28 September 2012
12pm - 1pm
Venue: 303S-561, City Campus
Host: Department of Computer Science, University of Auckland
Abstract: Alan Turing (1936) famously provided an analysis of effective computability by formulating a set of restrictive constraints ("axioms") on the computing agent. It is widely agreed that Turing had in mind an idealized human agent, and that he "makes no reference whatsoever to calculating machines" (Gandy 1988: 83-84). My aim is to explore two very different understandings of the concept of a human computer; I call them the cognitive and the non-cognitive approaches. According to the cognitive approach, a human computer is restricted by the limitations of certain human cognitive capacities. The claim need not be that these limitations apply to human mental processes in general, but to the cognitive abilities involved in calculation. The non-cognitivist, in contrast, thinks that a human computer is restricted to certain finite means, regardless of whether or not these means reflect the limitations of human cognitive capacities. These means are simply part of the concept of effective computation as it is properly used and as it functions in the discourse of logic and mathematics. I will argue that the founders of computability and their interpreters take a stand between the approaches.
Biography: Dr Oron Shagrir is from the Department of Philosophy and Cognitive Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem