[ExI] The digital nature of brains

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Fri Feb 5 13:45:12 UTC 2010

On 6 February 2010 00:31, Gordon Swobe <gts_2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> --- On Fri, 2/5/10, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> I take it that on your view a picture dictionary
>>> understands the nouns for which it has pictures, since it
>>> "pairs" its word-symbols with sense-data, grounding the
>>> symbols in the same way that a computer + webcam can pair
>>> and ground symbols.
>>> How about a lunch menu? Does it understand sandwiches?
>> :-)
>> No, they're not intelligent. Your argument here is
>> equivalent to me pointing to an inert lump of matter in order to
>> demonstrate that matter is incapable of thinking.
> True or false, Stathis:
> When program running on a digital computer associates a sense-datum (say, an image of object taken with its web-cam) with the appropriate word-symbol, the system running that program has now by virtue of that association grounded the word-symbol and now has understanding of the meaning of that word-symbol.

Does an amoeba have an understanding of "food" when it makes an
association between the relevant chemotactic signals and the feeling
it gets when it engulfs the morsel? You might say "no, the amoeba and
this behaviour is too simple". Yet it's from compounding such simple
behaviours that we get human level intelligence. The computer
behaviour you described is even simpler than that of the amoeba, so
you would have to grant the amoeba understanding before considering
the possibility that the computer has understanding.

Stathis Papaioannou

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list