Retracing the Path



Cognition as Computing

This chapter takes a closer look at the fundamental claims of computationalism. The discussion divides into four sections. The first explicates the central theses of computationalism and analyzes how they are related to one another. The second looks into the concept of computation as defined in terms of the Turing machine, and examines the difference between the classical and connectionist models of computationalism. The third investigates the kind of intelligence assumed in the claims of computationalism. And the fourth examines the extent to which the claims of computationalism are intended to cover about the nature of the mind. 1. The Central Theses Herbert Simon and Craig Kaplan (1989, 2) define cognitive science “as the study of intelligence and its computational processes in humans (and animals), in computers, and in the abstract.” This definition identifies the levels on which a computationalist investigation of the nature of intelligence is to be carried out; namely, on the abstract level, on the human (and animal) level, and on the machine level. Based on these levels, the central claims of computationalism can be said to be consisting of a general thesis, which concerns the abstract level of intelligence, and two sub-theses, which concern the levels of humans and machines. Accordingly, the general thesis corresponds to the claim that thinking or cognition is a type of computational process. Some put this as: cognition is a species of computing. Cognition is here defined abstractly, not specifically pertaining to whose intelligence— humans or machines, but which can be instantiated by humans and machines. Consequently, the two sub-theses are precisely the human and machine instantiations of this abstract thesis, which we can respectively call the thesis of human computationality and the thesis of machine intelligence. The former corresponds to the claim that human cognition is a computational process, while the latter corresponds to the claim that machines that are capable of computationally simulating human cognitive process are intelligent. The difference between human intelligence and machine intelligence is here regarded simply as a matter of degree, in that human intelligence is seen as just more complex and sophisticated than machine intelligence. But this difference is a contingent matter, and hence it is possible in the future for machine intelligence to equal or even surpass human intelligence in terms of complexity and sophistication. Furthermore, while we speak of humans and machines in which the general thesis of computationalism are instantiated, the abstract level of this thesis requires that it also be instantiated in any other conceivable type of entities that can be considered as intelligent, say the extraterrestrials. Meaning to say, if it is 68

does not necessarily mean that their cognitive processes are computational. In what follows. machines are given as computational systems and humans are judged to be computational or not based on their similarities to machines. 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. it is then thought that cognition. in the abstract. it is necessary that all cognitive systems be computational. or that humans are given as both cognitive and computational and then machine computationality is judged to be cognitive on the basis of the similarities of machine computationality with human computationality. The line of reasoning seems to be as follows. 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. as they do when doing mathematical calculations. it is also then thought that human cognition must also just be an instantiation of this abstract idea. it seems. is not that they are identical nor that computationality falls under cognitivity but that cognitivity falls under computationality. namely the feature of being cognitive. while it is not necessary that all computational systems be cognitive. The points of reference for these two features are not the same. 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. Our observations will definitely raise some questions. Consequently. is that since a computing machine is said to be cognitive when it simulates human cognitive processes. we need to examine how computationalism regards the relationship between the two features assumed in these theses. What it only entails is that performing computations is one of the many types of processes that the human mind.true that cognition is a species of computing then any conceivable entity considered to be intelligent must be an entity whose intelligence is a species of computing. humans are given as cognitive systems and machines are judged to be cognitive or not based on their similarities to humans. regardless of whether it is computational or not. what about the claim that human cognition is necessarily computational. are capable of performing. and thus human cognition must also be a kind of computation. on the other hand. according to computationalism. Machines are the point of reference for computationality. what is its basis? Definitely not that the fact that humans are capable of simulating the computing processes of a machine. But we need to begin with the basics before we can appropriately deal with these questions. The relation between these two features. What happens. for the mere fact that humans perform computations. To further understand the theses of computationalism. 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. we shall try to clarify 69 . Meaning to say. 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. while humans are the point of reference for cognitivity. On the one hand. Now. which we can refer to as cognitivity. must be a kind of computation. and the feature of being computational.

