Understated Wit

Still reading Sue Blackmore’s “Introduction to Consciousness”. Very good. She’s read all the the same books I have in the last 3 or 4 years and working in academe with direct contact with many of the authors, has found the time and credibility to summarise them very succinctly. I agree and I’m impressed. I kinda wish I’d written the book myself, and given that I didn’t I guess a detailed response might be a good place to start, but not here.

Just the jokes …

Summarising Turing’s own caveats against the subjective test of machine intelligence, which says essentially that the trick is in the questions you choose to ask …. “What’s your bra size” is Sue’s suggestion.

In reminding us that evolved traits necessarily fit a previous life rather than the present she says “So, for example, a taste for sugar and fatty foods was adaptive for a hunter gatherer even though it leads to obesity and heart disease today; sickness and food cravings in pregnancy may have protected a foetus from poisons then, although well-fed women do not need this protection now; and superior spatial abilities in males may have been adaptive when males were predominantly hunters and females were gatherers, even though we all have to read maps to get aroind cities today.”

Dennett, Searle and even Pinker are the clear winners. Very balanced chapter summarising her own work on memes, with the Mary Midgley quote “It is an empty and misleading metaphor to call religion, scienec and any other human activity a virus or parasite. Memes are a useless and essentiually superstitious notion”. I noted earlier my disappointment that the generally common-sensical Midgley was so dismissive of Sue’s work.

Given particular problems with data / information / knowledge modelling as my starting point, I was knocked out by the quotes from R.A.Brooks “When we examine [simple levels of] intelligence, we find that [] representations and models of the world simply get in the way. It turns out to be better to [use] the world as its own model”

Creationists and Intelligent Designers need not apply (my words, not Sue’s).

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