The Priority of Attention

The Monist 69 (4):609-619 (1986)
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IT is the major stumbling block to the claim that machines could one day possess true intelligence. The question is not whether machines would be able to produce outputs indistinguishable from those of a person, as proponents of “artificial intelligence” have traditionally maintained. Searle has shown, rather, that the real question is whether machines could ever be conscious of objects in the way we know ourselves to be. That would seem to make it, at least in part, a phenomenological problem. By means of microphenomenology, then, I shall try to show that the basic structure of IT, as detected in reflection, can be analyzed in terms of an even more primitive factor, FA. Since attentional processes can be correlated with neurological selectivity, it will be argued that any machine constructed to perform such processes would be capable of IT. I shall, in short, attempt to support the possibility of creating automata capable of intentional activities by trying to describe how they occur in ourselves.



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