2012-01-26 Fry

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AFIT Applied Mathematics and Statistics Colloquium
“Qualia, Intelligence, and Computation”
Robert L. Fry
Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory
Thursday, 26 January 2012, 1400-1450, Room 244, Building 640
This talk is an update to another given to the AFIT Physics Department in May 2007 titled “The
Engineering of Intelligent Systems.” The emerging framework described there has matured
significantly since and is lends itself to quantifying the notion of qualia and the active flow of
information and decisions to and from an open system. These systems include intelligent,
biological, dissipative physical systems, and “algorithms.” Qualia can be seen as the most
elementary computational tokens within this general theory of computation and capture how a
system mechanistically acquires information from and in turn makes decisions on how it wants to
effect its environment. It should be noted that things that we can “do” share the title of being
“qualia” along with those things that we can “know.” In either case, these are the percepts we
subjectively distinguish. Together, the requirements of subjective distinguishability and causality
provide a coherent and logically consistent basis for a computational framework that describes the
objective rules and dynamics of subjective computation.
Progress since the prior talk includes answering two questions critical to developing a
complete engineering framework. The first was how a system can solve the game-theoretic
optimization problems so as to be practically realizable. The second problem is drawn from socalled “rabbit hole” analogy in turn drawn from the book “Alice in Wonderland” and deals with
how we should behave when confronted with uncertainty in what is known, what to do, or both.
Once the engineering framework is summarized, examples and sample applications are
given in the areas of neural computation, ballistic missile defense, algorithm design, and cancer
research. Cortical neurons provide an especially useful and constructive demonstration of the
theory and engineering framework. This talk ends with a synopsis of a recent interesting finding.
The term “qualia” and the fundamental notion and definition of “strict” logical implication in logic
have a common originator – the great American philosopher C. I. Lewis. This may be surprising,
but should not since these concepts are inseparable. Lewis clearly understood the importance of
both notions.
About the speaker: Robert Fry has bachelor degrees in computer science and electrical engineering
(EE) and a Masters degree in EE from the Johns Hopkins University where he worked since 1979
and is currently Principal Professional Staff. His principal job is combat and weapon system
engineering. He has extensive experience with the US Navy AEGIS combat system and the
development and evolution of many missile and weapon systems including PATRIOT, THAAD,
HARPOON, RAM, Tomahawk, AMRAAM, and the entire Standard Missile family. Robert also
performs basic research and is transitioning a computational theory of intelligence into a formal
framework for the design and realization of intelligent systems. The transitioning process has been
guided by the two pathfinder applications; ballistic missile defense (BMD) and neural computation
where he has many publications since 1994. In the latter, he has successfully applied the theory to
reverse-engineer cortical neurons as found in brains. Robert holds 5 US patents including a
Photoscreener for Infants and Preschool children now being licensed and another in Cybernetic
Systems. He teaches graduate courses at Johns Hopkins University in Probability and Information
Theory, Random Processes, Digital Signal Processing, and various short courses in missile and
combat system engineering system taught domestically and internationally.