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Retracing the Path
Cognition as Computing
This chapter takes a closer look at the fundamental claims of computationalism. The discussion divides into four sections. The first explicates the central theses of computationalism and analyzes how they are related to one another. The second looks into the concept of computation as defined in terms of the Turing machine, and examines the difference between the classical and connectionist models of computationalism. The third investigates the kind of intelligence assumed in the claims of computationalism. And the fourth examines the extent to which the claims of computationalism are intended to cover about the nature of the mind. 1. The Central Theses Herbert Simon and Craig Kaplan (1989, 2) define cognitive science “as the study of intelligence and its computational processes in humans (and animals), in computers, and in the abstract.” This definition identifies the levels on which a computationalist investigation of the nature of intelligence is to be carried out; namely, on the abstract level, on the human (and animal) level, and on the machine level. Based on these levels, the central claims of computationalism can be said to be consisting of a general thesis, which concerns the abstract level of intelligence, and two sub-theses, which concern the levels of humans and machines. Accordingly, the general thesis corresponds to the claim that thinking or cognition is a type of computational process. Some put this as: cognition is a species of computing. Cognition is here defined abstractly, not specifically pertaining to whose intelligence— humans or machines, but which can be instantiated by humans and machines. Consequently, the two sub-theses are precisely the human and machine instantiations of this abstract thesis, which we can respectively call the thesis of human computationality and the thesis of machine intelligence. The former corresponds to the claim that human cognition is a computational process, while the latter corresponds to the claim that machines that are capable of computationally simulating human cognitive process are intelligent. The difference between human intelligence and machine intelligence is here regarded simply as a matter of degree, in that human intelligence is seen as just more complex and sophisticated than machine intelligence. But this difference is a contingent matter, and hence it is possible in the future for machine intelligence to equal or even surpass human intelligence in terms of complexity and sophistication. Furthermore, while we speak of humans and machines in which the general thesis of computationalism are instantiated, the abstract level of this thesis requires that it also be instantiated in any other conceivable type of entities that can be considered as intelligent, say the extraterrestrials. Meaning to say, if it is 68
does not necessarily mean that their cognitive processes are computational. The line of reasoning seems to be as follows. The general thesis of computationalism is abstracted from the thesis of machine intelligence and is then attributed to humans thereby forming the thesis of human computationality. and the feature of being computational. is that since a computing machine is said to be cognitive when it simulates human cognitive processes. To further understand the theses of computationalism. for the mere fact that humans perform computations. The points of reference for these two features are not the same. or that humans are given as both cognitive and computational and then machine computationality is judged to be cognitive on the basis of the similarities of machine computationality with human computationality. The cognitive nature of the machine’s computationality is then thought to be an instantiation of the abstract idea that cognition is a kind of computing. which we can refer to as cognitivity. according to computationalism. But we need to begin with the basics before we can appropriately deal with these questions. Meaning to say. we shall try to clarify 69 . It is not that machines are given as both computational and cognitive and then human cognitivity is said to be computational on the basis of the similarities of human cognitivity with machine cognitivity. if the basis for saying that computing machines are cognitive is that they are capable of simulating human cognitive processes. is not that they are identical nor that computationality falls under cognitivity but that cognitivity falls under computationality. what is its basis? Definitely not that the fact that humans are capable of simulating the computing processes of a machine. What it only entails is that performing computations is one of the many types of processes that the human mind. On the one hand. What happens. as they do when doing mathematical calculations. it seems. it is also then thought that human cognition must also just be an instantiation of this abstract idea. it is then thought that cognition. what about the claim that human cognition is necessarily computational.true that cognition is a species of computing then any conceivable entity considered to be intelligent must be an entity whose intelligence is a species of computing. humans are given as cognitive systems and machines are judged to be cognitive or not based on their similarities to humans. it is necessary that all cognitive systems be computational. Now what this implies is that ultimately the basis for the thesis of machine intelligence—the simulation of human cognitive processes—also serves as the basis for the thesis of human computationality. Our observations will definitely raise some questions. while it is not necessary that all computational systems be cognitive. are capable of performing. Now. we need to examine how computationalism regards the relationship between the two features assumed in these theses. while humans are the point of reference for cognitivity. in the abstract. The relation between these two features. which we can refer to as computationality. In what follows. must be a kind of computation. machines are given as computational systems and humans are judged to be computational or not based on their similarities to machines. regardless of whether it is computational or not. namely the feature of being cognitive. and thus human cognition must also be a kind of computation. Machines are the point of reference for computationality. Consequently. on the other hand.
