Publication 1649

Weston P. E. & Foerster H. von (1973) Artificial intelligence and machines that understand. Annual Review of Physical Chemistry 24: 353–378.
Excerpt from the introduction: “Can machines be intelligent?” “Can machines think and understand?” These are questions of epistemology. Since the concepts of intelligence, thinking, and understanding have been thought of until recently only in the context of mental activity in homo sapiens (or other species), these questions should only be asked when we know what we mean by intelligence and thinking, or when we have an “understanding ot “understanding.” ” The formulation in quotes suggests that the fundamental issue associated with these concepts is the epistemology of recursion, that is of concepts being applied to themselves. The issue here is not an isolated case, as indicated by the numerous attempts to grasp the logic of self-referring concepts (1), for instance self-reproduction (the reproduction of reproduction) (2), self-explanation (the explanation of explanation) (3), autonomy, i.e. self-regulation (the regulation of regulation) (4, 5), and many more.
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