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Notice

AISB event Bulletin Item

CALL FOR PAPERS: 7th AISB Symposium on Computing and Philosophy: Is computation observer-relative?, AISB-50, 1st-4th April 2014, Goldsmiths, London, UK-EXTENDED DEADLINE

http://extranet.smuc.ac.uk/events-conferences/aisb-symposium-2014/Pages/default.aspx


OVERVIEW:

One of the claims integral to John Searles critique of computational cognitive science and Strong
AI was that computation is observer-relative or observer-dependent (Searle, The Rediscovery 
of the Mind, 1992). This claim has already proven to be very controversial in cognitive science 
and AI (Endicott 1996; Coulter & Sharrock, Rey, and Haugeland in Preston & Bishop (eds.), Views 
into the Chinese Room, 2002).

Those who come to the subject of computation via physics, for example, often argue that 
computational properties are physical properties, that is, that computation is intrinsic to 
physics. On such views, computation is comparable to the flow of information, where information 
is conceived of in statistical terms, and thus computation is both observer-independent and 
(perhaps) ubiquitous. Connected with this are related issues about causality and identity 
(including continuity of), as well as the question of alternative formulations of information.

This symposium seeks to evaluate arguments, such as (but not limited to) Searles, which bear 
directly on the question of what kind of processes and properties computational processes and 
properties are. It thus seeks to address the general question What is computation? in a somewhat 
indirect way. Questions that might be tackled include: Are computational properties syntactic 
properties? Are syntactic properties discovered, or assigned? If they must be assigned, as Searle 
argues, does this mean they are or can be assigned arbitrarily? Might computational properties be 
universally realized? Would such universal realizability be objectionable, or trivialise 
computationalism? Is syntax observer-relative? What kinds of properties (if any) are 
observer-relative or observer-dependent? Is observer-relativity a matter of degree? Might the 
question of whether computation is observer-relative have different answers depending on what is 
carrying out the computation in question? Might the answer to this question be affected by the 
advent of new computing technologies, such as biologically- and physically-inspired models of 
computation? Is it time to start distinguishing between different meanings of computation, or 
is there still mileage in the idea that some single notion of computation is both thin enough to 
cover all the kinds of activities we call computational, and yet still informative (non-trivial)? 
Does Searles idea that syntax is observer-relative serve to support, or instead to undermine, his 
famous Chinese Room argument?

TOPICS OF INTEREST:

1.              COMPUTATIONAL-PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES

Questions of ontology and epistemology

i.  COMPUTATION AS OBSERVER RELATIVE

Is computation an observer relative phenomenon? What implications do answers to this question have 
for the doctrine of computationalism?

ii.  WHAT IS COMPUTATION?

Does computation (the unfolding process of a computational system) define a natural kind? If so, 
how do we differentiate the computational from the non-computational?

iii. IMPLICATIONS FOR COMPUTATIONAL ONTOLOGY, and PAN-COMPUTATIONALISM  

To what extent and in what ways can we say that computation is taking place in natural systems? 
Are the laws of natural processes computational? Does a rock implement every input-less FSA 
(Putnam, Chalmers)? Is the evolution of the universe computable as the output of an algorithm? 
I.e. is the temporal evolution of a state of the universe a digital informational process akin 
to what goes on in the circuitry of a computer? Digital ontology' (Zuse), "the nature of the 
physical universe is ultimately discrete"; cf. Kant's distinction - from the antinomies of pure 
reason - of "simple parts" and no simple parts; the discrete and the analogue.


2.              SOME COMPUTATIONAL-PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES

Computation in machines and computation in nature; Turing versus non-Turing computation

i.  COMPUTATION IN NATURE

Investigating the difference between formal models of physical and biological systems and physical
/biological reality-in-itself and the implication(s) for theory of mind / cognition.

(a)  The study of 'computation' using natural processes / entities (i.e. machines not exclusively 
based on [man-made] silicon-based architectures).
(b)  What is the underlying nature of such natural [physical/biological] computational processes? 
I.e. are the laws of natural processes computational at their very core OR merely contingently 
computational because the mathematical language we use to express them is biased towards being 
computational?

SUBMISSION AND PUBLICATION DETAILS:

Submissions must be full papers and should be sent via EasyChair:
https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=aisb14cp

Text editor templates from a previous convention can be found at: 


We request that submitted papers are limited to eight pages. Each paper will receive at least two 
reviews. Selected papers will be published in the general proceedings of the AISB Convention, with 
the proviso that at least ONE author attends the symposium in order to present the paper and 
participate in general symposium activities.

IMPORTANT DATES:

      i. Full paper submission deadline: 13 January 2014   - EXTENDED DEADLINE
      ii. Notification of acceptance/rejection decisions: 3 February 2014
      iii. Final versions of accepted papers (Camera ready copy): 24 February 2014
 
      iv. Convention: 1st - 4th April 2014, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK [symposium date 
to be confirmed]
 
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

There will be separate proceedings for each symposium, produced before the Congress, and available 
to conference delegates. In previous years there have been awards for the best student paper, and 
limited student bursaries. These details will be circulated as and when they become available. 
Authors of a selection of the best papers will be invited to submit an extended version of the 
work to a journal special issue.

SYMPOSIUM ORGANISERS:

Symposium Chair: Dr. John Preston, Department of Philosophy, The University of Reading, Reading, UK.
 
                  email: j.m.preston@reading.ac.uk
                  tel. +44 (0) 118 378 7327
                  web page: 

Symposium Executive-Officer and OC member: Dr. Yasemin J. Erden, CBET, St Mary's University College, Twickenham, UK.

email: yj.erden@smuc.ac.uk
tel: +44 (0) 208 224 4250
web page: 

Symposium OC Member: Prof. Mark Bishop, Department of Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London, London, UK.
 

email: m.bishop@gold.ac.uk
tel: +44 (0) 207 078 5048
web page: 

Symposium OC member: Prof. Slawomir J Nasuto, School of Systems Engineering, University of Reading, Reading, UK.

email: s.j.nasuto@reading.ac.uk
tel: +44 (0) 118 378 6701
web page: 

SYMPOSIUM WEBSITE: http://extranet.smuc.ac.uk/events-conferences/aisb-symposium-2014/Pages/default.aspx

POSTER ADVERTISING THE CFP: [To follow]

PROGRAMME COMMITTEE:

Dr Mark Coeckelbergh (University of Twente, NL)

Prof. S. Barry Cooper (University of Leeds, UK)

Dr. Anthony Galton (University of Exeter, UK)

Dr Bob Kentridge (Durham University, UK) 

Dr Stephen Rainey (St Mary's University College, UK)

Dr Mark Sprevak (University of Edinburgh, UK)

Prof. Michael Wheeler (University of Stirling, UK)