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

Gordon Swobe gordon.swobe at gmail.com
Thu Apr 13 20:14:08 UTC 2023

On Thu, Apr 13, 2023 at 4:23 AM Jason Resch via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

But recently it's been shown, somewhat technically, how for certain complex
> recursive systems, these first person properties naturally emerge. This
> happens without having to add new neuroscience, physics, or math, just
> applying our existing understanding of the mathematical notion of
> incompleteness.
> See: https://www.eskimo.com/~msharlow/firstper.htm

Thank you for this. I have spent several hours studying this paper. As you
say, it is somewhat technical. I used GPT-4 as a research partner (a
fantastic tool even if it has no idea what it is saying). I conclude that
while it is interesting and might aid in understanding the brain and mind,
and how subjectivity works in objective terms, it does not overcome the
explanatory gap. Even if this author is correct on every point, it is still
the case that for a reductionist account of consciousness like this to be
successful, it must provide an explanation of how subjective experience
arises from objective processes.

I hope this paper might show that we can keep our inaccessible,
> irreducible, real first person properties *and* have a rational description
> of the brain and it's objectively visible behavior. We don't have to give
> up one to have the other.

I suppose the real question is about one *or* the other. If the latter does
not explain the former then I would say it is incomplete, and I think it is.

I would like to revisit a topic we discussed when I first (re)-entered this
forum a few weeks ago:

You were making the argument that because GPT can "understand" English
words about mathematical relationships and translate them into the language
of mathematics and even draw diagrams of houses and so on, that this was
evidence that it had solved the grounding problem for itself with respect
to mathematics. Is that still your contention? My thought at the time was
that you must not have the knowledge to understand the problem, and so I
let it go, but I've since learned that you are very intelligent and very
knowledgeable. I am wondering how you could make what appears, at least to
me, an obvious mistake. Perhaps you can tell me why you think I am mistaken
to say you are mistaken.

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