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Creativity as an Answer

There are at least three general ways to answer Q1 $^Z_{\mbox{{\tiny P}}}$:

A1
``Look, evolution does allow for outright accidents, so maybe P-consciousness is just an adventitious `add on' having no survival value `payoff' -- in which case there would be no particular reason why evolution fashioned us rather than zombies."19
A2
``The answer is that P-consciousness has some definite function, and though this function can be carried out by mere information processing (suitably symbiotic with the outside environment on the strength of sensors and effectors), evolution took the more interesting route."
A3
``P-consciousness has a definite function, yes, but one arguably not replicable in any system based on the standard information processing built into the gedanken-experiments taken to substantiate $\Diamond$V2."

A1 is really not an answer to Q1 $^{\mbox{{\tiny Z}}}_{\mbox{{\tiny P}}}$; and as such it's profoundly unsatisfying (if the informal poll we've taken is any indication). It even seems downright bizarre to hold that the phenomenon that makes life worth living (Wouldn't you be depressed upon hearing that starting five minutes from now you would have the inner life of a slab of granite?) is a fluke. The second answer, A2, is given by a respondent who hasn't grasped the problem: After all, if the function of P-consciousness can be carried out by computation, then why didn't evolution take the programming route? This question is just Q1 $^{\mbox{{\tiny Z}}}_{\mbox{{\tiny P}}}$ all over again, so A2 gets a nowhere.20

A3 is the answer we favor. This means we have to be prepared to step up to the challenge and show that certain behaviors do correspond to P-consciousness, and that obtaining these behaviors from ordinary computation isn't possible. What behaviors might qualify? In a word: creativity. We conclude this section by providing reason to believe that P-consciousness' role in us is to enable creativity. In the following section, when we discuss our engineering work, we return to the view that creativity requires more than standard information processing.

One of us (Bringsjord: [Bringsjord, minga]) has recently tried to reconstruct a Searlean argument for the view that a -- perhaps the -- function of P-consciousness is to enable creativity. Searle's argument is enthymematic; its key hidden premise is a principle which unpacks the common-sense idea that if the advent of a psychological deficiency coincides with a noteworthy diminution of a person's faculty, then it's a good bet that the diminution is causally linked with the deficiency. With (a slightly more sophisticated version of) this principle (P2), we can produce a Searlean argument that is formally valid in first-order logic. The argument runs as follows.21

A1
P2 If S loses x over an interval of time during which S loses the ability to $\phi$, and there are substantive reasons to think x is centrally employed when people $\phi$ (in part because (i) attempts to replicate $\phi$-ing in systems lacking x have failed, and show no appreciable promise of succeeding in the future; and (ii) subjects report that they need x in order to $\phi$), then a function of x is to at least facilitate $\phi$-ing.
(1) S loses x over an interval of time during which S loses the ability to $\phi$, $\ldots$ that they need x in order to $\phi$).
(2) There is at least a prima facie reason to think x is centrally employed when people $\phi$ (in part because attempts to replicate $\phi$-ing in systems lacking x have failed, and show no appreciable promise of succeeding in the future).
.$^\cdot$ . (3) A function of x is to facilitate $\phi$-ing. P2, 1, 2

Victorious instantiations of this schema seem to us to be at hand. (If x = `P-consciousness,' and $\phi$ = `write belletristic fiction,' then it turns out that we have elsewhere [Bringsjord, 1995] explicitly defended the relevant instantiation. The basic idea underlying the instantiation is that creativity, for example the creativity shown by a great dramatist, requires P-consciousness.22 The defense capitalizes on P2's parenthetical by including an observation that AI has so far failed to produce creative computer systems.

You may ask, ``Yes, but what evidence have you for P2?" We haven't space to include here all of the evidence for this principle. Some of it is empirical (e.g., [Cooper & Shepard, 1973]); some of it is ``commonsensical." Evidence of the latter sort is obtained by remembering that all of us have experienced unplanned intervals of ``automatism." To repeat the familiar example, you're driving late at night on the interstate; you're 27 miles from your exit $\ldots$ and the next thing you know, after reverie about a research problem snaps to an end, you are but seventeen miles from your turnoff. Now, was there anything it was like to drive those ten mysterious miles? If you're like us, the answer is a rather firm ``No" (and we daresay the real-life cases are myriad, and not always automotive). Now, why is it that such episodes invariably happen when the ongoing overt behavior is highly routinized? Have you ever had such an episode while your overt behavior involved, say, the writing of a short story, or the proving of a theorem? These are rhetorical questions only, of course. But surely it's safe to say that P2 is no pushover, and that A1 constitutes a respectable case for the view that a function of P-consciousness is to enable creative cognition.


next up previous
Next: Engineering Creativity Up: Why Did Evolution Engineer Previous: Zombifying the Question
Selmer Bringsjord
2000-03-13