[FOM] IASE: Prof John McCarthy. Consciousness as Internal Experience (event)

Steven Ericsson-Zenith steven at semeiosis.org
Mon May 28 16:46:41 EDT 2007


Consciousness as Internal Experience

Professor John McCarthy, Stanford University

At CSLI, Cordura Hall, Stanford University.
June 12th, 2007, 4:15pm to 5:45pm

Details: http://iase.info/events


Conscious knowledge and other information is distinguished from  
unconscious information by being observable, and its observation  
results in conscious knowledge about it. We call this introspective  
knowledge; it's an internal form of experience.

A robot will need to use introspective knowledge in order to operate  
in the common sense world and accomplish the tasks humans will give it.

Many features of human consciousness will be wanted, some will not,  
and some abilities not possessed by humans have already been found  
feasible and useful in limited domains. We give preliminary fragments  
of a logical language a robot can use to represent information about  
its own state of mind.

A robot will often have to conclude that it cannot decide a question  
on the basis of the information in memory and therefore must seek  
information externally. Paradoxes, e.g. as mentioned by Montague, lie  
in wait for us here, but Godel's idea of relative consistency lets us  
formalize non-knowledge and avoid paradox. It turns out that relative  
consistency, is the basis of many other introspective abilities.

Programs with much introspective consciousness do not yet exist.

Thinking about consciousness with a view to designing it provides a  
new approach to some of the problems of consciousness studied by  

IASE Introduction

By Steven Ericsson-Zenith, Chairman of IASE

Is the manifest existence of experience in the world to be mastered  
only by poets and priests, or is its mystery one that science can  

Before 1950 the answer was clear, experience lay at the foundation of  
scientific consideration. But the positivist agenda was abandoned, in  
part because the implementations of logic in computing machinery  
proved so successful.

In his 1950 seminal paper, Alan Turing wrote:

"I do not wish to give the impression that I think there is no  
mystery about consciousness. There is, for example, something of a  
paradox connected with any attempt to localize it. But I do not think  
these mysteries necessarily need to be solved before we can answer  
the question with which we are concerned ..."

Alan Turing, Computing Machinery and Intelligence. 1950.

But was Turing right that he could ignore the mysteries and still  
make progress to the ultimate solution? I think not.

Turing's goal was to take rigorous steps forward in reasoning about  
intelligence and it is a remarkable fact that we are able to capture  
certain aspects of our intelligence by implementing symbolic logic in  
computing machinery. But this approach, necessarily, changed the  
fundamental conception of logical construction from the non-local  
differentiation from the landscape of the entire embodiment of sense  
proposed by logical positivism, to the strong locality of integration  
of logical parts.

Upon these foundations was born a first view of how an artificial  
intelligence might be conceived. It a great opportunity for us then,  
and it is with some pleasure, that in this event we hear from the  
front lines of that revolution.

In this second of our lecture/discussions on the Foundations of Logic  
and Apprehension, Professor John McCarthy leads the discussion. His  
name is, perhaps, that most associated with the initial conception of  
artificial intelligence. He invented LISP, the language most used to  
that end, and famously coined the term "Artificial Intelligence" at  
the Dartmouth conference in 1955. He worked with Claude Shannon and  
many other founders of computer science to build the science as we  
know it today. He may even have known Turing, we shall have to ask him.

Professor John McCarthy is Professor Emeritus at Stanford University,  
more details can be found at his Stanford University home page:  

Steven Ericsson-Zenith, Chairman.

Institute for Advanced Science & Engineering

Dr. Steven Ericsson-Zenith
Institute for Advanced Science & Engineering
Sunnyvale, California

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