CSHPM Online Colloquium

The Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics (http://www.cshpm.org/) and the History of Mathematics Special Interest Group of the MAA invite members as well as the broader scholarly community to the next talk in our joint online colloquium series via Zoom. Participants are encouraged to become CSHPM members (for as little as $10-$30/year, depending on your employment status), but it is not required. Non-members can get regular updates on our activities by liking us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/cshpmschpm). The talk will last 30 minutes, followed by a Q&A.

Jessie Hall, University of Toronto, will deliver the first talk of the CSHPM/HOM-SIGMAA Online Colloquium series.
DATE: September 22nd
TIME: Vancouver 11:00; Montreal/Toronto 14:00

TITLE: Computing machines and the implementation of abstract automata

ABSTRACT: In the present moment of hype over the latest technologies bearing the banner of “AI”, familiar philosophical debates have re-emerged over what it means to attribute cognitive capacities like ‘intelligence’ to computing machines. Although much ado has been made about what intelligence is, such that it might be meaningfully attributed to computing technologies, instead I wish to examine what a computer is, such that it might be attributed a cognitive capacity like intelligence. In this talk, I will examine conceptions of computation and computing systems that impinge on claims that minds might be special computers, or that computers could be attributed mind-like capacities such as intelligence. A common view of computers is that computers are mechanisms that implement abstract automata, such as Turing machines. Such conceptions of computers –which I am calling ‘mapping accounts’– are characterized by the supposition that this implementation relation involves a mapping between a given automaton and a given machine. I will examine more closely this mapping that is supposed to inhere between automata and machine, and gesture at some of the assumptions and consequences of taking such a ‘mapping’ view of computation, especially for attributions of computations to cognition, and attributions of cognitive capacities to computing machines. In particular, I will address two (somewhat related) assumptions sometimes made about mapping accounts which take computation to be the implementation of abstract automata: i) the assumption that such an account of computation is a naturalizing account and ii) that such an account of computation involves no appeal to semantic properties. Lastly, I will gesture at some consequences for claims that minds or brains compute, and claims that computing systems are mind-like, should either of these assumptions come unmoored.

This talk will be based on my recent (September) article in CMS notes: "Computing machines and the philosophy of mind".

Please distribute this information to all who might be interested. The information to join the session via Zoom is as follows:

Topic: CSHPM/HOM-SIGMAA Colloquium with Jessie Hall (UofT)
Time: September 22nd, 2023 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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Meeting ID: 816 8879 6708
Password: 578473