70 . To compute is simply to implement a computation or an algorithm. An effective procedure for finding the solution to a problem can be called an algorithm. But more importantly. Accordingly. there is a definite thing to do next. (B) The procedure can be specified in a finite number of steps. or a bunch of rules. and which comes to an end on any finite input. insight or inspiration. and hence a computation. 68) speaks of “human algorithms for understanding” in describing what researchers in the discipline of artificial intelligence intend to accomplish: “AI researchers are still trying to determine the processes that comprise intelligence so that they can begin to develop computer algorithms that correspond to human algorithms for understanding. for there can be an algorithm or an effective procedure for solving other types of problems.” Schank speaks of a special type of algorithms in humans which when implemented will constitute human thinking. it is a finite sequence of well-defined steps.” Computing is not limited to solving mathematical problems or functions. for giving the solution to a given problem. Harnish (2002. What then is a computation? Computation is generally defined as a step-by-step effective procedure for getting a desired result. Roger Schank (1984. As we noted earlier there can be an effective procedure. In this regard. 2. and shall examine the two models or approaches in understanding the nature of computation.” which artificial intelligence simply assumes as what constitute human thinking and therefore sets for itself the task of discovering what these cognitive algorithms are. thinking as computing means nothing but that thinking is a process of carrying out certain computations or effective procedures. As Tim Crane (1995. we shall examine the concept of intelligence as defined in artificial intelligence. so long as it satisfies the following conditions: (A) At each stage of the procedure. The Concept of Computation What does it really mean to say that thinking is a kind of computing? But first what does it really mean for anything to be computing? Computing is generally the process of implementing a computation—which is also called an algorithm. such as how to cook eggs or wash the laundry. we shall clarify the concept of computation as it is defined generally and in the context of the Turing machine. After which.what it means to say that something is computational. 125) puts it as follows: “The essence of an algorithm (or effective procedure) is that it is a series of steps for doing something that is guaranteed to get a result. each of which takes only a finite amount of memory and time to complete. and for something to be cognitive. More precisely. We can call this type of algorithms as “cognitive algorithms. So we can think of an algorithm as a rule. 88) explains: Like the notion of a function. the notion of an algorithm is extremely general. both in the context of the theses of computationalism. But of what kind must computations be such that the process of carrying them out constitutes thinking? For obviously not all sorts of implementing computations constitute thinking. Moving from step to step does not require any special guesswork. for cooking eggs but the process of cooking eggs does not by itself constitute thinking. it also means that the process of thinking can be spelled out in terms of a well-defined series of steps.
Translating the input data into symbols allows the machine to operate on a very general level. It enables the machine to represent a wide variety of data and process them in a wide variety of ways. “if it reads ‘0’ in square A.” Now. These basic operations consist of receiving an input and executing a command or instruction to produce an output. the machine does not receive inputs or information in the form of the symbols that it uses.1 And of course. The symbols written and stored in the tape are also called representations for they are intended to represent certain data. The storage system (corresponding to what is presently called “memory”) can be anything so long as it is divided into certain portions such that a bit of data or information can symbolically be stored in it. this device must be capable of moving the tape from left to right and vice-versa. If the square already contains a symbol. a translation system. and a set of instructions or commands. however. The Turing Machine The notion of computation has initially been defined in terms of the Turing machine. so to speak. a symbol can be written in case the square is empty or does not yet contain a symbol. In each square. These symbols are finite in number but they can be combined in unlimited ways. There is nothing subjective or mysterious about these internal states. For a physical system to perform these operations it must. For instance. Turing describes the machine as being in a particular “internal state”. called by Turing as the “machine table. very much in the same way that the use of symbols in symbolic logic allows us to speak of reasoning in a very general manner. and stored there must be a scanning and printing device. And this requires that the machine has a translation system. overwritten. Needless to say. whatever the device does is in accordance with the machine’s set of instructions or commands. for their being internal only means that they refer to the physical states of the machine on the level of performing its tasks. it is not the tape that moves but the scanning and printing device. a set of symbols. he conceives of the storage system as a tape of infinite length that is divided into squares.1.” These commands are stated in the conditional form. these internal states are the functional states of the machine. it should move to square Y and overwrite the symbol already written there with the symbol ‘1010’. In the case of Turing. The machine translates the inputs that it receives into its own language. It is an abstract specification of any possible computing machine. Since the storage system is a tape consisting of squares. These symbols serve as the language of the machine for its operations (corresponding to the 0’s and 1’s of modern computers). a reading and printing device. have a storage system. The Turing machine does not refer to a particular type of machine that one can buy and use. 71 . as the machine is performing a particular task. such symbol can be erased and either be left empty or a symbol be written anew.2. For the symbols to be written. it should move to square B and write ‘1’ or “if it reads ‘10’ in square X. to contrast it from the physical states of the machine on the level of the physical composition of the machine— which would then be the machine’s external states. erased. which take place on the level of 1 In some accounts of the Turing machine. From the viewpoint of functionalism. It specifies the basic operations that a physical system must be capable of performing in order to qualify as a computing machine.
28-29). The set of meaningful arguments for a given function is called by Frege the function’s “value range.] And what results from Turing’s machine is a definition of what computation is or what computability consists in.” and “X is the author of Noli Me Tangere. A mathematical function is no different. as in the case of the example “2 plus x.” the value is 8.” Obviously the value-range of the function “the capital of X” would include names of countries. of determining whether a given mathematical problem is solvable. This question has been called the “Eintscheidungsproblem”.” this function has a null or zero value-range since there is no possible argument for X to yield a meaningful value (in this case. a truth-value). This machine was originally conceived by Alan Turing for purposes of determining the computability of any given mathematical function. If. if we have the argument “Philippines” for the function “the capital of x” the value is Manila. or if it can be translated into the basic operations of the Turing machine. the effective step-by-step procedure to complete it. Accordingly. [Turing in fact was able to demonstrate through his machine that some problems in mathematics are not computable or soluble.” there is no value that will be yielded. a mathematical function is computable if it can be run in the Turing machine. Examples are: “the capital of …. If we have the argument “6” for the function “2 plus x. the meaningful arguments for a given function are not unlimited.” “2 plus x.” the value is (the) True. a function is any incomplete expression. Finding the solution to a mathematical function that is actually not computable.the functional organization of the machine. This definition.” And once a certain argument is used to complete the function. But more importantly. to find its value.) and thus we say: “the capital of x.” etc. Before we proceed with our discussion. And if we have the function “X is the present king of France. or to find the appropriate argument so that it will yield the desired value.” “z. For instance. the resulting complete expression yields a value.” 2 plus 2 equals …. or what comes to the same. Turing’s answer was precisely his Turing machine.” “y. there are some that are not. needless to say. an example of which is the “halting problem” (see Penrose 1994.” Of course. 72 . is called a computation or an algorithm. for instance. it may be helpful to briefly discuss what a mathematical function is as Gottlob Frege sees it (see Frege 1960). And so the great German mathematician David Hilbert raised the question of whether there is a mechanical procedure by which a given mathematical function can be determined to be computable. which take place on the level of its material components. According to Frege.” and “…is the author of Noli Me Tangere. a computation is anything that can be run by a Turing machine. and Alan Turing was one of those who came up with an answer. And if we have the argument “Rizal” for the function “X is the author of Noli Me Tangere.” The missing parts can be represented by variables (“x. If we have a mathematical function. in contrast to the machine’s lower-level physical states. Accordingly. we use the argument “Philippines” for the function “2 plus x. Now while there are mathematical functions that are obviously computable. there are also some that are not computable. is a waste of time and energy—and some of these mathematical problems were only realized not to be solvable after a long period of trying to solve them.” Now what we replace the variables with to complete the function are called “arguments.
