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In article <>,
Paul Treadaway  <> wrote:
>Which leads on to the obvious philosophical problem of defining

It's not always necessary to define a word for it to be useful;
often a characterization can get you a long way.

>                In practice, I think for most people the division
>is 'like me' vs 'not like me', whether the line is drawn between
>self and not-self, human and not-human, somewhere in the animal
>kingdom, or wherever.

This is a reasonable place to start, but unless you move on from
it you'll end up claiming with John Searle that *of* *course* a
digital computer can't be intelligent, because it's made from the
wrong sort of stuff.

>                      We have no way of knowing whether trees, say,
>are intelligent, but just in a way beyond our comprehension,

Really?  I am quite confident that trees are not intelligent.  I
claim that intelligence requires the following characteristics,
most of which are lacking in trees.

1. Boundary: the distinction between "me" and "not me".

2. Inputs: organs, devices, or other mechanisms to find out about
the "not me" (and maybe the "me" as well).

3. Outputs: some means of influencing the "not me".  (The "brain
in a vat" theme is common in science fiction and philosophy, but
I am quite sure that nothing close to the intelligence of a normal,
adult human could develop in such isolation, and I doubt that it
could survive there long.)

4. Representation: an internal model of the universe, which links
inputs to outputs, and is sufficiently rich to include "me" in the
model.  In my opinion, this is the most crucial point.  Trees lack
a nervous system (or similar) sufficiently complex to support such
an internal model, and this is the chief ground for my claim that
trees are not intelligent.  Sunflowers track the passage of the
sun across the sky, but they do not internally model it:  when the
sun is hidden by cloud, they cease to follow it.

5. Purpose: some reason for having intelligence, either the explicit
design of another intelligent being, or the cumulative effect of
selective advantage over thousands of generations.  Trees are not
intelligent because they have no reason to be.

Tim Goodwin   | "Repeat after me: naming and addressing are
Unipalm PIPEX | completely independent." -- Barry Margolin

Original headers:

From: (Tim Goodwin)
Newsgroups: cam.misc
Subject: Intelligence (was Re: Clowns 2 opening night)
Date: 22 Jan 1996 12:58:27 GMT
Organization: Unipalm PIPEX
Message-ID: <4e01lj$>
References: <4cud2a$>

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