HAPSAT Graduate Workshops - Second Session

When and Where

Wednesday, November 15, 2023 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Victoria College
91 Charles Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7


Jessie Hall


                                              HAPSAT GRADUATE


Jessie Hall will present:

Computing machines and the implementation of abstract automata

In this 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 computers could have mind-like capacities such as intelligence, or that minds might be special computers,.

A common view of computers is that they 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.

In-person event

Wednesday, Nov. 15 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., Room VC304

Save the date for our upcoming session: December 6


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