Re: The Frame Problem

From: Harnad, Stevan (
Date: Sat Mar 08 1997 - 20:25:40 GMT

> From: Cherry, Sandra <>
> md>Dye, Matt wrote;
> md> If you were to be told everything you know in the same way as a symbolic
> md> computer needs to be told, would you have been able to know all the
> md> millions of things you know by the age you are now?
> Some knowledge is innate, E.g. universal grammar (according to
> Chomsky), and other species, e.g. birds have innate systems, like their
> songs.

Innate knowledge won't help if we suppose THAT to be just symbols and
rules too. Evolution cannot anticipate and encode all possibilities
any more than brains can.

> md> It seems to me very unlikely that I could have acquired the knowledge I
> md> have now just by being taught millions of rules. What do others think?
> md> This is the essence of the frame problem. Also think about how many
> md> times you "trip up" - that is are unable to respond or give an answer to
> md> something. Usually we can make inferences and have an educated guess.
> md> Could a computer whose knowledge is just in the form of rules we have
> md> given it do these things?
> No, as it only has the symbols you have input into it's system, as you
> can't input all possible outcomes,
> (a) you would not be able to anticipate these (although I expect you
> could add as "it" came up against a problem) BUT this brings me to
> (b) "it" does not have enough space, megabites, chips, whatever it runs
> on to hold all of these.

The problem is not with computers' storage capacity. It is with
the theory that cognition is just computation.

> So, this leads me to conclude that WE, as in humans are superior to
> computers, in that respect. I.E. We are more adaptable, through being
> able to bend and manipulate rules/knowledge to adapt to any given
> situation. However as Guy mentioned, I think that if I was on another
> planet knowing nothing about the way of life, etc. I too would come up
> against a frame problem, not knowing how to react if I did not have
> that knowledge/input. However I am not likely to be in that situation,
> I have enough difficulty in trying to expand my own mind, with all this
> new input. Sandra

The Frame Problem is not just the human problem of encountering
situations you can't cope with. It's the KIND of breakdown symbol
systems have sooner or later, and the fact that it proves your
interpretation of the progamme as "knowing" had been wrong all along.

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