Brent Meeker wrote:
> I think "meaning" ultimately must be grounded in action. That's why
> it's hard to see where the meaning lies in a computation, something that
> is just the manipulation of strings. People tend to say the meaning is
> in the interpretation, noting that the same string of 1s and 0s can have
> different interpretations. But what constitutes interpretation? I
> think it is interaction with the world. If you say, "What's a cat?"
> and I point and say, "That." then I've interpreted "cat" (perhaps
> wrongly if I point to a dog).
Well, suppose you have an A.I. computer program that's running a robot body--if
you say "what's a cat" and the robot looks at a cat and points at it, and more
generally interacts with the world and uses language in a way that suggests
humanlike intelligence, do you grant that it probably has consciousness and
that its statements have meaning? If so, suppose take the same program and let
it run a simulated body in a simulated world, and when some other simulated
fellow asks it "what's a cat", it now points at a simulated cat in this world.
Has your opinion about the consciousness/meaning-creation of this program
changed because it's only taking actions in a simulated world rather than our
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