Buddhism, Dialetheism and the 'Mind versus Machine' Problem
A paradox? A paradox!
So is there anything that the mind can do that a machine
cannot? Appreciate art? Compose poetry? Feel love and compassion? Lie
There are similar sentences such as
'Them' can never be the first word of a grammatical sentence.
The Ultimate Truth is that there is no ultimate truth.
Postmodernism demonstrates that all philosophical systems are invalid.
Or my favourite
contains three erors.
The barber shaves
everybody who doesn't shave himself.
This latter is a simplified form of Russell's paradox, which is
Incidentally you can find one of these not-true-not-false statements in the Bible. Take a look a Titus 1: 12 - 14. It certainly gives a new perspective to the phrase 'gospel truth'! Or maybe its just God's little joke to tease the inerrantists.
But what's all this got to do with mind versus machine?
You can also have fractional truth values if you are dealing with probabilities. Thus 0.5 is the truth value of an unseen tossed coin being heads. But this actually is the average of the two possible truth values. An act of observation will always resolve the coin as heads or tails. (We'll exclude the coin remaining standing on its edge by assuming we're aboard a trawler in a force nine gale).
Individual truth states can be manipulated and combined to give long chains of logical reasoning which should form the basis of artificial intelligence.
But when we examine the statements in italics it's apparent that their truth-states do not lie on a scale of 0 to 1, or even on a scale of 0 to 42. In fact they're off in another dimension. These paradoxical truth-states (known as dialetheia or dialethia in the trade) have more of a qualitative, intuitive feel to them than anything quantifiable. It seems that the human mind can access states which cannot be represented or manipulated within any machine (remember a computer is a universal machine which can simulate any physical system including any other machine).
If dialetheist truth states were purely inconsequential curiosities, none of this would matter too much. But as Russell and later Gödel were to show, such dialetheia lie at the very heart of mathematics. It is also possible that the ability to deal with indeterminate truth states is an important factor in 'open-ended' mental processes such as freewill and artistic creativity.
Similar arguments that the mind can understand what a machine cannot have been developed by the eminent physicist Sir Roger Penrose, whose work has done much to lead to the 'rediscovery of the mind' which took place among philosophers in the 1990s.
The Boolean logical processes implemented on any sort of physical machine are inadequate to describe the capabilities of human mental processes. (See computationalism). This limitation will not be solved by hardware improvements.
No matter how many terabytes, gigaflops, neural nets or iterations of Moore's law we throw at the problem of producing a machine-mind, the difficulties will remain insurmountable as long as the hardware is only capable of dealing with truth values which can be treated as binary or numeric/probabilistic.
But what other hardware architecture is there?
If we regard Buddhism as a combination of a philosophy, psychology and religion, then how much mileage can we get from the first two aspects before we have to start invoking religious faith?