"Computation, Among Other Things, is Beneath Us"
(1995) Minds and Machines 4: 469-488
by Selmer Bringsjord
What's computation? The received answer is that computation is a computer
at work, and a computer at work is that which can be modelled as a Turing
machine at work. Unfortunately, as John Searle has recently argued,
and as others have agreed, the received answer appears to imply that
AI and Cog Sci are a royal waste of time. The argument here is
alarmingly simple: AI and Cog Sci (of the "Strong" sort, anyway)
are committed to the view that cognition is computation (or brains
are computers); but all processes are computations (or all
physical things are computers); so AI and Cog Sci are positively silly.
I refute this argument herein, in part by defining the locutions 'x is a
computer' and 'c is a computation' in a way that blocks Searle's argument
but exploits the hard-to-deny link between What's Computation? and the theory
of computation. However, I also provide, at the end of this essay, an
argument which, it seems to me, implies not that AI and Cog Sci are silly,
but that they're based on a form of computation that is well "beneath"
Key Snippets from the Paper (out of context, of course)
- Definition of Computerhood
- Argument that Computation is Beneath Us