[ExI] Semiotics and Computability

Spencer Campbell lacertilian at gmail.com
Sun Feb 7 01:15:55 UTC 2010

Quoting from the "Personal conclusions" thread, because, on
reflection, it seems more relevant over here.

Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com>:
>Spencer Campbell <lacertilian at gmail.com>:
>> The intelligence of a given system is inversely proportional to the
>> average action (time * work) which must be expended before the system
>> achieves a given purpose, assuming that it began in a state as far
>> away as possible from that purpose.
> I would say it sounds a good one to me. In particular since it is not
> a white-black one and does not invoke metaphysical, ineffable
> entities. What about "perfomance in the execution of a given kind of
> data processing"?

Then you crash straight into the concept of FLOPS, and all the
terrible awful difficulties it entails. "Performance" is not
well-defined with respect to computing, or at least not to the extent
you'd expect, and I shudder to think of how one would go about
distinguishing "a given kind of data processing" from any other kind.

I might give that definition to some strange thing like "cognitive
excellence" which no one ever talks about outside of circles like this
one, but certainly not to intelligence. A total idiot can learn to
multiply large numbers quickly.

The modern computer: a total idiot with astounding cognitive excellence.

Gordon Swobe <gts_2000 at yahoo.com>:
> Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>:
>> I don't deny subjective experience but I deny that when I
>> understand something I do anything more than associate it with another
>> symbol, ultimately grounded in something I have seen in the real
>> world. That would seem necessary and sufficient for understanding, and
>> for the subjective experience of understanding, such as it is.
> When I asked you about a digital computer that did exactly that, you acknowledged that said computer lacked conscious understanding of the symbol and went off on a tangent about amoebas.
> So then it seems that first you say these sorts of associations are necessary and sufficient for subjective experience of understanding, but then you don't.

For once, I agree unequivocally with Gordon Swobe. I'm not sure how to
feel about that! Ambivalent? Nonplussed? I think I'll go with

If Stathis continues to conflate intelligence, understanding,
consciousness, and, worst of all, symbolic association, I may have a
lasting position in the Searle-Gordon camp. It's a shame I believe
formal programs are perfectly capable of reproducing human subjective
experience. Otherwise, I'd fit in just fine.

<x at extropica.org>:
> Pollock, JL, Ismael J.  2006.  Knowledge and reality; So You Think You
> Exist? In Defense of Nolipsism :35-62.
> I've posted it to this list twice now.  This is the first indication
> I've seen that anyone read it.
> - Jef

Yes! Thank you. Both for reminding me and for posting it to begin
with. I already agreed with the premise, so no tectonic shift of
world-view occurred, but hearing some coherent theories as to WHY we
must believe ourselves to be real, objective, unchanging entities, not
necessarily corresponding to any physical structure, was very
rewarding nonetheless.

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