In his famous 1950 paper where he presents what became the benchmark for success in artificial intelligence, Turing notes that "at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted" (Turing 1950, 442). Kurzweil (1990) suggests that Turing's prediction was correct, even if no machine has yet to pass the Turing Test. In the wake of the (...) computer revolution, research in artificial intelligence and cognitive science has pushed in the direction of interpreting "thinking" as some sort of computational process. On this understanding, thinking is something computers (in principle) and humans (in practice) can both do. It is difficult to say precisely when in history the meaning of the term "thinking" headed in this direction. Signs are already present in the mechanistic and mathematical tendencies of the early Modern period, and maybe even glimmers are apparent in the ancient Greeks themselves. But over the long haul, we somehow now consider "thinking" as separate from the categories of "thoughtfulness" (in the general sense of wondering about things), "insight" and "wisdom." Intelligent machines are all around us, and the world is populated with smart cars, smart phones and even smart (robotic) appliances. But, though my cell phone might be smart, I do not take that to mean that it is thoughtful, insightful or wise. So, what has become of these latter categories? They seem to be bygones left behind by scientific and computational conceptions of thinking and knowledge that no longer have much use for them. In 2000, Allen, Varner and Zinser addressed the possibility of a Moral Turing Test (MTT) to judge the success of an automated moral agent (AMA), a theme that is repeated in Wallach and Allen (2009).. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine a variety of agents that appear in Kantian ethics in order to determine which would be necessary to make a robot a genuine moral agent. However, building such an agent would require that we structure into a robot’s behavioral repertoire the possibility for immoral behavior, for only then can the moral law, according to Kant, manifest itself as an ought, a prerequisite for being able to hold an agent morally accountable for its actions. Since building (...) a moral robot requires the possibility of immoral behavior, I go on to argue that we cannot morally want robots to be genuine moral agents, but only beings that simulate moral behavior. Finally, I raise but do not answer the question that if morality requires us to want robots that are not genuine moral agents, why should we want something different in the case of human beings. (shrink)
In the beginning was the word, or grunt, or groan, or signal of some sort. This, however, hardly qualifies as an information revolution, at least in any standard technological sense. Nature is replete with meaningful signs, and we must imagine that our early ancestors noticed natural patterns that helped to determine when to sow and when to reap, which animal tracks to follow, what to eat, and so forth. Spoken words at first must have been meaningful in some similar sense. (...) But in time the word became flesh (corpus) and dwelt among us, as "inscription" (literally, to put into writing) inaugurated the dawn of human history. This did not happen instantly. One place to enter the story is with clay tokens to represent trade transactions that in time became accounting tablets and, then, the world's first literature (Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, The Epic of Gilgamesh, etc.) and codes of law (The Codes of Ur-Nammu, Lipit-Ishtar, Hammurabi, and so forth.) This event happened around the north shore of the Persian Gulf sometime in the 4th millennium BCE and was enshrouded in mystery as the role of the scribe trained in the art of inscribing and deciphering signs belonged to the priest (Deibert 1997). With the sanction of religion, writing gave birth to "civility" (literally, life in the city) and defined the line between "history" and "pre-history," the latter being a term designating everything that happened before. There is little doubt that the invention of writing was significant and that it deserves recognition as the first revolution in the history of information. Life as we live it today would have been impossible otherwise. Innovations in writing technologies happened with significant effects, but at various points in the history of information, changes in technology were so dramatic that they reshaped the course of human history in radical ways. The revolution in printing is well-studied; the invention of the printing press and movable type (c.. (shrink)
