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John McCarthy - Artificial Intelligence and Philosophy

John McCarthy - Artificial Intelligence and Philosophy

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10/03/2010

 
WhathasAIinCommonwitPhilosophy? 
JohnMcCarthy ComputerScienceDepartment StanfordUniversitStanford,CA94305,U.S.A jmc@cs.stanford.edu,http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/ August28,1995 
Abstract 
AIneedsmanyideasthathavehithertobeenstudieonlybyphilosophers.Thisisbecausearobot,ifitisthavehumanlevelintelligenceandabilitytolearnfromitexperience,needsageneralworldviewinwhichtoorganize facts.Itturnsoutthatmanyphilosophicalproblemstake newformswhenthoughtaboutintermsofhowtodesigarobot.Someapproachestophilosophyarehelpfuland othersarenot.
1Introduction 
Articialintelligenceandphilosophyhavemoreincommonthan ascienceusuallyhaswiththephilosophyofthatscience.Thiisbecausehumanlevelarticialintelligencerequiresequippingcomputerprogramwithsomephilosophicalattitudes,especiallepistemological.Theprogrammusthavebuiltintoitaconceptofwhatknowledgeisandhowitisobtained.Iftheprogramistoreasonaboutwhatitcanandcannotdo,itdesignerswillneedanattitudetofreewill.Ifitistodometa-levereasoningaboutwhatitcando,itneedsanattitude 
ofitsow
tfreewill.Iftheprogramistobeprotectedfromperformingunethical actions,itsdesignerswillhavetobuildinanattitudeaboutthat.Unfortunately,innoneoftheseareasisthereanyphilosophical attitudeorsystemsucientlywelldenedtoprovidethebasisof ausablecomputerprogram.
 
MostAIworktodaydoesnotrequireanyphilosophy,becausthesystembeingdevelopeddoesn'thavetooperateindependentlintheworldandhaveaviewoftheworld.Thedesignerofthe programdoesthephilosophyinadvanceandbuildsarestricterepresentationintotheprogram.Buildingachessprogramrequiresnophilosophy,andMycinrecommendedtreatmentsforbacterialinfectionswithoutevenhaving anotionofprocessestakingplaceintime.However,theperformanceofMycin-likeprogramsandchessprogramsislimitedby theirlackofcommonsenseandphilosophy,andmanyapplications willrequirealot.Forexample,robotsthatdowhattheythink theirownerswantwillhavetoreasonaboutwants.Notallphilosophicalpositionsarecompatiblewithwhathastbebuiltintointelligentprograms.Herearesomeofthephilosophicalattitudesthatseemtometoberequired.1.Scienceandcommonsenseknowledgeoftheworldmustbotbeaccepted.Thereareatoms,andtherearechairs.Wecan learnfeaturesoftheworldattheintermediatesizelevelon whichhumansoperatewithouthavingtounderstandfunda- mentalphysics.Causalrelationsmustalsobeusedforarobot toreasonabouttheconsequencesofitspossibleactions.2.Mindhastobeunderstoodafeatureatatime.Therearsystemswithonlyafewbeliefsandnobeliefthattheyhavbeliefs.Othersystemswilldoextensiveintrospection.Con- trastthiswiththeattitudethatunlessasystemhasawholraftoffeaturesitisn'tamindandthereforeitcan'thavbeliefs.3.Beliefsandintentionsareobjectsthatcanbeformallydescribed.4.Asucientreasontoascribeamentalqualityisthatitaccountsforbehaviortoasucientdegree.5.Itislegitimatetouseapproximateconceptsnotcapableof 
i 
denition.Forthisitisnecessarytorelaxsomeofthe criteriaforaconcepttobemeaningful.Itisstillpossibletusemathematicallogictoexpressapproximateconcepts.6.Becauseatheoryofapproximateconceptsandapproximattheoriesisnotavailable,philosophicalattemptstobeprecishaveoftenledtouselesshairsplitting.7.Freewillanddeterminismarecompatible.Thedeterministiprocessthatdetermineswhatanagentwilldoinvolvesitevaluationoftheconsequencesoftheavailablechoices.Thes
 
choicesarepresentinitsconsciousnessandcangiverisetsentencesaboutthemastheyareobserved.8.Self-consciousnessconsistsinputtingsentencesaboutcon- sciousnessinmemory.9.Twentiethcenturyphilosophersbecametocriticalofreica- tion.Manyofthecriticismdon'tapplywhentheentitiereiedaretreatedasapproximateconcepts.
2ThePhilosophyofArticialIntelligenc
Onecanexpecttheretobeanacademicsubjectcalledthephilosophyofarticialintelligenceanalogoustotheexistingeldsof philosophyofphysicsandphilosophyofbiology.ByanalogyitwilbeaphilosophicalstudyoftheresearchmethodsofAIandwillpro- posetoclarifyphilosophicalproblemsraised.Isupposeitwilltake upthemethodologicalissuesraisedbyHubertDreyfusandJohn Searle,eventheideathatintelligencerequiresthatthesystembe madeofmeat.PresumablysomephilosophersofAIwilldobattlewiththeidea thatAIisimpossible(Dreyfus),thatitisimmoral(Weizenbaumandthattheveryconceptisincoherent(Searle).ItisunlikelytohaveanymoreeectonthepracticeofAresearchthanphilosophyofsciencegenerallyhasonthepracticofscience.
3EpistemologicalAdequac
Formalismsforrepresentingfactsabouttheworldhavetobead- equateforrepresentingtheinformationactuallyavailable.Aformalismthatrepresentedthestateoftheworldbythepositionsand velocitiesofmoleculesisinadequateifthesystemcan'tobservepo- sitionsandvelocities,althoughsuchaformalismmaybethebesforderivingthermodynamiclaws.Thecommonsenseworldneedsalanguagetodescribeobjects,theirrelationsandtheirchangesquitedierentfromthatusediphysicsandengineering.Thekeydierenceisthattheinformation islesscomplete.Itneedstoexpresswhatisactuallyknownthat canpermitarobottodeterminetheexpectedconsequencesofthe actionsitcontemplates.

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