Philosophical ramblings

I've given a moderate amount of thought to various topics that may, to some degree or another, be characterised as philosophical, or related to the nature of minds and intelligence. Here I have collected a few essays, of varying quality, on such topics:

See also

Stray fragments

What is intelligence ?

There's been much discussion of artificial intelligence. In some sense I see a creature's mind as being, to the cellular tissues making up a brain, what software is to the hardware of a computer. To see what it makes sense to try to mean by intelligent, in the context of computers, I think in terms of my understanding of the intelligence of animals.

Even the lowly sea-slug has enough of a central nervous system that it can be thought of as a brain: in principle, the state diagram of that simple system is an expression of the software it is running. Like any analogue computer, the hardware would have to change for the software to change: but the principle is the same. After all, the hardware of a computer still has to change state for its software to change. The software of A Cat, on the other paw, is pretty damn sophisticated and highly optimised for the management, deployment and enjoyment of one feline body: and, as with humans, much of that software is learned from – configured by ? – their parents; enough so that nature and nurture blurr into one another.

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