Sunday, December 4, 2011

365: The Mind is a computer

Many people who work in the cognitive science and in the philosophy of mind think that the most exciting idea of the past generation, indeed of the past two thousand years, is that the mind is a computer program.

Specifically, the idea is that the mind is to the brain as a computer program is to the computer hardware. John Searle has baptized this view as "Strong Artificial Intelligence".

John Searle, born in 1932 and still alive and active, is noted for his contributions to the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and social philosophy and teached at Berkeley in 1959.

In the previous lecture we learnt that a computer is a symbol manipulating machine and in the real computers of today, the machine uses only the symbols "1" and "0".

When a computer has to solve a problem, it uses an algorithm. An algorithm is a systematic procedure for solving a problem in a finite number of steps.

This all is controlled by a set of rules. For example you can have the rule "If condition C , then do A", which could be in real "If complex symbol "1111" occurs, replace it by "0000".

Now suppose we put a computer with a specific program on subject X in an room and an expert on the subject X in another room.

Then we let experts outside the room type in questions on a console. Both, the computer and the man in the room, can answer the questions.

This test, named the Turing Test, claims, that if the experts, who ask the questions, cannot distinguish the behavior of the computer from that of a human, then the computer has the same cognitive abilities as a human.

It would mean that the computer is as good as the human expert on subject X. Or in other words, the computer does the same as the mind of the human expert, understanding the questions and answering them correctly.

This is odd. A computer is a symbol manipulation device according to a given set of rules. Whatever the symbols means, doesn't matter. If you use the proper algorithm you get the solution of any problem.

Is that how our mind works? Is it indeed like a computer program a symbol manipulating system? This question has raised a battle in the philosophy of mind due to the famous Chinese Room argument as formulated by John Searle.

It is like this: you sit in a room with a bunch of boxes in which you find cards with Chinese characters on them. You have no understanding of Chinese at all.

But you have a book with rules, telling you things like "when you receive symbol X and Y, then return as an answer symbol P from box 2"

Outside the room there are chinese speaking people who send you their questions. You use your book of rules and return the appropriate symbols, which show to be the correct answers.

It means, that you passed in principle the famous Turing test, but you would not thereby understand a single word of Chinese.

If you don't understand Chinese by using a book of rules and manipulating symbols, neither does any digital computer using its algorithm.

However, when asked a question in English, you do not get a set of complex symbols, nor do you look up a number of rules to manipulate them.

When I ask you whether the earth is flat or a sphere, you can give an answer, because the words 'earth', "flat' and "sphere' have a meaning. And your answer is based on empirical facts.

And that is what a computer never can achieve, adding meaning to the symbols it manipulates and in some respects that is one of its powers, to be absolutely mindless.

The Discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: Thank you ㋡
[13:23] Sybyle Perdide: great
[13:23] Sybyle Perdide: as alway
[13:23] Sybyle Perdide: s
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:23] Farv Hallison: Thank you, herman.
[13:24] herman Bergson: Conclusion....computers never can have a mind
[13:24] agnos: Thanks
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: ed thats how it is, everyone who have written a computer program can see that
[13:24] Farv Hallison: But both stories sidestep the issue of defining what the mind is.
[13:24] herman Bergson: no Farv...
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: simple things like playing music requires the computer to for each sequence of the song do a complex series of instructions every time and loop millions of times per second the same instruction over and over
[13:25] herman Bergson: A mind does more than a computer does...
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: it can never learn it by itself
[13:25] Elle (ellenilli.lavendel) is Offline
[13:25] herman Bergson: a computer only shuffles symbols around according a bunch of rules
[13:25] herman Bergson: a mind ads meaning to symbol....a mind has content
[13:25] agnos: But we seemed to have developed into having a mind
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: its like if we would never learn the notes but always have a paper to look at
[13:25] Farv Hallison: The rule might generate new computer programs.
[13:26] Mistyowl Warrhol is Online
[13:26] Farv Hallison: a dictionary can add meaning to words.
[13:26] herman Bergson: maybe..but they do the same as all computer programs…shuffle symbols around without any understanding
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: yes indeed
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes..that is what we did with our mind
[13:27] herman Bergson: Just look how crude the translators work....even the best....
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: a computer cpu is just a bunch of millions of small sort of light switches that opens and closes in a specific way to the program code
[13:27] Farv Hallison: well, a computer could have a dictionary of meanings and even make new entries
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: because the cpu is designed in hardware so that a specific sequence of 1 and 0 will cause those switches to flip
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: its nothing more than that
[13:28] herman Bergson:a computer can have a database, Farv..but We have to fill it
[13:28] Sybyle Perdide: may I play advocata diaboli?
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: the compiler that translate the c or basic code must have knowledge about the basic construction of the cpu
[13:28] herman Bergson: sure Sybyle
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: thats how you program in assembler
[13:29] CONNIE Eichel: ^^
[13:29] Sybyle Perdide: the problem of the computer is, that the rules are only on a single dimension
[13:29] herman Bergson: hold on Bejiita....plz ㋡
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: then you must know registers address locations and everything about the basic hardware to communicate with the machine
[13:29] netty Keng is Offline
[13:29] Sybyle Perdide: the human pc has many layers of rules
[13:29] Sybyle Perdide: smelling, looking, feeling and so on
[13:29] Farv Hallison: I like the smelling
[13:29] bergfrau Apfelbaum is Online
[13:29] herman Bergson: Oh yes....I even left that feature our on purpose...
[13:30] Lizzy Pleides: our brain influences sympaticus and parasympaticus, it influences if you feel well or not, how can a computer feel well?, can he feel anger fear or love?
[13:30] Farv Hallison: The computer could have a chemical lab that acts like a nose.
[13:30] herman Bergson: No Farv....
[13:30] herman Bergson: unfortunately not...
[13:31] herman Bergson: the chemical lab produces only data as in put which are just symbols for the computer
[13:31] herman Bergson: then it has its algorithm to analyze the data
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:31] Netty Crystal is Online
[13:31] herman Bergson: you find such computers to analyze gasses for instance in many laboratories
[13:32] herman Bergson: But the machine has no understanding at all of the meaning of its output
[13:32] herman Bergson: It is our mind that adds the semantics to the charts and numbers
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: and basically a computer have only a specific set of fixed instructions it can understand, the compiler in for example c must translate the c code to these basic commands and thats all the commands the cpu will ever understand untill a new model arrives with more instruction sets
[13:33] Sybyle Perdide: but we don't know either, why an how we react on chemical signs
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: tats why a computer can never at least not as they work now feel or sense
[13:33] Sybyle Perdide: we just started to analyze it
[13:34] herman Bergson: Well the idea of a sensory computer with understanding of its sense experiences is a Science Fiction idea
[13:34] herman Bergson: Take Data form Startrek for instance...
[13:35] herman Bergson: The funny thing with him was that he could play Bach on a cello, but couldn't put feeling in it
[13:35] Farv Hallison: good point. I can't put feeling into it either.
[13:36] herman Bergson: So the scenario writers stayed close to the symbol shuffling of a computer
[13:36] herman Bergson: Data had a brother Farv.....
[13:36] herman Bergson: Looks curiously at Farv
[13:36] Farv Hallison: oh?
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: star trek data?
[13:36] herman Bergson: Yes
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: yes he had a brother
[13:36] herman Bergson: But that brother was the bad guy is one of the episodes
[13:36] Janette Shim is Offline
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: who was kind of evil programmed i think
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:37] Farv Hallison: Could the brother play with feeling?
[13:37] herman Bergson: Well....
[13:37] herman Bergson: that is a good question Farv....for that brother really wanted evil....
[13:37] Farv Hallison: Can you be evil without having evil feelings?
[13:37] herman Bergson: which is an emotional choice
[13:38] herman Bergson: It is always fun to see how in SF they have to struggle with a computer with a mind...
