[ExI] The digital nature of brains (was: digital simulations)

Gordon Swobe gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 26 14:31:51 UTC 2010

To the argument that "association equals symbol grounding" as has been bandied about...

Modern word processors can reference words in digital dictionaries. Let us say that I write a program that does only that, and that it does this automagically at ultra-fast speed on a powerful Cray software/hardware system with massive or even infinite memory. When the human operator types in a word, the s/h system first assigns that word to a variable, call it W, and then searches for the word in a complete dictionary of the English language. It assigns the dictionary definition of W to another variable, call it D, and then makes the association W = D. 

The system then treats every word in D as it did for for the original W, looking up the definition of every word in the definition of W. It then does same for those definitions, and so on and so on through an indefinite number of branches until it nearly or completely exhausts the complete English dictionary.  

When the program finishes, the system will have made every possible meaningful association of W to other words. Will it then have conscious understanding the meaning of W? No. The human operator will understand W, but s/h systems have no means of attaching meanings to symbols. The system followed purely syntactic rules to make all those hundreds of millions of associations without ever understanding them. It cannot get semantics from syntax. 



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