Topic: people vs. computers

topics > computer science > Group: artificial intelligence

user interface

computer as an intelligent agent
equal simplicity
frame problem
intelligent machines
limitations of artificial intelligence and cognitive science
limitations of formalism
limitations of robots
man-machine symbiosis
people better than computers
reality is a machine
thought is computational
what is a computer


People are obviously different than computers. Yet the idea persists that people are machines running a program.

Computers calculate at high-speed without errors, while people recognize patterns and coordinate movements. Computers manipulate the marks of symbols and numbers, while people manipulate meanings and their consequences. Computers compute digital information in discrete steps while people live in the real world. Computers communicate with formal languages while people use natural languages. Computers have well-defined interfaces to their environment while the boundary between life and enviornment is ill-defined. Computers are mechanical while people have a soul.

People have a physical description. If not computational, what? Quantum effects have some parallels with life. At the individual level, quantum effects are fundamentally unpredictable. With both life and quantum effects, observation changes what is observed. The eye can sense a few photons.

These questions are important when building systems. Should a system treat computers and humans the same, or different? (cbb 6/06)

Subtopic: computer vs. human up

Quote: palpable, useful security involves people -- things people know, relationships between people, and how people relate to machines; while digital security involves complex, unstable computers [»schnB_2000]
Quote: computers have high-speed calculations and freedom from errors, laziness and nerves; humans have flexibility, imagination, induction and learning [»shanCE3_1950]
Quote: computers only operate on the marks of numbers; humans set up a correspondence between any set of things and numbers [»jakiSL_1969]
Quote: bodies follow the laws of motion; souls follow their own laws about good and evil
Quote: people are much better than computers at recognizing patterns while computers are much better at manipulating symbols [»rutkC10_1982]
Quote: people are better at recognizing things than recalling them; e.g., writing vocabulary of 10,000 words vs. reading vocabulary of 50,000 words [»heckP_1984]
Quote: the complexity of arithmetic problems differ for computers and for human subjects [»pylyZW3_1978]
Quote: machines work best if run at the same speed, the same rhythm, with a minimum of moving parts; people excel at coordination and work best if the entire human being is engaged [»drucPF_1974]
Quote: human brains can not produce mental events solely by running a computer program

Subtopic: formal vs. natural language up

Quote: must reform a colloquial language to formalize its semantics with a metalanguage; the process may loss the language's naturalness [»tarsA_1956]
Quote: basic difference by human and computer languages is the worst obstacle to symbiosis [»lickJC_1960]
Quote: it is not true that animals speak; otherwise they could make themselves understood by us [»descR_1637]

Subtopic: language vs. system up

Quote: a machine can not mimic a human's ability with language and knowledge. It could not answer to the sense of all that was said, nor could it act through knowledge
Quote: skepticism about meaning from desire for system in our language, our ability to generalize and find patterns; yet definitions are incomplete [»pitkHF_1972]
Quote: a computer program must be written in words of one microsyllable
Quote: a Perceptron classifies all images with one language; e.g., A is stimulated more frequently by the 2nd class [»bongM_1967]
Quote: people distinguish classes via short descriptions; using language specific to those classes; brevity is achieved without lose of information [»bongM_1967]
Quote: examples of Bongard patterns; each with a short description; e.g., 3 parts vs. 5 parts [»bongM_1967]

Subtopic: syntax vs. semantics up

Quote: Chinese room argument -- baskets of Chinese symbols and a rule book do not understand Chinese; symbols vs. meaning [»searJR1_1990]
Quote: computer programs are formal (syntactic); they manipulate symbols through precisely stated rules; abstract, manipulated without meaning [»searJR1_1990]
Quote: syntax is not sufficient for semantics; the mental contents of human minds [»searJR1_1990]
Quote: computer programs are syntactical, only minds have semantics and meanings; e.g., Chinese room [»searJR_1984]
Quote: computers don't follow rules, they only act as if they did [»searJR_1984]
Quote: information exists for humans, not machines; machines process symbols, humans assign meaning to the symbols [»dennPJ3_1995]
Quote: only an appeal to semantics can resolve the syntactic ambiguity of 'time flies like an arrow'; three acceptable structures [»oettAG_1972]
Quote: Searle's third Chinese room axiom begs the question: syntax by itself is neither constitutive of nor sufficient for semantics [»churPM1_1990]
Quote: compare Searle's Chinese room argument to an argument against light as electro-magnetism [»churPM1_1990]
Quote: just as waving a bar magnet doesn't generate visible light, small-scale symbol manipulation does not produce semantic phenomena
Quote: syntax and electromagnetism are not comparable; syntax is formal with no physical, causal powers [»searJR1_1990]

