CAP '99

This text documents my attendance in CAP (Computers and Philosophy) 99 at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, August 5-7, 1999.

Thursday, August 5

fountain
fountain
flower
flower
dinosaur
dinosaur
Stephan Foster
Stephan Foster

Jon Doborlo and Bill Uzgalis , Oregon State University
Video Conference Presentation

Doborolo and Uzgalis demonstrated a video conferencing technology, and they presented it as a way to communicate with people who are far away. "Virtual presents is a good thing, but actual presents is better." They explained how they were using this technology to do distance education. The inclusion of other graphic elements are used to supplement the "reading heavy" courses of philosophy. The multimedia presentations "bring the idea to life." A RealPlayer demonstration was given, and these sorts of presentations are intended to hilight the reading material. He emphasized you have to need the technology before you should use the technology. Be careful not to use the technology unless it is really beneficial. A description of SMIL, a scripting language similar to HTML, was then given. SMIL can bring together audio and video through a Real G2 player. SMIL is much like HTML. He suggested dynamically creating SMIL files and then presenting an idea as a multimedia presentation after testing a student's set of existing knowledge. Another example may be a dramatic presentation of Plato's Republic and then providing the ability for clicking on the actors in the presentation to get more time-relevant information about what is going on.

Drew Arrowood , Southeastern University
Enhanced Streaming Video Packages

Arrowood talked about No Dogs . The purpose of No Dogs Or Philosophers Allowed is to bring philosophy to television in the format of a talk show. He presented the Mad Cab, a video segment illustrating the analogy of taxi cab as mind. He talked about creating these items from a computer science instructor's perspective. He alluded to HTML+Time specification. He demonstrated a video from No Dogs and then it's supplemental texts via HTML. He then talked about WebTV, the twenty-first scanned line of the television display, and alluded to the possibilities of using this scanned line as the medium for other types of information besides closed captioned texts.

Lawrence M. Hinman , University of San Diego
Writing for a New Medium: How the Web and CD-ROM's Transform Authoring

Hinman spoke to eDocuments and how they provide the means for dynamic creation of content, interaction with content, and multimedia presentation of content.

Friday, August 6

Carnegie Library
Carnegie Library
cabin
cabin
building
building
glass office
glass office

Selmer Bringsjord , Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Hard Data in Defense of Logical Minds

Bringsjord argued for the validity of two Piagetian statements, essentially stating that if you teach people logic, then people will learn logic. He used Peter Waitian's (?) selection task the "lightning bolt card test" as an example. He has conducted a number of experiments to proved these statements. He was arguing against mental models as the way of solving problems. The teaching of logic requires not only the symbols of symbolic logic but the demonstration of the ideas as word problems as well in order for students to know how to transpose these ideas back and forth. He called this facilitation. In short, Bringsjord advocated the teaching of our students logic just as we teach arithmetic.

John Sullins , Binghamton University
Knowing Life: Solutions to Perceived Epistemological Limits in the Computer Aided Study of Artificial Life

Can artificial life be used to mimic real life situations? What can be learned about living systems by creating sets of simple rules and combining them accordingly. The goal of artificial life (AL) is to create software agents that are "alive" based on these rules, and then ask whether or not these things help us describe our own lives; Sullins wanted to create these computing models to see if they can explain or describe real life situations. While he advocated this process, he also alluded to many of the process's limitations. It is important to make the "epistemic cut" describing where the AL stops and real life starts.

Kari Coleman , University of British Columbia
Android Arete: Virtue Ethics for Computational Agents

There exist computer ethics, the ethics of using computers, but this statement is simplistic. Computer ethics could be use of computers to create ethical systems for computers. In this sense computer ethics would describe how computers would act in a human world. Coleman talked about computers as slaves for serving the ends of humans. "What are the computational ethics of these computers?" She did advocate the three laws of robotics articulated by Asimov, but not the appearance of robots. She went on to enumerate quite a number of the virtues computers/robots/agents would have in order to be ethical. After she finishes collecting these virtues she will be trying to classify them. Examples include: agentive, social, environmental, and moral. At the same time, these virtues may be interpreted as the virtues of programmers, the creators of the software/robots in the first place.

Logic Instruction on the Internet

Colin Allen , Texas A&M University - Allen demonstrated teaching logic over the Internet, and mentioned an older version of his application available via email. He advocated Internet applications as opposed to CD-ROM applications because on the Internet you can fix your bugs, monitor the user experience, and instructors can customize the experience or create online grades. He then demonstrated his particular logic course work.

George Rainbolt , Georgia State University - Rainbolt explored the possibility of using standardized tests for teaching critical thinking. In this scenerio 10 minute mini-lectures are given and students are tested at the end of every lecture. After taking a applying a short text to the students and if most understand, then the instructor goes on, otherwise the material is gone over again. Success has not been overwhelming. The system, in real time, gave feedback on how well the students were grasping the concept, but the use of the program demonstrated the validity hiring full-time instructors and not part-time instructors.

John Byrns , Carnegie Mellon University - Byrns described a fully automated course on logic that is at least 10 years old called Carnegie Melon Proof Tutor. He demonstrated the application as it has been updated to date.

Susan G. Sterrett , University of Pittsburgh
Turing's Two Tests for Intelligence

She compared and contrasted the two Turing Tests for intelligence. She was an advocate for the "original imitation game"; the first test is a more valid test for intelligence as opposed to the second, simplified/standard Turing Test.

Stephen Pink , Lulea University of Technology, Sweden
Computers and the Language of Thought

Pink talked about a book by Fodor, The Language Of Thought (LOT). He described an analogy where computers have two types of languages: languages like Perl or C to communicate with others, and languages like machine languages, the languages computers used to "think" internally. According to Fodor, people think much like this analogy. Pink denied this analogy because there is no "rock bottom" level of the CPU representing anything that is like language. Programming languages do not communicate; programming languages are only sets of commands.

