Philosophy of artificial intelligence

State and explain Lucas’s argument against the possibility of AI. what d

Aristophanes’ play “The Clouds” is a play that is very intricate and in many ways speaks to the nature of mankind. It is a play that makes comments on the thoughts of the time period, predominantly comments towards philosophy.

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The plot of this story involves a father and his son. The father, Strepsiades, is a wealthy man, but is soon to no longer be a wealthy man if he does not do something about his situation. His situation is primarily that which involves his son. The father is in great debt at the beginning of the story because of the reckless and frivolous nature of the son Phidippides. The father is at a loss at the beginning of the play, not knowing what to do about all his debts.

The father then hears about the “Thinking” shop where people get together and learn the art of argument in relationship to the field of philosophy. The father sees this as a form of hope for his problems. He think that if he can learn the art of persuasive argument he can pull one over on his creditors and come out ahead in the long run. Unfortunately, the father soon finds that he has no gift for learning the art of argument. He is a lost cause at the school and he is deemed too stupid to really be taught this fine art.

He then sends his son to the school hoping his son could learn and then argue against the creditors. However, this plan backfires on the father. The son learns to argue incredibly well, he is a natural at it, and he turns his argument towards his father, beating him up and then offering such a logical argument that his father could not complain. However, in the end, when the son claims that he could well argue a reason to beat up his mother, the father becomes enraged and burns down the Thinkery.

Aspect I find interesting in Aristophanes’ “The Clouds,” is the fact that even though it’s obvious Aristophanes is preaching to readers a more non-religious message of the importance of truthfulness, civic responsibility, and virtue, the play takes on a religious tone. In doing some background research into why this would be, I discovered that Aristophanes’ religious undertones could stem from the fact that Athenians were trying to harmonize science and religion. When new scientific theories were starting to surface and be questioned, many people couldn’t even consider them without sounding as if they were committing treason against the state. Aristophanes turns to religion in order to remind his audience that both religion and science have to be equally open to questions, critique, and even in Aristophanes’ case, satire. This suggestion, that certain things need to be equally suceptable to critique and questions can also be seen through the way that Aristophanes suggests there is both a problem with the accepted model of a “well-rounded” education, and the newer model brought about by such philopophers as the Sophists. Aristophanes saw the danger in not questioning an accepted theory or belief. Despite the fact I agree with Johnson in that Aristophanes may be a “staunch defender of old values,” Aristophanes saw that if something widely accepted was left unquestioned for too long, it would become idle. Basically, an idea that I believe should be applied more in the world we live in today. A traditionally accepted theory or belief could lose the exact fundamentals and values it was based on.

This play has a very obvious shift in tone as Johnston mention in his essay. in the end of his essay, he mentions the ending Aristophanes chooses for “The Clouds.” I fall into the group that Johnson says, “see that this powerful ominous ending as a persuasive possibility.” As Johnson says, Aristophanes traps his audience; they’re engaged because of the humor and satircal nature of the beginning of the play. We can laugh at someone, like Socrates, that we have nothing in common with. But as the satire gets closer and closer to us with Strepsiades burning down “the Thinkery,” it becomes obvious that the audience is no longer laughing at Socrates, with whom we have nothing in common, but rather at the vision of the people we could become if we engage behavior motivated by self-interest.

Ironically, as Johnson points out, Aristophanes was correct in his warnings. Athens did fall due to its own self-destruction. I find it interesting and a little bit scary because I believe we could apply this ominous warning to our own nation. We are guilty, just as the Athenians were, of sometimes being too proud of our political independence. I believe wars, like that in Iraq, could lead to our demise. Even more obvious to me is the fact that I definitely believe we are losing sight of our traditional moral virtues. Americans find it so easy to point the finger, and refuse to examine our own beliefs, trying to impose them on others that may not be able to survive our view of what democracy or freedom should be. I find it morally questionable that we centralize our efforts thousands of miles away when we have so many problems that have the potential to be our end looming within the borders of our own country.

“Strepsiades is pointing forward to much of the self-destructiveness which brought the Athenians, and countless other cultures proud of their values, to grief,” Johnson says. I believe many of our leaders and citizens could never forsee a fate like this in America — but it is that belief that has the potential to bring us off our self inflicted pedestal.

Another interesting point Johnson brings to our attention is his warning in the problem of “how do we keep the good will of our children on whom we are going to depend? What is it that keeps children from exerting their superior power to abuse their parents when they don’t get their way?” I believe that this breakdown of the immediate family is prevalent in our modern-day

society. While it’s a bit different than what Johnson is suggesting, never before in history, has our lack of respect and concern for those who came before us been so obvious.

