[ExI] GPT-4 on its inability to solve the symbol grounding problem

Gordon Swobe gordon.swobe at gmail.com
Thu Apr 6 12:55:56 UTC 2023

On Thu, Apr 6, 2023 at 6:16 AM Jason Resch via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

This is a crucial point though. It means that meaning can exist entirely
> within the confines and structure of a mind, independent of the universe
> outside it.

I certainly have never questioned that. It is most obvious in mathematics.
As I explained a week or so ago, we can ”see” the truth of mathematical
truths (the referents) in our minds independent of the formal language of
mathematics in which we express those truths. You can certainly see for
yourself that 1+1=2 and that this is true independent of the formal
expression of the equation, for example.

I would add that the more intelligent one is in the domain of mathematics,
the farther one can see. At some point, we reach a limit and become like an
LLM, doing the formal operations of mathematics with no insight or
intuitive understanding of the meanings.

If direct access to the universe is necessary, do you reject the
> possibility of the ancient "dream argument?" (the idea that we can never
> know if our perceptions match reality)?

Not sure why you ask about “direct access to the universe.” You have
referents in your dreams just as you do in waking life. If you see a pink
unicorn in your dream, it is not real, but you know both in your dream and
after you awaken what you mean when you say you saw a pink unicorn.

How is it the brain derives meaning when all it receives are nerves
> signals? Even if you do not know, can you at least admit it stands as a
> counterexample as its existence proves that at least somethings (brains)
> *can* derive understanding from the mere statistical correlations of their
> inputs?

I have answered this. We don’t know how the brain does it, but we do know
that form is not meaning, i.e., that the form of a word does not contain
its meaning. GPT-4 knows this also. It will tell you that it does not know
the meanings of individual words as it has no conscious experience. It
knows only how to assemble words together in patterns that the users find

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