Saturday, August 7

boats
boats
balloons
balloons
skier
skier
balloons
balloons

Multimedia and Writing-to-the Web: Media Literacy and Teaching Philosophy through the Internet

Kathryn Russell , SUNY Cortland - Russell advocated the mixture of multimedia and the teaching of philosophy. She called is multimedia literacy. She said that much of the content students create is superficial. She then shared her class in the form of a web page and demonstrated how she used multimedia to teach her courses. Much of her content was photographs from advertisements.

Lawrence Ashley , SUNY Cortland - Ashley always creates a web page for his classes, and he enumerated the steps he goes through to create such a page such as lists of links and writing environments where students can post responses to previously written items including things like newspaper articles. He proposed a SUNY system-wide philosophy website. He also wanted to create discussion rooms populated with people across the country in order to balance discussions surrounding race, religion, and class.

Eric Lease Morgan , North Carolina State University Libraries
The Alex Catalogue, A Possible Multi-Purpose Tool for Teaching Philosophy and Exploring Electronic Texts

I demonstrated features of Alex using a "bookcase" specifically designed for this conference .

Anthony F. Beavers , University of Evansville
Noesis: Philosophical Research On-Line

Beavers briefly described Argos, an index of scholary collections of philosophical sites. A newer version of Argos is named Noesis. Beavers and teams of other philosophers catalog resources themselves. The documents are philosophy papers written by Ph.D. level professional academics. The system sports a browsable, indexed section/classification scheme. He enumerated many new features including conferencing and other enhancements for the profession. Even newer versions of Noesis includes sets of functions for the support of communities. In this system administrators who can create sections of documents and then annotate these sections.

John Haugeland , University of Chicago
Authentic Intentionality

He wanted to compare and contrast his definition of "intentionality" with Sorrel's definition of intentionality. He went on to account for a definition of "original intentionality". He described science and the process it goes about accomplishing "genuine intentionality" that includes first, second, and third order self-criticisms. "Ersatz cognition" is a term he has coined to describe a type of cognition. He was trying to draw the boundaries of properly obtained scientific truth. The self-criticisms sometimes disprove or do not allow something to be proved and this is the ultimate in responsibility for determining truth. Cognitive science will only be fruitful when it exhibits the attributes of love and freedom which are the ultimate "two-edge sword" of failures of self-criticism and responsibility.

Summary

office
office
Cathedral
Cathedral
church
church
park
park

Haugeland summarized CAP as about two things: what computers can do for philosophy and what philosophy can do for computers. This, I believe, was an accurate observation. As a fellow NCSU Libraries librarian stated, I half expected the underlying theme of the conference to be "C'mon you guys. Get with the program and use computers to supplement your studies." Such an assumption was totally naive! Since computer programs are inherently logical, many attendees has used computers to implement logical systems, teach logic, or prove theories. At the same time, many of the discussions I heard surrounded the role of computers in society and were addressing the epistemological and ethical issues of computers. Do they think? Are they alive? Do or can they act morally? Are they intelligent?

I learned a bit about the academic culture of philosophers. First, I learned that they consider themselves to be a part of a profession, and I learned that just because you have a good idea does not you a philosopher make. Second, like the literature scholars and linguists from Languaging '99 , many of the presenters read their papers. Again, this is expected practice since their ideas are built upon very systematically defined concepts, and presenters do not want to miss any salient points that may get glossed over through an "off the top your head" presentation. Similarly, since the spoken word provides the means for vocal inflection, subtle meanings can be presented through the oral readings of papers that may get missed upon silent readings of papers.

My presentation seemed well received, but my idea about arscience fell a little bit flat. A day into the conference I learned that my idea was extraordinarily immature, undeveloped, and not very systematic. While I told attendees about arscience, I purposely stated during my presentation that CAP was not a place to discuss it's validity. Remember, just because you have a good idea does not you a philosopher make. Despite this fact, I have more of an interest in arscience than ever before and I truly believe it can represent a way of thinking and understanding that provides the means for becoming a more complete human being.

A number of people said they wanted to use Alex, and while all its features function correctly, the system lacks a lot of usability and this deficiency will hinder the adoption of Alex as any sort of teaching aid. Here is motivation to make Alex better.

By the way, I thoroughly enjoyed the Oakland area where I stayed. I visited both the University of Pittsburgh Hilman Library and the Carnegie Library, neither of which I remember from my Bethany days. (I did leave my mark.) I played the tiniest bit of frisbee. I went to the annual rigada but saw no boats, and I attended a Pirates baseball game and saw Mark McGuire who did not hit a home run. The Cathedral of Learning is an impressive piece of architecture and Mr. Carnegie has obviously made a lasting impression on the city as a whole. I especially enjoyed the architecture exhibit in the Carnegie Art Museum.

Finally, this was the second of three conferences I am attending this year outside my immediate expertise. I relish these opportunities because they make me more aware of the totality of academe. It has been interesting to see how each new culture I visit has its own interpretation of learning and communication. They seem to be only vaguely aware of each others' existence the same way I am vaguely unaware of theirs. Instead of the "two cultures" described by Snow, there seem to be many, and I suppose this is the case because of our desire to specialize in particular subjects. Alas.


Creator: Eric Lease Morgan <eric_morgan@infomotions.com>
Source: This text was never formally published.
Date created: 1999-08-24
Date updated: 2004-11-20
Subject(s): Pittsburgh, PA; travel log;
URL: http://infomotions.com/musings/cap/