Re: Searle

Fri, 6 Feb 1998 06:19:19 -0500

I believe that there is no convincing evidence to lead one unequivocally state
that software will not eventually be "conscious" or "intelligent" (comparable
with human intelligence). The reasons given by those who do state such things
are impossible are almost dogmatic. Their reasons (when you get past all the
fancy technospeak) are basically summed up in the phrase "it just does not seem
like it should be possible". I like to stay away from positions that presume
something intrinsically mystical or special about the human mind. We used to
think we were special by our location in the universe and in the solar system,
by our species, by our "divine" image and so forth. The belief (subtle that it
is) now is that the seat of our essence, the mind, is somehow unique or beyond
mere technology.

I understand the position that people doubt "machines" could achieve a
conscious state, or wonder if such entities would be creative. But emphatic
positions that such things can never come to pass are uncomfortable to me. I
can not say that such a thing will surely come to pass either. I do not know
what mechanisms would bring about consciousness. But no one knows what
mechanisms present in the human mind would forbid it either.

I may be stating the obvious. But it appears sometimes that the obvious is
cast aside in the interest of human pride.

Doug Bailey