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Gelernter Response to Descartes | Cognitive Science & AI | BSc.CSIT | 4th and 5th Semester

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gelernter response to descartesGelernter Response to Descartes
Subject: Cognitive Science And AI | BSc.CSIT (TU)
Fourth And Fifth Semester | Tribhuvan University

Gelernter Response to Descartes
David Gelernter uses the term “consciousness” to denote the possession of what philosophers call qualia. He’s not talking about the differences between the brain states of waking and sleeping animals, and he’s not talking about self-consciousness — an animal’s ability to recognize itself in a mirror, or to use the states of its own body (including its brain) as subjects for further cognition. Qualia are the felt character of experience. To be conscious, in Gelernter’s sense, is to have qualia.

Gelernter divides artificial-intelligence theorists into two camps: cognitivists and anticognitivists. Cognitivists believe that, if human beings have qualia, then a robot that behaves exactly like a human being does, too. Gelernter’s initial claims:

  1. “This subjectivity of mind has an important consequence: there is no objective way to tell whether some entity is conscious.”
  2. “we know our fellow humans are conscious.”

Human thought, asserts Gelernter, exists along a continuum, spanning from high-focus thinking — in-depth analytical problem solving — to low-focus thoughts, consisting of the daydreams and hallucinations that occur when one’s mind is wandering. Artificial intelligence research has historically focused on the logical, goal-driven thoughts at the highend of the spectrum. Gelernter argues that, if the goal truly is to create a computer that can solve problems in a way similar to that of the human mind, then study of unfocused, emotional, low-end thinking must be incorporated into artificial intelligence research, for it is as central to human cognition as logic.

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