[ExI] Meaningless Symbols.

Gordon Swobe gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 14 01:23:45 UTC 2010

--- On Wed, 1/13/10, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hence the point: the system understands even though the
> parts of it don't. We already knew that was the case, so the CR 
> does not add anything to the discussion.

Forget about the CR. Neither of us care if parts of the system understand anything. We want to know if the system as a whole knows Chinese from manipulating Chinese symbols according to rules of syntax.

It cannot, because syntax only tells the system 'what' to put 'where' and 'when'. The system looks at the forms of things, not at the meanings of things.

Here's the classic one-line program:

print "Hello World"

It takes the form

<syntactic rule><string>

The system does not understand or care about the semantic drivel you put in the string. It just follows the syntactic rule (and it doesn't care about that either, by the way) and prints the contents of the string.

Do you think the system understands the string? Do you think that upon running this program, a little conscious entity inside your computer will greet you? Seriously, Stathis, what do you think?

And by the way the most sophisticated program possible on a s/h system will differ in no philosophically important way from this one. 



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