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machine brains

Michael Edelman mje at mich.com
Fri Feb 19 11:24:09 EST 1999

Malcolm McMahon wrote:

> On Fri, 19 Feb 1999 04:01:32 GMT, Bloxy's at hotmail.com (Bloxy's) wrote:
> >
> >> Self-awareness is the heart of conciousness.
> >
> >Yes. That is the central point.
> >Without awareness there is no possibility of intelligence
> >whatsoever.
> >
> Oh, I can't agree with that. Inteligent behaviour is no more than
> reacting in a complex way to complex stimulae. It doesn't require any
> kind of conscious awareness, it can be simply rule based. An inference
> engine responds inteligently but I doubt many of us would use the word
> "aware".

 ..because it's not, and it doesn't respond "intelligently" except in a
very limited way. Yet each of us have the phenomenological experience of
self awareness. The hands in front of me are "my" hands, and have a very
privileged place in my perceptual space. Similarly for my entire body, and
my mind, my memories and my feelings. Strict behaviorism errs is going
from a questionable assumption- that only the directly observable is
amenable to scientific analysis- to the doubtful conclusion that only the
directly observable is real. Yet we all have memory and experience, and it
requires no reliance on untestable metaphysical entities.

The notion that intelligence is merely behavior is an old one, and one
that's had 80+ years to come up with a good model of human intelligence.
While the behaviorist model has been very successful at modeling
conditioned response to stimuli, it has been an abysmal failure at
modeling or explaining things like language as behavior.

Michael Edelman     http://www.mich.com/~mje
Telescope guide:    http://www.mich.com/~mje/scope.html
Folding Kayaks:     http://www.mich.com/~mje/kayak.html

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