The “information age” is often thought in terms of the digital revolution that begins with Turing’s 1937 paper, “On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem.” However, this can only be partially correct. There are two aspects to Turing’s work: one dealing with questions of computation that leads to computer science and another concerned with building computing machines that leads to computer engineering. Here, we emphasize the latter because it shows us a Turing connected with mechanisms of information flow (...) rather than solely with the mathematical and logical problems of computability for which he is better known. Our reasons for doing so will become clear in what follows. In fact, the 1937 paper just mentioned provides a general schematic for building a computing machine; this mechanical connection puts Turing on an historical continuum with others who discovered mechanisms to cope with information. Of those involved in this quest in the 19th Century, two people in particular, Edison and Bell, had explicit visions of an information age that would follow from their work. Because they were explicitly aware of what they were doing and partly brought it about long before 1937, they deserve substantial credit for the information age they set out to inaugurate. Regarding one purely mechanical and non-electronic technology, Edison noted ten uses for the phonograph, including not only the replication of sound, but also “connection with the telephone, so as to make that instrument an auxiliary in the transmission of permanent and invaluable records, instead of being the recipient of momentary and fleeting communication”. Even though the telephone was only two years old when Edison wrote of a network made up of mechanical hard storage systems and people connected by wire, the network vision was already clearly in his head. (shrink)
The ethical philosophies of Kant and Levinas would seem, on the surface, to be incompatible. In this essay. I attempt to reconcile them by situating Levinas’s philosophy “beneath” Kant’s as its existential condition thereby addressing two shortcomings in each of their works, for Kant. the apparent difficulty of making ethics apply to real concrete cases, and, for Levinas, the apparent difficulty of establishing a normative ethics that can offer prescriptions for moral behavior. My general thesis is that the existential ethical (...) terrainunearthed by Levinas turns Kantian when transposed into the rational order. (shrink)
This special issue of Minds and Machines contains a number of responses to Luciano Floridi’s groundbreaking Philosophy of Information (Oxford 2011). The essays contained here have been grouped by topic; essays 1–5 concern epistemological features of Floridi’s approach, and essays 6–8 address his metaphysics.In “On Floridi’s Method of Levels ofion”, Jan van Leeuwen addresses Floridi’s operational definition of a level of abstraction. Emphasizing the link between Floridi’s notion of abstraction and that used in computer science, van Leeuven notes that the (...) method of levels of abstraction may require supplementation in the form of annotation. Annotations, which exist “outside” the formal limits of the levels of abstraction to which they are attached, specify what perspective should be taken towards those levels. Annotations so understood both facilitate the expression of semantic information and elucidate the relationship between levels of abstraction. van Leeuwen then uses a case. (shrink)
Noesis is an Internet search engine dedicated to mapping the profession of philosophy online. In this paper, I recount the history of the project's development since 1998 and discuss the role it may play in representing philosophy optimally, adequately, fairly, and accessibly. Unlike many other representations of philosophy, Noesis is dynamic in the sense that it constantly changes and inclusive in the sense that it lets the profession speak for itself about what philosophy is, how it is practiced, and why (...) it is important. In this paper, I explain how Noesis is dynamic and inclusive. I close by suggesting why such a communitarian representation of the profession is both timely and necessary. (shrink)
In his 1961 monograph, Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority , the late phenomenologist, Emmanuel Levinas, noted that “everyone will readily agree that it is of the highest importance to know whether we are not duped by morality” (1961/1969, p. 21). What follows thereafter is an extensive attempt to ground a quasi-Kantian existential ethics based on interpersonal, face to face, relations (Beavers 2001). That philosophy should invite such an attempt already signifies that we might be in trouble where ethics (...) are concerned. After all, when one looks back over history, it appears that we have not made much progress in this area. (shrink)
The Internet allows for the efficient dissemination of texts, thereby creating a rich hypertextual environment that is potentially conducive to stimulating the free exchange of ideas in a manner worthy of the modern scholar. However, the fact that any user whatsoever may disseminate texts in this manner presents two distinct problems. First, finding relevant resources on the Internet may take a fair amount of time and, second, once resources are found, determining their reliability is often difficult if the user is (...) not already an expert in the field of the resource under consideration. These problems -- efficiency in searching and academic quality-control -- are surmountable with existing technology, and many laboratories around the world are working hard to shape this technology into a variety of academic information retrieval services. (shrink)
