ProtoThinker: A Model of the Mind

John Barker: Designer, Programmer & Author



ProtoThinker: A Model of the Mind is a Windows software application that features a simple computer model of an extremely complex entity -- the human mind. ProtoThinker (PT) is a simulated person whose artificial mind facilitates exploration of questions about real minds.

You can converse with PT on any subject. PT will translate statements, questions, and requests into Mentalese (a language-like symbol system), and form thoughts and memories, draw logical conclusions, and make rational decisions. Initially, PT's mind is a tabula rasa. PT has no opinions or knowledge on any subject and is eager to believe what you say and do what you ask. Like any rational agent, however, PT will be disinclined to accept statements that conflict with information acquired through reasoning, and reluctant to comply with requests judged to have harmful consequences.

Unlike human minds, PT's mind is visible! Watch as the sentences you enter are analyzed syntactically and semantically and give rise to Mentalese representations that reveal logical structures. Then activate the Mindmask to make conversations more realistic by hiding PT's mental processing. Experiment with modifications of PT's linguistic and reasoning abilities and with simulations of deception, free will, self-awareness, altruism, robotic embodiment, irrational values, illogical reasoning, "mindreading," "mindblindness," and multiple personality.


Introduction to ProtoThinker

This is an overview of the many capacities of the A.I. program, ProtoThinker (or PT for short). PT is an artificial agent with the ability to speak English, learn what you tell it, answer questions, make logical inferences, make moral judgments, and much more.

ProtoThinker Tutorial

This provides brief step-by-step documentation to show how to use ProtoThinker for the first time. It takes very little effort to jump right into the middle of interacting with PT, the artificial agent.

Iris 1 Robot

The Mind Project's first robot to be controlled by ProtoThinker is Iris 1. This video shows the first generation DOS version of ProtoThinker controlling a robotic arm.

Mindmodeling Toolkit

The toolkit enables PT users familiar with Prolog to modify and enhance PT's source code, to construct their own mind-models, and to turn them into stand-alone applications that can be distributed free of charge.

Metaphor, Analogy & ProtoThinker

Clay Beckner explores the nature of metaphor and analogy and the attempts to capture these features of language in the workings of the ProtoThinker software.

Published Discussions of PT

ProtoThinker has been the subject of several published articles which you will find here.

Reflections on Minds

ProtoThinker is an effective tool for thinking through deep philosophical issues in the philosophy of mind, linguistics, and epistemology. Here are a couple to get you started in your thinking.

Introduction to Logic for ProtoThinker

ProtoThinker is able to reason using logical principles that we use in our own reasoning

Introduction to Natural Language Processing

It is one thing to create a machine that can speak an "aritifical" language. All computer programs are a language of that kind. But what does it take to program a computer so that it can understand one of the messy, complicated natural languages like English?


You can download ProtoThinker and other related programs.

Your comments and suggestions are welcome.
Prof. John A. Barker
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville