Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Emotions as an Index into Memory

It's interesting to watch the LLMs generate their answers. The pieces arrive in "tokens", small chunks of information, dictated by the model, based on the prompt. As I watch these chunks land on my screen, I wonder about my own brain.

What if I were to ask the LLMs, "What is your earliest memory of pain?" Or insert any emotion and ask the same prompt. I think emotions are a powerful index into my brain, one that often dominates other forms of access to my memories. Close your eyes and tell me what comes to mind when I say "burning rubber". Smell is another index. No doubt, all the senses are strong indices into memory, too. LLMs know a lot of words, but may be a little short on other triggers.

Maybe emotions are the common language of the senses? Are emotions how my brain processes all the senses into an experience? Emotions might be meta-senses, a higher-order of communication within my brain. I have personally struggled with emotions, struggled being aware of them, in myself and others. I wonder what mechanisms my brain has developed to compensate. Or, perhaps my brain has always had another high-order language to process my world, making my emotional development secondary.