is an instantiation of a particular Turing machine. To be more precise. we must make take this in a suitably idealized sense: a computation is the action of a Turing machine. Penrose 1994. It is. The Universal Turing Machine is in fact the theoretical forerunner or model of the modern-day. has come to be known as the Church Thesis or sometimes as the Church-Turing Thesis2. for instance. any computational system being an input-output device with memory and a set of instructions is a Turing machine. to view televisions shows (the TV set). CD player. as what Roger Penrose (1994. Couched in the modern language of computers. the general thesis of computationalism has consequently been expressed as the view that “the mind is to the brain as software is to hardware. Each of these machines. But all of them can be put in one single machine. to communicate with other people (the telephone and cell phone). to view DVD movies (the DVD player). however. 2 73 . 20-21)). as it is already done in our present computers. and MP3 player). to hear music (the radio. This reasoning paves the way for the view that the human mind is a type of computer. if the computer and the human mind are both regarded as computational systems and instantiations of a Turing machine. 20). then computation can also be defined in terms of the actions of the computer. digital computer. Accordingly. has done the same even earlier than Church (see Penrose 1994. and so if the human mind is regarded as a computational system then it too is an instantiation of a Turing machine (more precisely of a universal Turing machine). This single Turing machine is called the Universal Turing Machine.” Consequently. being an input-output device with memory and a set of instructions or program. he realizes that all possible Turing machines could be run by a single Turing machine.3 Think.” The computer software or program is here understood as a class of encoded computation that is run or implemented by the computer hardware. then a single Turing machine will suffice to run the operations of all other Turing machines. the thesis of human computationality is thus expressed as the view that the human mind is a (digital) For it is said that Alonzo Church has independently arrived at the same conclusions as Turing’s (see Crane 1995. 3 One difference between a Turing machine and any concrete machine that instantiates it is that the Turing machine has an infinite storage capacity. then the human mind must be a certain type of computer. noted that another logician. If computation is defined in terms of being run in a Turing machine and the computer is the approximate embodiment of the Universal Turing Machine. and play games (the play station). Furthermore. general-purpose. 17) precisely does: “What is a computation? In short. of the individual machines that enable us to do mathematical calculations (the calculator). What is simply needed is for the table machines (the programs) of the other Turing machines be inputted in the tape (memory) of this single machine. Turing’s genius and amazing discoveries. to organize our activities (the electronic organizer). one can simply understand that term to denote the activity of an ordinary general-purpose computer. by the name of Emil Post. In the course of developing his concept of the Turing machine.which is widely accepted among mathematicians. to write and print documents (the electronic typewriter). 99. however. do not stop here. If the operations of all Turing machines can be reduced to the same basic operations.
It is. One important formulation of this type of computationalism. intelligence is understood as symbolmanipulation. is the physical symbol system hypothesis advanced by Newell and Simon (1995). However. 97) explain: A physical symbol system is an instance of a universal machine. thus making a specific architectural assertion about the nature of intelligent systems. often made on general grounds of physical determinism. including both minds and computers. called symbolic because it regards computational process as a process performed over symbols or representations either in the case of humans or in the case of machines. provided that it is specified. and (in our view) human beings are symbols systems.computer. symbolic computationalism is best represented. In this regard.” Basically. by Jerry Fodor in his theory of mental representation. the hypothesis goes far beyond the argument. For it asserts specifically that the intelligent machine is a symbol system. 57) makes the same explanation: “The important thing is that. Consider the following two questions that Tim Crane (1995. however.2. Thus the symbol system hypothesis implies that intelligence will be realized by a universal computer. 74 . According to Newell and Simon. while the thesis of machine intelligence as the view that a digital computer also has a mind. which is also what we do here. according to the classical view. however. A classic pronouncement to this effect comes from Simon and Kaplan (1989. therefore.4 2. certain kinds of systems. which is more 4 That the human mind is a computational system is strictly speaking the claim of computationalism.” Pylyshn (1989. that any computation that is realizable can be realized by a universal machine. Generally speaking. intelligent systems. it is usual to distinguish between two types of computationalism: the classical or symbolic and the connectionist. 84) asks about the relation between computers and the human mind: (1) Can a computer think? Or more precisely: can anything think simply by being a computer? (2) Is the human mind a computer? Or more precisely: are any actual mental states and processes computational?” The first question corresponds to the thesis of machine intelligence while the second to the thesis of human computationality. They achieve their intelligence by symbolizing external and internal situations and events and by manipulating those symbols. but that the human mind is a type of computer is strictly speaking the claim of strong artificial intelligence (or strong AI). in the area of artificial intelligence. 40): “Computer. computationalism and strong AI are equated with one another. computation is essentially a symbol-manipulating process. from a symbolic computationalist point of view. It is called classical because it is the type of computationalism that has been existing prior to the advent of the connectionist type. such as the human mind and the computer. These two types of computationalism present different models for how the human mind/brain does its computations. The computationalism that we have discussed thus far is of the classical type. operate on representations that take the form of symbolic codes. In the area of philosophy. As they (1995. are physical symbol systems. and well defended as well. They all use about the same symbol-manipulating process. Classical and Connectionist Models At the present.
