Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind

Author(s): Andy Clark

Personal Development

In this ground-breaking work, philosopher and cognitive scientist Andy Clark turns a common view of the human mind upside down. In stark opposition to familiar models of human cognition, Surfing Uncertainty explores exciting new theories in neuroscience, psychology, and artificial intelligence that reveal minds like ours to be prediction machines-devices that have evolved to anticipate the incoming streams of sensory stimulation before they arrive. This keeps minds like ours a few steps ahead of the game, poised to respond rapidly and apparently effortlessly to threats and opportunities as (and sometimes even before) they arise. Creatures thus equipped are more than simple response machines. They are knowing agents deep in the business of understanding their worlds. Such agents cope with changing and uncertain worlds by combining sensory evidence with informed prediction. Remarkably, the learning that makes neural prediction possible can itself be accomplished by the ceaseless effort to make better and better predictions. A single fundamental trick (the trick of trying to predict your own sensory inputs) thus enables learning, empowers moment-by-moment perception, and installs a rich understanding of the surrounding world. Action itself now appears in a new and revealing light. For action is not so much a 'response to an input' as a neat and efficient way of selecting the next 'input'. As mobile embodied agents we are forever intervening, actively bringing about the very streams of sensory information that our brains are simultaneously trying to predict. This binds perception and action in a delicate dance, a virtuous circle in which neural circuits animate, and are animated by, the movements of our own bodies. Some of our actions, in turn, structure the physical, social, and technological worlds around us. This moves the goalposts by altering the very things we need to engage and predict. Surfing Uncertainty brings work on the predictive brain into full and satisfying contact with work on the embodied and culturally situated mind. What emerges is a bold new vision of what brains do that places circular causal flows and the active structuring of the environment, center-stage. In place of cognitive couch potatoes idly awaiting the next sensory inputs, Clark's journey reveals us as proactive predictavores, skilfully surfing the waves of sensory stimulation.

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Andy Clark is Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, at Edinburgh University in Scotland. He is the author of Being There: Putting Brain, Body And World Together Again (1997), Mindware (OUP, 2nd Edition 2014), Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies and the Future of Human Intelligence (OUP, 2003), and Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension (OUP, 2008). His interests include artificial intelligence, embodied cognition, robotics, and the predictive mind.

