Re: Dennett: Cognitive Science as Reverse Engineering

From: Cove Stuart (
Date: Tue May 29 2001 - 14:33:38 BST

Cove Stuart on Yusuf Larry

RE: Dennett: Cognitive Science as Reverse Engineering

>>Here, Dennett explains that speech perception cannot be entirely
>>data-driven, and to back-up his claim he points out that our brains are
>>equipped to deal with speech recognition, however this does not
>>automatically mean that we can understand all speech. If we can speak only
>>English, we cannot understand Chinese. He further demonstrates that if we
>>speak English but are not interested in football, and someone tries to
>>talk to us about football, then we will understand the vocabulary, but not
>>necessarily the content, i.e. I do not understand a great deal about
>>football, and if someone talks to me about it, I can understand the words
>>they use, but I do not understand for instance, the "off-side" rule that
>>might come up in conversation. I understand 'off' and 'side', but do not
>>understand the combination of the two. The combinations change the context
>>of the words.
>Yusuf L:
>Totally Agree. The problem of understanding language; not just the words
>but the context of the words
>being used has plagued AI for decades. A very interesting question would
>be how to implement a machine
>that can pick out the context, and then interpret the speech based on
>the context, without hitting the frame
>problem (through building up its knowledge of every interpretation
>possible in every context). I doubt that the
>use of symbol grounding in a T3 candidate would help because knowing
>what a football is and the game of
>football does not mean that the machine would be able to understand the
>off-side rule.
>I suspect Harnad would say, why worry? Most humans do not know the
>off-side rule and so why should one expect the T3 candidate to know .
>However, following Turing's indistinguishability thesis, if the T3
>candidate was tested against the human that knew what the off-side rule
>was, surely it has failed the TT or has it?

I don't believe that not knowing about the offside rule, even if all
the benchmark candidates knew it, would constitute a failed TT3 robot.
However, being able to recognise that this was an unknown piece of
knowledge, and the application of credit/blame assignment in at least a
partial solution, is an ability that is generic to humans, and the
robot must be capable of this.

This is a case of knowledge versus ability, and although detailing
knowledge in symbolic form is generic, having the knowledge there in
the first place is not.

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