For instance. which Chomsky has shown to be mistaken. our mental states do not follow the rules of our natural languages. F. from the old thoughts that “the red book is on the brown table” and that “the yellow bag is under the table” one can produce new thoughts such as “the red bag is on the table.”5 Fodor advances three basic arguments for his language-of-though hypothesis. Fodor was greatly influenced by the idea of the famous linguist-philosopher Noam Chomsky that we are born with the same linguistic categories that enable us to learn various natural languages. the rules governing the computational states of our cell phones are not the grammatical rules of the natural languages. the systematicity of thoughts.” etc. anyone who can infer the statement “It is sunny” from the statement “It is sunny and warm and humid” can also infer the statement “It is sunny” from the statement “It is sunny and warm” (or anyone who can infer P from P and Q and R can also infer P from P and Q). 5 We can also compare the mind’s language of thought with the programming language of our cellular phones. And his investigations have led him to suppose that the human mind\brain’s system of representation is inherent to the human mind\brain and this system of representation has a language-like structure.” And systematicity of reasoning refers to the capacity of the human mind/brain to recognize inferences that are of the same logical structure. As such. namely.. anyone who understands “John loves Mary” will also understand “Mary loves John.” “the yellow book is under the table. This view is Chomsky’s alternative to the claim of the behaviorist B. for these languages are just programmed into the programming language of our cellular phones. For instance. Fodor begins with the idea. which appears to him as self-evident. what happens when a person understands a sentence must be a translation process basically analogous to what happens when a machine ‘understands’ (viz.” In the same way. say from English to Filipino or German. 67) explains: “On this view. the productivity of thoughts. and the systematicity of reasoning. Given this. that there can be no computation without a system of representation. these innate linguistic categories have become the language of thought. but the rules of their programming language.popularly known as the mentalese or language-of-thought hypothesis. The productivity of thoughts refers to the capacity of the human mind/brain to produce new thoughts from a number of old thoughts. The language of thought may be compared to the programming language of computers. For instance. In the hands of Fodor. his task is then to investigate the nature of the human mind/brain’s system of representation. 75 . The systematicity of thoughts refers to the capacity of the human mind/brain to produce and understand new thoughts built on already-understood old thoughts. but the rules of the language of thought. compiles) a sentence in its programming language.” or anyone who understands the statement “A small red ball is in a large blue box” will also understand the statement “A large blue ball is in a small red box. The idea is that without the assumption that the human mind\brain has its own system of representation that has a language-like structure it would be impossible to account for the possibility of these three features or capacities of the human mind\brain. Skinner that the learning of natural languages is a matter of conditioning or association between stimuli and responses. as Fodor himself (1979. Fodor’s hypothesis supplements the view already articulated in Newell and Simon’s physical symbol system hypothesis. Notice that we can easily change the natural language of our cell phones.
Based on their functions. units are classified into three kinds: the input units. The amount of information that will be received by a unit will therefore be a combination of the strength of the connection through which the information passes through and the amount of information given off by the sending unit. cognition. where from the input units the information is passed to the hidden units where it first passes through the several layers of the hidden units in a back and forth manner before the processed information is finally sent to the output units. and then pass these processed data to the output units. To begin with. In what follows. receive data from the input units. In particular. are the basic elements of a connectionist system called a network or net. and it is this process that is governed by a computation. It is when the information received by a unit exceeds its threshold level that it is activated to pass information to other units. how the interaction among such units comes about. among others. The units correspond to the human brain’s neurons and the connections correspond to its synapses. which receive information from outside the network.Let us now examine the connectionist type computationalism. one. The direction of the flow of information. Where does computation come in? The strengths of the connections among the units can be adjusted or manipulated so that given a certain input to a network one can get a desired output. But why are the networks called “neural”? Basically. called its threshold level. and they are interconnected thereby forming a network or net. The weight of a connection is called a connection weight. This view was advanced by Paul Smolensky (1993) and David Rumelhart (1989). To get the appropriate computation for a desired output. which carry the resulting processed information. A computation here specifies how much adjustments should be done to the connections of a network such that given a certain input the network will give off a certain output. which may come in various layers. or activations. that the connectionist model of computing is close to how the human brain works. So teaching the network basically happens in a trial and error process. process. and where computation comes in. The hidden units. or it may be recurrent. These units receive. which are the units in between the input units and output units. we shall discuss some of the basic concepts of connectionism enough to give us a general picture of its difference from symbolic computationalism. however. the output units. According to this view. we shall explain what “units in neural networks” means. also called nodes. Each unit is said to have a maximum amount of data that it can receive. and the hidden units. that is from the input units the information is passed to the hidden units where it is processed and then the processed information is sent to the output units. process these data. or simply connectionism. The flow of information among the units is made possible by the connections among the units. may be forward. These connections are said to have weights or strengths which affect the amount of information flowing through them. This process of adjusting or manipulating the connections among the units of a network is called the process of teaching the network. and thus computing as well (for as a type of computationalism connectionism likewise adheres to the view that cognition is a species of computing) is basically the interaction among the units in neural networks (or neural nets). and send information. 76 . though arguably. units. it is because it is believed. need to experiment first on various computations.
