On Feb 2, 6:18 pm, Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
> On 2/2/2011 2:00 AM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> > On Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 6:45 PM, Brent Meeker<meeke...@dslextreme.com>  
> > wrote:
> >> I think it very likely that the brain can be so modeled.  But the meaning
> >> that simulated brain, as expressed in it's output decisions relative to
> >> inputs is dependent on the rest of the world, or at least of it with which
> >> the brain will interact - including the past evoutionary history which led
> >> up to the brain.  Its computations have no canonical interpretation in
> >> themselves.
> > You can connect the simulated brain to transducers which convert
> > environmental inputs into electrical signals. But then, what would
> > happen if the same electrical signals were input from data on disk
> > rather than the environment? Would the brain's experience be
> > different? If so, how would it know where the data was coming from?
> It wouldn't know; and it's responses would have no meaning except to
> someone who did know.  Context is essential.  Otherwise you get the rock
> that calculates everything.

People have argued that a rock computes everything, or that some wall
in their house is computing Microsoft Word, but I don't see it.  If
that were true, what would it take in theory, for someone to hook up
their monitor and mouse to a rock to access the copy of Microsoft Word
which is executing in it?

Meaningful programs have stable states which are updated in well-
defined ways.  It seems completely opposite to the chaotic small and
unstable operations taking place in a rock.  One could pick out the
right random particle collisions, using "Turing's Demon" and say if
you choose and look at those computations occurring there and string
them together just right, then you have Microsoft Word.  But how do
you identify what the right collisions are without computing them in
parallel and knowing them?  Upon which memory do you record the
intermediate result to be use in future operations?  Surely the rock
won't provide any mechanism for maintaining this state for you.

Where in the rock, for instance, is the function for determining if
some word is known by the dictionary or not?  Does the rock contain
such a dictionary?


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