Re: Babbage/Menabrea: Analytical Engine

From: Yusuf Larry (
Date: Tue Mar 20 2001 - 16:58:21 GMT

>The chief drawback hitherto on most of such machines is, that they require
>continual intervention of a human agent to regulate their movements, and
>thence arises a source of errors; …...which presents the question, that
of correctness in the results, united with economy of time.

Yusuf K.L
Totally agree that limitations of the systems were to do with user / data
entry errors and the time taken to perform complex calculations. However,
the efficiency of the system has not been discussed, which is what causes
the lengthy time to perform a calculation.

>In my opinion, his conclusion about the machine that would perform
>calculations based on rules it was given was correct to a degree. He
>suggested that such a machine was not necessarily intelligent, on the
>assumption that intelligence is displayed by reflection. He goes
>further to say it executes conceptions of intelligence. Surely, if the
>beliefs of Alan Turing and Alonzo Church are observed, then if a
>machine can execute the concepts of intelligence, it should also be
>able to be considered intelligent.

Yusuf K.L:
Menanbrea says:

> Considered under the most general point of view, the essential
> object of the machine being to calculate, according to the laws
> dictated to it, the values of numerical coefficients which it is
> then to distribute appropriately on the columns which represent
> the variables, it follows that the interpretation of formulae and
> of results is beyond its province, unless indeed this very
> interpretation be itself susceptible of expression by means of the
> symbols which the machine employs. Thus, although it is not
> itself the being that reflects, it may yet be considered as the
> being which executes the conceptions of intelligence

What is being executed is the conception of intelligence. The machine is
performing an operation an intelligent being can perform. However,
intelligence cannot be and is not just formal symbol manipulation, which
tells us that the system is not intelligent. Searle’s Chinese Room
argument supports this view.

“If it quacks like a duck, then it is a duck” -> Well it can process but
can it find errors or flaws with the calculation. Can it expand on given

>Some would argue that humans implement algorithms too and as
>they were learnt by humans who are considered intelligent, why should
>the machine be considered to have lower intelligence since it also
>learnt the algorithm.

Yusuf K.L:

Can you show that it went through all the processes a human would have gone
through, for example, a human might start to find patterns in the algorithm,
or in calculating remember the result of an addition and reuse this result
without going through the calculation. The system cannot do this without it
being told to. Hence it isn’t of less intelligence but just a very good

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