AI and Society (1):9-18 (2021)

Gyula Klima
Fordham University
An argument with roots in ancient Greek philosophy claims that only humans are capable of a certain class of thought termed conceptual, as opposed to perceptual thought, which is common to humans, the higher animals, and some machines. We outline the most detailed modern version of this argument due to Mortimer Adler, who in the 1960s argued for the uniqueness of the human power of conceptual thought. He also admitted that if conceptual thought were ever manifested by machines, such an achievement would contradict his conclusion. We revisit Adler’s criterion in the light of the past five decades of artificial-intelligence research, and refine it in view of the classical definitions of perceptual and conceptual thought. We then examine two well-publicized examples of creative works produced by AI systems and show that evidence for conceptual thought appears to be lacking in them. Although clearer evidence for conceptual thought on the part of AI systems may arise in the near future, especially if the global neuronal workspace theory of consciousness prevails over its rival, integrated information theory, the question of whether AI systems can engage in conceptual thought appears to be still open.
Keywords Artificial intelligence · Consciousness · Conceptual thought · Mind · Perceptual thought · Turing test
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Reprint years 2021
DOI 10.1007/s00146-020-00995-z
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References found in this work BETA

Minds, Brains, and Programs.John R. Searle - 1980 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):417-57.
Computing Machinery and Intelligence.Alan M. Turing - 1950 - Mind 59 (October):433-60.
Aquinas’ Balancing Act.Gyula Klima - 2018 - Bochumer Philosophisches Jahrbuch Fur Antike Und Mittelalter 21 (1):29-48.

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