After meeting with Philippe we discussed my (lack of) progress on the project. The system design has not really changed, and I’ve spent a lot of time doing what? Hacking around with OpenCV and C++. All the while I’ve been trying to write a paper with Steven explicitly relating dreaming and mental imagery to propose an atypical way of thinking about those processes. Through all this hacking away I’ve been pretty stagnant in regards to theory and implementation.
Now I find out I need to finish my PhD proposal in only a few months, which would not be so challenging except for the fact that I need to include a detailed description of the system’s architecture. I have recently let go of development in order to concentrate on the system design, which has been extremely difficult, but also very valuable. For example, I realized that the higher level aspects of the system (that have been quite vague) depend on a notion of habituation—the effect that repeated stimulus causes a smaller and smaller response. This is a mechanism that allows us to tune out constant aspects of the world and attend to the interesting changes. Unfortunately the key is repeated stimulus. If the system cannot see two patches in subsequent frames as the same object, then all patches are new stimulus, and nothing is ever repeated. In writing the system design (and doing a lot of visualizing) I realized I can probably solve the issue by only comparing each input frame to the nearest percept that was segmented from the previous frame, and assuming two patches match, rather than assuming the patches don’t match. For more details see the current rough draft of the system design.
While working on my proposal outline I realized why I’ve had so many motivational issues. I’ve spent so much time dealing with neurological facts and dealing with computational specifics that I have lost sight of the philosophical aspects of the project. I hope I will be able to integrate these aspects of the project into the proposal, as that can be the only honest representation of a project that cannot be reduced to a technical description of a system.