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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
is that since a computing machine is said to be cognitive when it simulates human cognitive processes. we need to examine how computationalism regards the relationship between the two features assumed in these theses. 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. Meaning to say. On the one hand. 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. What happens. which we can refer to as cognitivity. namely the feature of being cognitive. The relation between these two features. it is also then thought that human cognition must also just be an instantiation of this abstract idea. 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. machines are given as computational systems and humans are judged to be computational or not based on their similarities to machines. for the mere fact that humans perform computations. it is necessary that all cognitive systems be 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. as they do when doing mathematical calculations. What it only entails is that performing computations is one of the many types of processes that the human mind. regardless of whether it is computational or not. Machines are the point of reference for computationality. In what follows. it seems. are capable of performing. which we can refer to as computationality. does not necessarily mean that their cognitive processes are computational. if the basis for saying that computing machines are cognitive is that they are capable of simulating human cognitive processes. must be a kind of computation. it is then thought that cognition. we shall try to clarify 69 . in the abstract. according to computationalism. on the other hand. while humans are the point of reference for cognitivity. 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. and the feature of being computational. Now. The points of reference for these two features are not the same. while it is not necessary that all computational systems be cognitive. To further understand the theses of computationalism. But we need to begin with the basics before we can appropriately deal with these questions. 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. The line of reasoning seems to be as follows. is not that they are identical nor that computationality falls under cognitivity but that cognitivity falls under computationality. and thus human cognition must also be a kind of computation. what about the claim that human cognition is necessarily computational. what is its basis? Definitely not that the fact that humans are capable of simulating the computing processes of a machine. Consequently.
Accordingly. for giving the solution to a given problem. it also means that the process of thinking can be spelled out in terms of a well-defined series of steps.” Computing is not limited to solving mathematical problems or functions. we shall clarify the concept of computation as it is defined generally and in the context of the Turing machine. Roger Schank (1984. As Tim Crane (1995.” which artificial intelligence simply assumes as what constitute human thinking and therefore sets for itself the task of discovering what these cognitive algorithms are. 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. both in the context of the theses of computationalism. As we noted earlier there can be an effective procedure. 88) explains: Like the notion of a function. the notion of an algorithm is extremely general. Harnish (2002.what it means to say that something is computational. and shall examine the two models or approaches in understanding the nature of computation. we shall examine the concept of intelligence as defined in artificial intelligence. and which comes to an end on any finite input. But more importantly. To compute is simply to implement a computation or an algorithm. In this regard. so long as it satisfies the following conditions: (A) At each stage of the procedure. Moving from step to step does not require any special guesswork. and hence a computation. such as how to cook eggs or wash the laundry.” Schank speaks of a special type of algorithms in humans which when implemented will constitute human thinking. After which. 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. there is a definite thing to do next. We can call this type of algorithms as “cognitive algorithms. and for something to be cognitive. 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. (B) The procedure can be specified in a finite number of steps. or a bunch of rules. insight or inspiration. What then is a computation? Computation is generally defined as a step-by-step effective procedure for getting a desired result. thinking as computing means nothing but that thinking is a process of carrying out certain computations or effective procedures. An effective procedure for finding the solution to a problem can be called an algorithm. it is a finite sequence of well-defined steps. More precisely. 70 . for there can be an algorithm or an effective procedure for solving other types of problems. for cooking eggs but the process of cooking eggs does not by itself constitute thinking. So we can think of an algorithm as a rule. 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. 2. each of which takes only a finite amount of memory and time to complete.
