Our next E-Intentionality seminar is this Thursday, December 1st, at 13:00 in Freeman
G22. This will be a dry run of a talk I’ll be giving
as part of EUCognition2016, entitled “Architectural Requirements for Consciousness”. You can read the abstract here, along with an extended clarificatory discussion prompted by David Booth’s comments.
Next Thursday, November 17th, at 13:00 I’ll be leading the E-Intentionality seminar in Freeman G22. I’ll be using this seminar as a dry run for the first part of my keynote lecture at the UAE Social Robotics meeting next week. It builds on work that I first presented at Tufts in 2014.
Since robots will not, in the near future, be responsible agents, avoiding some moral hazards (e.g., that of abdication of responsibility) will require designs that assist in tracing complex lines of responsibility backwards from outcomes, through the robot, and back to the appropriate humans and/or social institutions. I look at one approach to ethically designing robots, that of designing ethical robots – robots that are given a set of rules that are intended to encode an ethical system, and which are to be applied by the robot in the generation of its behaviour. I argue that this approach will in many cases obfuscate, rather than clarify, the lines of responsibility involved (resulting in “moral murk”), and can lead to ethically adverse situations. After giving an example of such cases, I offer an alternative approach to ethical design of robots, one that does not presuppose that notions of obligation and permission apply to the robot in question, thereby avoiding the problems of moral murk and ethical adversity.
The next E-Intentionality seminar will be 13:00-13:50 Thursday, November 10th 2016 in room Freeman G22 (not G31 like all the EI/CogPhi meetings so far this term). Simon McGregor will present his research:
Move Over, Truth: An Instrumental Metaphysics
Most analytic philosophers are wedded to a realist metaphysics in which what matters is the truth or otherwise of philosophical assertions. I will argue for an utterly different metaphysical mode of thought, which focuses on reflective cognitive practice in the context of one’s lived concerns. This perspective understands rationality in terms of experienced instrumental justification, even for cognitive practices such as forming truth judgements.
The next E-Intentionality meeting will be Thursday, October 27th in Freeman G31. Please note that David has offered to take preliminary comments in advance via email (D.A.Booth@sussex.ac.uk).
David Booth – ‘How we represent emotion in the face: processing the content of information from and to the environment’
This talk briefly presents an experiment which illustrates the scientific theory that embodied and acculturated systems (such as you and me) represent information in the environment by causally processing its content in mathematically determinate ways. Three colleagues stated the strengths of emotions they saw in sets of keyboard characters that (badly) mimicked mobile parts of the human face. The mechanisms by which they rated the emoticons are given by formulae constructed deductively from discrimination distances between the presented diagrams and the memory of their features on occasions when a face has signalled the named emotional reaction to a situation. Five of the basic formulae of this theory of a mind have structures corresponding to classic conscious psychological subfunctions such as perceiving, describing, reasoning, intending and ’emoting’, and one to unconscious mental processing. Each formula specifies the interactions among mental events which, on the evidence, generated my colleagues’ answers to my questions. The calculations are totally dependent on prior and current material and societal affordances but say nothing about the development or ongoing execution of the neural or linguistic mechanisms involved, any more than do attractors, connectionist statistics or list programs. Functional accounts calculate merely amounts of information or other probabilistic quantities. Distinguishing among contents is equivalent to causal processing. Hence the plurality of mental, cultural and material systems in persons may accommodate a causation monism.
Jonny Lee: The Two Dimensions of Representation: Function vs. Content
The concept of mental representation features heavily in scientific explanations of cognition. At the same time, there is no consensus amongst philosophers about which things (if any things) are mental representations, and in particular how we can account (if we can) for the semantic properties paradigmatic of ordinary representation. In this paper I will discuss a recent development in the literature which distinguishes between the ‘function’ and ‘content’ dimension of mental representation, in an attempt to cast light on what a complete account of mental representation must achieve. I will argue that though the distinction is useful, chiefly because it shows where past philosophical projects have erred, there remain three “worries” about prising apart function and content. In elucidating these worries, I point to the possibility of an alternative to a traditional, essentialist theory of content, one which says that content comes part and parcel of how we treat mechanisms as functioning as a representations.
