On the dynamics of judgment: does the butterfly effect take place in human working memory?

Research paper by Andrzej Buller, Katsunori Shimohara

Indexed on: 01 Jun '01Published on: 01 Jun '01Published in: Artificial Life and Robotics


Why do people hesitate—to do something, or not to do something—even when the data available to them remain constant? The neural model of human working memory (WM) we present in this paper explains hesitation as an emergent property of a complex dynamic structure of stored/processed information. WM is considered as a geometric space inhabited by a “society” of memes, i.e., complex informational structures. A large population of identical memes can cause a feeling, judgment, or intention in an individual. The memes navigate all over WM and interact with one another in a way resembling genetic cross-over; hence, new memes are born at several places in WM. Since the birth of contradictory memes is possible, populations of memes contributing to contradictory feelings, judgments, and plans grow in WM and fight for domination. A computer simulation of the process showed that WM's state sometimes goes to a two-focal “strange” attractor. Hence, sudden mental shifts, as, say, from love to hate and back from hate to love, may be caused by minute fluctuations in the densities of meme streams entering WM. The complex system theory calls this phenomenon the “butterfly effect”. We argue that this effect takes place in the human mind and also can take place in an advanced robot.