a translation system. It enables the machine to represent a wide variety of data and process them in a wide variety of ways. Translating the input data into symbols allows the machine to operate on a very general level. have a storage system. And this requires that the machine has a translation system. such symbol can be erased and either be left empty or a symbol be written anew. For instance. For the symbols to be written. If the square already contains a symbol.” Now.1 And of course.” These commands are stated in the conditional form. called by Turing as the “machine table. overwritten. which take place on the level of 1 In some accounts of the Turing machine. however. these internal states are the functional states of the machine. The Turing machine does not refer to a particular type of machine that one can buy and use. and stored there must be a scanning and printing device. and a set of instructions or commands. The machine translates the inputs that it receives into its own language. It specifies the basic operations that a physical system must be capable of performing in order to qualify as a computing machine. so to speak. In the case of Turing. whatever the device does is in accordance with the machine’s set of instructions or commands. erased. the machine does not receive inputs or information in the form of the symbols that it uses. 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. There is nothing subjective or mysterious about these internal states. it is not the tape that moves but the scanning and printing device. Needless to say. From the viewpoint of functionalism. this device must be capable of moving the tape from left to right and vice-versa. a set of symbols. These basic operations consist of receiving an input and executing a command or instruction to produce an output. For a physical system to perform these operations it must. 71 . 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). “if it reads ‘0’ in square A. 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. for their being internal only means that they refer to the physical states of the machine on the level of performing its tasks. The Turing Machine The notion of computation has initially been defined in terms of the Turing machine.1. In each square. a reading and printing device. it should move to square B and write ‘1’ or “if it reads ‘10’ in square X. as the machine is performing a particular task.2. a symbol can be written in case the square is empty or does not yet contain a symbol. it should move to square Y and overwrite the symbol already written there with the symbol ‘1010’. These symbols are finite in number but they can be combined in unlimited ways. 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. The symbols written and stored in the tape are also called representations for they are intended to represent certain data. he conceives of the storage system as a tape of infinite length that is divided into squares. Turing describes the machine as being in a particular “internal state”.
” 2 plus 2 equals ….” there is no value that will be yielded. 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. in contrast to the machine’s lower-level physical states. and Alan Turing was one of those who came up with an answer.” and “X is the author of Noli Me Tangere. This definition.) and thus we say: “the capital of x. or to find the appropriate argument so that it will yield the desired value. This machine was originally conceived by Alan Turing for purposes of determining the computability of any given mathematical function. According to Frege. But more importantly. And if we have the function “X is the present king of France.” etc. Examples are: “the capital of …. to find its value. If we have a mathematical function. The set of meaningful arguments for a given function is called by Frege the function’s “value range.” The missing parts can be represented by variables (“x. 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. Turing’s answer was precisely his Turing machine.the functional organization of the machine. Before we proceed with our discussion. 28-29). A mathematical function is no different. the effective step-by-step procedure to complete it. And if we have the argument “Rizal” for the function “X is the author of Noli Me Tangere. or if it can be translated into the basic operations of the Turing machine. for instance. a function is any incomplete expression. as in the case of the example “2 plus x.” “y.” “2 plus x.” And once a certain argument is used to complete the function. if we have the argument “Philippines” for the function “the capital of x” the value is Manila. of determining whether a given mathematical problem is solvable.] And what results from Turing’s machine is a definition of what computation is or what computability consists in.” Obviously the value-range of the function “the capital of X” would include names of countries.” Now what we replace the variables with to complete the function are called “arguments. an example of which is the “halting problem” (see Penrose 1994. there are also some that are not computable. Accordingly. the resulting complete expression yields a value.” and “…is the author of Noli Me Tangere. the meaningful arguments for a given function are not unlimited. For instance. which take place on the level of its material components. is called a computation or an algorithm. there are some that are not. needless to say. we use the argument “Philippines” for the function “2 plus x.” the value is (the) True. a computation is anything that can be run by a Turing machine. or what comes to the same. This question has been called the “Eintscheidungsproblem”. If we have the argument “6” for the function “2 plus x. Now while there are mathematical functions that are obviously computable. Accordingly. If. it may be helpful to briefly discuss what a mathematical function is as Gottlob Frege sees it (see Frege 1960). [Turing in fact was able to demonstrate through his machine that some problems in mathematics are not computable or soluble.” the value is 8. 72 .” 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 mathematical function is computable if it can be run in the Turing machine. a truth-value).” “z. Finding the solution to a mathematical function that is actually not computable.” Of course.
