Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Is 'Watson" the heart of human intelligence?

Is "Watson" the heart of human intelligence? This is the description given by an IBM engineer involved in developing this computer. The answer would depend on one's ability to appreciate the nature of human rationality---the human brain has a verbal level which depends on binary thought. A common assumption among academics is that this verbal level is the depth and dimensions of human intelligence.  Actually those academics are incorrect, but let's pretend there is some legitimacy to this stance. Watson's success in answering natural language questions is a sham. All the answers have already been stored in the computer. There is no environmental interplay and learning which involves dealing with a chaotic interface to an external world. All the answers Watson discovers are right, because the computer only has RIGHT answers stored in it. A human binary brain, may seem limited compared to have have a million encyclopedias scanned into one's cranial cap, but even at the most limited view of the human brain, the view which actually ignores human experience and history, even this binary rattletrap, learns by interacting with a multivalent flow of energies which is only artificially divided into external and internal. Take the answer given on the Jeopardy show----Toronto. A mistake you say, but Toronto is the right answer to some question, just not the one that was asked. The human players on this revered game show, had to pick the right answer, not from a finite list of correct answers, but a infinite list of almost correct answers, mixed into the imbroglio. Reality at even the binary level is only superficially composed of alphabetical blocks. At any juncture there is an infinity of answers, which the players pick from, a job made easier by mechanical intelligence, but only superficially does this ease get confused with the crisp matrix of yes and no which the Watson engineers only can guess is the nature of reality.

But wait, the patient reader may protest, weren't you going to keep your response within the artificial and unreal limits of binary thought. Are you not pointing beyond the rational mind when you point out the chaotic edges of reality.
No. And I say no, we are still talking about binary thought, because the thinker can only ever stay with the limits of binary thought by imaginatively ignoring the reality that his cranial canvas is something unique to him. Since the binary thought extends from a broader organism called humanity, even the fiction that binary thought is the way a man thinks can only be maintained by allowing his individuality to remain unexamined. The human binary mind, can be compared to the natural language computer, ---both mechanical, both blissfully unaware of their limitations, but the human binary mind, still must, thrive, in a chaotic situation, or else the most mechanical mind, could not breathe.  Like slats in a fence perhaps, all measured out and fixed side by side, and nailed against a cross beam at intervals,  is that human mind at its most mechanical, but even then, and this is the point, it has to have slits between the slats, a view of a real chaos of the unexpected, to perform its mechanical function. Like a bee, adorablly mechanical, must still search for new flower patches.
And of course, we let up on Watson, just so we could make the argument seem fair. The human mind is not just a binary machine, though such is the main part of the verbal structure. And who will be able to see this point?

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