•  677
    Human cognition is not an island unto itself. As a species, we are not Leibnizian Monads independently engaging in clear, Cartesian thinking. Our minds interact. That's surely why our species has language. And that interactivity probably constrains both what and how we think.
  •  619
    Libet, Gleason, Wright, & Pearl (1983) asked participants to report the moment at which they freely decided to initiate a pre-specified movement, based on the position of a red marker on a clock. Using event-related potentials (ERPs), Libet found that the subjective feeling of deciding to perform a voluntary action came after the onset of the motor “readiness potential,” RP). This counterintuitive conclusion poses a challenge for the philosophical notion of free will. Faced with these findings, …Read more
  •  571
    Distributed processes, distributed cognizers and collaborative cognition
    [Journal (Paginated)] (in Press) 13 (3): 01-514. 2005.
    Cognition is thinking; it feels like something to think, and only those who can feel can think. There are also things that thinkers can do. We know neither how thinkers can think nor how they are able do what they can do. We are waiting for cognitive science to discover how. Cognitive science does this by testing hypotheses about what processes can generate what doing (“know-how”) This is called the Turing Test. It cannot test whether a process can generate feeling, hence thinking -- only whethe…Read more
  •  389
    Can a machine be conscious? How?
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 10 (4-5): 67-75. 2003.
    A "machine" is any causal physical system, hence we are machines, hence machines can be conscious. The question is: which kinds of machines can be conscious? Chances are that robots that can pass the Turing Test -- completely indistinguishable from us in their behavioral capacities -- can be conscious (i.e. feel), but we can never be sure (because of the "other-minds" problem). And we can never know HOW they have minds, because of the "mind/body" problem. We can only know how they pass the Turin…Read more
  •  388
    The usual way to try to ground knowing according to contemporary theory of knowledge is: We know something if (1) it’s true, (2) we believe it, and (3) we believe it for the “right” reasons. Floridi proposes a better way. His grounding is based partly on probability theory, and partly on a question/answer network of verbal and behavioural interactions evolving in time. This is rather like modeling the data-exchange between a data-seeker who needs to know which button to press on a food-dispenser…Read more
  •  316
    Why and how we are not zombies
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 1 (2): 164-67. 1994.
    A robot that is functionally indistinguishable from us may or may not be a mindless Zombie. There will never be any way to know, yet its functional principles will be as close as we can ever get to explaining the mind
  •  312
    The symbol grounding problem
    Physica D 42 335-346. 1990.
    There has been much discussion recently about the scope and limits of purely symbolic models of the mind and about the proper role of connectionism in cognitive modeling. This paper describes the symbol grounding problem : How can the semantic interpretation of a formal symbol system be made intrinsic to the system, rather than just parasitic on the meanings in our heads? How can the meanings of the meaningless symbol tokens, manipulated solely on the basis of their shapes, be grounded in anythi…Read more
  •  291
    What's wrong and right about Searle's chinese room argument?
    In Michael A. Bishop & John M. Preston (eds.), [Book Chapter] (in Press), Oxford University Press. 2001.
    Searle's Chinese Room Argument showed a fatal flaw in computationalism (the idea that mental states are just computational states) and helped usher in the era of situated robotics and symbol grounding (although Searle himself thought neuroscience was the only correct way to understand the mind)
  •  291
    Minds, machines and Turing: The indistinguishability of indistinguishables
    Journal of Logic, Language and Information 9 (4): 425-445. 2000.
    Turing's celebrated 1950 paper proposes a very general methodological criterion for modelling mental function: total functional equivalence and indistinguishability. His criterion gives rise to a hierarchy of Turing Tests, from subtotal ("toy") fragments of our functions (t1), to total symbolic (pen-pal) function (T2 -- the standard Turing Test), to total external sensorimotor (robotic) function (T3), to total internal microfunction (T4), to total indistinguishability in every empirically discer…Read more
  •  242
    Distributed cognition: Cognizing, autonomy and the Turing test
    with Itiel E. Dror
    Pragmatics and Cognition 14 (2): 14. 2006.
