AAAI Publications, 2011 AAAI Fall Symposium Series

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The Strong Story Hypothesis and the Directed Perception Hypothesis
Patrick Henry Winston

Last modified: 2011-11-03


I ask why humans are smarter than other primates, and I hypothesize that an important part of the answer lies in what I call the Strong Story Hypothesis, which holds that story telling and understanding have a central role in human intelligence. Next, I introduce another hypothesis, the Driven Perception Hypothesis, which holds that we derive much of our commonsense, including the commonsense required in story understanding, by deploying our perceptual apparatus on real and imagined events. Then, after discussing methodology, I describe the representations and methods embodied in the Genesis system, a story-understanding system that analyzes stories ranging from precis of Shakespeare's plots to descriptions of conflicts in cyberspace. The Genesis system works with short story summaries, provided in English, together with low-level commonsense rules and higher-level reflection patterns, likewise expressed in English. Using only a small collection of commonsense rules and reflection patterns, Genesis demonstrates several story-understanding capabilities, such as determining that both Macbeth and the 2007 Russia-Estonia Cyberwar involve revenge, even though neither the word revenge nor any of its synonyms are mentioned. Finally, I describe Rao's Visio-Spatial Reasoning System, a system that recognizes activities such as approaching, jumping, and giving, and answers commonsense questions posed by Genesis.


computational theory of human intelligence; strong story hypothesis; directed perception hypothesis; story understanding; cognitive systems; computational models of human intelligence

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