Minds and Machines
Silver Center 705
Tuesday and Thursday 3:30-4:45
212-998-8322 (Note: you will have better luck reaching me
by email than by phone)
TAs: Grace Helton, grace.helton at-sign gmail.com
Office hours: Wednesday 10:15-12:15 in 5 Washington Place, Room 414
Wednesday, 12:30-1:45 Location TBA
Wednesday, 3:30-4:45, Location TBA
This course examines the conflict between computational and biological approaches to the mind. Topics covered this semester will be: whether a machine could think, the Turing Test, whether thinking could be symbol crunching, mental imagery, Searle’s arguments against strong artificial intelligence, volition and the function of consciousness, the inverted spectrum, the self and the body
ATTENTION: The final examination will be in class on Thursday, December 15th, the last class.
Remember, no late papers. If you miss the deadline for one assignment, just do another.
Read Jim Pryor’s advice on writing a philosophy paper, Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper
Assignment 1: The Turing Test (Due Thursday, September 15th)
Assignment 2: The Blockhead (Due Thursday, September 22nd)
Assignment 3: Searle’s “Chinese Room” Argument. (Due Thursday, September 29th)
Assignment 4: Haugeland (Due Tuesday, October 11th)
Assignment 5: Searle’s Wall Argument (due Thursday October 20th )
Assignment 6: Functional Role Semantics (due Tuesday, November 1st)
Assignment 7: Inverted Spectrum: due Tuesday November 8th
Assignment 8: Pictorialism vs the Overlap Thesis: due Tuesday November 15th
Assignment 9: Kosslyn vs Pylyshyn: Due Tuesday November 22nd
Assignment 10: Overflow 1: Due Thursday, December 1st
Assignment 11: Overflow 2: Due Tuesday, December 13th
Assignment 12: There will not be a 12th assignment
Final Exam: December 15th: questions will be based on the assignments
TENTATIVE (!) SCHEDULE
All readings will be available on the web. Some will require a password which will be revealed in class and which is also on Blackboard.
The reading for this course is not lengthy but it is difficult material. You should expect to read everything twice.
The readings listed below are tentative and subject to revision throughout the course.
September 6, 8:
Block 11.1.1 and Cleverbot
Braddon-Mitchell & Jackson, 107-128
Shieber & Loebner papers
McDermott, Hafner, Fish, Schlaefer, Ferrucci
Focus on the articles about Watson, skim the others
Searle: both articles
Byrne, Block remaining sections, except 398-400
Churchland & Churchland
Searle APA Presidential Address
Block 398-400 of “The Mind as the Software…”
Block, 2 articles from Routledge Encyclopedia
Fodor Tom Swift (Johnson-Laird is background reading)
Fodor Brief Refutation
Tarr, Kosslyn, Ganis & Thompson
Topic Change: Kouider
Cohen & Dennett
Block Aristotelian Society
Block Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Reading: Stazicker; Guest lecture by James Stazicker
Readings: Please send me email about broken links
The Turing Test
· A.M. Turing, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence". Mind 59: 433-460, 1950. For PDF of published paper, click here. This PDF requires a password which will be given out in class and which is on the Blackboard site for this course.
· Ned Block, "The Mind as the Software of the Brain", section 11.1.1, "Machine Intelligence" in An Invitation to Cognitive Science, edited by D. Osherson, L. Gleitman, S. Kosslyn, E. Smith and S. Sternberg, MIT Press, 1995)
· Stuart Shieber, "Lessons from a Restricted Modern Turing Test" Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, volume 37, number 6, pages 70-78, 1994. Published version
· Stuart Shieber, “On Loebner’s Lessons,” Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, volume 37, number 6, pages 83-84, 1994. Or here.
· David Ferrucci, et. al. “Building Watson: An Overview of the DeepQA Project”, AI Magazine, Fall 2010, p. 59-79
Searle's Chinese Room Argument
· John Searle, "Minds, Brains and Programs” (That link is temperamental, so you can try the issue of the journal here (scroll down), a typescript here or the journal web site here (only useable from NYU)) Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, 1980, p.417-424
· Ned Block, "The Mind as the Software of the Brain", remaining sections
· John Haugeland, “Syntax, Semantics, Physics”, in Views Into the Chinese Room: New Essays on Searle and Artificial Intelligence, edited by John Preston and Mark Bishop, OUP 2002
Searle’s Wall Argument
· Ned Block, "The Mind as the Software of the Brain", section 11.2.2, p 398-400
Functional Role Semantics
· Ned Block, "Semantics, Conceptual Role", Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
· Ned Block, "Holism, Mental and Semantic" , Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The Inverted Spectrum
· Zenon Pylyshyn, Return of the mental image: Are there pictures in the head? Or hereTrends in Cognitive Sciences 17, 3, 2003, 113-118
· Stephen M. Kosslyn, Giorgio Ganis, William L. Thompson, Mental Imagery: Against the Nihilistic Hypothesis, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17, 3, March, 2003 , 109-111, or here
· Zenon Pylyshyn, Explaining Mental imagery: now you see it, now you don’t: Reply to Kosslyn, et. al., Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17, 3, March, 2003, 111-112. Or here
Does Consciousness Overflow Cognition?
· Sid Kouider, Vincent de Gardelle, Jerome Sackur & Emmanuel Dupoux (2010), How rich is consciousness? The partial awareness hypothesis. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 14, 301-307. Background for this article: de Gardelle, V., Sackur, J., & Kouider, S. (2009). Perceptual illusions in brief visual presentations. Consciousness and Cognition, 18(3), 569-577
· Ned Block, (2011). "Perceptual consciousness overflows cognitive access." Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15(12) 567-575.
Slides will be posted on Blackboard after each class.
· There will be a 3-5 page writing assignment posted each week and due the following week. You must choose three of these assignments, including one of Assignments 1-3, and one assignment after Assignment 6.
· There will be a final examination, the questions of which will be very similar to questions on the weekly writing assignments. So you should be satisfied that you understand the questions even for assignments that you do not do in writing.
· The writing assignments will normally require statements of positions taken by one of the authors that you've read. These statements should be couched in your own words, explaining how you see what the author has said. No quotations; no paraphrases.
· Grading: Each of the three papers will count for one fifth of the grade, the final will count for one fifth of the grade and participation in class (including section) will be another one fifth.
· Joint work is encouraged. Arguing about your views with others is the best way to find out where your position leads. If your paper is a product of joint work, all of the participants should turn in their own versions, with the communal ideas stated in each paper in the writer's own words. When you do work together on an assignment, this must be stated on each paper. All participants in joint work get full credit.
· NO LATE PAPERS. Papers are due at 5:00 PM on the day indicated. If you can’t get it in by 5 PM, just do the next assignment.