Accordingly. so long as it satisfies the following conditions: (A) At each stage of the procedure. In this regard. But more importantly.” Computing is not limited to solving mathematical problems or functions. there is a definite thing to do next. insight or inspiration. 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. After which. The Concept of Computation What does it really mean to say that thinking is a kind of computing? But first what does it really mean for anything to be computing? Computing is generally the process of implementing a computation—which is also called an algorithm. Harnish (2002. thinking as computing means nothing but that thinking is a process of carrying out certain computations or effective procedures. Roger Schank (1984.” Schank speaks of a special type of algorithms in humans which when implemented will constitute human thinking.” which artificial intelligence simply assumes as what constitute human thinking and therefore sets for itself the task of discovering what these cognitive algorithms are. each of which takes only a finite amount of memory and time to complete. we shall examine the concept of intelligence as defined in artificial intelligence. and hence a computation. 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. An effective procedure for finding the solution to a problem can be called an algorithm. both in the context of the theses of computationalism. 70 . Moving from step to step does not require any special guesswork. the notion of an algorithm is extremely general. As we noted earlier there can be an effective procedure. and shall examine the two models or approaches in understanding the nature of computation. and for something to be cognitive. and which comes to an end on any finite input. or a bunch of rules. We can call this type of algorithms as “cognitive algorithms. 88) explains: Like the notion of a function. 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.what it means to say that something is computational. (B) The procedure can be specified in a finite number of steps. So we can think of an algorithm as a rule. for cooking eggs but the process of cooking eggs does not by itself constitute thinking. To compute is simply to implement a computation or an algorithm. As Tim Crane (1995. it is a finite sequence of well-defined steps. it also means that the process of thinking can be spelled out in terms of a well-defined series of steps. for giving the solution to a given problem. More precisely. 2. What then is a computation? Computation is generally defined as a step-by-step effective procedure for getting a desired result. we shall clarify the concept of computation as it is defined generally and in the context of the Turing machine. for there can be an algorithm or an effective procedure for solving other types of problems. such as how to cook eggs or wash the laundry.

2. These symbols serve as the language of the machine for its operations (corresponding to the 0’s and 1’s of modern computers). and a set of instructions or commands. overwritten. whatever the device does is in accordance with the machine’s set of instructions or commands. a reading and printing device. it should move to square Y and overwrite the symbol already written there with the symbol ‘1010’. Turing describes the machine as being in a particular “internal state”. a set of symbols. The Turing Machine The notion of computation has initially been defined in terms of the Turing machine. The machine translates the inputs that it receives into its own language. In each square. It specifies the basic operations that a physical system must be capable of performing in order to qualify as a computing machine. the machine does not receive inputs or information in the form of the symbols that it uses. If the square already contains a symbol. The symbols written and stored in the tape are also called representations for they are intended to represent certain data. It is an abstract specification of any possible computing machine. For a physical system to perform these operations it must. a symbol can be written in case the square is empty or does not yet contain a symbol. this device must be capable of moving the tape from left to right and vice-versa. Since the storage system is a tape consisting of squares. “if it reads ‘0’ in square A. and stored there must be a scanning and printing device. have a storage system. for their being internal only means that they refer to the physical states of the machine on the level of performing its tasks. called by Turing as the “machine table. These symbols are finite in number but they can be combined in unlimited ways. For the symbols to be written. There is nothing subjective or mysterious about these internal states.1 And of course. 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. it is not the tape that moves but the scanning and printing device. 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.1. he conceives of the storage system as a tape of infinite length that is divided into squares. From the viewpoint of functionalism. In the case of Turing. Needless to say. such symbol can be erased and either be left empty or a symbol be written anew.” Now. These basic operations consist of receiving an input and executing a command or instruction to produce an output. these internal states are the functional states of the machine.” These commands are stated in the conditional form. however. And this requires that the machine has a translation system. a translation system. 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. Translating the input data into symbols allows the machine to operate on a very general level. erased. which take place on the level of 1 In some accounts of the Turing machine. 71 . so to speak. The Turing machine does not refer to a particular type of machine that one can buy and use. For instance. as the machine is performing a particular task. it should move to square B and write ‘1’ or “if it reads ‘10’ in square X. It enables the machine to represent a wide variety of data and process them in a wide variety of ways.

