[Humanist] 28.387 crashing through the barrier of meaning

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Oct 11 08:42:29 CEST 2014

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 28, No. 387.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2014 20:14:03 -0500
        From: "Robert A. Amsler" <amsler at cs.utexas.edu>
        Subject: Re:  28.372 crashing through the barrier of meaning?
        In-Reply-To: <20141005072023.42B5B6576 at digitalhumanities.org>

I'd suppose they would say they are too busy to worry about the
philosophical limitations of what they are doing when they are making
excellent progress with the digital data the world now provides.

It may well be true that we're not heading toward a working AI, but that it
won't matter because what we are building will be more than adequate to
perform much of what we do using human intelligence without any more than
its data and logic.

Human experience, stored in as yet an unexplained manner in our brains, is
today matched by the amount of recorded data from images, video and sound.
If we are to believe IBM, Watson, their text question-answering system, can
read and find answers to many questions from plain text with almost human

Collectively, the human race has recorded a lot of what we experience in
representations external to our brain. Those representations, now in bits,
can be processed by computers. Computers can be programmed to "see" what we
see, recognize faces, license plates, forest fires, lightening, and map
terrain with the entire electromagnetic spectrum; seeing in ways beyond
human senses. Sure, they don't "contemplate" what those images mean--but
when you're counting cars on a freeway, does it matter if your goal is to
know how many cars there are?

A wise man once told me that computers will be able to do everything we do
by reasoning. That isn't everything we do with our brains, only the part
that we had to invent methods to carry out. It's enough to run the planet
and civilization as we've created it--just not enough to 'invent'

More information about the Humanist mailing list