Views on Computational ism: Clark vs. SearleComputationalism: the view that computation, an abstract notion of materialism lacking semantics and real-world interaction, offers an explanatory basis for human comprehension. The main purpose of this paper is to discuss and compare different views regarding computational ism, and the arguments associated with these views. The two main arguments I feel are the strongest are proposed by Andy Clark, in "Mindware: Meat Machines", and John Searle in "Minds, Brains, and Programs." Andy Clark strongly argues for the theory that computers have the potential for being intelligent beings in his work "Mindware: Meat Machines." The support Clark uses to defend his claims states the similar comparison of humans and machines using an array of symbols to perform functions. The main argument of his work can be interpreted as follows: p 1. The brain is constructed like a computer, since both contain parts which enable them to function.
p 2. The brain, like a computer, uses symbols to make calculations and perform functions. p 3. The brain contains mind ware similarly as a computer contains software.
c. Therefore, computers are capable of being intelligent beings. I find, however, that Clark's conclusion is false, and that the following considerations provide a convincing argument for the premises leading to this conclusion, starting with premise one: "the brain is constructed like a computer, since both contain parts which enable them to function." This statement is plausible, yet questionable. Yes, the mind contains tissue, veins, and nerves etc.
which enable it to function, the same way that a computer contains wires, chips, and gigabytes etc. which it needs to function. However, can it be possible to compare the two when humans devised these parts and the computer itself so that it can function? If both "machines", as Clark believes, were constructed by the same being this comparison might be more credible. Clark might argue that humans were made just as computers were made so therefore it could be appropriate to categorize them together. I feel that this response would fail because it is uncertain where exactly humans were made and how, unless one relies on faith, whereas computers are constructed by humans in warehouses or factories.
My second argument against Clark's claims applies to premise two: "the brain, like a computer, uses symbols to make calculations and perform functions." Before I state what I find is wrong with this claim, I should explain the example Clark uses to support this premise, which is from the work of Jerry Fodor: ... Fodor suggests... that there are neural symbols that mean, e. g.
, "it is raining" and whose physical properties lead in context to the generation of other symbols that mean "let's go indoors." If that is how the brain works then the brain is indeed a computer in exactly the sense displayed earlier. The idea that human thoughts and impulses equate only a combination of symbols is hard to comprehend. My argument is that the human mind does not just receive a thought as a statement that says, "It is raining." Observations, feelings, and senses contribute to what we realize. For example, when one observes it is raining, are there symbols sending messages to the mind which detect what is seen? Or when one feels the raindrops falling as they are outside, is the sensation of feeling wet and cold simply groups of symbols sent from the exterior (i. e. skin which is cold, wet) to the interior (the mind)? If so, our whole world would be made of symbols, dictating how we feel and how we think, and that claim is not possible.
In premise three, Clark's claim is "the brain contains mind ware similarly as a computer contains software." which I will also argue. Clark defies mind ware as "our thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears and beliefs." I find it hard to compare computer software to human desires and beliefs, simply because software is added to a computer as a necessity. For example to install a new program, software is needed for installation. Software does not come with the computer in the same instance that human thoughts, instincts, and feelings are with us at birth. Clark's response to this argument might be something like, software is needed, but aren't beliefs and desires needed in a person for them to get along in society; to define who they are? However this response fails, because although it is true that we need desires and beliefs to choose our path in life, it is also true that other aspects of "mind ware"-fears and hopes- are gained through experience: a man being afraid of a dog traces back to his childhood where he was bitten by one, a woman can hope her sick mother gets well. A computer does not gain software by any kind of experience: it receives it because it has to, and cannot object in any way.
Therefore I feel that software cannot be compared to human mind ware. So I have given my arguments against Clark's claims, in which I conclude that his final claim, "computers are capable of being intelligent beings." is false. In "Minds, Brains, and Programs", John Searle opposes these views brought about by Clark. Searle's main argument against computational ism contains the view of formal symbol manipulation.
This concept recognizes that symbols used by computers to perform functions cannot be compared to those of humans, because the symbols of computers have no meaning or significance, whereas humans are aware of any significance. Due to space limitation, instead of outlining Searle's argument I will explain the reasons I agree with his focal point of the argument. Searle uses a key example in his argument comparing a computer using programs to understand functions it has to perform to an English-speaking person using instructions, similar to a program, to understand writing in Chinese. The person is simply "mimicking" what a Chinese person would do regarding reading and understanding the Chinese language. I find that, as Searle claims, a computer functions in this way.
Programs are received and it simply copies what it is given. Since a computer functions this way, it is impossible to compare it to the cognition of a human. Computers are given symbols to perform functions and have no choice whether or not to do so. How could humans receive symbols that are forced upon them to use? This is not possible, since humans have an understanding of what they are doing or how they are functioning. There could be several claims to this argument. For example, the definition of "understanding" is a blurry one; how could one be sure that a computer doesn't understand, simply because it differs from the way a human does? I will use another example used by Searle to respond to this argument.
Searle discusses the Shank program, which is set out to simulate human ability to understand stories. The computer is given a story and asked questions regarding that story. It seems impressive that the computer can answer these questions successfully, however, they are only "yes and no" questions. Humans can comprehend answers to questions that come in more than "yes and no' form, so why isn't the computer tested this way? Through this project, it can be proven that a computer cannot understand the way a human does, since other types of questions, perhaps more specific ones, are not asked. I feel that to be proven intelligent as humans, computers should be given these types of questions. I also find that human understanding is the most complex of all beings, therefore should be compared to.
Both Clark and Searle provide claims regarding computational ism that are very debatable. However I find that through responses and counter-arguments, Clark's conclusion that computers have the capability to be intelligent beings is not plausible. I believe however that Searle's theory of formal symbol manipulation not only proves Clark's claims false but also gives a correct perspective on how the human mind functions.