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The Role of Language in Intelligence - Daniel C. Dennett PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 21 April 2006

1. Does thought depend on language?

We human beings may not be the most admirable species on the planet, or the most likely to survive for another millennium, but we are without any doubt at all the most intelligent. We are also the only species with language. What is the relation between these two obvious facts?

Before going on to consider that question, I must pause briefly to defend my second premise. Don't whales and dolphins, vervet monkeys and honey bees (the list goes on) have languages of sorts? Haven't chimpanzees in laboratories been taught rudimentary languages of sorts? Yes, and body language is a sort of language, and music is the international language (sort of) and politics is a sort of language, and the complex world of odor and olfaction is another, highly emotionally charged language, and so on. It sometimes seems that the highest praise we can bestow on a phenomenon we are studying is the claim that its complexities entitle it to be called a language--of sorts. This admiration for language--real language, the sort only we human beings use--is well-founded. The expressive, information-encoding properties of real language are practically limitless (in at least some dimensions), and the powers that other species acquire in virtue of their use of proto-languages, hemi-semi-demi-languages, are indeed similar to the powers we acquire thanks to our use of real language. These other species do climb a few steps up the mountain on whose summit we reside, thanks to language. Looking at the vast differences between their gains and ours is one way of approaching the question I want to address:

Symposium on Quantum Theory and Consciousness PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 21 April 2006

Managing Editor: Scott Hagan

Recently considerable controversy has been generated in cognitive science and the broader community of researchers interested in the relation of mind and brain around the question of whether or not it is necessary to invoke quantum theory in addressing consciousness from a scientific perspective. The issue is complicated by the diversity of perspectives on both sides and a dearth of clear and concise formulations of the arguments, accessible to a wide range of disciplines. In the coming months PSYCHE will offer a cross-section of the current thought on the subject with the aim of fostering open, interdisciplinary dialogue and encouraging informed debate on the role, if any, that quantum mechanics should play in a fully elaborated theory of consciousness.

Symposium on Roger Penrose's Shadows of the Mind PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 21 April 2006

Managing Editor: David Chalmers

In his book Shadows of the Mind, Roger Penrose suggests that deep problems in artificial intelligence, physics, and the philosophy of mind are closely connected. He presents a detailed argument, using Gödel's theorem, for the conclusion that human thought cannot be simulated by any computation. This leads him to the conclusion that physics is noncomputable, and he presents suggestions about how noncomputability may enter into a theory of quantum gravity. Finally, he argues that this may take effect at the level of the mind through quantum collapse processes in microtubules, protein structures found in the skeleton of a neuron.

In this symposium, nine researchers in computer science, philosophy, psychology, mathematics, and molecular biology address Penrose's positions at some length, concentrating on his Gödelian arguments against artificial intelligence and on his proposal that quantum processes in microtubules are essential to the functioning of the mind.

Learning, action, and consciousness:a hybrid approach towards modeling consciousness, Neural Network PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 21 April 2006
Learning, action, and consciousness: a hybrid approach towards modeling consciousness, Neural Networks Sun (1996)

This paper is an attempt at understanding the issue of consciousness through investigating its functional
role, especially in learning, and through devising hybrid neural network models that (in a qualitative manner) approximate characteristics of human consciousness. In so doing, the paper examines explicit and implicit learning in a variety of psychological experiments and delineates the conscious/unconscious distinction in terms of the two types of learning and their respective products. The distinctions are captured in a two-level action-based model Clarion. Some fundamental
theoretical issues are also clarified with the help of the model. Comparisons with existing models of consciousness are made to accentuate the present approach.

KEYWORDS: Neural networks, hybrid systems, consciousness, implicit learning, reinforcement learning, procedural knowledge, rule extraction, dual representation

Last Updated ( Saturday, 22 April 2006 )
Making Robots Conscious of their Mental States - McCarthy (1995) PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 21 April 2006

In AI, consciousness of self consists in a program having certain kinds of facts about its own mental processes and state of mind. We discuss what consciousness of its own mental structures a robot will need in order to operate in the common sense world and accomplish the tasks humans will give it. It's quite a lot. Many features of human consciousness will be wanted, some will not, and some abilities not possessed by humans have already been found feasible and useful in limited contexts. We give preliminary fragments of a logical language a robot can use to represent information about its own state of mind. A robot will often have to conclude that it cannot decide a question on the basis of the information in memory and therefore must seek information externally. Godel's idea of relative consistency is used to formalize non-knowledge. Programs with the kind of consciousness discussed in this article do not yet exist, although programs with some components of it exist. Thinking about c...