and Alan Turing was one of those who came up with an answer. there are some that are not. And if we have the argument “Rizal” for the function “X is the author of Noli Me Tangere.” the value is (the) True. or if it can be translated into the basic operations of the Turing machine. 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.” “z. there are also some that are not computable.” 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.” Of course. which take place on the level of its material components. as in the case of the example “2 plus x. 28-29). the resulting complete expression yields a value.) and thus we say: “the capital of x. in contrast to the machine’s lower-level physical states. or to find the appropriate argument so that it will yield the desired value. This question has been called the “Eintscheidungsproblem”.” “2 plus x. it may be helpful to briefly discuss what a mathematical function is as Gottlob Frege sees it (see Frege 1960). Finding the solution to a mathematical function that is actually not computable.” etc. [Turing in fact was able to demonstrate through his machine that some problems in mathematics are not computable or soluble. if we have the argument “Philippines” for the function “the capital of x” the value is Manila.the functional organization of the machine. According to Frege. the effective step-by-step procedure to complete it. 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. a truth-value). needless to say. to find its value. we use the argument “Philippines” for the function “2 plus x. is called a computation or an algorithm.” “y.” Now what we replace the variables with to complete the function are called “arguments. an example of which is the “halting problem” (see Penrose 1994.” and “…is the author of Noli Me Tangere.” 2 plus 2 equals …. If we have the argument “6” for the function “2 plus x. If. a function is any incomplete expression.” The missing parts can be represented by variables (“x. This machine was originally conceived by Alan Turing for purposes of determining the computability of any given mathematical function.] And what results from Turing’s machine is a definition of what computation is or what computability consists in. This definition. a mathematical function is computable if it can be run in the Turing machine. or what comes to the same.” And once a certain argument is used to complete the function. the meaningful arguments for a given function are not unlimited. 72 .” Obviously the value-range of the function “the capital of X” would include names of countries.” the value is 8. Now while there are mathematical functions that are obviously computable. 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. And if we have the function “X is the present king of France. But more importantly. Examples are: “the capital of …. Accordingly. Accordingly. For instance. A mathematical function is no different. a computation is anything that can be run by a Turing machine. Before we proceed with our discussion. Turing’s answer was precisely his Turing machine. If we have a mathematical function. of determining whether a given mathematical problem is solvable. for instance.” and “X is the author of Noli Me Tangere.

CD player. he realizes that all possible Turing machines could be run by a single Turing machine.3 Think. Accordingly. then the human mind must be a certain type of computer. But all of them can be put in one single machine. then computation can also be defined in terms of the actions of the computer. Each of these machines. 3 One difference between a Turing machine and any concrete machine that instantiates it is that the Turing machine has an infinite storage capacity. Couched in the modern language of computers. noted that another logician. It is. Furthermore. In the course of developing his concept of the 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. 99. 2 73 . To be more precise. to write and print documents (the electronic typewriter). and MP3 player). 20). 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. as it is already done in our present computers. 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. Penrose 1994. then a single Turing machine will suffice to run the operations of all other Turing machines. 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). being an input-output device with memory and a set of instructions or program. Turing’s genius and amazing discoveries. is an instantiation of a particular Turing machine. however. 20-21)). however. for instance. has done the same even earlier than Church (see Penrose 1994. to view DVD movies (the DVD player).” Consequently. digital computer. if the computer and the human mind are both regarded as computational systems and instantiations of a 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. This reasoning paves the way for the view that the human mind is a type of computer. The Universal Turing Machine is in fact the theoretical forerunner or model of the modern-day. This single Turing machine is called the Universal Turing Machine. to organize our activities (the electronic organizer). one can simply understand that term to denote the activity of an ordinary general-purpose computer. and play games (the play station). as what Roger Penrose (1994. any computational system being an input-output device with memory and a set of instructions is a Turing machine.which is widely accepted among mathematicians. the general thesis of computationalism has consequently been expressed as the view that “the mind is to the brain as software is to hardware. to hear music (the radio. has come to be known as the Church Thesis or sometimes as the Church-Turing Thesis2. we must make take this in a suitably idealized sense: a computation is the action of a Turing machine. 17) precisely does: “What is a computation? In short. to view televisions shows (the TV set). by the name of Emil Post. to communicate with other people (the telephone and cell phone). general-purpose. do not stop here. If the operations of all Turing machines can be reduced to the same basic operations. of the individual machines that enable us to do mathematical calculations (the calculator).

intelligent systems. 40): “Computer. A classic pronouncement to this effect comes from Simon and Kaplan (1989. 84) asks about the relation between computers and the human mind: (1) Can a computer think? Or more precisely: can anything think simply by being a computer? (2) Is the human mind a computer? Or more precisely: are any actual mental states and processes computational?” The first question corresponds to the thesis of machine intelligence while the second to the thesis of human computationality. They achieve their intelligence by symbolizing external and internal situations and events and by manipulating those symbols. According to Newell and Simon. It is called classical because it is the type of computationalism that has been existing prior to the advent of the connectionist type. and (in our view) human beings are symbols systems. from a symbolic computationalist point of view. while the thesis of machine intelligence as the view that a digital computer also has a mind. provided that it is specified. In the area of philosophy.” Basically. including both minds and computers. in the area of artificial intelligence. and well defended as well. which is also what we do here. 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. that any computation that is realizable can be realized by a universal machine. such as the human mind and the computer. The computationalism that we have discussed thus far is of the classical type. For it asserts specifically that the intelligent machine is a symbol system. Classical and Connectionist Models At the present. however. is the physical symbol system hypothesis advanced by Newell and Simon (1995).” Pylyshn (1989. 57) makes the same explanation: “The important thing is that. In this regard. Thus the symbol system hypothesis implies that intelligence will be realized by a universal computer. often made on general grounds of physical determinism. symbolic computationalism is best represented. therefore. 74 . It is. As they (1995. These two types of computationalism present different models for how the human mind/brain does its computations. They all use about the same symbol-manipulating process. Consider the following two questions that Tim Crane ( 2. by Jerry Fodor in his theory of mental representation. the hypothesis goes far beyond the argument. according to the classical view. intelligence is understood as symbolmanipulation. 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. Generally speaking. 97) explain: A physical symbol system is an instance of a universal machine. but that the human mind is a type of computer is strictly speaking the claim of strong artificial intelligence (or strong AI).2. certain kinds of systems. however. are physical symbol systems. computation is essentially a symbol-manipulating process. thus making a specific architectural assertion about the nature of intelligent systems. computationalism and strong AI are equated with one another. operate on representations that take the form of symbolic codes. One important formulation of this type of computationalism. However.

