Conceptualization as a Basis for Cognition – Human and Machine

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Conceptualization as a Basis for Cognition – Human and Machine

Conceptualization as a Basis for Cognition — Human and Machine

““Concepts” are the most basic building block in human thinking. Concepts serve as ontological roots for objects that we think about. Concepts represent a persistent set of essential attributes of an object class, which can change and expand with experience. Existing concepts can be abstracted or linked through analogy to additional domains and object classes. Examples of concepts include |dog|, |democracy|, |white|, and |uncle|. Physical or mental objects can be stored as a concept and accrue more data and attributes over time (e.g., |my dog Lucky| and |snow white| versus |off-white|). Even if the referent is invisible or abstract, like |love|, it can still be stored as a concept. Our understanding of the world relies on concepts, attributes of concepts, and relationships between concepts. We use concepts and facts composed of concepts and the relations between them to construct our world model.

Concepts are unique in that they can contain any type of information available to an agent and be formed without prior knowledge. Imagine walking into a classroom, and the teacher says, “today, we will learn about the Quetzal.” A placeholder for a new concept is already formed in the mind of the students without any information other than a name. “It is a small tropical bird,” continues the teacher. A wealth of probable information is now added to the concept — it is probably very colorful, likely lives in forests, and makes interesting sounds. Concepts have elasticity and persistence, and there are boundaries to elasticity that don’t permit the concept to change beyond recognition…”


September 20, 2021
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