Unfortunately, I can’t think of a family who has a sick grandparent or other elder member of their family living in their home. Nursing homes and hospitals have become a place where we can tuck them away so as not to have to forfeit any aspect of our lives in order to help preseve theirs. If we forget and turn a blind eye to traditions formerly viewed as important in our society, we run the risk of as Johnson puts it, being “left with a situation in which the only basis for human relationship is power.” Power is the basis for all of our accepted laws and behaviors, if that for some reason shifts, so would the laws. Then, as Johnson suggets, a son would be free to

harm his parents.

Aristophanes does have somewhat of a different view of justice than Socrates. Whereas I believe Aristophanes is concerned more with governmental consequences of actions and adoption of certain beliefs that could be considered treason, Socrates believes that consequences will come not in his lifetime, but rather after his death. In “The Apology,” Socrates speaks of death as more of an unknown — something he can’t be afraid of, because he doesn’t understand what it means. In Socrates’ eyes, death has the potential to be something great, as long as a person lives a good and virtuous life. Aristophanes, on the other hand, seems to be more concerned with what his peers and leaders will think of him and do to him and others, if they commit some sort of a crime. Aristophanes paints a potrait of death as more of an end, rather than having the potential to be

a beginning.

Comedic satire and philosophical dialectic are similar in that they are both practices of arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical (and in the case of satire, funny) arguments. In the

dialectic, it’s by presenting a thesis, developing a contradictory antithesis, and combining and resolving them into a coeherent synthesis, and in satire it’s by attacking human vice through irony and wit. In the case of Aristophanes, he urges the people of Athens to make changes through his satirical play.

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This play is essentially can be piece of work which we can applicable to our own world. When we do not take time to check practices and beliefs, we have the potential to lose our value and what we thought important at the beginning. Even though people at that time would have just watched the play and laughed about it, Aristophanes actually aimed for very serious warning.

A nation too proud and too sure in its own beliefs and politics has proven through history, never to work. We sometimes don’t try or refuse our time to examine our belief and value. If we do not set our moral goals and hopes, one day we can have the same problem as Athenian has suffered.



o you think is the best reply to Lucas’ argument?

Gödel suggested that the mind was a computerised mechanism. He suggested that the mind was merely a formulation of logic that was associated with a system and structure of language as representative of the world. This implied that intelligence was a learning process that was based upon accepting and rejecting hypothesis about the world through a set of formula that was deemed either provable or un-provable within the system of logic (Gödel, 1934). This idea was backed up by cognitive research based upon the human capacity and nature of learning. Bruner et al, devised a test to see how it was the human mind constructed categories of logic, believing it to be by way of Gödel’s hypothesis acceptance and rejection (Bruner et al, 1956). He used a variety of shapes in a variety of conditions – some sharing the same number of shapes, some sharing the same colour of shapes and some sharing the same number of borders surrounding the shapes. From the results of his experiment, Bruner claimed that ther were two forms of learning that were apparent. These were regarded as successive scanning, which entertained one hypothesis at a time and conservative scanning, which sought to eliminate classes of hypotheses such as border, number of shapes and colour similarity and dissimilarity (Bruner et al, 1956). This growing belief in the mind as a mathematic translator of the meaning of experience provided the foundation for Turing who surmised that artificial intelligence was a form of intelligence that could learn according to the coded principles of mathematic equations and could be understood as mimicry of human behaviour. He subsequently suggested that responses through a rejection and acceptance of truths that accords to the conceptual framework were all that the human mind consisted of. This idea of the mind as a programmed agent, rejecting the truths of logical and mathematic equations was fundamental to Gödel. To Gödel, the structural reality that an intelligent being saw before i implied that Artificial intelligence could be created in accordance to that structure and that human life, or perhaps experiential living, was merely a reaction to certain stimuli based upon a structural code of predetermined logic – just as it is with a computer simulation.

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Unhappy at this model of the cognitive mind or with the notion of intelligence as being founded upon formula and theorem, J.R. Lucas, argued that Gödel’s theorem posed many problems in his view that the mind was like a computer. Speaking of the limitations that the quantitative artificial brain may encounter in terms of acceptance and un-acceptance of certain truths according to its programming, Lucas suggested that

‘All that Gödel has proved is that a mind cannot produce a formal proof of the consistency of a formal system inside the system itself: but there is no objection to going outside the system and no objection to producing informal arguments for the consistency either of a formal system or of something less formal and less systematized. Such informal arguments will not be able to be completely formalized: but then the whole tenor of Gödel’s results is that we ought not to ask, and cannot obtain, complete formalization.’ (Lucas, 1961)

Rationale was provided for Lucas’s approach with the development of the Chinese room experiment by Searle. Searle indicated that even though an artificial intelligence could recognise, incorporate and subsequently mimic the external behaviours required to appear human (or emotionally intelligent) that this did not necessarily indicate any evidence of an awareness of what this behaviour meant or symbolised to other humans – in essence, it did not understand the true human meaning. He used the example of an English speaking human going inside the mechanical mind of a robot and using certain symbols as a coded ’representative’ for the instruction of an unknown language i.e. Chinese (Searle, 1980). He then indicated that although the human had a form of code to illicit a response to the language of Chinese he did not actually know what the meaning or significance of what he was doing related to. Essentially, it was simply a response according toa pre programmed code. Following this criticisms of artificial intelligence as a mechanical process involving a pre programmed innate knowledge of the environment and of human behaviour which had led to Searle‘s Chinese room experiment, Lucas reasoned that,

