death of the mind.

Wolf Kirchmeir wwolfkir at
Tue Jul 27 19:34:32 EST 2004

Allan C Cybulskie wrote:

> Conscious thinking is a very large and critical part of the process called
> "intelligence" and, in fact, "awareness".  Which is what the AI person, the
> philosopher of mind, and the psychologist are, in fact, extremely interested
> in.

I've snipped the rest of your comment becasue IMO this one is the one 
that demonstrates most clearly the difference between your p.o.v. and mine.

I see no evidence whatsoever that conscious thinking is a critical part 
of the process we call intelligence. If you do, you are limiting 
"thinking" to "reasoning". I don't, for the same reasons that I don't 
limit "communication" to "language". You also appear to assume that 
reasoning happens before insight or understanding, but the evidence IMO 
shows that it's the other way round: first we glimpse the truth, then we 
find reasons for it's being true.

Secondly, you are conflating "intelligence" and "awareness", via that 
dangerous phrase "and, in fact," between "intelligence" and "awareness." 
(I'm guilty of taking risks with that phrase, too- :-)) I think that's a 
major mistake. For one thing, "awareness" comes in many kinds - a cat is 
aware of its mirror image, but it's not self-aware as humans are, who 
relate the mirror-image to "me." (This happens around 18-24 months; 
chimps display the same behaviour, so presumably they are self-aware 
also.) Moreover, I don't think we can (as yet) affirm that mammalian (or 
vertebrate?) awareness is the only kind, since a bait-worm's attempts to 
escape the hook imapaling it look like awareness of pain to some people.

Furthermore, a system doesn't need to give signs of consciousness to 
demonstrate intelligent behaviour. "Intelligent systems" are intelligent 
- that is, given certain inputs, they produce the same sorts of outputs 
as an intelligent human would (sometimes more intelligent than most 
humans would...) If you want "creativity" as well as "problem solving" 
as an aspect of intelligence, I can specify in general terms what a 
"creative program" should look like, if, for example, you want it to 
write poetry. (Verse would be harder, I think.) And in nay case, befoere 
one imputes "intelligence" to any system, human, animal, or electronic, 
one had better rule out the Clever Hans explanation.

IOW, I judge you to be intelligent, aware, self-aware, creative, etc 
based on your behaviour. A machine that exhibits the same sort of 
behaviour would have to be judged intelligent, aware, self-aware, 
creative, etc, on the same grounds.

BTW, "private behaviour" is the behaviour that's accessible to me by 
introspection. When I report on it, I engage in public behaviour. there 
is no guarantee whatsoever that my repoort will be truthful, accurate, 
or complete. (The witness's affirmation to offer "the truth, the whole 
turth, and nothing but the truth" expresses at best a pious hope, at 
worst a more or less deliberate fraud.)

The reason that my reports of my private behavior are unreliable is that 
introspection is itself a behavior, and one over which I have little, if 
any, conscious control. If you "decide" to remember, say, what you had 
for breakfast this morning, _something in your environment_ triggered 
that "decision to remember." It's as likely that were not aware of the 
trigger as that you noticed it -- more likely, IMO. And I bet that, as 
you read about remembering what you had for breakfast, you started to 
remember, right?

It's interesting that folk-psychology recognises that "thought" is 
largely uncontrollable - there are terms like "reverie", for example, 
and phrases like "It occurred to me...", etc. The fact these IMO 
reasonably accurate insights into "mind" are inconsistent with other 
folk-psychological notions, such as "I can think what I want", should be 


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