 
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Samuel Kenyon

Computational Creativity  - 
"I think that trying to generate every bit of a videogame we can think of can help us shine a light on new game mechanics, new ways to approach game design, and new ways of thinking about game creation. This week we’re looking at a system I put together just over a year ago for generating simple game mechanics for platform games."
--Michael Cook
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Check out this work from a former student in my program:

The most interesting thing being an explicit model of player enjoyment as the fitness function in the GA.
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Samuel Kenyon

Neuroscience  - 
Neuro-imaging is nice, but sometimes you've got to roll up your sleeves and stick a tazer in somebody's brain:

Neurophysiological and neuroimaging studies including both patients with disorders of consciousness and healthy subjects with modified states of consciousness suggest a crucial role of the medial posteroparietal cortex in conscious information processing. However no direct neuropsychological evidence supports this hypothesis and studies including patients with restricted lesions of this brain region are almost non-existent. Using direct intraoperative electrostimulations, we showed in a rare patient that disrupting the subcortical connectivity of the left posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) reliably induced a breakdown in conscious experience. This acute phenomenon was mainly characterized by a transient behavioral unresponsiveness with loss of external connectedness. In all cases, when he regained consciousness, the patient described himself as in dream, outside the operating room. This finding suggests that functional integrity of the PPC connectivity is necessary for maintaining consciousness of external environment.
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Samuel Kenyon

Neuroscience  - 

Goldberg and colleagues (Duhamel et al., 1992 provided evidence that visual receptive fields (RFs) can shift just before the eye movement (saccade) starts more than 20yrs ago. This remapping was thought to be a 'parallel shift' of the RFs with respect to the future fixation point. This RF update was thought to compensate perceptually for the upcoming eye movement since the visual perception is partially suppressed during the saccade (saccadic suppression). Now Zirnsak and colleagues ( could show that RFs shift towards and collapse onto the upcoming saccade target before they are remapped to their assigned location with respect to the new fixation point. This way "our brains create a stable view of the world even though our eyes dart around".

Excerpt from the Abstract
We experience the visual world through a series of saccadic eye movements, each one shifting our gaze to bring objects of interest to the fovea for further processing. Although such movements lead to frequent and substantial displacements of the retinal image, these displacements go unnoticed. It is widely assumed that a primary mechanism underlying this apparent stability is an anticipatory shifting of visual receptive fields (RFs) from their presaccadic to their postsaccadic locations before movement onset. Evidence of this predictive ‘remapping’ of RFs has been particularly apparent within brain structures involved in gaze control. [...] Here we show that during saccade preparation [...] RFs of neurons in a prefrontal gaze control area massively converge towards the saccadic target. [...] Following movements from an initial fixation point to a target, RFs remained stationary in retinocentric space. However, in the period immediately before movement onset, RFs shifted [...] and converged towards the target location. [...] Our results show that RF shifts do not predict the retinal displacements due to saccades, but instead reflect the overriding perception of target space during eye movements.

here the original article
the NATURE | NEWS & VIEWS article can be found here

#neuroscience   #scienceeveryday   #vision   #saccades   #FEF   #scienceisawesome  
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Nice! This seems consistent with my thinking (role of the PFC in prediction / simulation of reality), always nice when that happens...
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Samuel Kenyon

Shared publicly  - 
This is an extended draft version of a paper published in AGI 2012, which was shorter. It contains the Relativistic Theory of Mind. Please see Section 8 for details.

There was a good reason I left it out, because it seemed incomplete. I didn't want it to sound like Tononi's pan-experientialism. However, there is a soft argument that relates it to the principle of separation, which might be interesting for philosophers of physics.

Regarding evil alien thought experiment: subconsciously I must have derived it from Descartes's evil demon:

But I used it for a completely irreligious purpose here.

Also, please note that the relativistic theory of mind provides a simplest (if not simplest!) physical basis for pan-experientialism. So I think that theory makes a good model for discussing pan-experientialism. If experience is all around us, is merely the existence of entropy sufficient for experiential atoms, and does relativity explain the subjectivity of experience?

The journal version must cite Descartes. Maybe, I've now become a classical analytical philosopher. Kidding aside, I love thought experiments, I try to make good use of them. There are a couple more that should have gone into this paper.