‘Complexity often does introduce qualitative differences. Although it sounds implausible, it might turn out that above a certain level of complexity, a machine ceased to be predictable, even in principle, and started doing things on its own account, or, to use a very revealing phrase, it might begin to have a mind of its own. It might begin to have a mind of its own. It would begin to have a mind of its own when it was no longer entirely predictable and entirely docile, but was capable of doing things which we recognized as intelligent, and not just mistakes or random shots, but which we had not programmed into it.’ (Lucas, 1961)

This seems to define what is human and what is machine. For Lucas, he does not dispute the theoretical idea that artificial intelligence can become as like humans. However, he does make the distinction between a mechanical automaton and an autonomous mind that thinks free of systematic code that perceives experience through an acceptance of logical truths and rejection of unfounded abstraction. Bringing into context the notion of the human mind as being a determinant for the structure of knowledge rather than a logical interpreter of that knowledge, Lucas reasoned that if, unlike Turing had suggested, a mechanical mind could begin to think free of it‘s programmed code then,

‘It would cease to be a machine, within the meaning of the act. What is at stake in the mechanist debate is not how minds are, or might be, brought into being, but how they operate. It is essential for the mechanist thesis that the mechanical model of the mind shall operate according to “mechanical principles”, that is, that we can understand the operation of the whole in terms of the operations of its parts, and the operation of each part either shall be determined by its initial state and the construction of the machine, or shall be a random choice between a determinate number of determinate operations’ (Lucas, 1961)

However, although his argument backed up by Searle’s Chinese room experiment gave reasonable rationale for a rejection of a mechanical intelligence based upon the ability of the subject to see outside of a logical structure, which was not necessarily pre determined or pre programmed, it did accord to the sentimental notion of liberal humanity. In reaction to this notion French philosopher Jean Baudrillard noted some crucial factors in the reality of humanities cultural condition that could be seen as contradicting this liberal freedom that Lucas prescribed. Suggesting that the current moral reality that figured as so crucial to Lucas’ rationale, was being replaced by ‘a hedonistic morality of pure satisfaction, like a new state of nature at the heart of hyper civilisation’ Baudrillard prescribed the notion of the hyper real as being a simulation that was beyond that of a logical code that applied to a structure of knowledge and instead deterred from idelogical frameworks that informed a notion of liberal humanity (Baudrillard, 1968, p.3). He suggested that,

‘A whole imagery based on contact, a sensory mimicry and a tactile mysticism, basically ecology in its entirety, comes to be grafted on to this universe of operational simulation, multi-stimulation and multi response. This incessant test of successful adaptation is naturalised by assimilating it to animal mimicry. , and even to the Indians with their innate sense of ecology tropisms, mimicry, and empathy: the ecological evangelism of open systems, with positive or negative feedback, will be engulfed in this breach, with an ideology of regulation with information that is only an avatar, in accordance of a more flexible patter.’ (Baudrillard, 1976, p.9)

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However, what Baudrillard does is implement the idea of a simulated code that works by replacing the notion of humanistic ideology that once informed the gap sophisticated and complex gap between the subject and the environment, such as social exchange and communal ideas. By doing this Baudrillard then shows gave example of how this simulated code informed a new humanity and shaped intelligence to be un-conformist to a life according to the meaning supported by the notion of humanity, but instead created an imaginary life that was understood and identified with by its relationship to the values apparent within an external code being communed – essentially, placing life itself as a simulated relationship of the subject and his / her own choice of object. This meant that essentially the human emphasis on the mysteries of the human mind emphasised by Lucas were just as questionable and as determinist as the artificial intelligence that Gödel prescribed. This can be seen as the fundamentaly crucial contemporary reply to Lucas’ argument for artificial intelligence.


Baudrillard, J., (1976) Symbolic Exchange and Death Taken from: The Order of Simulacra (1993) London: Sage.

Bruner, J, S., Goodnow, J, J., and Austin, G, A., (1956) A Study of Thinking New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Gödel (1934) Original Proof Applies Taken from his Lectures at the Institute of Advanced Study, New Jersey: Princeton.

Lucas, J, R., (1961) Minds, Machines, and Godel Philosophy, 36, 112-127.

Searle, J, R,. (1980) Minds, brains, and programs. Behavioural and Brain Sciences3, (3), 417-457.

Turing, A, M., (1950) Computing Machinery and Intelligence, Mind, pp. 433-60, reprinted in The World of Mathematics, edited by James R. Newmann, pp. 2099-2123.


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