The Phenomenological Mind, by Shaun Gallagher and Dan Zahavi, is part of a recent initiative to show that phenomenology, classically conceived as the tradition inaugurated by Edmund Husserl and not as mere introspection, contributes something important to cognitive science. (For other examples, see “References” below.) Phenomenology, of course, has been a part of cognitive science for a long time. It implicitly informs the works of Andy Clark (e.g. 1997) and John Haugeland (e.g. 1998), and Hubert Dreyfus explicitly uses it (e.g. (...) 1992). But where the former use phenomenology in the background as broad context and Dreyfus uses it primarily (though not exclusively) as a critique of conventional AI, Gallagher and Zahavi wish to indicate a positive and constructive place for it within cognitive science. They do not recommend that we simply accept pronouncements of thinkers like Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau‐Ponty and apply them to questions of cognition, but that we use revised forms of phenomenology to illuminate dimensions of cognitive experience that are missing in current research. The book is presented as an “introduction to philosophy of mind and cognitive science” written from a phenomenological perspective. It seeks to justify the use of phenomenology in cognitive science by showing what kinds of questions it asks and answers, the variety of uses to which it has recently been put and the fruitfulness of some of its findings. The catalog of topics, for the most part, matches other introductions to the philosophy of mind, such as questions of method, consciousness, perception, intentionality, embodiment, action, agency and other minds. One issue presented here that is not generally dealt with in existing philosophy of mind and cognitive science texts is temporality, a mainstay of the continental tradition. After an introductory chapter that places phenomenology in the context of other approaches, the book lays out the main tenets of phenomenological method. Here, one encounters expected components of phenomenology: the epoché (described below), phenomenological reduction, eidetic variation, and so on. This traditional fare is soon followed by some potential surprises, namely, attempts to “naturalize” phenomenology, a few attempts to formalize it, and the emergence of ‘neurophenomenology’. Each of these is a bit surprising because Husserl was a vocal critic of naturalism, seeing transcendental phenomenology as an alternative to the empirical study of consciousness. He was also skeptical about the possibilities of mathematizing phenomenology. Gallagher and Zahavi acknowledge these points, but since they are not repeating history or undertaking exegesis, strict adherence to canonical phenomenology is not required. Naturalizing phenomenology means recognizing that “the phenomena it studies are part of nature and are therefore also open to empirical investigation” (p.. (shrink)
I live just off of Bell Road outside of Newburgh, Indiana, a small town of 3,000 people. A mile down the street Bell Road intersects with Telephone Road not as a modern reminder of a technology belonging to bygone days, but as testimony that this technology, now more than a century and a quarter old, is still with us. In an age that prides itself on its digital devices and in which the computer now equals the telephone as a medium (...) of communication, it is easy to forget the debt we owe to an era that industrialized the flow of information, that the light bulb, to pick a singular example, which is useful for upgrading visual information we might otherwise overlook, nonetheless remains the most prevalent of all modern day information technologies. Edison’s light bulb, of course, belongs to a different order of informational devices than the computer, but not so the telephone, not entirely anyway. Alan Turing, best known for his work on the Theory of Computation (1937), the Turing Machine (also 1937) and the Turing Test (1950), is often credited with being the father of computer science and the father of artificial intelligence. Less well-known to the casual reader but equally important is his work in computer engineering. The following lecture on the Automatic Computing Engine, or ACE, shows Turing in this different light, as a mechanist concerned with getting the greatest computational power from minimal hardware resources. Yet Turing’s work on mechanisms is often eclipsed by his thoughts on computability and his other theoretical interests. This is unfortunate for several reasons, one being that it obscures our picture of the historical trajectory of information technology, a second that it emphasizes a false dichotomy between “hardware” and “software” to which Turing himself did not ascribe but which has, nonetheless, confused researchers who study the nature of mind and intelligence for generations.. (shrink)
