A philosophical discussion of Artificial Intelligence
Computers, Minds, and Robots
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William S. Robinson
William S. Robinson offers a clear, lively discussion of the philosophical problems that surround the developing science of Artificial Intelligence (AI). He introduces and clarifies the basic concepts necessary for understanding these problems and discusses opposing views and possible solutions. Robinson describes the kinds of further research that seem likely to improve our understanding of the mechanisms of intelligence. He also explains the new "connectionist" approach to AI and relates it to the more traditional approach.
This book is not a typical monograph on the latest developments in computer or robot technologies. Instead, Robinson poses philosophical questions about the nature of AI. For example, if we had a machine that could perform intelligent tasks (e.g., do arithmetic, solve a chess problem, write a poem), what would that show about whether the machine could think or feel? What does our knowledge of mathematics imply about our own thinking processes? Does the fact that we can do certain things imply anything about how we do them? Likewise, if a machine can do certain things, does that ability imply anything about its own level of intelligence?
Robinson uses the Turing test set-up and Serle's Chinese Room to introduce questions of current interest about artificial intelligence. Imaginary robots help clarify relationships between different mental processes. He examines an argument that some believe shows the impossibility of a robot that is a person's double, and he explains two major approaches that others think might someday make such a robot doppelgänger conceivable.
"Robinson's negative argumentation against traditional and recent attacks on epiphenomenalism is great fun. Robinson writes very clearly and puts his position down plainly; even those who are sure that he is wrong will benefit from sharpening their wit against him.... Robinson has interesting things to say."
"Computers, Minds, and Robots is clearly written, carefully organized, well argued, and it covers the right topics."
1. The Turing Test
2. Searle’s Chinese Room
3. Paralytics and Robots
4. Dennett, Robots, and Pains
5. A License for Artificial Intelligence?
6. Lucas and Self-Models
7. Working on Sentences
8. Doubts About Sentential AI
9. Parallel Distributed Processing
10. New Doubts and New Prospects
11. The Ill-Connected Robot
William S. Robinson is Professor of Philosophy at Iowa State University and the author of Brains and People (Temple).