This reasoning paves the way for the view that the human mind is a type of computer. 99. noted that another logician. digital computer. Accordingly. 20). 20-21)). 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). do not stop here. then a single Turing machine will suffice to run the operations of all other Turing machines. of the individual machines that enable us to do mathematical calculations (the calculator). It is. Each of these machines. If the operations of all Turing machines can be reduced to the same basic operations. and play games (the play station). This single Turing machine is called the Universal Turing Machine. In the course of developing his concept of the Turing machine. 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. to hear music (the radio. if the computer and the human mind are both regarded as computational systems and instantiations of a Turing machine. by the name of Emil Post. to write and print documents (the electronic typewriter). however. as what Roger Penrose (1994. Couched in the modern language of computers. then computation can also be defined in terms of the actions of the computer. Furthermore. CD player. To be more precise. has come to be known as the Church Thesis or sometimes as the Church-Turing Thesis2. The Universal Turing Machine is in fact the theoretical forerunner or model of the modern-day. 2 73 . as it is already done in our present computers.” Consequently. general-purpose. is an instantiation of a particular Turing machine.which is widely accepted among mathematicians. being an input-output device with memory and a set of instructions or program. 3 One difference between a Turing machine and any concrete machine that instantiates it is that the Turing machine has an infinite storage capacity. Turing’s genius and amazing discoveries. for instance. we must make take this in a suitably idealized sense: a computation is the action of a Turing machine. the general thesis of computationalism has consequently been expressed as the view that “the mind is to the brain as software is to hardware.” The computer software or program is here understood as a class of encoded computation that is run or implemented by the computer hardware. 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. But all of them can be put in one single machine. and MP3 player). however. he realizes that all possible Turing machines could be run by a single Turing machine. one can simply understand that term to denote the activity of an ordinary general-purpose computer. then the human mind must be a certain type of computer.3 Think. to organize our activities (the electronic organizer). to view DVD movies (the DVD player). 17) precisely does: “What is a computation? In short. any computational system being an input-output device with memory and a set of instructions is a Turing machine. to communicate with other people (the telephone and cell phone). 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. to view televisions shows (the TV set). Penrose 1994.
operate on representations that take the form of symbolic codes. while the thesis of machine intelligence as the view that a digital computer also has a mind. 97) explain: A physical symbol system is an instance of a universal machine.2. often made on general grounds of physical determinism. It is. These two types of computationalism present different models for how the human mind/brain does its computations.” Basically. 57) makes the same explanation: “The important thing is that. In the area of philosophy. A classic pronouncement to this effect comes from Simon and Kaplan (1989. According to Newell and Simon. The computationalism that we have discussed thus far is of the classical type. thus making a specific architectural assertion about the nature of intelligent systems. Generally speaking. They achieve their intelligence by symbolizing external and internal situations and events and by manipulating those symbols. it is usual to distinguish between two types of computationalism: the classical or symbolic and the connectionist. 74 .computer. provided that it is specified. intelligence is understood as symbolmanipulation. by Jerry Fodor in his theory of mental representation. It is called classical because it is the type of computationalism that has been existing prior to the advent of the connectionist type. in the area of artificial intelligence. However. the hypothesis goes far beyond the argument. is the physical symbol system hypothesis advanced by Newell and Simon (1995). however. computationalism and strong AI are equated with one another. intelligent systems. 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. 40): “Computer. and (in our view) human beings are symbols systems. are physical symbol systems. Consider the following two questions that Tim Crane (1995. and well defended as well. For it asserts specifically that the intelligent machine is a symbol system. 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. symbolic computationalism is best represented. They all use about the same symbol-manipulating process. As they (1995. In this regard. Thus the symbol system hypothesis implies that intelligence will be realized by a universal computer. which is more 4 That the human mind is a computational system is strictly speaking the claim of computationalism. Classical and Connectionist Models At the present. that any computation that is realizable can be realized by a universal machine. computation is essentially a symbol-manipulating process.4 2. from a symbolic computationalist point of view. including both minds and computers.” Pylyshn (1989. which is also what we do here. however. therefore. One important formulation of this type of computationalism. certain kinds of systems. according to the classical view. but that the human mind is a type of computer is strictly speaking the claim of strong artificial intelligence (or strong AI). such as the human mind and the computer.
