On designing a visual system (Towards a Gibsonian computational model of vision)


This paper contrasts the standard (in AI) “modular” theory of the nature of vision with a more general (labyrinthine) theory of vision as involving multiple functions and multiple relationships with other sub-systems of an intelligent system. 1 The modular theory (e.g. as expounded by Marr) treats vision as entirely, and permanently, concerned with the production of a limited range of descriptions of visible surfaces, for a central database; while the “labyrinthine” design allows any output that a visual system can be trained to associate reliably with features of an optic array and allows forms of learning that set up new communication channels. The labyrinthine theory turns out to have much in common with J.J.Gibson’s theory of affordances, while not eschewing information processing as he did. It also seems to fit better than the modular theory with neurophysiological evidence of rich interconnectivity within and between sub-systems in the brain. Some of the trade-offs between different designs are discussed in order to provide a unifying framework for future empirical investigations and engineering design studies. However, the paper is more about requirements than detailed designs. 1This paper was a sequel to some earlier papers on vision, and built on, but did not repeat all their contents, including: (1) A.Sloman, Chapter 9 of The Computer Revolution in Philosophy http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/crp/chap6.html (2) Sloman, A., (1983), Image interpretation: The Way Ahead?, in Eds. O.J. Braddick and A.C. Sleigh, Physical and Biological Processing of Images, Berlin, Springer-Verlag. The labyrinthine theory proposed that in addition to providing factual information about the environment (e.g. for use in reflective, deliberative and communicative processes) visual mechanisms could also provide control information, e.g. in visual servoing and posture control. Around that time, unknown to me, the theory became popular that there are two visual pathways (ventral and dorsal) associated with ‘what’ and ‘where’ processing. When I later learnt that these pathways were thought to separate out processing concerning objects and locations, I thought that was incoherent. Later I believe Goodale and Milner reached a similar conclusion and proposed a theory much closer to the one suggested here, explained in their paper summarising their book The Visual Brain in Action (1995), available here http://psyche.cs.monash.edu.au/v4/psyche-4-12-milner.html

DOI: 10.1080/09528138908953711

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@article{Sloman1989OnDA, title={On designing a visual system (Towards a Gibsonian computational model of vision)}, author={Aaron Sloman}, journal={J. Exp. Theor. Artif. Intell.}, year={1989}, volume={1}, pages={289-337} }