the productivity of thoughts. say from English to Filipino or German. As such.. but the rules of their programming language. In the hands of Fodor. 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’s hypothesis supplements the view already articulated in Newell and Simon’s physical symbol system hypothesis. which Chomsky has shown to be mistaken. For instance. which appears to him as self-evident. Skinner that the learning of natural languages is a matter of conditioning or association between stimuli and responses. namely.” 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.popularly known as the mentalese or language-of-thought hypothesis. Notice that we can easily change the natural language of our cell phones. but the rules of the language of thought. This view is Chomsky’s alternative to the claim of the behaviorist B.” “the yellow book is under the table. F. anyone who can infer the statement “It is sunny” from the statement “It is sunny and warm and humid” can also infer the statement “It is sunny” from the statement “It is sunny and warm” (or anyone who can infer P from P and Q and R can also infer P from P and Q). 5 We can also compare the mind’s language of thought with the programming language of our cellular phones. 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. Fodor begins with the idea. For instance. what happens when a person understands a sentence must be a translation process basically analogous to what happens when a machine ‘understands’ (viz. as Fodor himself (1979.” And systematicity of reasoning refers to the capacity of the human mind/brain to recognize inferences that are of the same logical structure. the systematicity of thoughts. that there can be no computation without a system of representation. compiles) a sentence in its programming language. 75 . The language of thought may be compared to the programming language of computers. 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. his task is then to investigate the nature of the human mind/brain’s system of representation. 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. our mental states do not follow the rules of our natural languages. the rules governing the computational states of our cell phones are not the grammatical rules of the natural languages. for these languages are just programmed into the programming language of our cellular phones. For instance. Given this. 67) explains: “On this view. these innate linguistic categories have become the language of thought. anyone who understands “John loves Mary” will also understand “Mary loves John. The productivity of thoughts refers to the capacity of the human mind/brain to produce new thoughts from a number of old thoughts. 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.”5 Fodor advances three basic arguments for his language-of-though hypothesis. and the systematicity of reasoning.” etc.” In the same way.

These connections are said to have weights or strengths which affect the amount of information flowing through them. which may come in various layers. In particular. The flow of information among the units is made possible by the connections among the units. The hidden units. and it is this process that is governed by a computation. the output units. process these data. we shall explain what “units in neural networks” means. 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. Based on their functions. 76 . units are classified into three kinds: the input units. which receive information from outside the network. These units receive. or activations. which carry the resulting processed information. and send information. process. one. receive data from the input units. among others. need to experiment first on various computations. that the connectionist model of computing is close to how the human brain works. 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. According to this view. Each unit is said to have a maximum amount of data that it can receive. The weight of a connection is called a connection weight. cognition. 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. In what follows. The direction of the flow of information. it is because it is believed. So teaching the network basically happens in a trial and error process. also called nodes. This view was advanced by Paul Smolensky (1993) and David Rumelhart (1989). units. are the basic elements of a connectionist system called a network or net. 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. To begin with. and the hidden units. To get the appropriate computation for a desired output. which are the units in between the input units and output units. The amount of information that will be received by a unit will therefore be a combination of the strength of the connection through which the information passes through and the amount of information given off by the sending unit. or simply connectionism. This process of adjusting or manipulating the connections among the units of a network is called the process of teaching the network. and they are interconnected thereby forming a network or net. 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. however. called its threshold level. and then pass these processed data to the output units. may be forward. and where computation comes in. But why are the networks called “neural”? Basically. 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). how the interaction among such units comes about. or it may be recurrent. The units correspond to the human brain’s neurons and the connections correspond to its synapses.Let us now examine the connectionist type computationalism. we shall discuss some of the basic concepts of connectionism enough to give us a general picture of its difference from symbolic computationalism.