Subtopic: continuous vs. discrete up

Quote: since the world is a continuum, a network of concepts is at best a workable approximation [»sowaJF_1984]
Quote: understanding humans at physical level is continuous while phenomenologically have objects in an organized field of experience [»dreyHL_1979]
Quote: for humans the excluded third may not hold while it must for deterministic machines [»cherV7_1978]
Quote: currently, the laws of physics require infinite computation in an infinitesimal area [»feynR_1965]

Subtopic: physical vs. abstract up

Quote: thought as a computer program is a completely different question than it is for physical, causal properties of machines; abstract, computational, independent of substance [»searJR1_1990]

Subtopic: computers are limited; regular and repetitive up

Quote: the Analytical Engine can not originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform. It can not anticipate analytical relations or truths [»menaLF10_1842, OK]
Quote: computers perform routine, clerical operations between decisions; statistical analysis; some diagnosis and pattern-matching [»lickJC_1960]
Quote: a program is a sequence of orders for performing a calculation; unlike a human, every contingency must be foreseen [»wilkMV_1951]
Quote: artifacts are regular and repetitive; reflect the purpose of their creator [»monoJ_1971]
Quote: computers don't follow rules, they only act as if they did [»searJR_1984]
Quote: review of the limits and capabilities of machines; is artificial intelligence feasible? [»whitI11_1988]
QuoteRef: whitI11_1988 ;;excellent review of the limits and capabilities of machines

Subtopic: boundary between organism and environment up

Quote: what atoms belong to a living organism?; vital functions depend an exchange of atoms with the environment [»bohrN8_1932]

Subtopic: life as atomic up

Quote: can't really split up life and not simple if do split

Subtopic: quantum effects up

Quote: living beings interweave mechanics with atomistic features; much more so than inanimate matter [»bohrN8_1932]
Quote: eyes register light at the atomic limit of one light quantum; other organs may have similar capabilities [»bohrN8_1932]
Quote: life may depend on the individuality of a quantum of action, associated with some amplifying mechanism
Quote: life and the quantum of action are elementary facts; it may be impossible to investigate life at the atomic level without killing the organism [»bohrN8_1932]

Subtopic: infinite vs. finite up

Quote: if the world was finite, man could make a machine that simulated a man [»leibGW_1716]
Quote: users need a recursive definition of a problem but computers can't represent recursive definitions because of their finitude [»petrCA1_1966]

Subtopic: multiple levels up

Quote: living things are organized at multiple levels; unlike inanimate objects [»shapR_1986]

Subtopic: treating computers as human up

Quote: Microsoft Office Assistant has a social dimension that encourages an adverse reaction [»schaH1_2001]

Subtopic: treating people as machines up

Quote: Heidegger, Wittgenstein and others argue against treating man as an object or device [»dreyHL_1979]
Quote: if you treat machines as people, then may end up treating people like machines; devalues emotions, creativity, individuality, trust [»shneB1_1993]

Subtopic: man-machine symbiosis up

Quote: capabilities of computers and people are different; should have symbiotic cooperation [»lickJC_1960]

Subtopic: limits of evolution up

Quote: immediate material welfare can not explain mathematics, philosophy, yearning for abstract truth, transcending time and space, and spiritual development
[»wallAR_1870, OK]

Related Topics up

Group: formalism   (9 topics, 478 quotes)
Group: systems   (17 topics, 530 quotes)
Group: user interface   (75 topics, 1639 quotes)

Topic: automation (15 items)
Topic: computer as an intelligent agent (49 items)
Topic: consciousness (58 items)
Topic: equal simplicity (15 items)
Topic: frame problem (13 items)
Topic: intelligent machines (28 items)
Topic: limitations of artificial intelligence and cognitive science (64 items)
Topic: limitations of formalism (93 items)
Topic: limitations of robots (6 items)
Topic: man-machine symbiosis (46 items)
Topic: people better than computers (35 items)
Topic: reality is a machine (48 items)
Topic: rules (43 items)
Topic: thought is computational (60 items)
Topic: what is a computer
(62 items)

Updated barberCB 7/05
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