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John L. Pollock

John L. Pollock is Regents Professor of Philosophy and Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Arizona.

Titles by This Author

A Prolegomenon

Building a person has been an elusive goal in artificial intelligence. This failure, John Pollock argues, is because the problems involved are essentially philosophical; what is needed for the construction of a person is a physical system that mimics human rationality. Pollock describes an exciting theory of rationality and its partial implementation in OSCAR, a computer system whose descendants will literally be persons.

In developing the philosophical superstructure for this bold undertaking, Pollock defends the conception of man as an intelligent machine and argues that mental states are physical states and persons are physical objects as described in the fable of Oscar, the self conscious machine.

Pollock brings a unique blend of philosophy and artificial intelligence to bear on the vexing problem of how to construct a physical system that thinks, is self conscious, has desires, fears, intentions, and a full range of mental states. He brings together an impressive array of technical work in philosophy to drive theory construction in AI. The result is described in his final chapter on "cognitive carpentry."

A Bradford Book

A Blueprint for How to Build a Person

In his groundbreaking new book, John Pollock establishes an outpost at the crossroads where artificial intelligence meets philosophy. Specifically, he proposes a general theory of rationality and then describes its implementation in OSCAR, an architecture for an autonomous rational agent he claims is the "first AI system capable of performing reasoning that philosophers would regard as epistemically sophisticated."

A sequel to Pollock's How to Build a Person, this volume builds upon that theoretical groundwork for the implementation of rationality through artificial intelligence. Pollock argues that progress in AI has stalled because of its creators' reliance upon unformulated intuitions about rationality. Instead, he bases the OSCAR architecture upon an explicit philosophical theory of rationality, encompassing principles of practical cognition, epistemic cognition, and defeasible reasoning. One of the results is the world's first automated defeasible reasoner capable of reasoning in a rich, logical environment.

Underlying Pollock's thesis is a conviction that the tenets of artificial intelligence and those of philosophy can be complementary and mutually beneficial. And, while members of both camps have in recent years grown skeptical of the very possibility of "symbol processing" AI, Cognitive Carpentry establishes that such an approach to AI can be successful.

A Bradford Book

Titles by This Editor

Essays at the Interface

Philosophers have found that the concepts and technology of artificial intelligence provide useful ways to test theories of knowledge and reason. Conversely, researchers in artificial intelligence, noting that the production of information processing systems requires a prior theory of rationality, have begun writing philosophy. Philosophy and AI presents invited contributions that focus on the different perspectives and techniques that philosophy and AI bring to the theory of rationality.

Contents: Plans and Resource-Bounded Practical Reasoning, Michael E. Bratman, David J. Israel, and Martha E. Pollack. Cross Domain Inference and Problem Embedding, Robert Cummins. The Foundations of Psychology, Jon Doyle. Memory, Reason, and Time: The Step-logic Approach, Jennifer J. Elgot-Drapkin, Michael Miller, and Donald Perlis. Artificial Intelligence and Hard Problems: The Expected Complexity of Problem Solving, Clark Glymour, Kevin Kelly, and Peter Spirtes. Normative and Descriptive Ideals, Henry Kyburg. Ampliative Inference, Computation, and Dialectic, R. P. Loui. Probabilistic Semantics for Nonmonotonic Reasoning, Judea Pearl. Oscar: A General Theory of Rationality, John L. Pollock. Knowledge Representation for NaturalLanguage Competence. Stuart C. Shapiro and William J. Rapaport. Implementing the Intentional Stance, Yoav Shoham. The Dinosaur Debate: Explanatory Coherence and the Problem of Competing Hypotheses, Paul Thagard.

A Bradford Book