it is still computation. In response to the connectionist model. the difference between classical and connectionist computationalism does not touch the core of the claims of computationalism. as what cognitive phenomenology6 Cognitive phenomenology claims that the intentional also has a phenomenology. This accounts for why connectionism is also sometimes referred to as “PDP”—parallel distributed processing.Based on our general accounts of the two types of computationalism. computation does not make use of symbols. Another difference is that computation in the classical type is serial for it is a step by step process. they necessarily have intentional properties in that they necessarily have contents that are about some objects or states of affairs in the world.” 1993). Also. computation in the classical type is described as symbolic for computations are carried out through and over symbols. where one item of information is represented by the patterns of connections among the units. Its functional aspect has to do with the type of activities that it can perform or tasks it can accomplish. the well-established type 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. it claims that there is something it is like to believe or know that p. And as these processes are conscious they can have all the properties of consciousness. how are information represented? There are two possible ways: localized representation. where one unit is made to represent one item of information. 3. while that in the connectionist type is parallel for the interactions among the untis in networks take place simultaneously. they can have phenomenal properties as well. The Nature of Intelligence Intelligence or cognition has a functional and a conscious aspect. More specifically. Fodor and Pylyshn further claim that at best connectionism is just a theory concerning the implementation of symbolic computationalism. To recall. and distributed representation. As cognitive processes primarily concern intentional states or propositional attitudes. For whether computation is symbol-manipulation or networkmanipulation. But if in connectionism. Fodor and Pylyshn (Fodor’s close ally). 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. in a joint publication (“Connectionism and Cognitive Architecture: A Critical Analysis. These activities involve solving problems and replying appropriately to certain questions. And as conscious processes. In any case. has to do with the conscious processes it undergoes to perform certain activities or accomplish certain tasks. they do not regard connectionism as a rival to classical computationalism but simply as a sub-theory of classical computationalism. have launched criticisms against this model. one example to demonstrate this 6 77 . we shall assume this type of computationalism in discussing computationalism throughout the remaining part of this book. Its conscious aspect. on the other hand. In this regard. relatively speaking. 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. 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. But since the classical model is.

78 . these levels are the levels of making sense. In light of these two aspects of intelligence. when they reply coherently and appropriately to questions that are put to them. when they solve problems of lesser or greater difficulty. 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. 96-97). Most of those working in artificial intelligence follow the Turing test. writes that “When we ask What is intelligence? we are really only asking What does an entity. 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. machines are only capable of the first two. The Functional View of Intelligence Perhaps the best illustration of the functional view of intelligence is Turing’s imitation game or test.” Simon and Newell (1995. The distinction only concerns whether it is possible to define intelligence sufficiently by its functional aspect alone. The functional view says “yes” while the conscious view says “no. Roger Schank (1984. Machines may be as intelligent as. This distinction is not meant to deny the existence of either the functional or the conscious properties of intelligence. for instance. 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. but still they are not humans. To determine whether a computing machine is intelligent or not. What it is like for someone to read it in a language that he or she does not understand is different from what it is like for her or him to read it in a language that he or she understands. and this is precisely because there is more to being human than just being intelligent. Schank then distinguishes the following three levels of understanding.” 3.” The idea being that AI does not attempt to reproduce in machines the whole of human mentality. Let us elaborate on this point by Schank. 39). 51. 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. From the lowest to highest. humans.” And Simon and Kaplan (1989. 62) first qualifies that “AI is an attempt to build intelligent machines. in their Physical Symbol System Hypothesis. human or machine. 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.argues. 1): “…people are behaving intelligently when they choose courses of action that are relevant to achieving their goals. not people. there is more to human mentality than intelligence. within some limits of speed and complexity. Turing does not examine the internal processes of the machine when it performs certain tasks but the kind of tasks the machine is capable of performing. Accordingly.1. cognitive understanding. or more precisely. Speaking of intelligence in terms of understanding. And simply. Schank (1984. Schank argues that while humans are capable of all three levels. we can distinguish between the functional and the conscious view on the nature of intelligence. and complete empathy. or even more intelligent than.

