Do Computers Have Minds?

From: Whitehouse Chantal (
Date: Wed Mar 13 1996 - 13:21:00 GMT

At the beginning of the course it seemed we were not only trying to
define what a "mind" was but also who had one. Is it just humans or
do animals have them, and what about machines?

Now that we've started to think about the way in which we think
(questioning "do we use symbols or images?") it seems that all of a
sudden it's definite that computers don't have a mind. The fact that
a computer can manipulate symbols was given as proof that a
"humunculus" would not be needed if we "thought" in symbols.
Why can we say that the computer definitely has no humunculus?
Doesn't the problem of saying "what inside the computer is
looking at the symbols and interpreting them?" arise in the same way
as the question of what looks at the symbols or images in our own

I'm also a little unsure about the difference between symbols and
pictures. I understand how an picture can resemble an object, unlike a
word, but not why a humunculus is not needed for symbols if it is for
images. Aren't pictures just symbols themselves just on a more
complex scale? And so wouldn't you need a humunculus to look at the
symbols before interpreting them? The only evidence saying you don't
need a humunculus is coming back to the "well comuters can do it so
obviously you don't need one" thing again. It just doesn't seem to
explain enough.

But that's just my opinion, Chantal. XXX

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