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

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Sat Apr 15 11:28:55 UTC 2023

Hi Ben,

"Association" will work, but you're missing the point, and talking about
the wrong thing.
If two people (or one person, at a different point in time) are associating
the word Smaug with a different dragon, we are asking the question, what is
the difference between the two dragons that the two different people are
"associating" the word Smaug with?
I prefer transducing dictionary, over "grounding" or "association" but
everyone here was using grounding, so I switched to that.  Because you have
one physical representation (hole in a paper), that isn't rendess, and the
transducing system interprets it to a different physical representation
(+5volts), and so on.  You achieve consciousness, when you transduce
that +5 volts, and render a pixel into someone's conscious knowledge that
has a subjective redness quality.

On Sat, Apr 15, 2023 at 2:16 AM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> I have a suggestion.
> Instead of 'ground', try using the word 'associate'. That seems to me
> more useful. 'Grounding' implies that there is a single basis for the
> meaning of whatever is being 'grounded'. But we know that this can't be
> the case, e.g. my example of Smaug. Different people will create
> different associations for the word, depending on their prior knowlege
> of dragons, the story it appears in, images of dragons, or a specific
> image of this particular dragon, and loads of other associations. You
> can't say that 'Smaug' is 'grounded' in any single thing, even for one
> individual, never mind many, so using the term doesn't do justice to
> what is actually happening. I think it actually obscures what's
> happening, misleading us into assuming that a word can only be
> associated with one experience (or one 'real-world thing', if you prefer).
> The same is true for things that actually do exist, like apples. There
> are many many apples, all different, and many many experiences people
> have associated with them. The word 'Apple' cannot possibly be based on
> one single thing, it's an abstraction built from many associations.
> Using the word 'grounded' obscures this fact.
> Now I'm waiting for someone to say "but 'associating' is not the same
> thing as 'grounding'!". If I'm right, and 'someone' does indeed object,
> I'd be interested in their justification for this, seeing as
> associations is all we have to work with in any information-processing
> system, including the brain.
> On the other hand, if there is no objection, why don't we give it a try?
> Drop the word 'grounding' altogether, use 'associating' instead.
> For starters, the "symbol grounding problem" becomes "the symbol
> association problem".
> Suddenly, it doesn't seem so much of a problem, does it?
> Ben
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