Creative conceptual change involves (a) the construction of new concepts and of coherent belief systems, or theories, relating these concepts, and (b) the modification and extrapolation of existing concepts and theories in novel situations. The first kind of process involves reformulating perceptual, sensorimotor, or other low-level information into higher-level abstractions. The second kind of process involves a temporary suspension of disbelieve and the extension or adaptation of existing concepts to create a conceptual model of a new situation which may be very different from previous real-world experience.
We discuss these and other types of conceptual change, and present computational models of constructive and extrapolative processes in creative conceptual change. The models have been implemented as computer programs in two very different “everyday” task domains: (a) SINS is an autonomous robotic navigation system that learns to navigate in an obstacle-ridden world by constructing sensorimotor concepts that represent navigational strategies, and (b) ISAAC is a natural language understanding system that reads short stories from the science fiction genre which requires a deep understanding of concepts that might be very different from the concepts that the system is familiar with.
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