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Computers can’t think like people; they only do symbolic logic

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Engineering prof Karl D. Stephan clarifies the difference:

But there’s a problem with symbolic logic, a problem it shares with computers, whose structure is nothing more than a physical embodiment of symbolic logic. The old expression “garbage in, garbage out” applies to symbolic logic as well as it does to computers. Symbolic logic can do marvelously complicated things with its inputs, but it doesn’t “know” what the inputs are any more than a copy machine knows Shakespeare after you’ve copied a page of King Lear with it. Symbolic logic says nothing about the truth or reality of what you give it. To understand what things really are, you have to get outside the pristine mathematical structure of symbolic logic and embrace what Prof. Kreeft calls Socratic logic.

It could just as well be called Aristotelian logic or classical logic. You can get a sense of what gets lost if you think symbolic logic is the only way to think, by reading what Prof. Kreeft says about reason and logic:

“The very nature of reason itself is understood differently by the new symbolic logic than it was by the traditional Aristotelian logic. ‘Reason’ used to mean essentially ‘all that distinguishes man from the beasts,’ including intuition, understanding, wisdom, moral conscience, and aesthetic appreciation, as well as calculation. ‘Reason’ now usually means only the last of these powers.” – Socratic Logic, Edition 3.1, P. 22

He goes on to say that as first philosophers and then people in general have accepted these definitions of logic and reason, it’s become harder to understand some concepts that earlier ages knew almost without thinking. Take one of the most basic questions that even five-year-olds can ask: “What is it?”

Karl D. Stephan, “Should engineers think like computers” at Mind Matters News

See also: Is the human mind a computer? Winston Ewert: As a software engineer, I’d say we need to be clear what the question is before answering it. Once we understand clearly what a computer is, we will see why consciousness is not a form of computation.

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One Reply to “Computers can’t think like people; they only do symbolic logic

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    News, actually they don’t do the actual logic. We construct circuits that physically carry out what we define to be logic operations and we design interfaces that use the result in sense-making ways, e.g. PC’s. cell phones, etc. The circuits neither know nor care. KF

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