[13:38] herman Bergson: especially when the thing gets its own feelings and ideas
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: and thats also a thing, can you make a computer program so that it for some unforeseen reason turn against you like in terminator
[13:39] herman Bergson: That is way beyond what a computer really is and will be in the future
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: i don't think so cause then you must have deliberateley programmed it to kill you and who does that?
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: a computer only does what you tell it to
[13:40] Farv Hallison: well, the computer might control the power grid and give itself more power when it feel is it circuits slowing down.
[13:40] Joann Innovia (kimkiddy) is Offline
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: even if you can make a computer program take in data from outside and "learn" i dont' think that a machine that is made for good suddenly by external input could go berserk
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: and kill you
[13:40] herman Bergson: Yes Farv...that is what it in SF movies always does....
[13:41] herman Bergson: but it only can do so when programmed that way....
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:41] herman Bergson: Greatest fun is always when they in a movie never get the idea to simply pull the plug
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: hehe yes, thats rule nr one
[13:42] herman Bergson: weird thing is then when you approach the plug and outlet the computer attacks you :-)
[13:42] Farv Hallison: 2001 pulled the plug.
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: ALL machines no matter what it is should have an emergency stop or a mean to cut the power as soon it loose control
[13:42] herman Bergson: True Farv..indeed......he removes all those red objects one by one..
[13:43] Farv Hallison: but the computer might be running our life control system, so we can't shut it down.
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: but well i may bee hard to get to the plug of the opier machine if it chases you around the office meanwhile
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: copying
[13:43] herman Bergson: lol Good one FArv...
[13:43] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): aardlekschakelaar:)
[13:43] herman Bergson: When we pull the plug here SL ceases to exist and we all are gone....:-((
[13:44] CONNIE Eichel: yes :/
[13:44] herman Bergson: So, we are defenseless against our computers!!!!!
[13:44] Farv Hallison: yes, the police might pull the plug if we start to demonstrate.
[13:44] herman Bergson: We are all trapped inhere!!!!!
[13:44] CONNIE Eichel: hehe
[13:44] Farv Hallison: We are trapped in the Matrix/
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yeah..Let's OCCUPY SL !!!!!
[13:45] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): lol
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: well we still exist as code but the code need an active cpu to run so you can say we are like viruses in sl, a virus ( biological) needs a living host, its just a bunch of dna as our avatars just is code that need a powered on cpu and memory to operate on
[13:45] herman Bergson: Well...thank you all for your participation again...
[13:45] Lizzy Pleides: thanks to YOU herman
[13:45] Farv Hallison: this has been great fun.
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: yeah
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: really nice
[13:45] Sybyle Perdide: yes
[13:45] Guestboook van tipjar stand: Lizzy Pleides donated L$50. Thank you very much, it is much appreciated!
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: \o/
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: || Hoooo!
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: / \
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:46] herman Bergson: a painful observation that we are trappe din here and cant pull the plug unless we want to kill ourselves...
[[13:46] Farv Hallison: ㋡
[13:46] herman Bergson: I hope you all can live with that ㋡
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: but behind the avatar is still a real person who control it
[13:46] CONNIE Eichel: hehe
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: my avatar doesn't do anything my rl self don't tell it to
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: its operator
[13:46] herman Bergson: That real person might survive then Bejiita...
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: its an interesting thought for sure
[13:47] herman Bergson: Thank you all and dont be afraid of thinking computers..they dont exist
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: just machines
[13:47] CONNIE Eichel: :)
[13:47] Farv Hallison: I wont do anything my tail wouldn't do.
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: and machines only do what you tell them, unless some dangerous bug is in the code
[13:48] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ㋡
[13:48] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): *•.¸'*•.¸ ♥ ¸.•*´¸.•*
[13:48] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): Goed Gedaan Jochie!!
[13:48] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): .•*♥¨`• BRAVO!!!! •¨`♥*•.
[13:48] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): ¸.•*`¸.•*´ ♥ `*•.¸`*•.¸
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: and that bug is then telling the machine to do wring things
[13:48] Farv Hallison: All code has bugs
[13:48] Lizzy Pleides: clap clap clap...wohooooooo!
[13:48] CONNIE Eichel: great class, as always :)
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: Hooo!!!
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: Hoooo!
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: yeah
[13:48] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: liked it a slot
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: ok cu all
[13:48] herman Bergson: thank you ㋡
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: lot
[13:49] Farv Hallison: bye Bejita
[13:49] Sybyle Perdide: bye Bejita
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: cu soon
[13:49] CONNIE Eichel: bye bye, see you next class :)
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:49] herman Bergson whispers: Bye CONNIE
[13:49] Lizzy Pleides: Tc Connie
[13:49] Farv Hallison: bye Connie
[13:49] Sybyle Perdide: ciao Connie
[13:49] CONNIE Eichel: bye :)

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