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Spiritual concepts

Memory - traversing the database of facts

It may be helpful here to refer to The Model of the Mind, whilst reading this description.

The Database of facts  - part of Memory - provides a complex interlinked network of concepts and actual facts.  The links or relationships are the ‘verbs’ and the nodes are the ‘nouns’ and ‘adjectives’ .  Words can be concepts too, but words are simply just one more synonym for a thing. 

We store data  - images and information around an internal ‘software like’ representation, that enables the retrieval processes to navigate their way round the database without needing to know the meaning of words.

The easiest way to explain how traversal works is with a very simple example. 

Let us imagine that my Perception system has shown me that I have run out of Green and Blacks plain chocolate.  I know from looking at my Objectives that this has the potential to provide me with untold suffering, [so it is a Threat], so my Reasoning system springs into action and uses my Database of facts to counteract impending doom.

I access the Database of facts with the key word and there it is [see diagram below].  The situation is so disastrous that I am willing to pay anything to get some more chocolate, so I follow the links between data [the relationships] and I find Waitrose and Tesco both stock it.

In my mind is a mental image of the London area and my database [rightly or wrongly – remember this is my head] tells me that from what I remember, Waitrose has shops in Hounslow, Sevenoaks and Croyden.  The only Tesco location I can remember, is in Ilford.

I know that at that very moment I am in Staines.  So as the crow flies, my nearest shop is the Waitrose at Hounslow.

So off I set my decision system having taken the course of action I recommend – a trip to Hounslow. And the shop closed down ten years ago.

 

My Composer now jumps in because hysteria is about to set in and says in a calm voice in my head………………….

 

‘Use the Internet and get some up-to-date information’

 

So I do and I find that on the database that is a slightly more reliable picture of reality, the nearest stockist of the chocolate is in my corner shop down the road.

 

If I had been Arthur Schopenhauer or a Buddhist monk or an ascetic priest, I would probably have decided, to renounce all desire of chocolate on the basis that it was clearly going to give me untold suffering in the future.

All desires, after all, are a source of misery and suffering and grief….. or so they say......

Is it possible to have faulty reasoning using the database?   In general, faulty reasoning is caused by an incorrect model, but it is also possible to use the model wrongly to come up with the ‘wrong answer’.   In computer systems we have general purpose query programs to ‘reason’ for us – we ask a question of the database and it comes back with the data.  Ultimately we are doing much the same thing when we ‘reason’.

Let me provide an example. 

 Suppose in my head I have this exceptionally simple model which shows that a person can have been a patient in a number of hospitals in their time and in turn the hospital will have had many patients.  The hospital has wards and the patient may have been [I’m keeping it simple here] in a ward in the hospital.

Now I ask the question “what patients has the hospital had”? 

I have two routes I can follow in the reasoning process –  number one is the straightforward route which provides me with all the patients the hospital has ever had – in-patient and outpatient.  Number two provides me with all the in-patients it has ever had.  The model is right, but we might not have used our understanding of the different sorts of patients to answer the question properly.

In computing, definition is absolutely key so we’d have sorted this out before we ever devised a query like this, but in ordinary life we don’t.  A good computer analyst would have produced a model like this and defined their terms, so that it was clear which route to take.

 

What this model is telling us is that only In-patients are to be found in wards – so the definition of In-Patient is a patient that is in a ward.  Following route 2 then gives us all the In-Patients the hospital has ever had.

Reasoning by traversing the database of facts is thus dependent on two things:

  • The accuracy of the database we have built up
  • The accuracy with which we navigate round the database

Observations

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