On Tuesday, April 23, 2013 7:59:26 PM UTC-4, Brian Tenneson wrote:
>
>
>
> On Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 3:13 PM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>
> > wrote:
>
>>
>>
>> On Tuesday, April 23, 2013 4:31:05 PM UTC-4, Brian Tenneson wrote:
>>
>>>
>>>
>>> On Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 1:26 PM, Craig Weinberg <whats...@gmail.com>wrote:
>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Searle wasn't wrong. The whole point of the Chinese Room is to point 
>>>> out that computation is a disconnected, anesthetic function which is 
>>>> accomplished with no need for understanding of larger contexts. 
>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>> How do we know that what humans do is understand things rather than just 
>>> compute things? 
>>>
>>  
>>
>> Because we care about what we understand, and we identify with it 
>> personally.  Understanding is used also to mean compassion. When someone 
>> demonstrates a lack of human understanding, we say that they are behaving 
>> robotically, like a machine, etc. Questions like, "How do you know you are 
>> conscious?", or "How do you know that you feel?" are sophistry. How do you 
>> know that you can ask that question?
>>
>>
> Sounds circular. "we do understand things because we care about what we 
> understand."  The type of understanding I was referring to was not about 
> compassion.  Why is it so strange to think that we are stuck in a big 
> Chinese room, without really understanding anything but being adept at 
> pushing symbols around? 
>

It's not circular, I was trying to be clear about the difference between 
computation and understanding. Computation is variations on the theme of 
counting, but counting does not help us understand. A dog might be able to 
count how many times we speak a command, and we can train them to respond 
to the third instance we speak it, but we can use any command to associate 
with the action of sitting or begging. We are not in a Chinese room because 
we know what kinds of things the word 'sit' actually might refer to. We 
know what kind of context it relates to, and we understand what our options 
for interpretation and participation are. The dog has no options. It can 
follow the conditioned response and get the reward, or it can fail to do 
that. It doesn't know what else to do. 

Craig

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