Minds and Computers Term Paper

  • Length: 5 pages
  • Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #71348618

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Minds and Computers

Dennett explains that what a person believes must be based at least in part on something which they can ascribe to be true based on evidence that they possess. It is impossible to believe something based on nothing; even religions have certain basic facts such as the existence of known locations or even the fact that human beings exist is a fact in and of itself. When there is information gathered which then produces a belief, the person or machine will come to desire a potential outcome based on the information acquired; the mind forms a prediction which we either anticipate positively or negatively. Subconsciously, that prediction, at least according to this perspective, will likely be what we hope to occur rather than what the logic of the situation tells us is more probable. This desire will be based upon what we consider to be a rational extension of the known evidence. Psychological conflict occurs when a belief becomes challenged later when new evidence is proven which shows those beliefs to be wrong. The discussion of belief makes sense. When some information is given which occurs at all times of that person's life, then a person makes conclusions which they believe to be logical, which is a form of making a prediction because it predicts a potential version of the impending future; however, I do not think that these predictions are necessarily equated to desire because often what we assume will occur is not favorable, but negative which is not what is desired.

2. Dennett uses the intentional stance to explain that a person's intent is the first function of the human mind and which, in turn, impacts all other functions, including the abilities to perceive or understand. Intent is, by definition, what a person plans to do in a given situation, although what someone intends is seldom what comes to pass because people are conflicted with the intentions and desires of others. According to the intentional stance, all the predictions that a person makes are intentional, whether or not we are aware of this (Dennett 1971,-page 90). No one performs an action without some part of the brain informing the body to do so; no part of the body acts independently but is controlled by the mind. In the act of predicting a person will inadvertently apply everything that they have learned or experienced up to this point in their lives. This prediction will ultimately be based on what they know of the world, knowledge which is based on the experiences of the individual, either direct experience or second-hand experiences as heard by the individual. It is therefore clearly an example of the theory of methodological behaviorism. This methodological theory states that the human mind, and potentially animals too, needs to explain away behaviors which it cannot understand through the application of basic logic, so they look for ways to take what they do know to be factually true and apply it to the current situation, even if it is not a proper fit (Churchland 1999,-page 88). It is essentially downloading material from the human brain and using that information in the current situation, hoping that these experiences will apply and thus provide help for the current occasion. If something is unexplainable, then we do not accept it as normal, but rather attribute it to something wrong or incorrect. If it cannot be explained in some way through application of past experience, then it is illogical.

3. Dennett explains that the design stance is one where human beings make predictions about the behavior of computers and other mechanical devices because of what we know of them to be true before this first-hand experience (1971,-page 88). He gives the example that when a typewriter reaches the end of a line, we know that a bell will ring. In the modern period we do not necessarily understand this but instead we could say that we know when we push the button on an automatic car lock, the door will unlock, barring some malfunction of the system. This is true for any mechanical devise which we have used before. We know what will happen when we use a machine based on our experiences with it before, either first-hand or by watching someone else. This is an example of the cognitive/computation approach because we subconsciously apply a level of cognition to working with machines (Churchland 1999,-page 95). Each devise is programmed to perform certain tasks by their creators, and human beings predict that they will function as designed at all time which is why we so often get angry when a devise fails.

4. The physical stance, according to Dennett, is the understanding of an object based upon its physical state or presence (1971,-page 88). People understand that an object exists because we can see it or touch it. The fact of a thing is based upon the way that we perceive it. Do to this component of existence, we can understand function or malfunction. We can predict if a machine is malfunctioning based upon the way an object appears. The most obvious example that I can think of is the following: if a person sees that their computer is smoking then they can assume that there is a fire or at the very least some sparking happening within the device; they can logically assume that the computer is malfunctioning. This same understanding can be applied to things within the natural world. By understanding how things ought to be in their physical state, human beings can observe how they do not conform to what we believe they should be. If it does not, then we know that thing to be malfunctioning, whether or not it is artificial or natural. It is one of the similarities between natural and created objects.

5. Human beings have complicated minds wherein there is knowledge and brain activity which is controlled, but also a great deal which functions without our intentions, but instead performs automatically, such as the brain telling the body to breathe and the heart to beat. Yet they are intentional because they have a directed function which they must perform and it is intentional in the definition as counter to accidental. No one breathes accidentally. This is a very complicated question because he is an eliminative materialist in the sense that those who prescribe to that theory do not ascribe to the perception that there are correlations between logic and action (Churchland 1999,-page 43). Human beings cannot behave rationally at all times because they have emotion. While we can predict the behaviors of machines for the most part because they are automated, human beings are far more difficult to predict. Within the confines of certain situations, we can make assumptions about how people will react based upon what we know of humanity and behavior, but there are always variables which can alter the way they will act in fact, such as emotional instability or extreme levels of stress. A person who has had a bad day at work will be likely to come home, maybe have a drink, and try to relax. However, there have been people who have had bad days at work and respond by committing acts of violence against their loved ones. The same stimuli might result in very different actions depending on the person who performs them. The issue here is in understanding that each person is an individual. Given that this is the case, the ontological problem is solved by understanding these individual idiosyncrasies and accepting the difference between humanity which is relatively unpredictable and machines whose behavior is determined by their programming.

6. Dennett writes about the differences between humanity and artificial thinking which is conducted by machines as they are programmed by human beings. An…

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