Computation Is Just Interpretable Symbol Manipulation: Cognition Isn't

Harnad, Stevan (1994) Computation Is Just Interpretable Symbol Manipulation: Cognition Isn't. [Journal (Paginated)]

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Computation is interpretable symbol manipulation. Symbols are objects that are manipulated on the basis of rules operating only on the symbols' shapes , 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 given every systematic interpretation. But even after computers and computation have been successfully distinguished from other kinds of things, mental states will not just be the implementations of the right symbol systems, because of the symbol grounding problem: The interpretation of a symbol system is not intrinsic to the system; it is projected onto it by the interpreter. This is not true of our thoughts. We must accordingly be more than just computers. My guess is that the meanings of our symbols are grounded in the substrate of our robotic capacity to interact with that real world of objects, events and states of affairs that our symbols are systematically interpretable as being about.

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:Church/Turing Thesis, cognition, computation, consciousness, discrete systems, dynamical systems, implementation-independence, robotics, semantic interpretability, sensorimotor transduction, symbol grounding problem, Turing Machine, Turing Test.
Subjects:Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Computer Science > Artificial Intelligence
Computer Science > Neural Nets
Computer Science > Robotics
Philosophy > Philosophy of Mind
ID Code:1592
Deposited By:Harnad, Stevan
Deposited On:18 Jun 2001
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54

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