[ExI] The symbol grounding problem in strong AI

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Fri Jan 8 16:06:47 UTC 2010

2010/1/9 Gordon Swobe <gordon.swobe at yahoo.com>:

> --- On Fri, 1/8/10, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
>> You say experience affects behaviour, but you are quite
>> happy with the idea that a zombie can reproduce human behaviour without
>> having experience.
> Yes.
>> So what is to stop a p-neuron from behaving like a
>> c-neuron despite lacking experience if nothing stops the
>> zombie from acting like a human, which is arguably a much harder task?
> Nothing. But again the first surgeon who tries a partial replacement in Wernicke's area with p-neurons will run into serious complications. The p-neurons will require lots of programming and patches and so on to compensate for the patient's lack of experience, complications the surgeon did not anticipate because like you he does not realize that the p-neurons don't give the patient the experience of his own understanding.

I think I see what you mean now. The generic p-neurons can't have any
information about language pre-programmed, so the patient will have to
learn to speak again. However, the same problem will occur with the
c-neurons. In both cases the patient will have the capacity to learn
language, and after some effort will both appear to learn language,
equally quickly and equally well since the p-neurons and c-neurons are
functionally equivalent. However, Sam will truly understand what he is
saying while Cram will behave as if he understands what he is saying
and believe that he understands what he is saying, without actually
understanding anything. Is that right?

An alternative experiment involves more advanced techniques whereby
everyone's brain is continually scanned throughout their life, so that
if they suffer a brain injury the damaged part can be replaced with
neurons in exactly the same configuration as the originals, so that
the patient does not lose memories or abilities. In this case, Sam and
Cram would both wake up and immediately declare that they have had the
power of language restored.

Stathis Papaioannou

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