[ExI] Semiotics and Computability

Mike Dougherty msd001 at gmail.com
Sun Feb 21 18:48:47 UTC 2010

On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 10:41 AM, Gordon Swobe <gts_2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Sense data seems like the obvious place to look for that help: the man in the room has no access to sense data from the outside world, so perhaps that explains why he cannot attach meanings to the symbols he manipulates. But when we look at how computers get sense data, we see that sense data also amounts to nothing more than meaningless patterns of 1's and 0's.
> At this point Stathis throws up his hands and proclaims that Searle preaches that human brains do something "magical". But that's not it at all. The CRA merely illustrates an ordinary mundane fact: that the human brain has no special place in the nature as a supposed "digital computer". The brain has the same ordinary non-digital status as other products of biological evolution, objects like livers and hearts and spleens and nuts and watermelons. It just happens to be one very smart melon.

So your gripe is with the digital part of computers?  Suppose analog
computers had become the dominant technology, would you still be
complaining that they can't be meaningfully intelligent because
they're merely machines lacking the quintessence that makes human
consciousness?  (opening yourself to potshots about the requirement of
a soul)

Suppose I replicate the IO transformation of CR using a complex series
of tubes and buckets filled by an eternally replenished aquifer?
There's no digital zombie-ism to preclude intelligence, can can my
Rube Goldberg water wheel be intelligent?  Is it conscious?

Have you ever seen the implementation of an adding machine using
cellular automata? (Game of Life, etc.)   It's an interesting setup
because the CA rules have nothing at all to do with counting or the
operation of addition - however the CA rules can still be exploited to
do interesting and useful computation.  Neurons may be bound by
analogous rules as the CA cells, but we still somehow exploit the
function of groups of neurons to convince ourselves that we're
intelligent and conscious of that belief.

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