I refute it thus… Ouch!

Following on from the John Searle interview, Paul Almond and I have been having quite a lengthy discussion about what reality means. Usually I’m the extreme one because of my argument that some things that exist only in computers are just as real as those that exist in the so-called physical world, but this time I seem to be the moderate (or reactionary?) one because Paul believes everything is real and his office chair is Albert Einstein (well, sort of, anyway). If you’re interested, the conversation is over at Machines Like Us.

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Mystic Pizza

Norm Nason and Paul Almond, over at Machines Like Us, have managed to pull quite a coup and conduct a long and fascinating interview with the philosopher John Searle, on his Chinese Room argument and others.

As anyone who’s read my books may have surmised, I don’t agree with all of Searle’s arguments and I don’t share his disbelief in the possibility of Strong AI (even though I doubt very much that a digital computer is a practical medium for such a thing, long-term). But rather than discuss it here I’ve posted a long comment on the original site. It’s too big a subject to tackle in a blog post really, let alone a comment to one, so maybe I’ll have to write another book. I can’t make up my mind whether I next want to write a book called “Machines like us” (Norm borrowed the title for his site from one of my talks), about mechanism and the human condition, or whether to write one about “Un-physics” – a more general elucidation of a process-oriented view of nature, the behavior of complex feedback systems and self-organization. Does anyone care either way? I don’t suppose so.

Anyway, Paul’s excellent interview with John Searle can be found here, and my somewhat inept and hurried attempts to put forward an alternative view are here. Enjoy.