Monday, March 23, 2015

Open systems

Marty Solomon, an old friend of mine from college and grad school days, has argued that humans can do things that formal systems (Turing machines, digital computers) can't because humans are open systems, systems which interact with the world using a (rich, wide bandwidth) array of sensors. (Brit. J. Phil. Sci., 45, 1994, pg 549) He suggests that a computer augmented by "...sensory inputs from sophisticated input facilities..." might also qualify as such an open system.  (The simple sensors possible with the Lego NXT robots clearly might not be enough.)

I hold rather similar views but might emphasize outputs as well as inputs. Asa H, for example,  observes spatial-temporal patterns in the world, decomposes them, changes them, and assembles new patterns, some of which have never been seen in the real world.  Asa performs some of these patterns during the course of its daily activities and evaluates their usefulness.  It experiments. It injects new structure into the world. (For reasons I've explained before,however, I do not think this implies that all AIs have to be embodied in order to be intelligent and act intelligently.)

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