In any case. while in connectionism a physical system processes an input to generate a desired output by adjusting the connections among the units in networks following a computation or a learning program.” 1993). while that in the connectionist type is parallel for the interactions among the untis in networks take place simultaneously. Fodor and Pylyshn (Fodor’s close ally). This accounts for why connectionism is also sometimes referred to as “PDP”—parallel distributed processing. More specifically. 3. on the other hand. Its functional aspect has to do with the type of activities that it can perform or tasks it can accomplish. Another difference is that computation in the classical type is serial for it is a step by step process. it claims that there is something it is like to believe or know that p. as what cognitive phenomenology6 Cognitive phenomenology claims that the intentional also has a phenomenology. they necessarily have intentional properties in that they necessarily have contents that are about some objects or states of affairs in the world. To recall. In this regard. the main difference between symbolic computationalism and connectionism is that in symbolic computationalism a physical system processes an input to generate a desired output by manipulating symbols following a certain program. we shall assume this type of computationalism in discussing computationalism throughout the remaining part of this book. it is still computation. they do not regard connectionism as a rival to classical computationalism but simply as a sub-theory of classical computationalism. But if in connectionism. The Nature of Intelligence Intelligence or cognition has a functional and a conscious aspect. the difference between classical and connectionist computationalism does not touch the core of the claims of computationalism. And as conscious processes. The main contention is that only a symbolic type of computationalism can account for the features of productivity and systematicity of thoughts and reasoning of the human mind\brain. has to do with the conscious processes it undergoes to perform certain activities or accomplish certain tasks. while that of the connectionist type is described as sub-symbolic for the computations are carried without the use of symbols but simply by means of the adjustments of the connection weights. how are information represented? There are two possible ways: localized representation. In response to the connectionist model. have launched criticisms against this model. And as these processes are conscious they can have all the properties of consciousness. But since the classical model is. the well-established type of computationalism. relatively speaking. where one item of information is represented by the patterns of connections among the units. computation does not make use of symbols. These activities involve solving problems and replying appropriately to certain questions. in a joint publication (“Connectionism and Cognitive Architecture: A Critical Analysis.Based on our general accounts of the two types of computationalism. Its conscious aspect. For whether computation is symbol-manipulation or networkmanipulation. they can have phenomenal properties as well. one example to demonstrate this 6 77 . where one unit is made to represent one item of information. Fodor and Pylyshn further claim that at best connectionism is just a theory concerning the implementation of symbolic computationalism. computation in the classical type is described as symbolic for computations are carried out through and over symbols. and distributed representation. As cognitive processes primarily concern intentional states or propositional attitudes. Also.
In light of these two aspects of intelligence. and complete empathy. Speaking of intelligence in terms of understanding. when they solve problems of lesser or greater difficulty. The distinction only concerns whether it is possible to define intelligence sufficiently by its functional aspect alone. if a machine is capable of performing tasks which when performed by a human the human is said to be intelligent then the machine is intelligent. Schank argues that while humans are capable of all three levels.” And Simon and Kaplan (1989. What it is like for someone to read it in a language that he or she does not understand is different from what it is like for her or him to read it in a language that he or she understands. we can distinguish between the functional and the conscious view on the nature of intelligence. and this is precisely because there is more to being human than just being intelligent. humans. Roger Schank (1984. Accordingly. there is more to human mentality than intelligence. 39).” 3. these levels are the levels of making sense. To determine whether a computing machine is intelligent or not. The functional view says “yes” while the conscious view says “no. 51. or when they create or design something useful or beautiful or novel…” Schank’s discussion of the kind of understanding that humans can share with machines assumes this view of intelligence. or more precisely. cognitive understanding. 78 . define what an intelligent action in the following way: “By ‘general intelligent action’ we wish to indicate the same scope of intelligence as we see in human action: that in any real situation behavior appropriate to the ends of the system and adaptive to the demands of the environment can occur. have to do or say for us to call it intelligent?” and “We really have no standards for measuring intelligence other than by observing the behavior of something we suspect is intelligent. or even more intelligent than. 96-97). Machines may be as intelligent as. but still they are not humans. 62) first qualifies that “AI is an attempt to build intelligent machines. Turing does not examine the internal processes of the machine when it performs certain tasks but the kind of tasks the machine is capable of performing. Schank (1984.” Simon and Newell (1995. This distinction is not meant to deny the existence of either the functional or the conscious properties of intelligence. human or machine. 1): “…people are behaving intelligently when they choose courses of action that are relevant to achieving their goals.” The idea being that AI does not attempt to reproduce in machines the whole of human mentality. phenomenon is the phenomenal difference between reading a statement in a language that one does not understand and reading it in a statement that one understands.1. Schank then distinguishes the following three levels of understanding. Most of those working in artificial intelligence follow the Turing test. machines are only capable of the first two. From the lowest to highest.argues. writes that “When we ask What is intelligence? we are really only asking What does an entity. when they reply coherently and appropriately to questions that are put to them. within some limits of speed and complexity. not people. for instance. And simply. in their Physical Symbol System Hypothesis. The Functional View of Intelligence Perhaps the best illustration of the functional view of intelligence is Turing’s imitation game or test. Let us elaborate on this point by Schank.
