X-Message-Number: 7946
From:  (Thomas Donaldson)
Subject: Re: CryoNet digest
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 1997 00:23:07 -0800 (PST)


This is a second message for today, amplifying and modifying a bit on the first.

First of all I want to apologize to Mr. Lynch for being a bit sharp with him.
I do think he should do more reading on the subject of consciousness. The
Turing Test really does have problems, and I took my Chinese Room story 
directly from one of its critics. I am interested in his response to it.

And as for the points I made, if the sharpness is sanded down a bit I don't
wish to retract them. I cannot imagine how he believes the Tortoise in 
Carroll's work says anything which applies to me. If anything, I would read
it as in favor of what I'm saying. So maybe we should both step back and 
see if we each really heard what the other was saying.

To Dr Strout: Your last comment, suggesting that I suppose that lots of 
men were managing the symbols in the Chinese room, and asking if that might
make a difference, did not really seem to attach to anything. In my 
discussion I had already proposed that we had a computer on the other side,
managing the different ideograms. (But remember our discussion of just what
is to be a computer).

Basically, although the computations would be elaborate and large, a 
computer which could give out all the proper ideograms would still have no
claim to awareness. Why should it? It is just performing computations, 
and all the meaning of the ideograms is provided by the person on the 
other side. 

We often attribute awareness to our pets. I even believe that we do so
correctly --- they differ from us not because we are aware and they are not
but because we are aware of so much more (on balance --- our nose isn't
as good). So suppose that we set up the game with a cat supposed to be
on the other side of the room, and instead of ideograms you deal with 
different tones and timbres of meows. Certainly that would simplify the 
computing problem; but the computer again does no more than compute. And
it should be perhaps even more clear that we have no good reason to 
attribute awareness to it.

Finally, for Mike Perry: if you decide that everything is symbolic I 
clearly can have no discussion with you other than to ask you what you
mean by "symbolic". And so I will do that now. Please explain how you
came to that conclusion and what you mean by "symbolic".

I would say, myself, that something is symbolic when we treat it as a 
representation or symbol of something else. Of course, every symbol is
some kind of object, too. But they are not the same. A tree is not a 
representation of a tree, while a picture of a tree is. And the central
part of awareness, which we share with animals and not with computers,
is our reaction to real things not as symbols but as what they are. Our
brains cannot even work without doing that --- language is a structure
built on top of that awareness. Or take the later Wittgenstein: whereof
what cannot be said, thereof one must be silent. No matter how much
language we produce, we cannot touch the world by language alone.

As for the Turing Test, one of its faults is that it is the interrogator
who gives meaning to both the questions and the answers. 

			Long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

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