How to think about minds that aren't like ours: using artificial intelligence and computation theory to study the powers and limits of systems that learn.
For millennia, "from Aristotle to almost yesterday," the great problems of philosophy have all been about people: questions of epistemology and philosophy of mind have concerned human capacities and limitations. Still, say the editors of Thinking about Android Epistemology, there should be theories about other sorts of minds, other ways that physical systems can be organized to produce knowledge and competence. The emergence of artificial intelligence in mid-twentieth century provided a way to study the powers and limits of systems that learn, to theorize and to make theories sufficiently concrete so that their properties and consequences can be demonstrated. In this updated version of the 1995 MIT Press book Android Epistemology, computer scientists and philosophers—among them Herbert Simon, Daniel Dennett, and Paul Churchland—offer a gentle, unsystematic introduction to alternative systems of cognition. They look at android epistemology from both theoretical and practical points of view, offering not only speculative proposals but applications—ideas for using computational systems to expand human capacities. The accessible and entertaining essays include a comparison of 2001's HAL and today's computers, a conversation among aliens who have a low opinion of human cognition, an argument for the creativity of robots, and a short story illustrating the power of algorithms for learning causal relations.
ContributorsNeil Agnew, Margaret Boden, Paul Churchland, Daniel Dennett, Ken M. Ford, Clark Glymour, Pat Hayes, Henry Kyburg, Doug Lenat, Marvin Minsky, Joseph Nadeau, Anatol Rappoport, Herbert Simon, Lynn Andrea Stein, Susan Sterrett