Framing the Predictive Mind: Why We Should Think Again About Dreyfus

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences (2024)
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In this paper I return to Hubert Dreyfus’ old but influential critique of artificial intelligence, redirecting it towards contemporary predictive processing models of the mind (PP). I focus on Dreyfus’ arguments about the “frame problem” for artificial cognitive systems, and his contrasting account of embodied human skills and expertise. The frame problem presents as a prima facie problem for practical work in AI and robotics, but also for computational views of the mind in general, including for PP. Indeed, some of the issues it presents seem more acute for PP, insofar as it seeks to unify all cognition and intelligence, and aims to do so without admitting any cognitive processes or mechanisms outside of the scope of the theory. I contend, however, that there is an unresolved problem for PP concerning whether it can both explain all cognition and intelligent behavior as minimizing prediction error with just the core formal elements of the PP toolbox, and also adequately comprehend (or explain away) some of the apparent cognitive differences between biological and prediction-based artificial intelligence, notably in regard to establishing relevance and flexible context-switching, precisely the features of interest to Dreyfus’ work on embodied indexicality, habits/skills, and abductive inference. I address several influential philosophical versions of PP, including the work of Jakob Hohwy and Andy Clark, as well as more enactive-oriented interpretations of active inference coming from a broadly Fristonian perspective.

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Jack Alan Reynolds
Deakin University


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