Thursday, February 16, 2006

More on Computers

Steven wrote: 'Imagine a possible world just like ours, except that in that world chess is never invented.'

What is the point of this thought experiment?

That the laws of chess are not causally relevant to machines if there are no laws of chess?

True, but trivial.

I don't understand Victor's point.

It seems as pointless as claiming that if money had not been invented, and we saw people exchanging pieces of paper with pictures of human beings on it in return for services, then they are not using money.

Is Victor really claiming that if we see a computer program we don't understand, we can guarantee that the computer is not manipulating higher level concepts than the atoms and molecules that he insists are the only things materialists cna use in there explanations.


Computers are not sources of meaning. They are "meant meaners" and not "unmeant meaners." The words I'm typing right now are physically different in shape from the nonsense. But the fact that these sentences are meaningful and other arrangements of letter are not, say like "wkrti gnytre hbsotu auoe" are not, has to do with rational human beings and their decision processes. Even if that statement above means "White mates in three" in some language, it means nothing either to me or to you.

The last time Fritz waxed my tail end in chess (a depressingly frequent occurrence) it was not a chess victory from Fritz's point of view. Fritz has no point of view, and neither does the Compaq Presario I run it on. It was a defeat from my point of view, and if anyone who knew chess was watching, from their point of view.

2 comments:

Randy said...

Looks to me like you've missed Mr. Carr's point completely.
Non-rational causes are quite capable of generating rational effects.
Ergo, simply because the brain is a physical entity, one cannot in principle exclude it's ability to reason.
You seem to have a phobia of physicality. What difference, other than apologetical, does it make if the mind is based on physical processes?

Randy said...

By the way, you analogy of the scrambled sentence is not at all to the point.
An alien who had no idea of the rules of chess would, after watching a computer chess program, come to recognize the patterns inherent in it. She might give different names to the chess pieces and their moves, but she would have a pretty good idea of what a knight or a rook was capable of doing, for example.

And it seems sort of meaningless to point out the obvious fact that the computer is not aware it is playing chess. Is anyone here really arguing for that silly claim?

Also, if you can find a chance to respond to the question I posted just before Mr. Carr's, regarding reason and basic explanations, I'd much appreciate it. I still am unable to make heads or tails of it. Thanks.