Philosopher, weight lifter, accountant. Colour-changing hair.

Recent Comments

  • What's so special about being human? Part 2 - Well, maybe octopuses have qualia. I wouldn't be too surprised! But with most animals, it's hard to know, as they can't exactly testify to it, and I think the consensus is that they probably don't have the required subtlety of thought. To be able to have qualia you need to not just be able to do things, but be able to reflect on what it's like to have done them. I'm not sure I understand what you mean by the "recognizing a hand-written 2" example. Having qualia doesn't necessarily follow from having the ability to recognize the digit as hand-written, although being able to do that is necessary to have qualia (that's what the Venn diagram was supposed to get across). The qualia of recognizing that would be the mental/emotional feeling of experiencing that recognition. How doing that seems to you. I think it would be natural to say, for example, that no computer will ever be able to quite replicate the experience of recognizing your toddler's scribble as the digit "2". Intuitively, artificial minds just couldn't reach that level of subjective emotional experience.
  • What's so special about being human? Part 1 - Yeah. I always thought that our Philosophy classes would have benefited from the presence of some actual computer scientists, because so few people there really understood computers. I'd at least done some actual programming. Again - this is why my Philosophy of Mind professor hated me. (The Prof hating you for being knowledgeable about something which contradicts him is actually a GREAT way to learn, by the way.) But what he would say is: the difference is Qualia. Which I will talk about tomorrow. You and Jason are both going to hate it, for the same reasons I do, I think!
  • What's so special about being human? Part 1 - I completely agree. More tomorrow. :)
  • What's so special about being human? Part 1 - Well, the Chinese Room example is an argument. The definition part of it is "This is how computers work. They just process inputs and outputs." The argument itself, really comes from the fact that most people intuitively think that this definition doesn't really constitute understanding something, and so for them it follows that computers aren't actually "intelligent", as such. I agree with you, though. In the end this does usually come down to philosophers saying "AI can't exist because I say so!" Don't worry - I haven't finished with this topic. :)
  • Ethanol - This is neat, but the convention discussed in the last paragraph is very cool. I can totally picture Ethanol as one of those models built with science class sets. :D

All Posts by ZenGwen

Hipster Philosophy: Daniel Dennett

For the next couple of days, I’m going to talk about a couple of philosophers who have done some fantastic work, but aren’t very well known outside of Philosophy. Forget Kant, Descartes, Plato and Nietzsche. You can pick up a Very Short Introduction to learn...

What’s so special about being human? Part 2

A couple of people, unsurprisingly, have taken issue with The Chinese Room. (Hooray! We are succeeding at Philosophy!) The question that we finished off with was – what’s the difference? If a computer can become so complex as to convince us that it really understands rather than...

What’s so special about being human? Part 1

Philosophers are very fond of comparing computers to brains. It’s debatable whether this is actually valid*, but it does lead to a lot of debate about what makes humanity human, whether artificial intelligences can ever achieve true consciousness in the same way humans can, and what...

Gettier Counter-Examples

Yesterday, I covered what most epistemologists think “knowledge” is: Justified, True Belief. (Or just JTB for short.) Today, I’m going to tell you about Gettier, who is a massive troll, and incredibly lazy, successful philosopher. Everything I want to be when I grow up. For those...

Knowledge for Beginners

Hi folks. I’m going to be attempting to write an Advent Philosophy series, and I’ll be starting with a bit of “Epistemology” – that is, the study of knowledge. I thought that getting a basic idea of what “Knowledge” is would be a good starting...