” etc. which Chomsky has shown to be mistaken. these innate linguistic categories have become the language of thought. 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. for these languages are just programmed into the programming language of our cellular phones.” “the yellow book is under the table. As such. For instance. namely. say from English to Filipino or German.” 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 rules governing the computational states of our cell phones are not the grammatical rules of the natural languages.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. anyone who understands “John loves Mary” will also understand “Mary loves John. Fodor begins with the idea. 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). and the systematicity of reasoning. 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. 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. 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. as Fodor himself (1979.” In the same way. that there can be no computation without a system of representation. but the rules of their programming language. Fodor’s hypothesis supplements the view already articulated in Newell and Simon’s physical symbol system hypothesis. For instance. Notice that we can easily change the natural language of our cell phones. 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. Given this. For instance.”5 Fodor advances three basic arguments for his language-of-though hypothesis. but the rules of the language of thought. our mental states do not follow the rules of our natural languages. The language of thought may be compared to the programming language of computers. what happens when a person understands a sentence must be a translation process basically analogous to what happens when a machine ‘understands’ (viz. Skinner that the learning of natural languages is a matter of conditioning or association between stimuli and responses. the systematicity of thoughts. 67) explains: “On this view.. This view is Chomsky’s alternative to the claim of the behaviorist B. 5 We can also compare the mind’s language of thought with the programming language of our cellular phones. which appears to him as self-evident. In the hands of Fodor. the productivity of thoughts. his task is then to investigate the nature of the human mind/brain’s system of representation.” And systematicity of reasoning refers to the capacity of the human mind/brain to recognize inferences that are of the same logical structure. F. 75 . compiles) a sentence in its programming language.
The hidden units. which are the units in between the input units and output units. This process of adjusting or manipulating the connections among the units of a network is called the process of teaching the network. This view was advanced by Paul Smolensky (1993) and David Rumelhart (1989). units. and they are interconnected thereby forming a network or net. To begin with. and it is this process that is governed by a computation. The direction of the flow of information. cognition. may be forward.Let us now examine the connectionist type computationalism. 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. and then pass these processed data to the 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. among others. The units correspond to the human brain’s neurons and the connections correspond to its synapses. called its threshold level. or it may be recurrent. process these data. process. 76 . and the hidden units. which may come in various layers. So teaching the network basically happens in a trial and error process. one. the output 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. it is because it is believed. To get the appropriate computation for a desired output. The weight of a connection is called a connection weight. 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. Each unit is said to have a maximum amount of data that it can receive. 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. are the basic elements of a connectionist system called a network or net. receive data from the input units. though arguably. 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. which receive information from outside the network. 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. According to this view. It is when the information received by a unit exceeds its threshold level that it is activated to pass information to other units. however. that the connectionist model of computing is close to how the human brain works. These connections are said to have weights or strengths which affect the amount of information flowing through them. units are classified into three kinds: the input units. need to experiment first on various computations. also called nodes. In particular. In what follows. we shall explain what “units in neural networks” means. and where computation comes in. The flow of information among the units is made possible by the connections among the units. or activations. how the interaction among such units comes about. Based on their functions. which carry the resulting processed information. But why are the networks called “neural”? Basically. These units receive. or simply connectionism.
on the other hand. the difference between classical and connectionist computationalism does not touch the core of the claims of computationalism. as what cognitive phenomenology6 Cognitive phenomenology claims that the intentional also has a phenomenology. have launched criticisms against this model. in a joint publication (“Connectionism and Cognitive Architecture: A Critical Analysis. But since the classical model is. 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. Another difference is that computation in the classical type is serial for it is a step by step process. More specifically. And as these processes are conscious they can have all the properties of consciousness. And as conscious processes. it claims that there is something it is like to believe or know that p. where one unit is made to represent one item of information. computation in the classical type is described as symbolic for computations are carried out through and over symbols. Its conscious aspect. they do not regard connectionism as a rival to classical computationalism but simply as a sub-theory of classical computationalism. The Nature of Intelligence Intelligence or cognition has a functional and a conscious aspect. Fodor and Pylyshn (Fodor’s close ally). Also. computation does not make use of symbols. This accounts for why connectionism is also sometimes referred to as “PDP”—parallel distributed processing. they necessarily have intentional properties in that they necessarily have contents that are about some objects or states of affairs in the world. has to do with the conscious processes it undergoes to perform certain activities or accomplish certain tasks. To recall. But if in connectionism. it is still computation. 3. These activities involve solving problems and replying appropriately to certain questions. we shall assume this type of computationalism in discussing computationalism throughout the remaining part of this book. In this regard. where one item of information is represented by the patterns of connections among the units. In response to the connectionist model. and distributed representation. how are information represented? There are two possible ways: localized representation. Fodor and Pylyshn further claim that at best connectionism is just a theory concerning the implementation of symbolic computationalism. 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.Based on our general accounts of the two types of computationalism. relatively speaking.” 1993). one example to demonstrate this 6 77 . As cognitive processes primarily concern intentional states or propositional attitudes. For whether computation is symbol-manipulation or networkmanipulation. 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. 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. Its functional aspect has to do with the type of activities that it can perform or tasks it can accomplish. In any case. while that in the connectionist type is parallel for the interactions among the untis in networks take place simultaneously. the well-established type of computationalism. they can have phenomenal properties as well.
