Grounding analog computers commentary on Harnad on symbolism- connectionism

Abstract

The issue of symbol grounding is not essentially different in analog and digital computation. The principal difference between the two is that in analog computers continuous variables change continuously, whereas in digital computers discrete variables change in discrete steps (at the relevant level of analysis). Interpretations are imposed on analog computations just as on digital computations: by attaching meanings to the variables and the processes defined over them. As Harnad (2001) claims, states acquire intrinsic meaning through their relation to the real (physical) environment, for example, through transduction. However, this is independent of the question of the continuity or discreteness of the variables or the transduction processes.

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