Notebook Scribblings – Part One

Scribblings from my notebooks over the past few weeks

In his book The Shadow of the Sun, Ryszard Kapuscinski discusses teletypists in Dar es Salaam, who are taught to copy not words or sentences, but letter after letter, meaning that they can transcribe into any language with great speed and accuracy. “So far as we’re concerned,” they said, “we are not sending meanings, but marks”.

I couldn’t help but see a correlation with Searle’s Chinese room. Implications for AI? Perhaps.

Notes from The Logical Syntax of Language by Carnap:

We may aim at discovering a definite criterion of validity – that is to say, a criterion of a kind such that the question of its non-fulfilment could in every individual instance be decided in a finite number of steps by means of a strictly established method. If a criterion of this kind were discovered we should then possess a method of solution for mathematical problems; we could, so to speak, calculate the truth or falsehood of every given sentence, for example, of the celebrated Theorem of Fermat.

Pure syntax, of course, cannot speak of individual sentences as physical things, but only of designs and forms.

Syntax, pure and descriptive, is nothing more than the mathematics and physics of language.

Notes from Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology by Dennett:

It used to be popular to say “A computer can’t really think, of course; all it can do is add, subtract, multiply and divide.” That leaves the way open to saying, “A computer can’t really multiply, of course; all it can do is add numbers together very, very fast,” and that must lead to the admission: “A computer cannot really add numbers, of course; all it can do is control the opening and closing of hundreds of tiny switches,” which leads to: “A computer can’t really control its switches, of course: it’s simply at the mercy of the electrical currents pulsing through it.” What this chain of claims adds up to “prove”, obviously, is that computers are really pretty dull lumps of stuff – they can’t do anything interesting at all. They can’t really guide rockets to the moon, or make out paychecks, or beat human beings at chess, but of course they can do all that and more.

Notes from Star Trek:

I object to intellect without discipline. I object to power without constructive purpose. – Spock

General notes & thoughts:

“Feels” etc. – internet language – and the international nature of the internet; its effects on communication.


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