    Some of the papers in this special issue distribute cognition between what is going on inside individual cognizers' heads and their outside worlds; others distribute cognition among different individual cognizers. Turing's criterion for cognition was individual, autonomous input/output capacity. It is not clear that distributed cognition could pass the Turing Test
  •  223
    When in 1979 Zenon Pylyshyn, associate editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS, a peer commentary journal which I edit) informed me that he had secured a paper by John Searle with the unprepossessing title of [XXXX], I cannot say that I was especially impressed; nor did a quick reading of the brief manuscript -- which seemed to be yet another tedious "Granny Objection"[1] about why/how we are not computers -- do anything to upgrade that impression
  •  222
    SUMMARY: Universities (the universal research-providers) as well as research funders (public and private) are beginning to make it part of their mandates to ensure not only that researchers conduct and publish peer-reviewed research (“publish or perish”), but that they also make it available online, free for all. This is called Open Access (OA), and it maximizes the uptake, impact and progress of research by making it accessible to all potential users worldwide, not just those whose universities…Read more
  •  208
    Explaining the mind by building machines with minds runs into the other-minds problem: How can we tell whether any body other than our own has a mind when the only way to know is by being the other body? In practice we all use some form of Turing Test: If it can do everything a body with a mind can do such that we can't tell them apart, we have no basis for doubting it has a mind. But what is "everything" a body with a mind can do? Turing's original "pen-pal" version (the TT) only tested linguis…Read more
  •  202
    Minds, machines and Searle
    Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 1 (4): 5-25. 1989.
    Searle's celebrated Chinese Room Argument has shaken the foundations of Artificial Intelligence. Many refutations have been attempted, but none seem convincing. This paper is an attempt to sort out explicitly the assumptions and the logical, methodological and empirical points of disagreement. Searle is shown to have underestimated some features of computer modeling, but the heart of the issue turns out to be an empirical question about the scope and limits of the purely symbolic model of the mi…Read more
  •  196
    Correlation vs. causality: How/why the mind-body problem is hard
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 7 (4): 54-61. 2000.
    The Mind/Body Problem is about causation not correlation. And its solution will require a mechanism in which the mental component somehow manages to play a causal role of its own, rather than just supervening superflously on other, nonmental components that look, for all the world, as if they can do the full causal job perfectly well without it. Correlations confirm that M does indeed "supervene" on B, but causality is needed to show how/why M is not supererogatory; and that's the hard part
  •  164
    What language allows us to do is to "steal" categories quickly and effortlessly through hearsay instead of having to earn them the hard way, through risky and time-consuming sensorimotor "toil" (trial-and-error learning, guided by corrective feedback from the consequences of miscategorisation). To make such linguistic "theft" possible, however, some, at least, of the denoting symbols of language must first be grounded in categories that have been earned through sensorimotor toil (or else in cate…Read more
  •  158
    The annotation game: On Turing (1950) on computing, machinery, and intelligence
    In Robert Epstein & Grace Peters (eds.), [Book Chapter] (in Press), Kluwer Academic Publishers. 2006.
    This quote/commented critique of Turing's classical paper suggests that Turing meant -- or should have meant -- the robotic version of the Turing Test (and not just the email version). Moreover, any dynamic system (that we design and understand) can be a candidate, not just a computational one. Turing also dismisses the other-minds problem and the mind/body problem too quickly. They are at the heart of both the problem he is addressing and the solution he is proposing.
  •  154
      Computation is interpretable symbol manipulation. Symbols are objects that are manipulated on the basis of rules operating only on theirshapes, which are arbitrary in relation to what they can be interpreted as meaning. Even if one accepts the Church/Turing Thesis that computation is unique, universal and very near omnipotent, not everything is a computer, because not everything can be given a systematic interpretation; and certainly everything can''t be givenevery systematic interpretation. B…Read more
  •  154
    Explaining the mind: Problems, problems
    The Sciences 41 (2): 36-42. 2001.
    The mind/body problem is the feeling/function problem: How and why do feeling systems feel? The problem is not just "hard" but insoluble . Fortunately, the "easy" problems of cognitive science are not insoluble. Five books are reviewed in this context
  •  143
    The causal structure of cognition can be simulated but not implemented computationally, just as the causal structure of a furnace can be simulated but not implemented computationally. Heating is a dynamical property, not a computational one. A computational simulation of a furnace cannot heat a real house (only a simulated house). It lacks the essential causal property of a furnace. This is obvious with computational furnaces. The only thing that allows us even to imagine that it is otherwise in…Read more
  •  136
    "in an academic generation a little overaddicted to "politesse," it may be worth saying that violent destruction is not necessarily worthless and futile. Even though it leaves doubt about the right road for London, it helps if someone rips up, however violently, a
  •  124
    "Symbol Grounding" is beginning to mean too many things to too many people. My own construal has always been simple: Cognition cannot be just computation, because computation is just the systematically interpretable manipulation of meaningless symbols, whereas the meanings of my thoughts don't depend on their interpretability or interpretation by someone else. On pain of infinite regress, then, symbol meanings must be grounded in something other than just their interpretability if they are to be…Read more
  •  121
    Symbol grounding and the symbolic theft hypothesis
    with Angelo Cangelosi and Alberto Greco
    In A. Cangelosi & D. Parisi (eds.), Simulating the Evolution of Language, Springer Verlag. pp. 191--210. 2002.