understanding means being able to do some of the following: (1) learn or change as a result of one’s experiences. one understands the situation on the level of making sense by simply recognizing what is happening in the situation. (2) relate present experiences to past experiences intelligently.) And on the level of complete sympathy. OUTPUT—COGNITIVE UNDERSTANDING: Mary must like you. she is more assertive than they are.e. (With computers. You kissed each other.On the level of making sense.” Actually. 47-48). 45). while an appropriately programmed computer can understand the situation up to the level of cognitive understanding. OUTPUT—COMPLETE EMPATHY: That’s like what happened to Cindy and me after the party. one understands it by relating present experiences to past ones and formulating new information based on this relation. “no computer is going to understand this story at the level of COMPLETE SYMPATHY for the simple reason that no computer is ever going to go to parties and get kissed and hugged by people. You didn’t talk while kissing. On the level of cognitive understanding. understanding simply means knowing what is happening in a given situation. (3) formulate new information for oneself—come to one’s own conclusions based on one’s experiences. and hence this level of understanding only requires simple recognition of the terms used and the actions performed in such situation (Schank 1984. OUTPUT—MAKING SENSE You and Mary were at a party. to go to a party and get kissed and hugged by people. say an android. In this example. i. The assumption here is that the one who understands and the one being understood share some memories and experiences. She must have felt good being with you at the party. it is conceivable that a machine run by a computer. and what thought process was involved in reaching one’s conclusions (Schank 1984. You were close to each other. But what this machine would not able to know is 79 . 45). She came up to me and asked if I could give her a lift. “experiences” would mean inputs. On the level of cognitive understanding. 57-58): INPUT: Did I tell you about what happened with Mary last night? We were at this party drinking and talking about nothing in particular and all of a sudden we weren’t talking anymore and I noticed her face was right near mine. She moved closer and we kissed. To further illustrate the differences of these levels. by making useful comparisons and picking out important and interesting relationships. one understands it by identifying or relating with the experiences of the person in the situation due to one’s similar experiences in the past. let us take a look at the following example of Schank (1984. and (4) explain oneself—say why one made the connections that one did. or that one’s memories and experiences resemble those of the other (Schank 1984. And on the level of complete empathy.. From what you’ve told me about other women you know. understanding means identifying with or being able to relate with the experiences and feelings of another. and while we were in the coatroom she threw her arms around me and started kissing me. According to Schank (1984. 58).
computers just manipulate symbols solely according to the syntactical properties of these symbols without knowing what these symbols mean. such as happiness. have a consciousness. though their output behaviors seem to suggest that they are. and be hugged by people. 45) concludes that: Computers are not likely to have the same feelings as people. pain.” understanding. experience feelings. computers are not really capable of genuine understanding. and thus computers. according to this view. 14). In his analysis. 38-39). They will not “be” people. is only important on the level of complete empathy. more specifically. On the levels of making sense and cognitive understanding. The complete empathy level of understanding seems to be out of reach of the computer for the simple reason that the computer is not a person. As such. The following are remarks by Penrose (1989) to this effect: “One of the claims of AI is that it provides a route towards some sort of understanding of mental qualities.what it is like to go to a party. The Conscious View of Intelligence The conscious view claims that intelligence cannot be sufficiently defined by some functional capacities. such system not truly intelligent. as in the case of humans. Intelligence or the activity of thinking is a necessarily conscious phenomenon. 180). Schank (1984. the conscious aspect of intelligence. Roger Penrose can be considered to be subscribing to this view when he argues that one cannot talk of intelligence and not talk of consciousness at the same time. 3. According to Searle. in particular its phenomenal feature. requires intentionality or the awareness of what the symbols involved in one’s thinking activity represent or are about. intelligence can sufficiently be defined functionally. to get kissed. It is important to note that Schank does not deny the reality of the conscious aspect of intelligence. And this explains why Penrose attributes to strong AI the claim that certain types of machines can be constructed such that they will not only be capable of thinking but of feeling as well. If a system that exhibits functional capacities that are normally regarded as intelligent but such capacities are not accompanied by some conscious processes on the part of the system. The view that intelligence necessarily requires consciousness is also assumed in Searle’s Chinese room argument where he criticizes the claim of strong AI that machines that can simulate the intelligent behaviors of humans are capable of genuine understanding. genuine understanding. whose intelligence is limited to the functional aspect. Accordingly. hunger” (p. be a mind” (p. 80 . Penrose (1994. regards the terms “intelligence. and thus to say that something can be intelligent without being conscious is to misuse or to deviate from the original meaning of the word “intelligence. attributing intelligence to machines necessarily implies attributing consciousness to machines as well. or to have the same desires and goals. in itself. can only be capable of understanding on the levels of making sense and cognitive understanding.” Consequently.” and ‘awareness” as related in the following way: “(a) ‘intelligence’ requires ‘understanding’ and (b) ‘understanding’ requires ‘awareness’.2. he only claims that the conscious aspect of intelligence is only important on the level of complete empathy. “The supporters of strong AI would claim that whenever the algorithm were run it would.
and likewise with Schank that there are levels of understanding where intelligence can sufficiently be defined functionally. must be mistaken. There is ‘something that it is like’ to have these attitudes. These arguments assume that the conscious experiences that go with the functional capacities of the mind cannot be ignored. and so forth. in this particular case the phenomenal features. for it is possible that one. or of the mind for that matter. According to Searle. Searle disagrees with the Turing that passing the Turing test is sufficient for the attribution of intelligence.Searle is particularly reacting to the Turing test and Schank’s concept of understanding. Consequently. namely what it feels like to see red. Alvin Goldman (1993. What this means is that the conscious aspect. green. And so the functional view of intelligence. would learn new things on first undergoing these experiences. which are also used to criticize functionalist theories of mind including computationalism. 24) gives Jackson’s famous knowledge argument the following twist: Just as someone deprived of any experience of colour would learn new things upon being exposed to them. so (I submit) someone who had never experienced certain propositional attitudes. And if we grant the possibility of cognitive phenomenology—that cognitive states such as beliefs also have phenomenal features—Frank Jackson’s knowledge argument would apply to intelligence as well. also assume the conscious view of intelligence. doubt or disappointment. unlike the other. even if a machine passes the Turing test and is capable of making inferences from input information (Schank’s level of cognitive understanding). If two systems exhibit the same functional capacities. The absent qualia and inverted qualia arguments. for example. or in attributing intelligence to some entity. of intelligence cannot be ignored in defining intelligence. these arguments claim that these two systems need not be the same in terms of conscious experiences. 81 . still the machine cannot be said to be intelligent because the machine lacks the conscious aspect of intelligence which is the intentionality of its internal states.” Just as knowing the physicality of seeing a color (knowing the brain processes that go with seeing a color and the physics of color—say its particular wavelength) does not suffice to really know what it means to see a color (for one needs to know as well what it is like to see a color). or one has conscious experiences that are totally different from the conscious experiences of the other. Ignoring them would mean leaving out some critical features of the mind. as intelligence or cognition involves cognitive or intentional mental states or the so-called propositional attitudes. does not really have conscious experiences. knowing the physicality of understanding or knowing something (which includes knowing the behavioral manifestations and functional capacities that go with understanding or knowing something) also does not suffice to really know what it means to understand or know something. just as much as there is “something that it is like to see red. In support of cognitive phenomenology.
