Invited talk at
The word `virtual' can mislead some people into thinking a virtual machine is not a real machine. Virtual machines in computers are as real as poverty, economic inflation, and other abstract processes that impact on our lives, and they also have causal powers.
This talk will take the ontological status and causal powers of processes in virtual machines for granted and instead address a different question: which sorts of virtual machines are needed for which sorts of minds?
At present we understand only a tiny subset of the space of possible virtual machine architectures. However it is clear that different architectures are required for that minds of different sorts (e.g. adult human minds, infant human minds, chimpanzee minds, rat minds, bat minds, flea minds....). This talk will attempt to place the study of human mental architectures in the broader context of the space of possible minds.
I hope to show that such a study is facilitated by thinking of overt human language as a special case of a more general notion of language, which includes many uses that have nothing to do with interpersonal communication: e.g. thinking, remembering, wondering, desiring, deciding, learning.