The Functional View of Intelligence Perhaps the best illustration of the functional view of intelligence is Turing’s imitation game or test. when they solve problems of lesser or greater difficulty. Speaking of intelligence in terms of understanding. The functional view says “yes” while the conscious view says “no. 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. Schank argues that while humans are capable of all three levels. within some limits of speed and complexity. 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.” The idea being that AI does not attempt to reproduce in machines the whole of human mentality. 96-97).argues. 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. when they reply coherently and appropriately to questions that are put to them. humans. there is more to human mentality than intelligence. in their Physical Symbol System Hypothesis. cognitive understanding. these levels are the levels of making sense. 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. And simply. 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. To determine whether a computing machine is intelligent or not. Schank then distinguishes the following three levels of understanding. Accordingly. In light of these two aspects of intelligence. Most of those working in artificial intelligence follow the Turing test.” 3. for instance. not people. Let us elaborate on this point by Schank. From the lowest to highest. and complete empathy. or even more intelligent than.” Simon and Newell (1995. human or machine. but still they are not humans. or more precisely. 78 . This distinction is not meant to deny the existence of either the functional or the conscious properties of intelligence. machines are only capable of the first two. 39).1. Machines may be as intelligent as. The distinction only concerns whether it is possible to define intelligence sufficiently by its functional aspect alone.” And Simon and Kaplan (1989. we can distinguish between the functional and the conscious view on the nature of intelligence. 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. writes that “When we ask What is intelligence? we are really only asking What does an entity. 62) first qualifies that “AI is an attempt to build intelligent machines. 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. Schank (1984. Roger Schank (1984. 51. 1): “…people are behaving intelligently when they choose courses of action that are relevant to achieving their goals. and this is precisely because there is more to being human than just being intelligent.
to go to a party and get kissed and hugged by people. From what you’ve told me about other women you know. one understands the situation on the level of making sense by simply recognizing what is happening in the situation. 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. You kissed each other. OUTPUT—COMPLETE EMPATHY: That’s like what happened to Cindy and me after the party. “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. 45). i. and while we were in the coatroom she threw her arms around me and started kissing me. You were close to each other. OUTPUT—COGNITIVE UNDERSTANDING: Mary must like you.) And on the level of complete sympathy..e. it is conceivable that a machine run by a computer. To further illustrate the differences of these levels. understanding means identifying with or being able to relate with the experiences and feelings of another. On the level of cognitive understanding. understanding means being able to do some of the following: (1) learn or change as a result of one’s experiences. “experiences” would mean inputs. one understands it by relating present experiences to past ones and formulating new information based on this relation. She must have felt good being with you at the party. According to Schank (1984. But what this machine would not able to know is 79 . In this example. let us take a look at the following example of Schank (1984. OUTPUT—MAKING SENSE You and Mary were at a party. And on the level of complete empathy. You didn’t talk while kissing. (With computers. 45). (2) relate present experiences to past experiences intelligently. 47-48). by making useful comparisons and picking out important and interesting relationships. and (4) explain oneself—say why one made the connections that one did. understanding simply means knowing what is happening in a given situation. She moved closer and we kissed. 58). 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. The assumption here is that the one who understands and the one being understood share some memories and experiences.” Actually. She came up to me and asked if I could give her a lift. say an android. (3) formulate new information for oneself—come to one’s own conclusions based on one’s experiences. On the level of cognitive understanding. or that one’s memories and experiences resemble those of the other (Schank 1984.On the level of making sense. and hence this level of understanding only requires simple recognition of the terms used and the actions performed in such situation (Schank 1984. she is more assertive than they are. and what thought process was involved in reaching one’s conclusions (Schank 1984. while an appropriately programmed computer can understand the situation up to the level of cognitive understanding.
