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Other bodies, Other minds: A machine incarnation of an old philosophical problem

Other bodies, Other minds: A machine incarnation of an old philosophical problem
Other bodies, Other minds: A machine incarnation of an old philosophical problem
Explaining the mind by building machines with minds runs into the other-minds problem: How can we tell whether any body other than our own has a mind when the only way to know is by being the other body? In practice we all use some form of Turing Test: If it can do everything a body with a mind can do such that we can't tell them apart, we have no basis for doubting it has a mind. But what is "everything" a body with a mind can do? Turing's original "pen-pal" version (the TT) only tested linguistic capacity, but Searle has shown that a mindless symbol-manipulator could pass the TT undetected. The Total Turing Test (TTT) calls for all of our linguistic and robotic capacities; immune to Searle's argument, it suggests how to ground a symbol manipulating system in the capacity to pick out the objects its symbols refer to. No Turing Test, however, can guarantee that a body has a mind. Worse, nothing in the explanation of its successful performance requires a model to have a mind at all. Minds are hence very different from the unobservables of physics (e.g., superstrings); and Turing Testing, though essential for machine-modeling the mind, can really only yield an explanation of the body.
43-54
Harnad, Stevan
442ee520-71a1-4283-8e01-106693487d8b
Harnad, Stevan
442ee520-71a1-4283-8e01-106693487d8b

Harnad, Stevan (1991) Other bodies, Other minds: A machine incarnation of an old philosophical problem Minds and Machines, 1, pp. 43-54.

Record type: Article

Abstract

Explaining the mind by building machines with minds runs into the other-minds problem: How can we tell whether any body other than our own has a mind when the only way to know is by being the other body? In practice we all use some form of Turing Test: If it can do everything a body with a mind can do such that we can't tell them apart, we have no basis for doubting it has a mind. But what is "everything" a body with a mind can do? Turing's original "pen-pal" version (the TT) only tested linguistic capacity, but Searle has shown that a mindless symbol-manipulator could pass the TT undetected. The Total Turing Test (TTT) calls for all of our linguistic and robotic capacities; immune to Searle's argument, it suggests how to ground a symbol manipulating system in the capacity to pick out the objects its symbols refer to. No Turing Test, however, can guarantee that a body has a mind. Worse, nothing in the explanation of its successful performance requires a model to have a mind at all. Minds are hence very different from the unobservables of physics (e.g., superstrings); and Turing Testing, though essential for machine-modeling the mind, can really only yield an explanation of the body.

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Published date: 1991
Organisations: Web & Internet Science

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Local EPrints ID: 253379
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/253379
PURE UUID: 07b07ab5-a497-4c7c-98b6-5815f8a555ee

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Date deposited: 26 May 2000
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 09:58

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Author: Stevan Harnad

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