If we follow a traditional reading of Descartes and throw in some of our favorite German philosophers (Kant, Husserl and Heidegger, for instance) we can isolate a doctrinal current that says that the pure intellect has no immediate access to the extra-mental world. This reduction of experience to reason forces the question of the external world’s existence, leading to Heidegger’s assertion that the scandal of philosophy was not that it had yet to furnish a proof for the external world’s existence, (...) as Kant thought, but that the question emerged in the first place. Prior to representing realities, the human being dwells in the world. Knowing is, thus, founded on Being-in-the-world. Once this is remembered, it seems quite extraneous to inquire about the existence of the external world, since it is given as part of the structure of human experience. But, if the question of the external world's existence arises when we reduce experience to rational experience, then we have learned something important about the structures involved in knowing the world. Knowing succeeds by breaking away from Being-in-theworld. As Levinas says, "it is still and always a solitude" (EI 60). Though knowledge might begin as a mode of Being-in-the-world, it succeeds by turning its back on these origins and entering upon another terrain. Thus, Heidegger's recourse to the external world could not be within knowledge. Instead, he grounded it in concern, the primordial way in which the human being dwells in the world. Knowing is but one way in which the human being exhibits this concern. Where Husserl showed the limits of representation to be within the parameters of the transcendental ego, Heidegger pushed the frontiers of the world down to another level, the level of function. On this level, the human being dwells as a worker; things are construed as implements for-the-sake-of something else. These implements refer to other implements in a referential totality guided by "circumspection." The world of function is held together as a totality by an intricate web of references, each pointing to others.. (shrink)
The goal of this paper is to locate the precise moment in which reason becomes endowed with an ought. In stating the goal in this way, something has already been said about Kant and his project of grounding the metaphysics of morals. But in speaking of a moment (or an instant or an event or an occasion) in which reason becomes endowed with an ought, that is, a moment in which pure reason becomes practical, we have already headed off in (...) a direction beyond the metaphysics of morals. For by invoking the moment, we have invoked something concrete. This distinguishes the current project from the Kantian enterprise in that Kant sought the universal conditions of morality as they followed from a rationality already endowed with an ought. In so doing, he could identify that the ideas of morality and freedom were concomitantly related (along with reason itself), but he could not show that any of these ever materialized in concrete experience. Toward the end of the Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, he writes, "we have finally traced the determinate concept of morality back to the idea of freedom, but we could not prove freedom to be something actual in ourselves and in human nature" (GMM 51). On the next page, he writes: ... we are not as yet able to have any insight into why it is that we should divorce ourselves from such interest, i.e., that we should consider ourselves as free in action and yet hold ourselves as subject to certain laws so as to find solely in our own person a worth that can compensate us for the loss of everything that gives worth to our condition. We do not see how this is possible and hence how the moral law can obligate us. One must frankly admit that there is here a sort of circle from which, so it seems, there is no way to escape. (GMM 52. Emphasis is mine.) Even though Kant can align the concepts of freedom, reason and the moral law, it would seem that the obligating force of morality has slipped beneath his grip, and he is left to analyze the idea of moral obligation in its place.1 The present study seeks to return this idea of obligation to its origin.. (shrink)
El artículo plantea la actualidad y pertinencia de la Filosofía de la información de Luciano Floridi, considerada a la luz de las revoluciones científicas de Occidente y de la instauración de nuevos paradigmas, tanto en las ciencias como en la filosofía. La analogía con el “giro matemático” de la Modernidad permite establecer el alcance revolucionario de la obra de Floridi, cuya aceptación implicará superar el obstáculo epistemológico del escolasticismo, en función del dinamismo histórico inherente al progreso científico.
We can discern three types of amoral beings in Kant ’s ethical philosophy, one kind of moral being, the true moral agent, and one kind of immoral being, for five kinds in all: B1) beings that are driven solely by inclination, such as animals. B2) beings that act solely out of reason and, therefore, duty, such as divine intellects.
