[Wittrs] Re: Who beat Kapsaprov?

  • From: "jrstern" <jrstern@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2010 22:57:07 -0000

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Gordon Swobe <wittrsamr@...> wrote:
> You say it's not so, but then you confirm my suspicions: Dennett dismisses 
> the reality of mental phenomena. We can describe his philosophy as 
> eliminativist. From an eliminativist's perspective, everyone looks like a 
> dualist.

I sort of agree with this, Dennett is a bit too quick to dismiss the 
phenomenon.  The trick is to preserve and explain the phenomenon, which I do 
not believe is out of the question, nor is it very far from what Dennett does, 
but hey everyone's in a hurry and takes shortcuts to make what they think is 
the crucial point.

> As you may recall, about ten years ago IBM pitted a chess computer named Deep 
> Blue against the world champion Gary Kasparov. Kasparov lost. Did you know 
> Dennett believes Deep Blue actually beat Kasparov at chess -- not Deep Blue's 
> designers at IBM?
> I can understand how one might use such an anthropomorphism in casual 
> conversation, but Dennett states it as a philosophical truth. He sees no 
> important difference between the mind of a chess computer and the mind of a 
> conscious human. He assigns personhood to a computer not even considered to 
> have strong AI, much less weak AI. Ridiculous, I think.

It's not unreasonable.

Sure, guns don't kill people, people kill people.  We don't lock up a gun for 
twenty years because it commits manslaughter.

And yet, without the computer or the program, would anyone say that "Deep Blue 
beat Kasparov"?  It is not an assignment of personhood, it is an observation 
about a mechanism, or perhaps an agency.  We might report to a cop, "The white 
Buick ran over the dog".  This is not an anthropomorphism, everyone understands 
clearly what is being said and what is not being said.

The question is to what extent it is a "philosophical truth" that the Buick ran 
over the dog, or Deep Blue beat Kasparov.  I'm not sure "philosophical truth" 
is really at issue.  Much of this is simple linguistic convention, one might 
say it that way in English and not in Spanish.

And it doesn't have to be a binary function, either.  Maybe the Buick is sort 
of less of an agent than a computer, in the circumstances named.  Maybe a rock 
has an agency factor of 1, a Buick parked a 2, a Buick operating and in motion 
a 15, Deep Blue running its program a 50, and Kasparov playing Deep Blue 100.  
Though I'm sure any simple numeric metric is inappropriate, it gives a sort of 
impression of degress of freedom involved.  Maybe Kasparov playing chess is 
only an 80, since he's focusing on such a narrow task.  No doubt one can have 
fun and endless arguments coming up with examples and trying to order and 
justify them.  And perhaps reality is no less complex than that.


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