    Scholars studying the origins and evolution of language are also interested in the general issue of the evolution of cognition. Language is not an isolated capability of the individual, but has intrinsic relationships with many other behavioral, cognitive, and social abilities. By understanding the mechanisms underlying the evolution of linguistic abilities, it is possible to understand the evolution of cognitive abilities. Cognitivism, one of the current approaches in psychology and cognitive s…Read more
  •  119
    Connecting object to symbol in modeling cognition
    In A. Clark & Ronald Lutz (eds.), Connectionism in Context, Springer Verlag. pp. 75--90. 1992.
    Connectionism and computationalism are currently vying for hegemony in cognitive modeling. At first glance the opposition seems incoherent, because connectionism is itself computational, but the form of computationalism that has been the prime candidate for encoding the "language of thought" has been symbolic computationalism (Dietrich 1990, Fodor 1975, Harnad 1990c; Newell 1980; Pylyshyn 1984), whereas connectionism is nonsymbolic (Fodor & Pylyshyn 1988, or, as some have hopefully dubbed it, "s…Read more
  •  112
    Minds, machines and Searle
    Journal of Theoretical and Experimental Artificial Intelligence 1 5-25. 1989.
    Searle's celebrated Chinese Room Argument has shaken the foundations of Artificial Intelligence. Many refutations have been attempted, but none seem convincing. This paper is an attempt to sort out explicitly the assumptions and the logical, methodological and empirical points of disagreement. Searle is shown to have underestimated some features of computer modeling, but the heart of the issue turns out to be an empirical question about the scope and limits of the purely symbolic (computational)…Read more
  •  109
    Jerry Fodor argues that Darwin was wrong about "natural selection" because (1) it is only a tautology rather than a scientific law that can support counterfactuals ("If X had happened, Y would have happened") and because (2) only minds can select. Hence Darwin's analogy with "artificial selection" by animal breeders was misleading and evolutionary explanation is nothing but post-hoc historical narrative. I argue that Darwin was right on all counts. Until Darwin's "tautology," it had been believe…Read more
  •  107
    There us No Concrete
    Res Cogitans 1 (1). 2004.
    We are accustomed to thinking that a primrose is "concrete" and a prime number is "abstract," that "roundness" is more abstract than "round," and that "property" is more abstract than "roundness." In reality, the relation between "abstract" and "concrete" is more like the (non)relation between "abstract" and "concave," "concrete" being a sensory term [about what something feels like] and "abstract" being a functional term (about what the sensorimotor system is doing with its input in order to pr…Read more
  •  106
    In our century a Frege/Brentano wedge has gradually been driven into the mind/body problem so deeply that it appears to have split it into two: The problem of "qualia" and the problem of "intentionality." Both problems use similar intuition pumps: For qualia, we imagine a robot that is indistinguishable from us in every objective respect, but it lacks subjective experiences; it is mindless. For intentionality, we again imagine a robot that is indistinguishable from us in every objective respect …Read more
  •  102
    Grounding symbols in sensorimotor categories with neural networks
    Institute of Electrical Engineers Colloquium on "Grounding Representations. 1995.
    It is unlikely that the systematic, compositional properties of formal symbol systems -- i.e., of computation -- play no role at all in cognition. However, it is equally unlikely that cognition is just computation, because of the symbol grounding problem (Harnad 1990): The symbols in a symbol system are systematically interpretable, by external interpreters, as meaning something, and that is a remarkable and powerful property of symbol systems. Cognition (i.e., thinking), has this property too: …Read more
  •  100
    2. Invariant Sensorimotor Features ("Affordances"). To say this is not to declare oneself a Gibsonian, whatever that means. It is merely to point out that what a sensorimotor system can do is determined by what can be extracted from its motor interactions with its sensory input. If you lack sonar sensors, then your sensorimotor system cannot do what a bat's can do, at least not without the help of instruments. Light stimulation affords color vision for those of us with the right sensory apparatu…Read more