New Meetup: Mary's Room, The Chinese Room, Zombies, Bats, and Qualia

From: Monica
Sent on: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 9:02 AM
Announcing a new Meetup for Bay Area Artificial Intelligence Meetup Group!

What: Mary's Room, The Chinese Room, Zombies, Bats, and Qualia

When: Sunday, February 14,[masked]:00 PM

Where:
TechShop
120 Independence Dr.
Menlo Park, CA 94025
[masked]

We'll examine several important puzzlers, often identified by the German term "Gedankenexperiment" (thought experiment) that have long been debated in the Philosophy of Mind research community. We discuss them in one single MeetUp, not because we expect to polish them off in ten minutes each, but because they have some similarities. At the lowest ambition level, we present these so we all will know at least something of these issues whenever these might recur, as they invariably do, and to be able to tell what issue each is trying to illuminate.

Beyond that we'll try to see how they interact with each other and whether they can be partially reduced to each other.

For each one of these, we'll start by stating each puzzler in a canonical form by reading about them in some textbook, encyclopedia of Philosophy, or in Wikipedia. I'd like some help with this. If you feel like helping to present one of these, tell me, or just prepare on the chance that nobody else does; we'll improvise at the MeetUp. It's going to be very informal. You may get to explain the issue or read from the textbook as you wish for at most five minutes and then voice your opinion about what you think about the puzzle. I'll read from Wikipedia for each puzzler that doesn't otherwise get a spokesperson. Feel free to add more of these puzzlers if desired.

This should take about half an hour. A lively discussion will certainly follow.

While we have several days to prepare for this discussion, I want to make it clear that you don't necessarily need to understand these issues before the meetup. I provide links below for the ambitious members but these articles taken together provide more material than we can cover. I expect the discussion to self-organize to a level that is comfortable for most attendees.

"Qualia" is a concept, not a puzzler, that is important to several of the above. We will present it last.

Mary's room http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary's_room
The Chinese Room http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room
What is it like to be a bat? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Nagel
Zombies http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_zombie
Qualia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia

Also see the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for alternative sources, such as
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qualia-knowledge

Learn more here:
http://www.ai-meetup.org/calendar/12561219/

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