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Machines Like Us

Glossary

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Animism
A philosophical, religious or spiritual idea that souls or spirits exist not only in humans but also in animals, plants, rocks, natural phenomena such as thunder, geographic features such as mountains or rivers, or other entities of the natural environment.

Argumentation Theory
A cognitive theory which proposes that reasoning was not designed to pursue the truth. Reasoning was designed by evolution to help us win arguments.

Artificial Intelligence
The branch of computer science which aims to create intelligent machines; the study and design of intelligent agents, where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions which maximize its chances of success.

Artificial General Intelligence
Machines engineered with the autonomy and self-understanding to come to grips with novel problem domains and solve a wide variety of problem types; machine intelligence that matches or exceeds human intelligence; a machine that can successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can.

Atheism
Either the rejection of theism, or the assertion that deities do not exist. In the broadest sense, it is the absence of belief in the existence of deities.


Biocentrism
Biocentrism—also known as the biocentric universe—is a theory proposed in 2007 by American scientist Robert Lanza. In this view, life and biology are central to being, reality, and the cosmos—life creates the universe rather than the other way around. Biocentrism asserts that current theories of the physical world do not work, and can never be made to work, until they fully account for life and consciousness.

Bright
A social movement that aims to promote public understanding and acknowledgment of the naturalistic world view, co-founded by Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell in 2003. The noun "bright" was coined by Geisert as a positive-sounding umbrella term, and Futrell defined it as "an individual whose worldview is naturalistic (free from supernatural and mystical elements)."


Category Mistake
A semantic or ontological error by which a property is ascribed to a thing that could not possibly have that property. Example: "Most bananas are atheists."

Cognition
The process of thought. Its usage varies in different ways in accord with different disciplines: For example, in psychology and cognitive science it refers to an information processing view of an individual's psychological functions. Other interpretations of the meaning of cognition link it to the development of concepts; individual minds, groups, organizations, and even larger coalitions of entities, can be modelled as "societies" (Society of Mind), which cooperate to form concepts.

Coherentism
Coherentism is concerned with the internal consistency of a given account, eschewing any reference to correspondence with a reality that, by definition, we can only access indirectly.

Compatibilism
Championed by the ancient Greek Stoics, Hobbes, Hume and many contemporary philosophers, is a theory that argues that free will and determinism exist and are in fact compatible.

Computational Functionalism
The premise that anything that can be computed by a brain can be computed by a digital computer.

Consequentialism
Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission) is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence.

Crazyism
According to philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel, crazyism about a topic is the view that something crazy must be among the core truths about that topic. Crazyism can be justified when we have good reason to believe that one among several crazy views must be true but where the balance of evidence supports none of the candidates strongly over the others.