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