CfP 7th Symposium on Computing and Philosophy

The 7th AISB Symposium on Computing and Philosophy:
Is computation observer-relative?

AISB-50, Goldsmiths, London, 1-4 April 2014

As part of the AISB-50 Annual Convention 2014 to be held at Goldsmiths,
University of London
http://www.aisb.org.uk/events/aisb14

The convention is organised by the Society for the Study of Artificial
Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour (AISB)
http://www.aisb.org.uk/

OVERVIEW:

One of the claims integral to John Searle?s critique of computational
cognitive science and ?Strong AI? was that computation is
?observer-relative? or ?observer-dependent? (Searle, The Rediscovery of
the Mind, 1992). This claim has already proven to be very controversial
in cognitive science and AI (Endicott 1996; Coulter & Sharrock, Rey, and
Haugeland in Preston & Bishop (eds.), Views into the Chinese Room, 2002).

Those who come to the subject of computation via physics, for example,
often argue that computational properties are physical properties, that
is, that computation is ?intrinsic to physics?. On such views,
computation is comparable to the flow of information, where information
is conceived of in statistical terms, and thus computation is both
observer-independent and (perhaps) ubiquitous. Connected with this are
related issues about causality and identity (including continuity of), as
well as the question of alternative formulations of information.

This symposium seeks to evaluate arguments, such as (but not limited to)
Searle?s, which bear directly on the question of what kind of processes
and properties computational processes and properties are. It thus seeks
to address the general question ?What is computation?? in a somewhat
indirect way. Questions that might be tackled include: Are computational
properties syntactic properties? Are syntactic properties discovered, or
assigned? If they must be assigned, as Searle argues, does this mean they
are or can be assigned arbitrarily? Might computational properties be
universally realized? Would such universal realizability be
objectionable, or trivialise computationalism? Is syntax
observer-relative? What kinds of properties (if any) are
observer-relative or observer-dependent? Is observer-relativity a matter
of degree? Might the question of whether computation is observer-relative
have different answers depending on what is carrying out the computation
in question? Might the answer to this question be affected by the advent
of new computing technologies, such as biologically- and
physically-inspired models of computation? Is it time to start
distinguishing between different meanings of ?computation?, or is there
still mileage in the idea that some single notion of computation is both
thin enough to cover all the kinds of activities we call computational,
and yet still informative (non-trivial)? Does Searle?s idea that syntax
is observer-relative serve to support, or instead to undermine, his
famous ?Chinese Room argument??

TOPICS OF INTEREST:

1. COMPUTATIONAL-PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES

Questions of ontology and epistemology

i. COMPUTATION AS OBSERVER RELATIVE

Is computation an observer relative phenomenon? What
implications do answers to this question have for the
doctrine of computationalism?

ii. WHAT IS COMPUTATION?

Does computation (the unfolding process of a computational
system) define a natural kind? If so, how do we differentiate
the computational from the non-computational?

iii. IMPLICATIONS FOR COMPUTATIONAL ONTOLOGY, and
PAN-COMPUTATIONALISM

To what extent and in what ways can we say that computation
is taking place in natural systems? Are the laws of natural
processes computational? Does a rock implement every
input-less FSA (Putnam, Chalmers)? Is the evolution of the
universe computable as the output of an algorithm? I.e. is
the temporal evolution of a state of the universe a digital
informational process akin to what goes on in the circuitry
of a computer? Digital ontology' (Zuse), "the nature of the
physical universe is ultimately discrete"; cf. Kant's
distinction - from the antinomies of pure reason - of "simple
parts" and no simple parts; the discrete and the analogue.

2. SOME COMPUTATIONAL-PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES

Computation in machines and computation in nature; Turing versus
non-Turing computation

i. COMPUTATION IN NATURE

Investigating the difference between formal models of
physical and biological systems and physical/biological
reality-in-itself and the implication(s) for theory of mind /
cognition.

(a) The study of 'computation' using natural processes /
entities (i.e. machines not exclusively based on [man-made]
silicon-based architectures).
(b) What is the underlying nature of such natural
[physical/biological] computational processes? I.e. are the
laws of natural processes computational at their very core OR
merely contingently computational because the mathematical
language we use to express them is biased towards being
computational?

SUBMISSION AND PUBLICATION DETAILS:

Submissions must be full papers and should be sent via EasyChair:
https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=aisb14cp

Text editor templates from a previous convention can be found at:

We request that submitted papers are limited to eight pages. Each paper
will receive at least two reviews. Selected papers will be published in
the general proceedings of the AISB Convention, with the proviso that at
least ONE author attends the symposium in order to present the paper and
participate in general symposium activities.

IMPORTANT DATES:

i. Full paper submission deadline: 3 January 2014

ii. Notification of acceptance/rejection decisions: 3
February 2014

iii. Final versions of accepted papers (Camera ready
copy): 24 February 2014

iv. Convention: 1st - 4th April 2014, Goldsmiths,
University of London, UK [symposium date to be confirmed]

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

There will be separate proceedings for each symposium, produced before
the Congress, and available to conference delegates. In previous years
there have been awards for the best student paper, and limited student
bursaries. These details will be circulated as and when they become
available. Authors of a selection of the best papers will be invited to
submit an extended version of the work to a journal special issue.

SYMPOSIUM ORGANISERS:

Symposium Chair: Dr. John Preston, Department of Philosophy,
The University of Reading, Reading, UK.

email:
[email protected]

tel. +44 (0) 118 378 7327

web page: http://www.reading.ac.uk/philosophy/about/staff/j-m-preston.aspx>

Symposium Executive-Officer and OC member: Dr. Yasemin J.
Erden, CBET, St Mary's University College, Twickenham, UK.

email:
[email protected]

tel: +44 (0) 208 224 4250

web page:

Symposium OC Member: Prof. Mark Bishop, Department of
Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London, London, UK.

email:
[email protected]

tel: +44 (0) 207 078 5048

web page:

Symposium OC member: Prof. Slawomir J Nasuto, School of
Systems Engineering, University of Reading, Reading, UK.

email:
[email protected]

tel: +44 (0) 118 378 6701

web page:

SYMPOSIUM WEBSITE:http://extranet.smuc.ac.uk/events-conferences/aisb-symposium-2014/Pages/....
aspx

POSTER ADVERTISING THE CFP: [To follow]

PROGRAMME COMMITTEE:

Dr Mark Coeckelbergh (University of Twente, NL)

Prof. S. Barry Cooper (University of Leeds, UK)

Dr. Anthony Galton (University of Exeter, UK)

Dr Bob Kentridge (Durham University, UK)

Dr Stephen Rainey (St Mary's University College, UK)

Dr Mark Sprevak (University of Edinburgh, UK)

Prof. Michael Wheeler (University of Stirling, UK)