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Lars_Pensjö comments on Guessing the Teacher's Password - Less Wrong

62 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 August 2007 03:40AM

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Comment author: Lars_Pensjö 22 August 2007 11:49:10AM 1 point [-]

You touch into a topic that is all too common in the first half, and that is the problem of definitions. It is not unusual to find people having an argument over something, without first doing a clear definition of the question.

For example, what is intelligence, and what is conscience? There are lots of discussions about the possibility or impossibility to create artificial versions of these, without first having a common definition. Such an argument is almost a waste of time, except for the situation where it may lead to better understanding of definition.

Another famous example is the question of the meaning of life. Define life first, and I think the question will be easier.

Yet another example is the Chinese Room (a human not understanding Chinese will take a chinese question and use a set of written rules to produce an answer in chinese). The question is then, can this construction be considered to understand chinese? This is a very hot discussion, but I see no attempt to first define what you mean with "understand chinese".

I can't help thinking about the the computer that produced the answer 42, because the question wasn't exact enough. While quite funny the first time I read it, people still ask questions that way.