Dancing with pixies: strong artificial intelligence and panpsychism

In John M. Preston & John Mark Bishop (eds.), Views into the Chinese Room: New Essays on Searle and Artificial Intelligence. Oxford University Press. pp. 360-379 (2002)
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The argument presented in this paper is not a direct attack or defence of the Chinese Room Argument (CRA), but relates to the premise at its heart, that syntax is not sufficient for semantics, via the closely associated propositions that semantics is not intrinsic to syntax and that syntax is not intrinsic to physics. However, in contrast to the CRA’s critique of the link between syntax and semantics, this paper will explore the associated link between syntax and physics. The main argument presented here is not significantly original – it is a simple reflection upon that originally given by Hilary Putnam (Putnam 1988) and criticised by David Chalmers and others: instead of seeking to justify Putnam’s claim that, “every open system implements every Finite State Automaton (FSA)”, and hence that psychological states of the brain cannot be functional states of a computer, I will seek to establish the weaker result that, over a finite time window every open system implements the trace of a particular FSA Q, as it executes program (p) on input (x). That this result leads to panpsychism is clear as, equating Q (p, x) to a specific Strong AI program that is claimed to instantiate phenomenal states as it executes, and following Putnam’s procedure, identical computational (and ex hypothesi phenomenal) states (ubiquitous little ‘pixies’) can be found in every open physical system.
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