A small retrospective on ECAP09

Hi folks engaged in computing and philosophy… here I write a very small retrospective of what I found most interesting at ECAP09 – besides Barcelona, but that doesn’t pertain computing and philosophy issues. Luciano Floridi gave an invited talk, and I learned what aleatorization is: if you randomize ordered pairs you dissolve the bonds that hold information together. The result is that you have a systemic problem because the fabric of inter-relations is totally lost. So, it is not granted how to win the epistemic game without Epistemic Luck (EL). Another thing worth a note is the translation of Plato’s logón didonai: dialectic support? analogical clarification? causal explanation? logical proof? Luciano proposes simply accounting. Lastly, I liked the classification of genealogical, functional and telealogical philosophical approaches in terms of time: past, present and future. This is a simple and clear way to understand in which line reasonings have been done.

Klaus Maizen (University of Augsburg) argued that Cartesian dualism is overcome by self-organization pattern rules, i.e., consciousness is an emergent property – like Searle. This is a sharp point: either you believe that consciousness can be represented by algorithms and numbers through in silico experiments, or not (people invoking the “quality”). It’s like the arguments aboout embodiement: if mind need it, there is no space for artificial minds – sure, Kevin Warwick believes that this space exists and it’s worth a serious try. A good proof of these two different mindsets is the notion of meaning: if semantics results from a mapping with syntax of a kind of formal language you can be sure you are talking with a hard scientist; vice versa, if semantics is related with pragmatics – especially Peirce – and the representation of the world (or with Husserl and Heiddeger), i.e., the interface between language and phenomena, this person is involved in humanities. It seems that there is no point of contact between these two worlds, as they start from different philosophical approaches. A good account of this fact is the reactions from the very technical and informative talk by Duilio D’Alfonso about dialogue systems based on dynamic syntax. Is such a system a sophisticated version of Eliza or is it a real step in understanding human cognition? No way: either you accept one hypothesis, or the other.

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