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Symbol Grounding is an Empirical Problem: Neural Nets are Just a Candidate Component

Symbol Grounding is an Empirical Problem: Neural Nets are Just a Candidate Component
Symbol Grounding is an Empirical Problem: Neural Nets are Just a Candidate Component
"Symbol Grounding" is beginning to mean too many things to too many people. My own construal has always been simple: Cognition cannot be just computation, because computation is just the systematically interpretable manipulation of meaningless symbols, whereas the meanings of my thoughts don't depend on their interpretability or interpretation by someone else. On pain of infinite regress, then, symbol meanings must be grounded in something other than just their interpretability if they are to be candidates for what is going on in our heads. Neural nets may be one way to ground the names of concrete objects and events in the capacity to categorize them (by learning the invariants in their sensorimotor projections). These grounded elementary symbols could then be combined into symbol strings expressing propositions about more abstract categories. Grounding does not equal meaning, however, and does not solve any philosophical problems.
Harnad, S
442ee520-71a1-4283-8e01-106693487d8b
Harnad, S
442ee520-71a1-4283-8e01-106693487d8b

Harnad, S (1993) Symbol Grounding is an Empirical Problem: Neural Nets are Just a Candidate Component At Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)

Abstract

"Symbol Grounding" is beginning to mean too many things to too many people. My own construal has always been simple: Cognition cannot be just computation, because computation is just the systematically interpretable manipulation of meaningless symbols, whereas the meanings of my thoughts don't depend on their interpretability or interpretation by someone else. On pain of infinite regress, then, symbol meanings must be grounded in something other than just their interpretability if they are to be candidates for what is going on in our heads. Neural nets may be one way to ground the names of concrete objects and events in the capacity to categorize them (by learning the invariants in their sensorimotor projections). These grounded elementary symbols could then be combined into symbol strings expressing propositions about more abstract categories. Grounding does not equal meaning, however, and does not solve any philosophical problems.

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Published date: 1993
Venue - Dates: Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 1993-01-01
Organisations: Web & Internet Science

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Local EPrints ID: 253367
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/253367
PURE UUID: 42dc02d5-b320-4611-9533-7272fed92a04

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Date deposited: 25 May 2000
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 09:58

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Author: S Harnad

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