Table of Contents ; Preface: Meat That Predicts ; Acknowledgements ; Introduction: Guessing Games ; Part I: The Power of Prediction ; Chapter 1: Prediction Machines ; 1.1 Two Ways to Sense the Coffee ; 1.2 Adopting the Animal's Perspective ; 1.3 Learning in Bootstrap Heaven ; 1.4 Multi-Level Learning ; 1.5 Decoding Digits ; 1.6 Dealing With Structure ; 1.7 Predictive Processing ; 1.8 Signaling the News ; 1.9 Predicting Natural Scenes ; 1.10 Binocular Rivalry ; 1.11 Dampening and Sharpening ; 1.12 Encoding, inference, and the Bayesian Brain ; 1.13 Getting the Gist ; 1.14 Predictive Processing in the Brain ; 1.15 Is Silence Golden? ; 1.16 Expecting Faces ; 1.17 When Prediction Misleads ; 1.18 Mind Turned Upside Down ; Chapter Two: Adjusting The Volume (Noise, Signal, Attention) ; 2.1 Signal Spotting ; 2.2 Hearing Bing ; 2.3 The Delicate Dance between Top-down and Bottom-up. ; 2.4 Attention, Biased Competition, and Signal Enhancement ; 2.5 Sensory Integration and Coupling ; 2.6 A Taste of Action ; 2.7 Gaze Allocation: Doing What Comes Naturally ; 2.8 Circular Causation in the Perception-Attention-Action Loop ; 2.9 Mutual Assured Misunderstanding ; 2.10 Some Worries About Precision ; 2.11 The Unexpected Elephant ; 2.12 Some Pathologies of Precision ; 2.13 Beyond the Spotlight ; Chapter 3: The Imaginarium ; 3.1 The Many Benefits of Controlled Hallucination ; 3.2 Simple Seeing ; 3.3 Cross-Modal and Multi-Modal effects ; 3.4 Meta-Modal Effects ; 3.5 Perceiving Omissions ; 3.6 Expectations and Conscious Perception ; 3.7 The Perceiver as Imaginer ; 3.8 'Brain Reading' During Imagery and Perception ; 3.9 Inside the Dream Factory ; 3.10 PIMMS and the Past ; 3.11 Towards Mental Time Travel ; 3.12 A Cognitive Package Deal ; Part II: Embodying Prediction ; Chapter 4: Prediction for Action ; 4.1 Staying Ahead of the Break ; 4.2 Ticklish Tales ; 4.3 Forward Models ; 4.4 Optimal Feedback Control ; 4.5 Action-oriented Predictive Processing ; 4.6 Simplifying Control ; 4.7 Beyond Efference Copy ; 4.7 Doing Without Cost Functions ; 4.8 Action-oriented Predictions ; 4.9 Predictive Robotics ; 4.10 Perception-Action-Understanding Machines ; Chapter 5: Sculpting the Flow ; 5.1 Double Agents ; 5.2 Towards Maximal Context-Sensitivity ; 5.3 Hierarchy Reconsidered ; 5.4 Sculpting Effective Connectivity ; 5.5 Soft Modularity ; 5.6 Understanding Action ; 5.7 Making Mirrors ; 5.8 Whodunit? ; 5.9 Robot Futures ; 5.10 The Restless, Rapidly Responsive, Brain ; 5.11 Precision Engineering ; Chapter 6: Engaging the world ; 6.1 Expecting the World ; 6.2 Controlled Hallucinations and Virtual Realities. ; 6.3 The Surprising Scope of Structured Probabilistic Learning ; 6.4 Sensing-Thinking-Acting ; 6. 5 Implementing Affordance Competition ; 6.6 Ready for Action ; 6.7 Hello World ; 6.8 'Not-Indirect' Perception ; 6.9 Hallucination as Uncontrolled Perception ; 6.10 Putting Illusions in Their Place ; 6.11 Safer Penetration ; 6.12 Who Estimates the Estimators? ; 6.13 Beyond Fantasy ; Chapter 7: Expecting Ourselves ; 7.1 The Space of Human Experience ; 7.2 Warning Lights ; 7.3 The Spiral of Inference and Experience ; 7.4 Schizophrenia and Smooth Pursuit Eye Movements ; 7.5 Simulating Smooth Pursuit ; 7.6 Disturbing the Network (Smooth Pursuit) ; 7.7 Tickling Redux ; 7.8 Less Sense, More Action ; 7.9 Disturbing the Network (Sensory Attenuation) ; 7.10 'Psychogenic Disorders' and Placebo Effects ; 7.11 Disturbing the Network ('Psychogenic' Effects) ; 7.12 Autism, Noise, and Signal ; 7.13 Conscious Presence ; 7.14 Emotion ; 7.15 Fear in the Night ; 7.16 A Nip of the Hard Stuff ; Part III: Scaffolding Prediction ; Chapter 8: The Lazy Predictive Brain ; 8.1 Surface Tensions ; 8.2 Productive Laziness ; 8.3 Ecological Balance, and Baseball ; 8.4 Embodied Flow ; 8.5 Befriending the Bayesian Brain ; 8.6 Beyond the Model-Based/Model-Free Divide ; 8.7 Balancing Accuracy and Complexity ; 8.8.Back to Baseball ; 8.9 Extended Predictive Minds ; 8.10 Escape from the Darkened Room ; 8.11 Self-Organized Instability ; 8.12 Fast, Cheap, but Model-Rich Too ; Chapter 9: Being Human ; 9.1 Putting Prediction in its Place ; 9.2 Reprise: Self-Organizing Around Prediction Error ; 9.3 Efficiency and " The Lord's Prior" ; 9.4 Chaos and Spontaneous Cortical Activity ; 9.5 Designer Environments ; 9.6 White Lines ; 9.7 Innovating for Innovation ; 9.8 Words as Artificial Contexts ; 9.9 Predicting With Others ; 9.10 Enacting Our Worlds ; 9.11 Representations: Breaking Good ; 9.12 Prediction in the Wild ; Chapter 10: The Future of Prediction ; 10.1 Attractions ; 10.2 Problems, Puzzles, and Pitfalls ; Appendix 1: Bare Bayes ; Appendix 2: The Free Energy Formulation ; References ; Index

General Fields

  • : 9780190217013
  • : Oxford University Press
  • : Oxford University Press
  • : January 2016
  • : 238mm X 163mm X 29mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 424
  • : Hardback
  • : Andy Clark