Luciano Floridi’s Philosophy and Computing: An Introduction is a survey of some important ideas that ground the newly emerging area of philosophy known, thanks to Floridi, as the philosophy of information. It was written as a textbook for philosophy students interested in the digital age, but is probably more useful for postgraduates who want to investigate intersections between philosophy and computer science, information theory and ICT (information and communications technology). The book is divided into five independent chapters followed by a (...) worthy, though impressionistic, afterthought under the title of the conclusion. Chapter One, “Divide et Computa: Philosophy and the Digital Environment,” begins by outlining four topics to consider when examining the significance of the digital revolution: 1) computation, 2) automatic control, 3) modeling and virtual reality, and 4) information management. This preliminary outline is followed by a brief historical consideration of the transition from analogue to digital information processing and the importance of “digitization” for developing mechanical means to manage information. According to Floridi, this digitization has occurred in three main areas. Regarding the scope of digitized content, we have moved from numerical data to sounds and images. At the same time, our interfaces to the computer have become less digital and more humane. Graphical user interfaces and WYSIWYG software have quickly replaced punch cards. In the area of connectivity, we have moved from the mainframe to the Internet, hence, to the possibility of a global information network. Together these transformations are accelerating the evolution of the infosphere and consequently its dramatic effect on the shape of society. These changes are of world historical significance, thus worthy of philosophical investigation, as the last part of the chapter shows.. (shrink)
This collection of essays was assembled in order to "mark out some of the interstitial spaces between the philosophical stages in the life of the author". As such, the book does not pursue a thesis, though one can clearly discern the disposition of Schrag's thinking throughout; adopting a restrained method of deconstruction to slay dualisms, the author examines several key topics in contemporary continental philosophy.
Because the label "computing and philosophy" can seem like an ad hoc attempt to tie computing to philosophy, it is important to explain why it is not, what it studies (or does) and how it differs from research in, say, "computing and history," or "computing and biology". The American Association for History and Computing is "dedicated to the reasonable and productive marriage of history and computer technology for teaching, researching and representing history through scholarship and public history" (http://theaahc.org). More pervasive, (...) work in computing and biology enjoys the convenient name of "bioinformatics...the science of using information to understand biology..., a subset of the larger field of computational biology, the application of quantitative analytical techniques in modeling biological systems" (http://oreilly.com/catalog/bioskills/chapter/ ch01.html). The recent venture of the Association for Computing Machinery and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers to publish the Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (TCBB) bears witness to the reach of computing and biology and underscores its objective. TCBB intends to report "archival research results related to the algorithmic, mathematical, statistical, and computational methods that are central in bioinformatics and computational biology; the development and testing of effective computer programs in bioinformatics; the development and optimization of biological databases; and important biological results that are obtained from the use of these methods, programs, and databases" (http://tcbb.acm.org). In the case of "computing and history" and "bioinformatics," each discipline stands in a particular relationship to computers that raises questions unique to itself. But both are devoted to the development of computational tools to aid discovery.. (shrink)
IN PHYSICS 2, Aristotle defines nature as the source and cause of being moved and of being at rest. Yet some recent translations have moved Aristotle's "being moved" into an active form. I shall argue that an active translation of this definition is potentially misleading, and that the implications of such a reading have had their place in the history of Aristotelian debate.
This paper is part of a larger project to determine how to build agent-based cognitive models capable of initial associative intelligence. Our method here is to take McClelland’s 1981 “Jets and Sharks” dataset and rebuild it using a nonlinear dynamic system with an eye toward determining which parameters are necessary to govern the interactivity of agents in a multi-agent cognitive system. A few number of parameters are suggested concerning diffusion and infusion values, which are basically elementary forms of information entropy, (...) and multi-dimensional overlap from properties to objects and then from objects back to the properties that define them. While no agent-based model is presented, the success of the dynamic systems that are presented here suggest strong starting points for further research in building cognitive complex adaptive systems. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine a variety of agents that appear in Kantian ethics in order to determine which would be necessary to make a robot a genuine moral agent. However, building such an agent would require that we structure into a robot’s behavioral repertoire the possibility for immoral behavior, for only then can the moral law, according to Kant, manifest itself as an ought, a prerequisite for being able to hold an agent morally accountable for its actions. Since building (...) a moral robot requires the possibility of immoral behavior, I go on to argue that we cannot morally want robots to be genuine moral agents, but only beings that simulate moral behavior. But then, if that is what we want for robots, why should we want something different for human beings? Robot ethics, it seems, presents something of a reductio of Kant’s ethics that points to hidden assumptions that hide in the very fabric of the Kantian moral enterprise, not the least of which is that Kant presumes humans to be fallen creatures. Religious doctrine, in other words, infects Kant’s attempt to derive morality from reason. This paper will demonstrate that this is so. (shrink)