Artificial Instinct

Two cultures 2000 years apart, placed on opposite sides of world, researched in the same direction to understand Nature’s behavior, an expression of TAO.

Around 200 years BC  Traditional Chinese Medicine developed  Wu Xing  also known as the Law of 5 Movements; in this theory five virtues, identified as water, wood, fire, earth, metal, are balanced for a reciprocal stability.

It is not easy for western people to understand Chinese thought, although literal translation could be correct, because original text is ideographic and each term should be interpreted within its context, not an easy task.

In order to facilitate comprehension, I have written this interpretation using human characters:  The Empire of Emotions .

After 2000 years, in November 1946 the British psychiatrist William Ross Ashby worked on a device able to adapt to its environment. Alan Turing wrote this letter to William R. Ashby suggesting the use of ACE computer instead of a mechanical device. The hardware version was realized in March 1948 and called “Homeostat”, a 4 stage ultrastable system.

Photo courtesy: The Estate of W.Ross Ashby 

Combining these different approaches, I developed a  5 Stage Homeostat program that simulates a primordial instinct of survival in a robot. This is obtained through the management of 5 primary emotions: pain, fear, anger, joy, desire and being able to react to external stimuli thus self adapting to environment.

A deeper level of Wu Xing considers 12 organs and bowels entangled in a particular relationship, in this  5 Stage Homeostat they are visualized with a function representing a level of “activity” .

Although this virtual robot shows emotions, it is not aware of them, so I consider it as an application of artificial instinct instead of artificial emotional/intelligence.

When the device feels “pain” as a perception, it develops “fear” to avoid damage, and tries to react with “anger“, if reaction is successful, it obtains “satisfaction” and enhances the “desire” to repeats “experience”  with new “creativity“.

This behavioral pattern is a bridge between Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and modern scientific Medicine. A mathematical model of acupuncture may be evidence of ancient Chinese wisdom.

An Emotional application :  Emotive Short Circuit

For further info please visit

Thank you for sharing this post, a theory is useless without discussion.

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