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Philosophy & Computers

May 09, 2015




The Creativity Machine Paradigm: Withstanding the Argument from Consciousness, APA Newsletters, Volume 11, Number 2, Spring 2012 - In Alan Turing’s landmark paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” the famous cyberneticist takes the position that machines will inevitably think, supplied adequate storage, processor speed, and an appropriate program. Herein we propose the solution to the latter prerequisite for contemplative machine intelligence, the required algorithm, illustrating how it weathers the criticism well anticipated by Turing that a computational system can never attain consciousness.

  • 1.APA Newsletters NEWSLETTER ON PHILOSOPHY AND COMPUTERSVolume 11, Number 2 Spring 2012 FROM THE EDITOR, Peter Boltuc ARTICLESTerrell Ward BynumOn Rethinking the Foundations of Philosophy in the Information Age Luciano FloridiHyperhistory and the Philosophy of Information Policies Anthony F. BeaversIs Ethics Headed for Moral Behavioralism and Should We Care?Alexandre MonninThe Artifactualization of Reference and Substances on the Web: Why (HTTP) URIs Do Not (Always) Refer nor Resources Hold by Themselves Stephen L. Thaler The Creativity Machine Paradigm: Withstanding the Argument from Consciousness CARTOON Riccardo ManzottiDo Objects Exist or Take Place? 2012 by The American Philosophical Association ISSN 2155-9708