and while we were in the coatroom she threw her arms around me and started kissing me. OUTPUT—MAKING SENSE You and Mary were at a party. (3) formulate new information for oneself—come to one’s own conclusions based on one’s experiences. one understands it by relating present experiences to past ones and formulating new information based on this relation. 45). 58). 45). let us take a look at the following example of Schank (1984. understanding means being able to do some of the following: (1) learn or change as a result of one’s experiences. (With computers. You kissed each other. “experiences” would mean inputs. 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. (2) relate present experiences to past experiences intelligently. 47-48).On the level of making sense. and hence this level of understanding only requires simple recognition of the terms used and the actions performed in such situation (Schank 1984. and (4) explain oneself—say why one made the connections that one did. understanding means identifying with or being able to relate with the experiences and feelings of another. to go to a party and get kissed and hugged by people. understanding simply means knowing what is happening in a given situation. “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. 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.e. she is more assertive than they are. She came up to me and asked if I could give her a lift. On the level of cognitive understanding. one understands the situation on the level of making sense by simply recognizing what is happening in the situation. OUTPUT—COGNITIVE UNDERSTANDING: Mary must like you. and what thought process was involved in reaching one’s conclusions (Schank 1984. She moved closer and we kissed. And on the level of complete empathy. You didn’t talk while kissing. But what this machine would not able to know is 79 . From what you’ve told me about other women you know. In this example. i.) And on the level of complete sympathy. You were close to each other. The assumption here is that the one who understands and the one being understood share some memories and experiences. it is conceivable that a machine run by a computer. OUTPUT—COMPLETE EMPATHY: That’s like what happened to Cindy and me after the party.. or that one’s memories and experiences resemble those of the other (Schank 1984. say an android. According to Schank (1984.” Actually. while an appropriately programmed computer can understand the situation up to the level of cognitive understanding. To further illustrate the differences of these levels. She must have felt good being with you at the party. On the level of cognitive understanding. by making useful comparisons and picking out important and interesting relationships.

experience feelings. 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. more specifically. can only be capable of understanding on the levels of making sense and cognitive understanding. or to have the same desires and goals. hunger” (p. As such. The Conscious View of Intelligence The conscious view claims that intelligence cannot be sufficiently defined by some functional capacities. such system not truly intelligent. 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. 180). requires intentionality or the awareness of what the symbols involved in one’s thinking activity represent or are about. genuine understanding. and thus computers. such as happiness. to get kissed. as in the case of humans. though their output behaviors seem to suggest that they are. pain. Schank (1984.2. 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. 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. 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. be a mind” (p. 3. and be hugged by people. intelligence can sufficiently be defined functionally. In his analysis. and thus to say that something can be intelligent without being conscious is to misuse or to deviate from the original meaning of the word “intelligence. attributing intelligence to machines necessarily implies attributing consciousness to machines as well. According to Searle. he only claims that the conscious aspect of intelligence is only important on the level of complete empathy. 45) concludes that: Computers are not likely to have the same feelings as people. have a consciousness. computers are not really capable of genuine understanding. Accordingly. Intelligence or the activity of thinking is a necessarily conscious phenomenon.” and ‘awareness” as related in the following way: “(a) ‘intelligence’ requires ‘understanding’ and (b) ‘understanding’ requires ‘awareness’. 38-39). computers just manipulate symbols solely according to the syntactical properties of these symbols without knowing what these symbols mean. the conscious aspect of intelligence. And this explains why Penrose attributes to strong AI the claim that certain types of machines can be constructed such that they will not only be capable of thinking but of feeling as well.” Consequently. is only important on the level of complete empathy. They will not “be” people. Penrose (1994. whose intelligence is limited to the functional aspect. regards the terms “intelligence. 80 . in particular its phenomenal feature. 14).what it is like to go to a party. On the levels of making sense and cognitive understanding. according to this view. in itself. It is important to note that Schank does not deny the reality of the conscious aspect of intelligence. “The supporters of strong AI would claim that whenever the algorithm were run it would.” understanding.

unlike the other. would learn new things on first undergoing these experiences. of intelligence cannot be ignored in defining intelligence. even if a machine passes the Turing test and is capable of making inferences from input information (Schank’s level of cognitive understanding). Alvin Goldman (1993. doubt or disappointment. 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. or in attributing intelligence to some entity. In support of cognitive phenomenology. The absent qualia and inverted qualia arguments. 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. does not really have conscious experiences. What this means is that the conscious aspect. These arguments assume that the conscious experiences that go with the functional capacities of the mind cannot be ignored. There is ‘something that it is like’ to have these attitudes. Ignoring them would mean leaving out some critical features of the mind. According to Searle. for example. Consequently.Searle is particularly reacting to the Turing test and Schank’s concept of understanding. 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 the functional view of intelligence. 81 . must be mistaken. If two systems exhibit the same functional capacities. for it is possible that one. 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. also assume the conscious view of intelligence. as intelligence or cognition involves cognitive or intentional mental states or the so-called propositional attitudes. these arguments claim that these two systems need not be the same in terms of conscious experiences. and so forth. or one has conscious experiences that are totally different from the conscious experiences of the other. and likewise with Schank that there are levels of understanding where intelligence can sufficiently be defined functionally. namely what it feels like to see red. in this particular case the phenomenal features. so (I submit) someone who had never experienced certain propositional attitudes. green. Searle disagrees with the Turing that passing the Turing test is sufficient for the attribution of intelligence. or of the mind for that matter.” 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). 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.

