Properly understood, the first question underlying the AI debate is: Can the properties of the mind be completely described on their own terms as an algorithm?
that an algorithm has a definite start and end state and consists of a
set of well-defined rules for transitioning from start state to end
state. As we have already seen, it was the explicit early claim of AI
proponents that the answer to this question was yes: the properties of
the mind, they believed, could be expressed algorithmically (or
“procedurally,” to use a more general term). But the AI project has
thus far failed to prove this answer, and AI researchers seem to have
understood this failure without acknowledging it. The founding goal of
AI has been all but rejected, a rejection that carries great
significance for the central presumption of the project but that has
gone largely unremarked. As an empirical hypothesis, the question of
whether the mind can be completely described procedurally remains open
(as all empirical hypotheses must), but it should be acknowledged that
the failure thus far to achieve this goal suggests that the answer to
the question is noand the longer such a failure persists, the greater
our confidence must be in that answer.
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