• Computing,  Linguistics

    The Problem of Meaning in Artificial Intelligence

    Since the 1960s, when computers first appeared,  a machine that can think just like humans was claimed to be just a few years away. This idea has been called Artificial Intelligence (AI) and it reappears every few years in a new form, the latest being the brouhaha around “Machine Learning”, “Deep Learning”, etc. The algorithms and techniques underlying these trends have existed for a few decades, and their limitations are also well-known. However, even with growing computational power we are only able to get closer to the boundaries of what is possible, rather than cross into what is impossible. This post discusses the problems which cannot be solved by AI in…

  • Computing,  Mathematics,  Overview,  Philosophy,  Physics

    Computers and the Mind – What’s the Difference?

    This post discusses the widespread notion that the mind is some kind of computer; that the computer is able to represent knowledge, and this knowledge can be about the world. As we shall see, this notion is quite silly, although people—who are either not physicists, mathematicians, or computer engineers, or just happen to have an academic title without an understanding of these subjects—tend to profess it over and over. This post explores the multiple and successive levels at which this notion is flawed, and why fixing it has proven so hard so far. The post ends by commenting on whether it can ever be fixed.

  • Computing,  Mathematics,  Philosophy,  Physics

    Information, Uncertainty and Choice

    In the previous post, I described how modern science employs two contradictory ideas—possibility and choice—although in practice only one of them can be used, resulting in incompleteness. An example of that incompleteness is that quantum theory describes the world as a possibility which needs to be completed by a choice, although that choice cannot be reduced to that possibility. The predictions of the theory therefore are probabilistic, and we cannot predict the next event or observation. This post explores how a new way of thinking can reconcile the contradiction between possibility and choice—when both possibility and choice are treated as information. Possibility is now missing or incomplete information, and choice…