though their output behaviors seem to suggest that they are. intelligence can sufficiently be defined functionally. such as happiness. whose intelligence is limited to the functional aspect. and thus computers. and be hugged by people. 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. according to this view. such system not truly intelligent. in particular its phenomenal feature. pain. attributing intelligence to machines necessarily implies attributing consciousness to machines as well. Intelligence or the activity of thinking is a necessarily conscious phenomenon.” Consequently. as in the case of humans. regards the terms “intelligence. 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. They will not “be” people. As such. 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. he only claims that the conscious aspect of intelligence is only important on the level of complete empathy. It is important to note that Schank does not deny the reality of the conscious aspect of intelligence. genuine understanding. 38-39). have a consciousness.” and ‘awareness” as related in the following way: “(a) ‘intelligence’ requires ‘understanding’ and (b) ‘understanding’ requires ‘awareness’. 3.2. According to Searle. Accordingly. hunger” (p. 14). 45) concludes that: Computers are not likely to have the same feelings as people. 180). computers are not really capable of genuine understanding. or to have the same desires and goals. more specifically. 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.” understanding. can only be capable of understanding on the levels of making sense and cognitive understanding. computers just manipulate symbols solely according to the syntactical properties of these symbols without knowing what these symbols mean. 80 . requires intentionality or the awareness of what the symbols involved in one’s thinking activity represent or are about. the conscious aspect of intelligence. 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. experience feelings. Penrose (1994. to get kissed. On the levels of making sense and cognitive understanding. 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. “The supporters of strong AI would claim that whenever the algorithm were run it would. In his analysis. 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. be a mind” (p. The Conscious View of Intelligence The conscious view claims that intelligence cannot be sufficiently defined by some functional capacities. is only important on the level of complete empathy. Schank (1984.what it is like to go to a party. in itself.
According to Searle. And so the functional view of intelligence. in this particular case the phenomenal features. or one has conscious experiences that are totally different from the conscious experiences of the other. these arguments claim that these two systems need not be the same in terms of conscious experiences. Searle disagrees with the Turing that passing the Turing test is sufficient for the attribution of intelligence. also assume the conscious view of intelligence. even if a machine passes the Turing test and is capable of making inferences from input information (Schank’s level of cognitive understanding). 81 . or of the mind for that matter. Consequently. would learn new things on first undergoing these experiences. 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.Searle is particularly reacting to the Turing test and Schank’s concept of understanding. What this means is that the conscious aspect. In support of cognitive phenomenology. must be mistaken. and likewise with Schank that there are levels of understanding where intelligence can sufficiently be defined functionally. Alvin Goldman (1993. and so forth. doubt or disappointment. namely what it feels like to see red. If two systems exhibit the same functional capacities. The absent qualia and inverted qualia arguments. 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. as intelligence or cognition involves cognitive or intentional mental states or the so-called propositional attitudes.” 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). 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. or in attributing intelligence to some entity. does not really have conscious experiences. which are also used to criticize functionalist theories of mind including computationalism. There is ‘something that it is like’ to have these attitudes. unlike the other. so (I submit) someone who had never experienced certain propositional attitudes. of intelligence cannot be ignored in defining intelligence. just as much as there is “something that it is like to see red. green. for example. These arguments assume that the conscious experiences that go with the functional capacities of the mind cannot be ignored. 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. Ignoring them would mean leaving out some critical features of the mind. for it is possible that one.
