112E Duke Bldg.
Durham, NC 27708-0764
Email: bill DOT seaman AT duke DOT edu
Visual and Media Studies
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Arts & Sciences
The Insight Engine - Bill Seaman
The Insight Engine seeks to draw on my long history as a media researcher designing new forms of interface and qualities of interactivity, and to expand this via a strong interdisciplinary collaboration that bridges Neuroscience, Computer Science, the Arts and Humanities at Duke as well as through international collaboration. Such a project reflects clearly the interdisciplinary goals of both DIBS and the University at large, and in particular presents a multi-perspective approach to knowledge navigation and subsequent knowledge production. This research seeks to work toward the digital authorship of a tool to empower insight production, distributed interdisciplinary team-based research and to potentially enable bisociational processes as discussed by Arthur Koestler in The Act of Creation: "I have coined the term “bisociation” in order to make a distinction between the routine skills of thinking on a single “plane”, as it were, and the creative act, which, as I shall try to show, always operates on more than one plane…" "We learn by assimilating experiences and grouping them into ordered schemata, into stable patterns of unity in variety. They enable us to come to grips with events and situations by applying the rules of the game appropriate to them. The matrices which pattern our perceptions, thoughts, and activities are condensations of learning into habit […] The bisociative act connects previously unconnected matrices of experience…"
If we reverse engineer differing research practices across multiple disciplines we can assume that many researchers undertake similar practices— reading papers, viewing diagrams, exploring data sets, creating and viewing visualizations, annotating research materials, watching videos, and partaking in discussions among other activities. Interdisciplinary research also means crossing “linguistic” domains framing that research. Here the generation of shared language (developing bridging languages) is essential. Yet, could we make a new system that heightens the potential for insight and creative juxtaposition of essential ideas?
The notion here is to explore Neuroscience through the associative “lens” of focused computational interactivity, functioning in the service of providing new insights and associations across interdisciplinary research fields, as well as exploring different concepts and foci from within individual research domains. In this instance artfully displayed interactive informatics represents the outmost level of the system. One can envision an interactive touch display that would enable a user-centric experience, “driving” the generation of a visual set of associative experiences —calling up different words, phrases, titles, images, videos, and models as a network of potential associations that are brought into visual proximity. Such a work could function both on a local level in a visual installation to be displayed at Duke, as well as on a laptop or ipad driven across the internet.
Outwardly, the initial experience will be aesthetic and participatory in nature— the system will be designed to be focused in different user-driven directions. Thus, though a network of “pre-seeded” choices one could drive the system to focus on Neuronscience-only related topics of association. Alternately one could juxtapose texts and images from the arts and humanities — poetic texts, critical/social texts, texts related to ethics, or historical texts from multiple fields— this depends on the initial seeding of the system, and choices of the interactant. One could also query the user to select from a scrolling list of topics and/or textually add a topic area. This would also include images, video sections and models from multiple fields. Thus, one would begin with a “seeded” database of relevant materials. Along with the database which would be added to in an ongoing manner, relevant internet searches could bring up new materials for juxtaposition. By digitally “scraping” the searched paper or reference, the system could gather, store and enable different qualities of experience to be articulated, related to that information—the system could provide different nested levels of granularity of information to be displayed– eg key word, phrase, title, paragraph, entire paper, entire book etc. within a zone of the visual display.
"Neosentience | The Benevolence Engine" Professor Bill Seaman and Otto Rössler
Coined by media researcher and artist Bill Seaman, ‘Neosentience’ describes a new branch of scientific inquiry related to artificial intelligence. Seaman and Rössler's new book explores the potential of creating an intelligent robotic entity in possession of a form of sentience similar to that of a human being. Chapters approach the concept from a range of disciplines, including psychology, linguistics and the arts. This book encourages readers to reflect on how we experience and interpret the world, how memory works and what it is to be human. The work functions as an example of Recombinant Informatics. The juxtaposition of many micro-chapters enables one to reflect on new research possibilities and approaches. The work also presents many historical ideas relevant to the research.
As a post Turing test approach to computational intelligence we consider a neosentient robotic entity to be a system that could exhibit well defined functionalities: It learns; It intelligently navigates; It interacts via natural language; It generates simulations of behavior (it ‘thinks’ about potential behaviors) before acting in physical space; It is creative in some manner; It comes to have a deep situated knowledge of context through multi-modal sensing; It displays mirror competence .
Ph.D., Centre for Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts, University of Wales (Wales), 1999
M.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Visual Studies, 1985
B.F.A., San Francisco Art Institute, 1979
B. Seaman (2012) "The Engine of Engines - Toward A Computational Ecology." in Integral Biomathics: Tracing the Road to Reality - Proceedings of ACIB’11 Conference in Stirling, Scotland, August 29-31, 2011 and iBioMath’2011 Workshop at ECAL’11, Paris. Edited by P. L. Simeonov, L. S. Smith, A. C. Ehresmann (Eds.).. ISBN-10: 3642281109 | ISBN-13: 978-3642281105 | Edition: 2012
New Book: B. Seaman and O.E. Rössler (2011) Neosentience - The Benevolence Engine, Intellect Press ISBN 9781841504049
B. Seaman (2009) Combinatoric Micro-Strategies for Emergent Transdisciplinary Education. in Rethinking the Contemporary Art School, NSCAD University Press
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