The Computational Theory of Mind is Just Missing the Flow

Pedestrian bridges in Roppongi, June 2013

Pedestrian bridges in Roppongi, June 2013 (Enlarge)

July 30, 2013

Massimo Pigliucci wrote an item a little while ago where he questioned the value of philosophy. He’s worried about philosophers using the term “theory” in a different way than scientists.

What Pigliucci really wants to talk about, though, is syntax versus semantics. He explains that the computational theory of mind assumes that intentional states are characterized by symbolic representation. He says that the computational theory of mind “reduces thinking to a set of rules used to manipulate symbols (syntax). The meaning of those symbols (semantics) somehow emerges from such manipulation.”

Pigliucci mentions Searle’s Chinese Room, of course, and says, “I think Searle got it essentially right: the computational theory of mind is missing something crucial about human thinking, and more precisely it is missing the semantic content of it.”

Yes, I agree. But what is semantic content? If it’s not syntax or computation, then what is it? Pigliucci doesn’t say, and few other people can clearly say the answer either.

So I will boldly jump in – semantic meaning comes from energy flow. It’s all explained in the energy-flow model that I’m working on in my online AI Hyperbook called How to Build the AI.