[ExI] Language models are like mirrors

Ben Zaiboc ben at zaiboc.net
Sat Apr 1 22:17:50 UTC 2023

On 01/04/2023 21:08, Gordon Swobe wrote:
> On Sat, Apr 1, 2023 at 7:36 AM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat 
> <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>     On 01/04/2023 13:43, Gordon Swobe wrote:
>>     Unlike these virtual LLMs, we have access also to the referents
>>     in the world that give the words in language meaning. 
>     I don't understand why this argument keeps recurring, despite
>     having been demolished more than once.
> I has not been demolished in my opinion and incidentally, as I’ve 
> mentioned, my view is shared by the faculty director of the masters 
> program in computational linguistics at the University of Washington. 
> This is what she and her fellow professors teach. Many others 
> understand things the same way. Brent points out that the majority of 
> those who participate in his canonizer share similar views, including 
> many experts in the field.

Ah, your opinion. You know what they say, "You're entitled to your own 

And you're using 'argument from authority' again.

You know (should know) that holds no water, especially here.

>     I fail to see any significant difference between my brain and an LLM,
> On Exi, the computational model of mind is almost taken for granted. 
> Consciously or consciously, almost everyone here believes their brain 
> is, in essence, a digital computer. But this is only one of many 
> models of mind, and one that I reject.

Taken for granted? Of course it is, and I should hope you can drop the 
"almost". The theory of gravity is also taken for granted on this list, 
as well as many other well-established scientific views (even 
evolution!!). The relevant discipline for this discussion is 
neuroscience, not linguistics or philosopy (or astrology or alternative 
medicine, homoeopathy, pan-psychism, etc.). The computational model of 
mind is what's enabled us to understand as much as we do about how our 
brains work, and it emerged from the study of neurology in the first 
place. If you're trying to figure out if something works in a similar 
way to how the brain works, neurology is the only relevant discipline, 
really. And the computational model of mind is the currently-accepted 
paradigm of neurology (for good reason). When I say 
'currently-accepted', of course I mean among neurologists, not 
philosophers, linguists, theologists or people in any other irrelevant 

The computational model of mind is only one of many models of mind in 
the same sense that the heliocentric model is only one of many models of 
the movements of the planets, or that Dalton's atomic theory is only one 
of many models of what we now call condensed matter physics. Evolution 
is only one model of how biological diversity arises. And so-on.

If you want to reject any of these currently-accepted models, that's up 
to you. Just don't expect people who strive to use the scientific method 
to make sense of the world, to take your opinions seriously.

To finish off my first statement: "... but you're not entitled to your 
own facts".

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