4. and a narrow construal of it. physical objects. logic. living things. however. gratitude. 2) claims that our mind or “mental life consists of information-processing or computation. The Broad Construal For the broad construal. specifies what comprises each of these aspects: “Our intelligence.1. such as trust. We know that cognition or intelligence is not all there is in having a mind. Now. more specifically the “purely” cognitive aspect or functional aspect of intelligence—referring to cognition or intelligence without regard to its conscious features. Steven Pinker (2005. and emotions pertaining to the social and moral worlds. artifacts. guilt. We earlier quoted Pinker distinguishing between the cognitive and affective aspects of our mind. and humor. 7 where computationalism is understood as a specialized theory of the mind in that it merely focuses on a specific aspect of the mind. number. that take the broad construal is Steven Pinker in his book entitled How The Mind Works (1997). not clear up to what extent of the mind its claims are intended to cover. which primarily refers to emotions and where the phenomenal features stand out. it is. Computationalism: The Question of Scope While computationalism is a theory of the mind. One proponent of computationalism. Accordingly. for example. and minds. these critics understand the claims of computationalism as intended to cover the whole of the mind’s nature. 2-7) to distinguish between two ways of understanding cognitive science. and in his essay entitled “So How Does the Mind Work?” where he answers Jerry Fodor’s criticisms (Fodor 2002) of his views in the said book. sympathy. But it is also usual to attribute to computationalism the claim that the mind is a kind of computer or computational system. in the following. such as fear and disgust. the claims of computationalism are taken to apply to the mind in its entirety. Our affective repertoire comprises emotions pertaining to the physical world. And the implication of which is that computationalism is a comprehensive theory of the mind. These considerations give rise to a question regarding the scope of computationalism as a theory of the mind. where “broad construal” regards cognitive science as an interdisciplinary study of cognition while “narrow construal” regards it as the computational study of cognition. which includes the phenomenal and intentional features of the mind.4. anger. consists of faculties dedicated to reasoning about space. for in accusing computationalism for its failure to account for certain features of the mind. for as the mind has a cognitive aspect it also has an affective aspect.” If computationalism merely concerns cognition then it is not really intended to be a comprehensive theory of the mind or a theory that accounts for the mind in all its varied aspects. namely. 7 82 . probability. We saw that computationalism generally claims that cognition is a species of computing. we can distinguish between a broad construal of computationalism. Beliefs are a kind of The expressions “broad construal” and “narrow construal” were originally used by Robert Harnish (2002. We shall touch on this distinction by Harnish on Chapter 7. Pinker (2005. without regard to this distinction. however. It is interesting to note that most critics of computationalism take the broad construal. where computationalism is understood as a comprehensive theory of the mind. its cognitive aspect. usually the phenomenal features. 4).
thinking a kind of computation. combines computationalism with the modular theory of mind8 and evolutionary theory. There is. indeed. I generally made it a point to include a section saying that I certainly don’t suppose that it could comprise more than a fragment of a full and satisfactory cognitive psychology. I’ve written a number of books in praise of the Computational Theory of Mind (CTM often hereinafter). the mind is a system of organs of computation that enabled our ancestors to survive and reproduce in the physical and social worlds in which our species spent most of its evolutionary history. and emotions. There are facts about the mind that it accounts for and that we would be utterly at a loss to explain without it. 4 for a more detailed discussion of this difference. It is. saying that “…the mind is not a single entity but is composed of a number of faculties specialized for solving different adaptive problems. 1-2). however. still less that it’s within miles of being the whole story about how the mind works. and desires are a kind of feedback mechanism in which an agent senses the difference between a current state and goal state and executes operations designed to reduce the difference. and certainly not about philosophy. in short. and that the most interesting—certainly the hardest—problems about thinking are unlikely to be much illuminated by any kind of computational theory we are now able to 8 Pinker’s modules. Pinker’s ideas. in my view. the only one we’ve got that’s worth the bother of a serious discussion. as earlier noted. not about science. (Practitioners of Artificial Intelligence have sometimes said things that suggest they harbor such convictions. when I wrote books about what a fine thing CTM is. This synthesis is sometimes also called evolutionary psychology. immediately show this: Over the years. 9 Fodor (2000.”9 In short. he is not only referring to the cognitive aspect of the human mind but to the whole of what comprises the human mind. See Pinker 2005. motives. 5) has called the combination of these theories as the New Synthesis. The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way (2000. encountered direct criticisms from Fodor in the latter’s book interestingly entitled The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way (2000) and in his essay entitled “The Trouble with Psychological Darwinism” (1998).” Pinker (2005. chap. What is important for our purposes here is that Fodor’s general reaction to Pinker’s brand of computationalism is to insist on a narrow construal of the claims of computationalism. Pinker claims that the human mind is an evolved computer that works in terms of modules—the various “faculties specialized for solving different adaptive problems. every reason to suppose that the Computational Theory is part of the truth about cognition. far the best theory of cognition that we’ve got.” And here when he says the human mind. 15-17 and Fodor 2000. 83 . The following first two paragraphs in his Introduction to his book. In sum. But.information.) So. and it’s central idea—that intentional processes are syntactic operations defined on mental representations—is strikingly elegant. then. We shall not go into the various arguments of Fodor and how Pinker responds to them. Fodor’s are essentially encapsulated processors while Pinker’s are functionally specialized mechanisms. differ from Fodor’s. 1). But it hadn’t occurred to me that anyone could suppose that it’s a very large part of the truth. AI was generally supposed to be about engineering. even by its own account. implying that Fodor takes Pinker’s computationalism as taking a broad construal. though.
