Classicism versus Connectionism

Classicism versus Connectionism - In this paper I attempt...

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In this paper, I attempt to give a brief account of the current debate in Artificial Intelligence between the so-called classical computationalist view and the more recent trend of connectionist views concerning what to count as an appropriate explanation of intelligent behavior. In particular, I will focus on the question of whether connectionist models of cognition constitute a genuine alternative to more traditional views of mental processing, or if, as some have argued, they have nothing to offer but a story about the implementation of symbolic structures at the level of neural functioning. The conclusion I wish to support is that connectionism does offer an alternative account of cognition, although the debate as to which is the best approach - the classical or the connectionist - is far from settled. It is an article of faith among Artificial Intelligence practitioners that cognition, or intelligent behavior, is best understood as a complex of information processing transformations carried over representations. However, and despite significant progress in devising a computational view of the mind, the past two decades have seen the field divide in two views on the nature of information processing, and it is fair to say there is no shared agreement on what to count as the proper theoretical approach to cognition. Accordingly, on one side of the fence there are those who maintain the traditional view in AI that intelligent behavior can only be accounted for by appeal to syntactically structured symbols that are manipulated according to certain formal rules. On the other, there are those who defend that cognition is better understood in terms of sub-symbolic patterns of activation in a group of highly interconnected units. As can be expected, discord over who holds the key to the enigmas of cognition runs deep, with the symbolic AI people accusing connectionist models of having nothing new to offer to the central issues of intelligence, and the connectionist camp arguing that they do. Now, before moving further, it is important to notice that both the classic view and the connectionist share the goal of understanding and modeling (that is, implementing) cognitive processes in artificial devices. Also, it worth emphasizing that both traditional and connectionist models have inputs and outputs and these inputs and outputs can be given (in the right circumstances) intentional interpretations. What makes them different is that, unlike the traditional computational model, connectionism claims that the output is not produced as a result of the rule governed manipulation of functionally discrete symbols. That is, proponents of connectionism argue that the whole system can be interpreted as representing some state of affairs without it having to be supposed that this has to be achieved by the manipulation of token symbols or representations. The accusation that connectionism routinely meets is that its view of cognition fails to capture the essential properties of (human) information processing, and therefore cannot serve
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Classicism versus Connectionism - In this paper I attempt...

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