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 
"real" world?
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