Liftability of Intelligence

Godel, Escher, Bach on two basic problems in the unraveling of thought process in the brain:

One [problem] is to explain how the low-level traffic of neuron fitings gives rise to the high-level traffic of symbol activation. The other is to explain the high-level traffic of symbol activation in it's own terms -- to make a theory which doesn't talk about the low-level neural events. If this latter is possible -- and it's a key assumption at the basis of all present research into Artificial Intelligence -- then intelligence can be realized in other types of hardware than brains. Then intelligence will have been shown to be a property that can be "lifted" right out of the hardware in which it resides -- or in other words, intelligence will be a software property. This will mean the the phenomena of consciousness and intelligence are indeed high-level in the same sense as most other complex phenomena of nature: they have their own high-level laws which depend on, yet are "liftable" our of, the low levels. (p.358)

Kinds of Minds echoes this idea of liftability and realization of intelligence and the mind itself in other types of hardware:

Why couldn't artificial minds, like artificial hearts, be made real -- realized -- out of almost anything? Once we figure our what minds do (what pains do, what beliefs do, and so on), we ought to be able to make minds (or mind parts) out of alternative materials that have those competences. And it seems obvious to many theorists -- myself included -- that what minds do is process information; minds are the control systems of bodies, and in order to execute their appointed duties they need to gather, discriminate, store, transform and otherwise process informatin about the control tasks they perform. (pp.68-9)

If you opt for this sort of system -- pure signaling system that transmits information and almost no energy -- then it really makes no difference at all whether the signals are electrons passing through a wire or photons passing through a glass fiber or radio waves passing through empty space. In all these cases, what matters is that the information not be lost or distorted because of the time lags between, [for example,] the turning of the wheel and the turning of the rudder. (p.71)

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I am Paul Kulchenko.
I live in Kirkland, WA with my wife and three kids.
I do consulting as a software developer.
I study robotics and artificial intelligence.
I write books and open-source software.
I teach introductory computer science.
I develop a slick Lua IDE and debugger.