[Wittrs] Re: What the Man in the Room Knows (and when does he know it?)

  • From: Gordon Swobe <gts_2000@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 05:59:19 -0700 (PDT)

--- On Tue, 3/23/10, SWM <wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> The system in question doesn't understand because it isn't specked to 
> understand, it's specked to do a rote operation.

Looks to me like Searle specked the room to do what computers *actually* do: 
rote syntactical operation on symbols.

Your argument about specks seems equivalent to an argument that pigs can't fly 
because nature underspecked pigs. If only pigs had wings, you might argue, then 
pigs could fly. And I certainly agree with that. If pigs had wings then they 
could fly and if computers could be specked to have understanding then they 
could understand.

> 2) The specific system implemented in the CR is inadequate
> to achieve understanding because it only performs a
> relatively limited function.

It does what computers do, Stuart. Have you ever written a program? They do 
form-based synctatic operations on symbols, just as the CR does.

> THE POINT STILL REMAINS THAT THE CHINESE SUB-SYSTEM DOESN'T UNDERSTAND 
> BECAUSE IT LACKS THE CONNECTIONS HE TELLS US THE MAN OR THAT HUMAN 
> CHINESE SPEAKERS HAVE. 

It lacks understanding because syntax is neither constitutive of nor sufficient 
for semantics!

Even if we added more parallel operations to the system -- what you want to 
call "connections" -- those additional operations would exist also as syntactic 
operations, and the system still would not get semantics from syntax. A billion 
x 0 still equals 0.

> It doesn't connect symbols to mental images and ideas which have further 
> connections to a whole host of others in a layered network of 
> representations of the world.

In a computer, images come in binary form just like any other input. The 
computer does form-based operations on them just as the man does with symbol 
inputs.


-gts





      
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