Reading Response: Andy Clark

Cyborg’s Unplugged

This article is interesting for the real-life challenges it poses. Many other articles ask the reader to imagine a scenario, and then say “See! This view of the mind must be wrong!” Yet so often they subtly assume the “proven” view of the mind while constructing their argument. This article, for once, presents real-life stories to you and forces you to deal with the implications. It too delves into the unknown future and presents you with scenarios, but they at least are anchored by real people and experiments with known results. Continue reading “Reading Response: Andy Clark”

Reading Response: Clark & Chalmers

The extended mind

This piece initially induces only one thought in me: WRONG! The authors attempt to equate “use of the environment” with “cognition in the environment” and offer a number of reasons they think this is so. Unfortunately, they all fail.

First, the authors argue that when players of Tetris rotate a piece to try and fit it into a slot, the player is using the Tetris game in cognition, and moving part of the player’s cognition into the game. Offered as evidence is third-party research finding that players who rotate a piece are often doing so to determine if the piece will fill a hole. According to the authors, this means that the Tetris game is performing part of the cognition process. Not so. Rather than shifting part of the cognition into the environment, players are actually making the problem easier to solve by means of changing their environment. That is, the player takes a hard problem (“can this shape fit into this hole?”) and makes it into multiple easier problems (“Can this shape fit into this hole in this orientation?”). This basic misunderstanding of how the brain works extends even further, with their example of a notebook as memory. Continue reading “Reading Response: Clark & Chalmers”

Reading Response: Searle

Can Computers Think?

Searle makes a strong argument against computers ever being able to think in this piece. The Chinese room is an excellent metaphor discussed early in many Artificial Intelligence classes, and his analogy to simulating a tornado is fairly persuasive. Unfortunately, his argument suffers from a few serious issues. Continue reading “Reading Response: Searle”