sympathy. which primarily refers to emotions and where the phenomenal features stand out. But it is also usual to attribute to computationalism the claim that the mind is a kind of computer or computational system. such as trust. where “broad construal” regards cognitive science as an interdisciplinary study of cognition while “narrow construal” regards it as the computational study of cognition. The Broad Construal For the broad construal. not clear up to what extent of the mind its claims are intended to cover.” 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. for as the mind has a cognitive aspect it also has an affective aspect. 4). namely. for example. Steven Pinker (2005. which includes the phenomenal and intentional features of the mind. 7 82 . the claims of computationalism are taken to apply to the mind in its entirety. consists of faculties dedicated to reasoning about space. and minds. living things. we can distinguish between a broad construal of computationalism. and a narrow construal of it. 2-7) to distinguish between two ways of understanding cognitive science. Now. 2) claims that our mind or “mental life consists of information-processing or computation. 7 where computationalism is understood as a specialized theory of the mind in that it merely focuses on a specific aspect of the mind. anger. It is interesting to note that most critics of computationalism take the broad construal. number. 4. Beliefs are a kind of The expressions “broad construal” and “narrow construal” were originally used by Robert Harnish (2002. One proponent of computationalism. such as fear and disgust. and humor. These considerations give rise to a question regarding the scope of computationalism as a theory of the mind. its cognitive aspect. We earlier quoted Pinker distinguishing between the cognitive and affective aspects of our mind. 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. usually the phenomenal features. We know that cognition or intelligence is not all there is in having a mind. gratitude. Pinker (2005. probability. We shall touch on this distinction by Harnish on Chapter 7. logic. it is. however. where computationalism is understood as a comprehensive theory of the mind. Accordingly. more specifically the “purely” cognitive aspect or functional aspect of intelligence—referring to cognition or intelligence without regard to its conscious features. in the following. physical objects. these critics understand the claims of computationalism as intended to cover the whole of the mind’s nature. specifies what comprises each of these aspects: “Our intelligence. guilt. artifacts. that take the broad construal is Steven Pinker in his book entitled How The Mind Works (1997).4. however. We saw that computationalism generally claims that cognition is a species of computing. Computationalism: The Question of Scope While computationalism is a theory of the mind. without regard to this distinction. And the implication of which is that computationalism is a comprehensive theory of the mind. and emotions pertaining to the social and moral worlds. Our affective repertoire comprises emotions pertaining to the physical world. for in accusing computationalism for its failure to account for certain features of the mind.1.
(Practitioners of Artificial Intelligence have sometimes said things that suggest they harbor such convictions. There is. though. 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. and certainly not about philosophy. AI was generally supposed to be about engineering. thinking a kind of computation. immediately show this: Over the years.information. differ from Fodor’s. We shall not go into the various arguments of Fodor and how Pinker responds to them. as earlier noted. and emotions. 83 . 1-2). There are facts about the mind that it accounts for and that we would be utterly at a loss to explain without it.) So. In sum. 9 Fodor (2000. combines computationalism with the modular theory of mind8 and evolutionary theory. The following first two paragraphs in his Introduction to his book. implying that Fodor takes Pinker’s computationalism as taking a broad construal. But. however. and it’s central idea—that intentional processes are syntactic operations defined on mental representations—is strikingly elegant. 5) has called the combination of these theories as the New Synthesis. I’ve written a number of books in praise of the Computational Theory of Mind (CTM often hereinafter). 1). 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. even by its own account. then. not about science. It is.”9 In short. 15-17 and Fodor 2000. far the best theory of cognition that we’ve got. Fodor’s are essentially encapsulated processors while Pinker’s are functionally specialized mechanisms. chap. motives. still less that it’s within miles of being the whole story about how the mind works. 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.” Pinker (2005. 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. This synthesis is sometimes also called evolutionary psychology.” And here when he says the human mind. 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. 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). But it hadn’t occurred to me that anyone could suppose that it’s a very large part of the truth. 4 for a more detailed discussion of this difference. The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way (2000. in my view. indeed. he is not only referring to the cognitive aspect of the human mind but to the whole of what comprises the human mind. every reason to suppose that the Computational Theory is part of the truth about cognition. saying that “…the mind is not a single entity but is composed of a number of faculties specialized for solving different adaptive problems. the only one we’ve got that’s worth the bother of a serious discussion. See Pinker 2005. in short. when I wrote books about what a fine thing CTM is.
