The Computer Revolution in Philosophy: Philosophy Science and Models of Mind

Document Type: 
Article Type: 
Other (See topic area)
Analogical representations,Architecture,
Deposited by: 
Aaron Sloman
Date of Issue: 
Aaron Sloman
Series Name: 
Harvester Studies in Cognitive Science
Number of Pages: 
The Harvester Press
Place of Publication: 
Hassocks, UK
Alternative URL:
The book is about the nature of science, the nature of computation, the nature of mind, and how computational models, and especially the idea of a virtual machine with multiple interacting components, can transform the study of mind including consciousness. Part 1 is about methodology, including providing an analysis of science as primarily concerned with expanding our understanding of what is possible (as opposed to simply discovering laws and correlations) and a tutorial on conceptual analysis. Part 2 aimed to illustrate the new way of studying mind: by analysing requirements for the whole architecture of a human mind consisting of many concurrently active, interacting components, in a way that allowed for the possibility of implementation in artificial minds; by discussing requirements for diverse forms of representation (as opposed to doing everything in logic, or in neural nets, for example); by exploring the growth in self-understanding involved in a child learning about numbers; by illustrating the architectural requirements for a visual system using a multi-level ontology with concurrent top-down and bottom-up processing (implemented by the author and colleagues in the POPEYE program); and by discussing how some aspects of self consciousness and our notion of free will relate to architectural control requirements, including meta-level control. An epilogue briefly discusses varieties of opposition to these ideas and predicts a need for a society for the prevention of cruelty to robots. Unlike most publications promoting AI, this book consistently emphasised the difficulties of the problems of replicating human-like minds and predicted that it would take a very long time. It also emphasised the need to blur the agent/environment distinction. THE ONLINE VERSION: The book went out of print about 20 years ago, and all rights reverted to the author. One of his students made a photocopy of the book in 2000, and some months later it was scanned in using an OCR package. The resulting HTML files, with newly created diagrams were placed online in 2001, with a number of additional notes and retrospective comments, which have subsequently been expanded from time to time, including references to later relevant work. In 2007 the whole thing was converted to PDF using OpenOffice, in a total of 215 pages, with a short additional section on the history of that version. That is the version that is being submitted to ASSC Eprints.
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