From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Fri Nov 17 2006 - 19:09:38 EST
Hi Howard > But there is nothing in Marx's analysis to suggest that the sign we form to > guide practice functions as a mechanical template imposed on a person's > labor the way a robot might be programmed or without regard to class > relations and the other points you mention. Consider a thermostat. Does the temperature setting, if it differs from the current ambient temperature of the room, refer to a future temperature? Would it do so even if humans were not there to observe it? I think the answer is yes to both questions. The thermostat therefore has intentionality of a kind. It represents the absence of a temperature. And it has a causal structure that changes the world to absent that absence. It is a goal-following mechanism. The goal is real, a part of objective reality, rather than the subjective ascription of a human scientist attempting to understand its operation. I take Paul to be implying that it isn't fruitful to classify the world of autonomous mechanisms into the human and non-human. Instead, to understand human cognition, we also need to understand animal cognition and machine cognition, and the relations between them. For instance, I do not agree that intentional activity is characteristic of humans. Plenty of other mechanisms have intentions, although they may not tell us about them. Best wishes, -Ian.
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