Re: Harnad (2) on Computation and Cognition

From: Pentland, Gary (
Date: Tue Apr 18 2000 - 12:59:57 BST

On Mon, 17 Apr 2000, HARNAD, Stevan wrote:
> > But isn't computation "semanticaly interpretable", attaching a meaning to
> > the squiggles and squoggles.
> Semantically interpretable to/by us, but in and of and to itself,
> meaningless (like the words on a page). Not so in the case of our
> thoughts.

Aren't our thoughts meaningless until they reach the part of our mind that
is concious, don't we do stuff sub conciously (like remembering to breath)
those thoughts and processes are meaningless untill they interact with the
world or our conciousness.

If this is the case then are we trying to model just part of the mind (the
concious part)?
> > but isn't Harnad stating that the interpretation must be consistent,
> > an inconsistent system will never make sense to anyone.
> Sometimes a contradiction can be contained, like a benign tumour,
> technically; but, yes, in general an inconsistent system will only make
> sense as long as you don't look at it closely enough.

But surely to improve on a system we must analyse it in detail and find
out where the errors are. So we have to look closely, and check that we
are doing the correct thing, or least producing the correct outputs.

> > Surely if you swap the meanings of words you would be speaking a new
> > language (TERRYESE?) or merely Chinese incorrectly, depending on the
> > number of words you change, someone may still understand you.
> Why not try it? Just pick two words (say, "two" and "words") and swap
> their meanings. Now grep a big text for instances of "two" and "words"
> and show me how they all make systematic sense with the swapped
> meanings. Here's a start: "The sentence has more than words than two."

This would be understandable to the person that has the meanings, so if
the symbols "two" and "words" were regrounded to everyone who would know
the difference, surely comunication is the key to understanding meanings.
> > But what does "0" mean? Does it have a value, or is it just
> > relative to 1 and -1?
> If "1" stands for the degree to which 3 things are more things than
> two things, then "0" stands for the degree to which 3 things are more
> things than 3 things.
> But what do you mean "just relative"?

You say 0 is less relative to 1 and more relative to -1, but as a concept
0 is meaningless, do you understand, or can you explain what IS nothing?

> The TT is not a proof. It just reminds you not to ask for MORE of a
> model than you ask of on another.

Has anyone tried to propose any sort of proof?
> > The physical state could be simulated, so if a mental state is a physical
> > state it could also be simulated. Is simulation good enough, it may well
> > pass the Turning test (T3), but if we know its a simulation then we know
> > it's not real and therefore doesn't have a mind, again how do you proove
> > that somthing HAS a real mind?
> What do you mean by "simulation"? And how does something's a simulation
> help you know whether it's is real or not? The way I know a fire is not
> real is from the fact that it doesn't burn, not from the fact that it's
> a simulation. If my car comes to a halt because something's broken in
> it, and you can stick in something in place of the thing that's broken
> that's just a "simulation" of it, yet it gets my car going again, does
> that still mean it wasn't "real"?

I mean a simulation is a fake, like the simulated furnace that is not hot
to touch. If a system passed the Turing test then it could claimed by
some to have a mind, but if I know that it is a piece of software and the
is a book saying how it works then it is a simulation as I feel that a
real mind is unpredictable and will not conform to a book as it will the
capacity to learn and change its mind about things, be convinced of facts
that yesterday it thought were not fact.

Pentland, Gary

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