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