not even when the cognition is conscious. 29): “Artificial intelligence is concerned with programming computers to perform in ways that. 1) in particular define the discipline of cognitive science: “Cognitive science is the study of intelligence and intelligent systems. We already saw Fodor as an example of proponents of computationalism taking the narrow construal. if observed in human beings. We say that people are behaving intelligently when they choose courses of action that are relevant to achieving their goals.” to this diverse set of activities because we expect that a common set of underlying processes is implicated in performing all of them. Fodor states: “This is not to claim that CTM is any of the truth about consciousness. with particular reference to intelligent behavior. 4. the narrow construal regards computationalism as a theory not of the whole of the mind but of the cognitive aspect of the mind. We have previously touched on the views of Schank (his three levels of understanding) and Simon and Newell (their physical symbol system) all endorsing this construal. or when they create or design something useful or beautiful or novel. as the understanding of nature of intelligence or cognition as exhibited by certain types of behavior or as manifested in the performance of certain types of actions. we are ordinarily willing to judge when intelligence is being exhibited by our fellow human beings. There are diehard fans of CTM who think it is. by intelligence.” And as regards intelligence per se. as shown by how they define the goal of cognitive science and artificial intelligence.imagine.” Clearly here Fodor distinguishes cognition from consciousness. for he is saying that CTM only works for cognition but not for consciousness. Thus. hence the expressions “intelligent machines. but I’m not of their ranks. Furthermore.” “cognitive computer. “intelligence. So if not the conscious aspect of cognition—as he states “not even when cognition is conscious”. We apply a single term.” Furthermore. 1) understand it in the following way: Although no really satisfactory intentional definition of intelligence has been proposed. I guess I sort of took it for granted that even us ardent admirers of computational psychology were more or less agreed on that. when they reply coherently and appropriately to questions that are put to them.” and “cognition as a species of computing. they specifically mean the capacity to behave in certain ways or to perform certain types of actions. where consciousness—as Fodor states above—is not part of the concern. And in his footnote to the last statement in the first paragraph.” these scientists specifically mean intelligence or cognition. It shall also be observed that most prominent cognitive scientists and scientists working in artificial intelligence also take the narrow construal. By “mind. Observe now how Simon and Kaplan (1989.” and the discipline of artificial intelligence (1989. in addition to limiting mentality to 84 .2. The Narrow Construal In contrast to the broad construal. then it can only be the purely functional aspect of cognition to which he regards CTM to apply. it is a theory of cognition in the purely functional aspect of it. they (1989. when they solve problems of lesser or greater difficulty. would be regarded as intelligent. both of which are computational in their framework.
with regard to the nature of intelligence. 85 . we distinguished between the functional view. If these arguments are misplaced. these criticisms are appropriate regardless of their validity. for they are imputing to computationalism claims that computationalism itself does not make. even if they are valid in themselves they have no bearing on the claims of computationalism. while the other is connectionist model. Summary and Conclusion We saw that computationalism has a general thesis. generally referring to a finite set of step-by-step effective procedure to get a desired result. computation is whatever that can be implemented in a Turing machine. these scientists limit their investigations of the nature of the mind to the purely functional aspect of intelligence— thereby holding to the view that we have earlier called the functional view of intelligence. Now between the broad and narrow types of construal. which claims that cognition is a species of computing. and the conscious view. 5. One critical consequence of this distinction between two ways of construing the claims of computationalism concerns the appropriateness of the criticisms leveled against computationalism. was first given a theoretical definition by Alan Turing through his Turing machine in the course of finding a mechanical procedure to determine the computability of mathematical functions. two models for understanding how computation works in the context of human cognition. If we take a broad construal. and two sub-theses. which states that computing machines capable of simulating human intelligent actions are intelligent. what is needed is an evaluation of the theses of comptutationalism that will be appropriate to the narrow construal. which states that human cognition is computational. On the other hand. which defines computation as the manipulation of the connections of the units in neural networks. the thesis of human computationality. there seems to be more reason to believe the narrow construal as this is the one taken by most proponents of computationalism in cognitive science and artificial intelligence. The concept of computation. In this consideration. there are. Accordingly. which maintains that any definition of intelligence would be incomplete if it does not take into account the mind’s conscious properties (most especially its phenomenal and intentional properties).cognition. namely. The latter regards such claims as limited to the purely functional aspect of intelligence or the cognitive aspect of the mind. At present. We noted that taking the narrow construal would render the many criticisms leveled against computationalism as misplaced. In short. One is the symbolic model. To further understand these theses we needed to clarify the concept of computation and the nature of intelligence assumed in these theses. while the latter regards them as covering the whole of the mind. which defines computation as symbol-manipulation. however. and the thesis of machine intelligence. these scientists further limit cognition to its “purely functional” aspect—thereby putting aside the conscious or phenomenal features of cognition. Finally. but if we take a narrow construal. we distinguished between the broad and the narrow construal of the claims of computationalism. which claims that intelligence can be sufficiently defined in terms of functional capacities alone. and that there are good reasons to take such construal considering that it is endorsed by most proponents of computationalism in cognitive science and artificial intelligence. these criticisms are inappropriate. or better yet misplaced.
86 . And this is precisely what the immediately following chapter intends to provide.or that will be appropriate regardless of which construal one takes.
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