There are some subtle problems with this paper, it all sounds too simple. But I counter this with our appeal to superstition. Why is it that we cannot start with the absolutely simplest analysis? I was half-dreaming just now that Strawson was basically right, and it required a bit of deep thinking to appreciate that. When we make Strawson plainer, we come to the unavoidable conclusion that some form of pan-experientialism (called "restricted" in the paper) must be true! The logic is undeniable.
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Samuel Kenyon

Cognitive Science  - 
"Try this exercise: Put this book down and go look in a mirror. Now move your eyes back and forth, so that you're looking at your left eye, then at your right eye, then at your left eye again. When your eyes shift from one position to the other, they take time to move and land on the other location. But here's the kicker: you never see your eyes move. What is happening to the time gaps during which your eyes are moving? Why do you feel as though there is no break in time while you're changing your eye position? (Remember that it's easy to detect someone else's eyes moving, so the answer cannot be that eye movements are too fast to see.)"
"While this is a normally adaptive mechanism, we have discovered a strange consequence of it: Imagine that every time you press a key, you cause a brief flash of light. Now imagine we sneakily inject a tiny delay (say, two hundred milliseconds) between your key-press and the subsequent flash. You may not even be aware of the small, extra delay. However, if we suddenly remove the delay, you will now believe that the flash occurred before your key-press, an illusory reversal of action and sensation. Your brain tells you this, of course, because it has adjusted to the timing of the delay.
Note that the recalibration of subjective timing is not a party trick of the brain; it is critical to solving the problem of causality. At bottom, causality requires a temporal order judgment: did my motor act come before or after that sensory signal? The only way this problem can be accurately solved in a multisensory brain is by keeping the expected time of signals well calibrated, so that "before" and "after" can be accurately determined even in the face of different sensory pathways of different speeds.
[This essay was originally published as Eagleman, DM (2009) Brain Time, in What's Next? Dispatches on the Future of Science. Ed. M. Brockman. New York: Vintage.]
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The reason you see your eyes move on your phone camera is the latency of the computer/camera/display. Its out of synch with your visual system. Though it might be interesting to see if the brain adjusts to that latency over time.
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Samuel Kenyon

Enactive, Embodied, and Ecological AI  - 
A bit of Froese cog sci:
"Our proposal proceeds on experimental
and phenomenological insights that the direct perception of an
action’s goal and meaning is primary, and that there is therefore a
conflict between perception of physical details and their intelligi-

The traditional way (hypothesis of physical perception (HPP)), which apparently includes the Theory of Mind Module concept, requires representations to be made based on watching physical motions of others. According to Froese this doesn't fit all the data and in fact leads to a weird prediction that mimicry of exact body motions is easier (less cognitively demanding) than emulating desired results by other means. But "Faithful imitation is a much less common skill than emulation."

So the HDP (Hypothesis of Direct Perception) skips the some or all of traditional representational structures (as far as I understand). It means that people understand the goals of actions and that is why they emulate rather than copy exact body motions.

"Direct" is a bit hard to explain though, it seems to me. I guess maybe one way to summarize it is that the body is part of mental computation and multiple bodies may be interacting together for some shared access to the same computations.
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Have him in circles
418 people
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software engineer
C++, iterative development, mobile robotics, backends, graphics / games / desktop UIs, wearable UIs, embedded systems
  • Basis Technology Corp.
    software engineer, 2012 - present
  • iRobot Corp.
    software engineer, 2005 - 2012
  • MIT Lincoln Laboratory
    intern, 2003 - 2003
  • Charles River Analytics
    intern, 2004 - 2004
  • DEKA
    intern, 2002 - 2002
Basic Information
☛ AI ☛ robots ☛ UX ☛ software dev
I am researching artificial intelligence / computational intelligence, especially cognitive architectures for situated embodied creatures.

My formal education in AI includes undergrad Artificial Intelligence (Northeastern University), Society of Mind / Emotion Machine taught by Marvin Minsky (MIT), Commonsense Reasoning for Interactive Applications taught by Henry Lieberman (MIT), and Cognitive Architectures advised/taught by Whitman Richards (MIT). I attended Ray Solomonoff's IAP lectures at MIT in 2005. I've also had interesting discussions with Aaron Sloman, Rod Brooks, and the late Push Singh (mostly 2005-2006).

I have built and/or worked on several mobile robots (ground and underwater) ranging from autonomous to teleoperated. My day job is programming and interaction design.

Member of AAAI, IEEE, IEEE Computational Intelligence Society, IEEE Robotics & Automation Society, ACM, SIGAI.

I am also an actor and screenwriter.
Bragging rights
Lead the release of many versions of production software for a successful iRobot robot series. Improved the state of the art in wearable HRI for teleoperated recon robots circa 2007.
  • Northeastern University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Graduate special student (not a degree program)
    Cognitive Architectures Research (9.364) Commonsense Reasoning for Interactive Applications (MAS.969) Society of Mind / The Emotion Machine (6.868)
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