2. APA Newsletter onPhilosophy and ComputersPiotr Botu, EditorSpring 2012 Volume 11, Number 2philosophers of computers but also for the more traditionalFrom the Editor colleagues interested in philosophy of language. In the nextpaper Stephen Thaler talks about creativity machines. Whilesome philosophers may still not be sure whether and by whatstandards machines can be creative, Thaler designed, patented,The APA ad hoc committee on philosophy and computersand prepared for useful applications some such machines sostarted as largely a group advocating the use of computers andthe proof seems to be in the pudding, and some of the proof canthe web among philosophers, and by the APA. While today also be found in this interesting article. We end with a cartoonphilosophical issues pertaining to computers are becoming by Richardo Manzotti; this time it is on an ontological topic. Asmore and more important, we may have failed in some way always cartoons tend to be overly persuasive for philosophicalsince problems that have been plaguing the APAs website fordiscussion; yet, they serve as a good tool for putting forth theabout the last year have put us all back, unnecessarily. This alsoauthors ideas.pertains to the Newsletter; not only did we lose positioning inthe web-search engines but the Newsletter reverted to just PDFs. I am sure the chair of the committee would want toThe good news is that archival issues are successively coming mention the very successful session on machine consciousnessback. I remember the advice that David Chalmers gave to the at the Central APA meeting. The session brought together papersNewsletter upon receiving the Barwise Prize a few years ago,by Terry Horgan, Robert van Gullick, and Ned Block (who wasto either become a regular journal or, if we stay open access,unable to come due to illness), as well as by two members ofto use much more of blog-style communications. It is my hopethis committee, David Anderson and myself. The session wasthat one day the latter option may become more realistic. very well attended, so that some people had to sit on the flooror in the doorway. I do hope to have more on this committeesLet me change gears a bit and restart on a somewhatactivities in the next issue.personal note. My first philosophy tutor was my mother; amongother things she taught me that philosophy is the theory of thegeneral theories of all the sciences. I still like this definition.My first philosophy tutor also warned me that philosophyshould not become overly preoccupied with just one theory, Articlesat one stage of its development, which has been Spencerspredicament. Consistent with this advice, when I was startingmy own philosophical thinking I was always puzzled that On Rethinking the Foundations of Philosophyfew philosophers drew sufficient conclusions from Einsteinsrelativity theor y, in particular its direct implications for in the Information Age*Newtonian and Kantian understanding of time and space.Today it seems that more and more philosophers focus onTerrell Ward Bynumthe philosophical implications of quantum physics, and inSouthern Connecticut State Universityparticular the issue of quantum pairs. Therefore, I was veryinterested in Terry Bynums paper, when I heard its earlier 1. Introduction: physics and the information revolutionversion at the 2011 CAP conference in Aarhus, Denmark. IIt is commonplace today to hear people say that we are living inam very glad that Terry accepted my invitation so that histhe Age of Information and that an Information Revolution isinteresting article is featured in the current issue. Of course,sweeping across the globe, changing everything from banking tothe question who is able to avoid excessive reliance on the warfare, medicine to education, entertainment to government,current state of science and who falls into the Spencer-trap is and on and on. But why are these dramatic changes takingalways hard to answer without a longer historical perspective.place? How is it possible for information technology (IT) toI am also glad that Luciano Floridi responds to Terrys paper intransform our world so quickly and so fundamentally? Scholarsthis issue with an important historical outlook. More responses in the field of computer ethics are familiar with James Moorsare expected and encouraged for submission to the next issue. suggested answer; namely, that IT is revolutionary because itIn his provocative article Tony Beavers argues that it mayis logically malleable, making IT one of the most powerful andbe morally required to build a machine that would makeflexible technologies ever created. IT is a nearly universal tool,human beings more moral. I think the paper is an importantMoor said, that can be adjusted and fine tuned to carry outcontribution to the recently booming area of robot ethics.almost any task. The limits of IT, he noted, are basically the limitsAlexandre Monnin contributes to the set of articles pertaining to of our imagination. Moors influential analysis of the Informationontology of the web that started with a paper by Harry Halpin. In Revolution (including associated concepts like policy vacuums,his tightly argued work, originally written in French, Alexandreconceptual muddles, and informationalization) has shown itselfshows why URIs are philosophically interesting, not only forto be practical and insightful (see Moor 1998). 3. APA Newsletter, Spring 2012, Volume 11, Number 2 Today, recent developments in physics, especially in Information is information, not matter or energy. Noquantum theory and cosmology, suggest an additionalalmost materialism which does not admit this can survive atmetaphysicalanswer to explain why IT is so effective in the present day. (p. 132)transforming the world. During the past two decades, many According to Wiener, therefore, every physical being can bephysicists have come to believe that the universe is made viewed as an informational entity. This is true even of humanof information; that is, that our world is a vast ocean of beings; and, in 1954, in the second edition of his book Thequantum bits (qubits) and every object or process in this Human Use of Human Beings, Wiener noted that the essentialocean of information (including human beings) can be seen nature of a person depends, not upon the particular atomsas a constantly changing data structure comprised of qubits. that happen to comprise ones body at any given moment, but(See, for example, Lloyd 2006 and Vedral 2010.) If everything inthe world is made of information, and IT provides knowledgerather upon the informational pattern encoded within the body:and tools for analyzing and manipulating information, then weWe are but whirlpools in a river of ever-flowinghave an impressive explanation of the transformative power ofwater. We are not stuff that abides, but patterns thatIT based upon the fundamental nature of the universe!perpetuate themselves. (p. 96)It is not surprising that important developments in sciencecan have major philosophical import. Since the time of ancient The individuality of the body is that of a flame . . . of aGreece, profound scientific developments have inspired form rather than a bit of substance. (p. 102)significant rethinking of bedrock ideas in philosophy. Indeed, In that same book, Wiener presented a remarkable thoughtscientists working on the cutting edges of their field often experiment to show that, if one could encode, in a telegraphengage in thinking that is borderline metaphysical. Occasionally,message, for example, the entire exquisitely complexthe scientists and philosophers have been the very sameinformation pattern of a persons body, and then use thatpeople, as illustrated by Aristotle, who created physics and encoded pattern to reconstitute the persons body frombiology and, at the same time, made related contributionsappropriate atoms at the receiving end of a message, peopleto metaphysics, logic, epistemology, and other branches of could travel instantly from place to place via telegraph. Wienerphilosophy. Or consider Descartes and Leibniz, both of whomnoted that this idea raises knotty philosophical questionswere excellent scientists and world-class mathematicians asregarding not only personal identity, but also forking fromwell as great philosophers. Sometimes, thinkers who were one person into two, split personalities, survival of the selfprimarily scientistsfor example, Copernicus, Galileo, and after the death of ones body, and a number of others (WienerNewtoninspired others who were primarily philosophers1950, Ch. VI; 1954, Ch. V).for example, Hobbes, Locke, and Kant. Later, revolutionary Decades later, in 1990, physicist John Archibald Wheelerscientific contributions of Darwin, Einstein, Bohr, Schrdinger, introduced his famous phrase it from bit in an influentialand others significantly influenced philosophers like Spencer, paper (Wheeler 1990), and he thereby gave a major impetusRussell, Whitehead, Popper, and many more. to an information revolution in physics. In that paper, WheelerToday, in the early years of the twenty-first century, declared that all things physical are information theoretic incosmology and quantum physics appear likely to alter originthat every physical