Join me for a discussion with Susan Schneider, NASA-Baruch Blumberg Chair, Library of Congress and NASA, Distinguished Scholar Chair, Library of Congress (2019), Director, AI, Mind and Society (“AIMS”) Group, The University of Connecticut, and Associate Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science, University of Connecticut, as we discuss her new book Artificial You -AI and the Future of the Mind
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I enjoyed this discussion very much, because I also argue against the idea that mind can arise from computation. There seems an inherent contradiction in the premise: The brain “computes” (but not like a “conventional” computer), so therefore a conventional computer can do what a brain does.
I think the necessary disclaimer about the brain not — in any real way — resembling a (conventional) computer invalidates the idea that, because the brain can be said to “compute” therefore computers are the same thing. At the least, there’s a huge category difference between brains and algorithms.
You touched on physical isomorphs (and Chalmers dancing/fading qualia), and I agree with your guest about their potential. I suspect an artificial brain needs to be isomorphic on a fine-grained level, though. Things like glial cells and myelin sheathing and near-field effects all seems to matter (plus hormone-based broadcasting).
FWIW, when talking about artificial brains, I think it’s good to be precise about exactly what kind of artificial system we mean. There are many possibilities: biological isomorphs, non-biological isomorphs, software simulation of the brain itself, software that emulates brain/mind function, software that is the Holy Grail, the Mind Algorithm.
That last, as your guest asserts, implies our minds are abstract mathematical objects, and I’m not sure nature ever creates abstract mathematical objects. At least, I see it as a good argument that our minds are not algorithmic in nature.
One thing about Searle’s Room people don’t mention is that, if it is to emulate a human mind, it must sometimes lie or confess ignorance. (Not long ago an AI fooled people by claiming it was very young and didn’t speak the language. I lean towards a “Rich Turing Test” that requires days of conversation. I doubt an AI can fool me over time.)
The the extent Searle is the CPU, of course he doesn’t understand — neither does a CPU understand Windows or MacOS — it simply follows instructions. The “person” in the Room or the computer is the designer.
That’s the thing about Searle’s Room — someone had to design and construct it, and that’s where the consciousness is. The thing about computers is that they are deliberately designed and constructed — they are reified intent.