Keith Stanovich’s The Robot’s Rebellion

On page 48 Stanovich uses “simulation” is some sort of metaphorical sense which escapes me. I think it is a bad metaphor here. In computer parlance “simulation” is used to describe a computer obeying a program designed to mimic some natural or proposed system to predict that system’s behavior.

simulation is used to describe one computer obeying a program that causes it to act, somewhat inefficiently, as another computer.
p 48. I do not believe that “In contrast, the analytic system of humans—the serial processor necessary for logic—is a recent software addition to the brain, running as somewhat of a kludge on massively parallel hardware that was designed for something else.” There is some relevant truth there, however. I would have speculated: “the analytic system of humans has only recently evolved and has not yet found a way to exploit the massive parallelism that our many slow nerves might provide.” Many mathematicians report signs of unconscious activity leading to valid insights. This may merely be offline (unconscious) pattern recognition employing parallel processing, but it is not associated with the senses, except perhaps thru some exaptive process. One might legitimately exclude unconscious math from the realm of “the analytic system”.

I further speculate that ‘the analytic system’ coevolved with speech and is thus sequential. Stanovich suggests this at the end of page 48. The Japanese plans for the ‘fifth generation computer’ proposed massively parallel hardware. It foundered in part on salience issues. How humans avoid this issue is unknown. It may well involve parallel processing.

The question of decoupling mentioned on page 50 involves the notion of proposition. The proposition A & ~A is false but still a proposition. The ability to deal with propositions apart from believing them is like decoupling, I suppose. When you use reductio ad absurdum, one must remember which proposition you took in order that you can know what you refuted. Child’s play and story telling are other forms of decoupling the real world from the hypothetical.

Even imagining remote things as they really are takes new abilities when those things are inaccessible to the senses. Perhaps this came first. An even more primitive ability is to imagine what is there when it is dark and sensory inputs are few.

I have noticed several time the trichotomy: Sometimes the conflict is elsewhere. The craving for sweets is in neither’s interest. It is merely a no longer adaptive genetic trait. In the case of faulty statistics, it is merely that evolution never got around to getting the right answer ‘naturally’!