Re: [sl4] Re: goals of AI

From: Pavitra (
Date: Thu Nov 26 2009 - 21:30:26 MST

This thread is getting derailed on (in my opinon) useless debate on the
definition of "physical". Let's look at the actual message that started it.

On Nov 24, 2009, at 09:19 AM, "Matt Paul" wrote:
> On Nov 24, 2009, at 1:22 AM, "John K Clark" wrote:
>> On Mon, 23 Nov 2009 "Matt Paul" <> said:
>>> Is the intelligence that has advanced humanity actually able to be
>>> recreated in a machine?
>> Yes obviously
> -- you say obviously, but it seems much less than obvious to me. There
> are aspects of our "intelligence" that I think may not truly be
> physical, not a neurochemical process, not a logic system that can be
> mathematically represented.

Here, Matt Paul is asserting that human intelligence is not necessarily
recreatable in a machine.

He posits the existence of one or more particular aspects of human
intelligence that cannot be mechanized, and names three specific
characteristics of those aspects:

 - nonphysical;
 - nonneurochemical;
 - nonlogical; cannot be mathematically represented.

Each of these three attributes may or may not be necessary and/or
sufficient in order to infer mechanical irreproducibility, but before
this can be evaluated, it is first necessary to clarify what Mr. Paul
means by "recreated in a machine".

By what criterion does the original -- naturally-occurring human
intelligence -- not fulfill this? Does a human being fail Mr. Paul's
definition of a "machine"? Or does Mr. Paul allow any system as a
"machine", but require that the behavior be "recreated" by humans? How
then does he define "human"? Can a human use mechanical aid, such as a
screwdriver? How about a computerized CAD/CAM? How about a (possibly
nonsentient or whatever) Jupiter-sized AI brain grown from a seed AI
written in three lines of Python, with all further human agency reduced
to once pressing the large red "yes" button?

Until this is cleared up, I see no further point in continuing debate,
least of all debate over definitions.



The proper meaning of "physical" has, as noted, been debated at some
length; but for the present purpose of reading Matt's message, the only
relevant definition is the one he had in mind when writing. If, when
writing the word "physical" he was thinking of the concept "made of
banana cream pies", then that is the definition we must use when reading
his message.

He gives his meaning here:

On Nov 25, 2009, at 17:38 PM, "Matt Paul" wrote:
> Ok, I see a problem arising here. I used the term "non-physical" and I
> think that I should clarify that this is because I struggle to find
> another term for it. I don't think it is the best term and I hope we
> don't get too hung up on it. By non-physical I am trying to label that
> which is real but cannot currently be measured or detected.

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