4. Beliefs are a kind of The expressions “broad construal” and “narrow construal” were originally used by Robert Harnish (2002. in the following. anger. for example. It is interesting to note that most critics of computationalism take the broad construal.1. 4. for in accusing computationalism for its failure to account for certain features of the mind. for as the mind has a cognitive aspect it also has an affective aspect. Our affective repertoire comprises emotions pertaining to the physical world. such as fear and disgust. Accordingly. however.” 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. We saw that computationalism generally claims that cognition is a species of computing. sympathy. where computationalism is understood as a comprehensive theory of the mind. And the implication of which is that computationalism is a comprehensive theory of the mind. Pinker (2005. and a narrow construal of it. We shall touch on this distinction by Harnish on Chapter 7. 7 where computationalism is understood as a specialized theory of the mind in that it merely focuses on a specific aspect of the mind. 2) claims that our mind or “mental life consists of information-processing or computation. living things. guilt. specifies what comprises each of these aspects: “Our intelligence. logic. The Broad Construal For the broad construal. its cognitive aspect. We know that cognition or intelligence is not all there is in having a mind. artifacts. such as trust. these critics understand the claims of computationalism as intended to cover the whole of the mind’s nature. 2-7) to distinguish between two ways of understanding cognitive science. namely. and minds. the claims of computationalism are taken to apply to the mind in its entirety. 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. more specifically the “purely” cognitive aspect or functional aspect of intelligence—referring to cognition or intelligence without regard to its conscious features. But it is also usual to attribute to computationalism the claim that the mind is a kind of computer or computational system. we can distinguish between a broad construal of computationalism. that take the broad construal is Steven Pinker in his book entitled How The Mind Works (1997). Steven Pinker (2005. where “broad construal” regards cognitive science as an interdisciplinary study of cognition while “narrow construal” regards it as the computational study of cognition. physical objects. probability. usually the phenomenal features. consists of faculties dedicated to reasoning about space. Computationalism: The Question of Scope While computationalism is a theory of the mind. gratitude. 4). Now. without regard to this distinction. and humor. We earlier quoted Pinker distinguishing between the cognitive and affective aspects of our mind. which includes the phenomenal and intentional features of the mind. it is. These considerations give rise to a question regarding the scope of computationalism as a theory of the mind. 7 82 . and emotions pertaining to the social and moral worlds. 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. number. however. One proponent of computationalism.

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. implying that Fodor takes Pinker’s computationalism as taking a broad construal. in short. It is. This synthesis is sometimes also called evolutionary psychology. 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. AI was generally supposed to be about engineering. Fodor’s are essentially encapsulated processors while Pinker’s are functionally specialized mechanisms. indeed.information. But it hadn’t occurred to me that anyone could suppose that it’s a very large part of the truth. and emotions. The following first two paragraphs in his Introduction to his book. every reason to suppose that the Computational Theory is part of the truth about cognition. 1). the mind is a system of organs of computation that enabled our ancestors to survive and reproduce in the physical and social worlds in which our species spent most of its evolutionary history. See Pinker 2005. 15-17 and Fodor 2000. I’ve written a number of books in praise of the Computational Theory of Mind (CTM often hereinafter). the only one we’ve got that’s worth the bother of a serious discussion. But. differ from Fodor’s. 9 Fodor (2000. 4 for a more detailed discussion of this difference. thinking a kind of computation. when I wrote books about what a fine thing CTM is. We shall not go into the various arguments of Fodor and how Pinker responds to them. not about science. however. though. motives. immediately show this: Over the years. still less that it’s within miles of being the whole story about how the mind works. as earlier noted. 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. 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). saying that “…the mind is not a single entity but is composed of a number of faculties specialized for solving different adaptive problems. 83 . 5) has called the combination of these theories as the New Synthesis. 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. combines computationalism with the modular theory of mind8 and evolutionary theory. even by its own account. and it’s central idea—that intentional processes are syntactic operations defined on mental representations—is strikingly elegant.” And here when he says the human mind. There is. chap. Pinker’s ideas. and certainly not about philosophy.) So. 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.” Pinker (2005. In sum. There are facts about the mind that it accounts for and that we would be utterly at a loss to explain without it. The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way (2000. in my view. then.”9 In short. (Practitioners of Artificial Intelligence have sometimes said things that suggest they harbor such convictions. he is not only referring to the cognitive aspect of the human mind but to the whole of what comprises the human mind. 1-2). far the best theory of cognition that we’ve got.

