Deconstructing the Turing Test


  1. Turing is zeroing in on what in fact we mean when we say think. It's not as simple an idea as it might intitively seem. Feser just doesn't get this with his bad gold analogy. A better analogy would be Lavoisier's question: is breathing burning? It sure doesn't seem like it intuitively. And yet there's a deep and important commonality. Answering the question revealed a lot about what burning really is. Understanding such a commonality is Turing's goal. Refusing to consider the question deeply is Feser's error.

    1. "Turing is zeroing in on what in fact we mean when we say think."

      No he's not: he is MISrepresenting what we mean when we say think.

      "Refusing to consider the question deeply is Feser's error."

      What a joke! Feser has thought this through about a 1000 times more deeply than Turing!

      Ken, on this topic, materialism leaves you blinded.

    2. "And yet there's a deep and important commonality."

      Between burning and breathing. But there is only a completely shallow and surface similarity between computer "thought" and human thought. Turing is very explicitly REFUSING to look beyond the surface with his test! Feser is doing exactly that, pushing deeper and getting at the actual essence of what is occurring. Their position are 100% reversed from what you attribute to them!

  2. I don't understand the point of the "Scholastic" inherent/substantial vs. accidental discussion. The given examples seem to use "the historical origin of X" to separate whether X has an inherent or accidental form. That seems incoherent. Form is a current state thing, not a historical thing. If quantum flucuations produced the pocket watch, then would it's time-keeping form become inherent? Similarly, if I used advanced technology to assemble a plant, molecule by molecule, then would its form be accidental? This seems a very uncommon interpretation of "form." Most people would say that the assembled plant has the same "form" as one that grew in a forest.

    Further, I think the argument against the "Scientific" interpretation of the Turing Test is weak. Feser tries to criticize Turing's approach as "mak[ing] a metaphysics out of [one's] method," but I don't think that Turing would disagree with him! I think Turing would admit that your favorite metaphyical system may be deep and fasciinating to *you*, but how illuminating is it if it cannot inspire a way to between a thinking man behind the curtain and a machine? Turing is calling the bluff or every philosopher and mystic who claims to *really understand something about human thought*.

    1. On 1)
      I am not a scholastic metaphysician. You should really post point 1 on Feser's blog, but... I think you have seriously misconstrued what is being argued here. An atom used as a "quantum clock" essentially does keep time: that is part of its nature as an atom. A collection of gears does not inherently keep time: it does so only when that form is imposed on it from outside.

      On point 2, your contention that Turing is calling anyone's "bluff" is so awful that it deserves its own post, which will come tomorrow!

    2. By quantum fluctuation, I'm not referring to a bouncing particle. I mean the unlikely possibility of a watch just "appearing" out of thin air ( Alternatively, imagine some non-quantum activity such as matter flows in a star or various asteroids hitting each other until they banged out a watch.

      The artificial plant example is more likely.


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