The next E-Intentionality seminar will be held Monday, June 20th from 13:00 to 14:50 in Fulton 102. Ron Chrisley will speak on “Machine consciousness: Moving beyond “Is it possible?”” as a dry run of his talk at the “Mind, Selves & Technology” workshop later that week in Lisbon:
Philosophical contributions to the field of machine consciousness have been preoccupied with questions such as: Could a machine be conscious? Could a computer be conscious solely by virtue of running the right program? How would we know if we achieved machine consciousness? etc. I propose that this preoccupation constitutes a dereliction of philosophical duty. Philosophers do better at helping solve conceptual problems in machine consciousness (and do better at exploiting insights from machine consciousness to help solve conceptual problems in consciousness studies in general) once they replace those general questions, as fascinating as they are, with ones that a) reflect a broader understanding of what machine consciousness is or could be; and b) are better grounded in empirical machine consciousness research.
The next E-Intentionality seminar will be held Wednesday, June 8th from 13:00 to 14:50 in Pevensey 1 1A3. Ron Chrisley will speak on “The Embodied Nature of Computation” as a dry run of his talk at a symposium (“Embodied Cognition: Constructivist and Computationalist Perspectives”) at IACAP 2016 next week:
Although embodiment-based critiques of computation’s role in explaining mind have at times been overstated, there are important lessons from embodiment which computationalists would do well to learn. For example, orthodox schemes for individuating computations are individualist, atemporal, and anti-semantical (formal), but considering the role of the body in cognition suggests by analogy that — even to explain extant information processing systems unrelated to cognitive science and artificial intelligence contexts — computations should instead be characterised in terms that are world-involving, dynamical and intentional/meaningful. Further, the counterfactual-involving nature of computational state individuation implies that sameness of computation is not in general preserved when one substitutes a non-living computational component with a living, autonomous, free organism that merely intends to realise the same functional profile as component being replaced. Thus, contra computational orthodoxy, there is no sharp divide between the computational facts and what is usually thought of as the implementational facts, even for unambiguously computational systems. The implications of this point for some famous disputes concerning group minds, and strong AI, will be identified.
Image from digitalmediatheory.files.wordpress.com
The next E-Intentionality seminar will be held Friday, April 29th from 12:00 to 12:50 in Pevensey 1 1B8 (please note change of venue). Simon McGregor will speak on “The physical mandate for folk psychology”; abstract:
I describe a heuristic argument for understanding certain physical systems in terms of properties that resemble the beliefs and desires of folk psychology. The core of the argument is that predictions about certain events can legitimately be based on assumptions about later events, resembling Aristotelian `final causation’; however, more nuanced causal entities (resembling internally supervenient beliefs) must be introduced into these types of explanation in order for them to remain consistent with a causally local Universe.
The next E-Intentionality seminar will be held on April 22nd from 12:00 to 12:50 in Bramber House BH-253 (please note change of venue). Simon Bowes will speak on “Glocalism: Think Global, Act Local”; abstract:
This talk will be about the much discussed tension between local and global properties of mental states. In particular it will investigate whether I can have my argumentative cake and eat it in terms of relying on local properties to solve the new riddle of induction, but global properties in arguing against reductionism in the mental causation debate.
Competition for a complete study in city planning for a fictive American city of 500,000 inhabitants, organised by the NCCP in spring 1913. Entry no. 7 (F.A. Bourne, A.C. Comey, B.A. Haldeman and J. Nolan), in “Proceedings of the Fifth National Conference on City Planning. Chicago, Illinois, May 5-7, 1913” (Boston, MA, 1913), 212.