hence the expressions “intelligent machines. 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.imagine. 1) in particular define the discipline of cognitive science: “Cognitive science is the study of intelligence and intelligent systems. then it can only be the purely functional aspect of cognition to which he regards CTM to apply. Thus. with particular reference to intelligent behavior.” Clearly here Fodor distinguishes cognition from consciousness. Furthermore. in addition to limiting mentality to 84 . We already saw Fodor as an example of proponents of computationalism taking the narrow construal. So if not the conscious aspect of cognition—as he states “not even when cognition is conscious”.” and the discipline of artificial intelligence (1989. would be regarded as intelligent.” “cognitive computer. it is a theory of cognition in the purely functional aspect of it. where consciousness—as Fodor states above—is not part of the concern. the narrow construal regards computationalism as a theory not of the whole of the mind but of the cognitive aspect of the mind. Fodor states: “This is not to claim that CTM is any of the truth about consciousness. if observed in human beings. There are diehard fans of CTM who think it is. when they solve problems of lesser or greater difficulty.2.” Furthermore. by intelligence. 4. 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. not even when the cognition is conscious. It shall also be observed that most prominent cognitive scientists and scientists working in artificial intelligence also take the narrow construal.” these scientists specifically mean intelligence or cognition. for he is saying that CTM only works for cognition but not for consciousness. 1) understand it in the following way: Although no really satisfactory intentional definition of intelligence has been proposed.” to this diverse set of activities because we expect that a common set of underlying processes is implicated in performing all of them. when they reply coherently and appropriately to questions that are put to them. By “mind. Observe now how Simon and Kaplan (1989. both of which are computational in their framework. We apply a single term. as shown by how they define the goal of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. And in his footnote to the last statement in the first paragraph.” and “cognition as a species of computing. but I’m not of their ranks. they (1989. We say that people are behaving intelligently when they choose courses of action that are relevant to achieving their goals.” And as regards intelligence per se. 29): “Artificial intelligence is concerned with programming computers to perform in ways that. “intelligence. we are ordinarily willing to judge when intelligence is being exhibited by our fellow human beings. I guess I sort of took it for granted that even us ardent admirers of computational psychology were more or less agreed on that. or when they create or design something useful or beautiful or novel. The Narrow Construal In contrast to the broad construal.

or better yet misplaced. If we take a broad construal. namely. but if we take a narrow construal. what is needed is an evaluation of the theses of comptutationalism that will be appropriate to the narrow construal. which states that human cognition is computational. Accordingly.cognition. We noted that taking the narrow construal would render the many criticisms leveled against computationalism as misplaced. The concept of computation. The latter regards such claims as limited to the purely functional aspect of intelligence or the cognitive aspect of the mind. 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. If these arguments are misplaced. and the thesis of machine intelligence. the thesis of human computationality. these scientists further limit cognition to its “purely functional” aspect—thereby putting aside the conscious or phenomenal features of cognition. 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). 85 . 5. On the other hand. Summary and Conclusion We saw that computationalism has a general thesis. At present. two models for understanding how computation works in the context of human cognition. and two sub-theses. Finally. which states that computing machines capable of simulating human intelligent actions are intelligent. while the other is connectionist model. which claims that intelligence can be sufficiently defined in terms of functional capacities alone. even if they are valid in themselves they have no bearing on the claims of computationalism. One is the symbolic model. To further understand these theses we needed to clarify the concept of computation and the nature of intelligence assumed in these theses. these criticisms are appropriate regardless of their validity. In short. 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. we distinguished between the functional view. with regard to the nature of intelligence. Now between the broad and narrow types of construal. however. computation is whatever that can be implemented in a Turing machine. 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. while the latter regards them as covering the whole of the mind. which defines computation as symbol-manipulation. and the conscious view. generally referring to a finite set of step-by-step effective procedure to get a desired result. these criticisms are inappropriate. which defines computation as the manipulation of the connections of the units in neural networks. there are. we distinguished between the broad and the narrow construal of the claims of computationalism. One critical consequence of this distinction between two ways of construing the claims of computationalism concerns the appropriateness of the criticisms leveled against computationalism. which claims that cognition is a species of computing. In this consideration. 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.

or that will be appropriate regardless of which construal one takes. And this is precisely what the immediately following chapter intends to provide. 86 .

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