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Searle's Box

Classic counterargument to Searle's Chinese Box - Box as a system is intelligent even if components are not. Extend: embracing of technological enhancement, "office" of a person meaning totality of them as a social grain - PDAs, email, car, tools combined with them - interactions with them as that grain versus just the human inside. Reliance on tools as part of that larger identity of us - does it make the human inside less worthy on some level? Are we the man in Searle's box? Perhaps that's not a bad thing, provided we continually strive to make our tools harbour knowledge as deep as that specifically in the human bits.

Various patterns of thought: I read about use of diagrams to describe patterns of thought in a few books a long time ago - radial, linear, circular, etc. Wondering whether people who were considered particularly great thinkers were typically classifiable as being particularly good at one style, and whether the styles are both cohesive and defensible against other conceptualisations of the same "thought-descriptive-space". Likewise, if these categories make sense, do people tend to specialise in a certain mix of thought patterns? Does this change as people age? Linear thought versus circular thought versus free-associating thought veersus ...

Overheard at 61c - long conversation between people talking about relationships and what they want out of them. Timing in relationships: differs quite a bit - one person wanted sex right away, cohabitation after a year, and dating for 2-3 years before marriage - conversation kind of important but not really. Another would meet, also have sex right away, and marry the next day if things "felt right" - conversation fairly important. Another seemed to think sex is relatively unimportant, and social arrangement is key. I eventually joined in giving both my understanding of traditional Islam (confirmed by one of the ppl, who was a moderate Muslim) and after that moseying over to my (liberal Romantic) norms. Interesting: how differently we all thought and how our timeframes for various stages not only were different but were also not even ordered the same (e.g. getting physical, moving in, meeting family, engagement, marriage, etc). I'm also a bit weirded out that one of the people talked so openly about casual one-night stands with people he didn't know - some part of me was lightly grumbling that that's improper, but another thought that maybe it's not bad in all circumstances even for those more oriented towards romance than sex.

In theory, I should've gone to RHPS tonight, but was feeling a bit too blue and also didn't want to look for a ride. Oh well. Hopefully they're all having fun right now.

The old NES game "Adventures of Lolo" (and its two sequels) is neat - 3/4 puzzle and 1/4 action.


Classic counterargument to Searle's Chinese Box - Box as a system is intelligent even if components are not.

Searle calls this the "systems argument". He claims to counter it, in some document I can't find. IIRC his counterargument is approximately an argument from incredulity. I did not find it persuasive. ;-)
Given that the brain is itself a system, it seems like he'd have to work very hard to counter it.
I could try to dig it out, but it really just amounts to "The _system_? Of the _room_ and the _book_ and the _person_? You want me to consider _that_ to know Chinese, and yet the person alone _not_ to? You must be stupid. Everyone knows rooms can't know things."

Personally, I hate Searle. :-P
Actually I think was projecting my own dislike for Searle, and so I apparently misremembered his response. See here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/chinese-room/#4.1 for a discussion of the Systems Argument and Searle's response.

Mind you I still think he's wrong. :-P
It's kind of nice though having him bring up these interesting points - I don't think his arguments hold water, but figuring out exactly where they're broken leads to a potentially deeper understanding of things.

For example, the argument about internalisation of the system suggests, as pointed out, a counterargument that the base system (that is, the human who has internalised without digesting the system) differs from the "functional human" just as a person who might memorise a neural network's structures and perform its transitions fast enough to simulate a brain might still not have digested the high level concepts that the implemented brain might have. In another direction, we might speculate as to the emotional and other reasons Searle makes his arguments, and wonder if they're a marker of a broader distrust we might expect in society of such entities when they come about.

Fun stuff.
oh and also, happy birthday!