Thus. 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. where consciousness—as Fodor states above—is not part of the concern. Fodor states: “This is not to claim that CTM is any of the truth about consciousness. in addition to limiting mentality to 84 .” Clearly here Fodor distinguishes cognition from consciousness. 29): “Artificial intelligence is concerned with programming computers to perform in ways that. 4. We say that people are behaving intelligently when they choose courses of action that are relevant to achieving their goals. The Narrow Construal In contrast to the broad construal. would be regarded as intelligent. It shall also be observed that most prominent cognitive scientists and scientists working in artificial intelligence also take the narrow construal. they (1989. as shown by how they define the goal of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. if observed in human beings. I guess I sort of took it for granted that even us ardent admirers of computational psychology were more or less agreed on that. both of which are computational in their framework.” Furthermore. but I’m not of their ranks. or when they create or design something useful or beautiful or novel.” and “cognition as a species of computing. We apply a single term. “intelligence. Observe now how Simon and Kaplan (1989. the narrow construal regards computationalism as a theory not of the whole of the mind but of the cognitive aspect of the mind.” And as regards intelligence per se. By “mind. There are diehard fans of CTM who think it is. 1) in particular define the discipline of cognitive science: “Cognitive science is the study of intelligence and intelligent systems.imagine. it is a theory of cognition in the purely functional aspect of it. when they solve problems of lesser or greater difficulty. 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. So if not the conscious aspect of cognition—as he states “not even when cognition is conscious”. We already saw Fodor as an example of proponents of computationalism taking the narrow construal. by intelligence. 1) understand it in the following way: Although no really satisfactory intentional definition of intelligence has been proposed. hence the expressions “intelligent machines. with particular reference to intelligent behavior. when they reply coherently and appropriately to questions that are put to them.” to this diverse set of activities because we expect that a common set of underlying processes is implicated in performing all of them. And in his footnote to the last statement in the first paragraph.” these scientists specifically mean intelligence or cognition. then it can only be the purely functional aspect of cognition to which he regards CTM to apply. for he is saying that CTM only works for cognition but not for consciousness. we are ordinarily willing to judge when intelligence is being exhibited by our fellow human beings. not even when the cognition is conscious.” and the discipline of artificial intelligence (1989. they specifically mean the capacity to behave in certain ways or to perform certain types of actions.2.” “cognitive computer. Furthermore.
Now between the broad and narrow types of construal. On the other hand. while the latter regards them as covering the whole of the mind. even if they are valid in themselves they have no bearing on the claims of computationalism. however. which claims that intelligence can be sufficiently defined in terms of functional capacities alone. 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. One critical consequence of this distinction between two ways of construing the claims of computationalism concerns the appropriateness of the criticisms leveled against computationalism. or better yet misplaced. these criticisms are appropriate regardless of their validity. these criticisms are inappropriate. 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. In this consideration. and the conscious view. which states that human cognition is computational. computation is whatever that can be implemented in a Turing machine. At present. which claims that cognition is a species of computing. The concept of computation. and the thesis of machine intelligence. with regard to the nature of intelligence. while the other is connectionist model. Finally. two models for understanding how computation works in the context of human cognition. we distinguished between the broad and the narrow construal of the claims of computationalism. 85 . If we take a broad construal. 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). but if we take a narrow construal. The latter regards such claims as limited to the purely functional aspect of intelligence or the cognitive aspect of the mind. and two sub-theses. for they are imputing to computationalism claims that computationalism itself does not make. One is the symbolic model. Summary and Conclusion We saw that computationalism has a general thesis. If these arguments are misplaced. what is needed is an evaluation of the theses of comptutationalism that will be appropriate to the narrow construal. which defines computation as the manipulation of the connections of the units in neural networks. Accordingly. we distinguished between the functional view. In short. which defines computation as symbol-manipulation. To further understand these theses we needed to clarify the concept of computation and the nature of intelligence assumed in these theses. namely. We noted that taking the narrow construal would render the many criticisms leveled against computationalism as misplaced. there are. the thesis of human computationality. 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. generally referring to a finite set of step-by-step effective procedure to get a desired result. 5. which states that computing machines capable of simulating human intelligent actions are intelligent.cognition. 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. these scientists further limit cognition to its “purely functional” aspect—thereby putting aside the conscious or phenomenal features of cognition.
And this is precisely what the immediately following chapter intends to provide.or that will be appropriate regardless of which construal one takes. 86 .
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