A freely available collection of books and papers,
bridging Computation, AI, Biology and Philosophy,
by Aaron Sloman

This is the "Sloman" branch sub-document from
providing overviews of work in Philosophy, AI, Computer Science and Biology, by William Rapaport.
and by Aaron Sloman (this document).

Comments, questions, and criticisms welcome, but we may not be able to respond immediately.

The Sloman book (CRP), available in two formats, is
The Computer Revolution in Philosophy: Philosophy, Science and Models of Mind (Note)
     [Including links to some reviews and replies to reviewers
     and later additions and afterthoughts.]
Author: Aaron Sloman
Email: a.sloman@cs.bham.ac.uk
School of Computer Science,
The University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
The author is:

Honorary Professor of AI and Cognitive Science
Fellow of AAAI, AISB, EURAI, Alan Turing Institute
(1962 DPhil in Philosophy, defending Kant's philosophy of mathematics before I encountered computing or AI)
Thesis recently digitised,
In 2020 he was awarded the American Philosophical Association Barwise Prize (for research on philosophy and computing.)
Extended abstract for Barwise prize lecture at APA conference 14 Jan 2021
   How can minds like ours exist in a physical universe like ours?
   Some draft notes for the lecture are available at:

This is the latest version of Aaron Sloman's 1978 book, originally written after he had converted from mathematics to philosophy, then from philosophy to AI, hoping to use AI concepts and theories to enrich philosophy, including supporting Kantian philosophy of mathematics, in a new, deeper, more productive way than standard philosophical discussion. Later research extending this book engaged with several more disciplines, including software engineering, computer science, cognitive science, developmental biology, and most recently evolution of biological forms of information-processing, including information processing in eggs that produce not only extremely complex and intricate physiological structures (e.g. in chicks, ducklings, avocets, turtles, alligators, crocodiles, snakes, and many more) but also complex spatial competences available soon after hatching. That is still work in progress, over four decades later, especially recent work on what happens inside eggs during hatching.

CRP was originally published by Harvester Press (and Humanities Press) in 1978, but has been freely available online since 2001, with a growing collection of additional notes and comments, responses to reviews by Hofstadter and Stich and links to related freely available online documents and some videos. It too is updated from time to time, including new references to online papers and videos in the Birmingham Cognition and Affect (CogAff) project
and the Turing-inspired Meta-Morphogenesis (M-M) project (since 2012)

CRP is much less systematic and much less comprehensive than Bill's book but includes a different methodology and especially discussion of some unobvious aspects of mathematical cognition. The (updated) table of contents is available here:

It over-optimistically claimed, in 1978, that

    ... within a few years philosophers, psychologists, educationalists,
    psychiatrists, and others will be professionally incompetent if they
    are not well-informed about these developments.

It should have said 'within a few decades...'. It also predicted that

    ... to teach courses in philosophy of mind, epistemology, aesthetics,
    philosophy of science, philosophy of language, ethics, metaphysics,
    and other main areas of philosophy, without discussing the relevant
    aspects of artificial intelligence will be as irresponsible as
    giving a degree course in physics which includes no quantum theory.

In part CRP aimed to present a new view of Philosophy as having deep overlaps with science, insofar as both are concerned with the study of what is possible and what makes it possible: that overlap being most pronounced since the emergence of AI as a new branch of science (i.e. not merely engineering, as commonly supposed) including deep connections with philosophy, including philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of mathematics.

Chapters 2 and 3, on the aims of science and overlaps between science and philosophy presents a modified version of ideas of Popper and Lakatos, suggesting that both science and philosophy ask questions of the form "How is X possible?" They should not differ as much as they normally do in their attempts to answer such questions, e.g. explaining how minds are possible in a physical universe. This requires rejecting Popper's falsifiability criterion for scientific theories, since statements about what is possible are not empirically falsifiable but often report deep new discoveries.

Instead a modified version of Lakatos' analysis of progressive vs degenerative scientific research programmes can be adopted for philosophy, including combinations of philosophy and AI.

Chapter 4 (partly inspired by Gilbert Ryle and J.L. Austin), provides a tutorial on how to do conceptual analysis -- a requirement both for philosophy and for AI research attempting to address ancient philosophical questions. Researchers in AI and Cognitive science are not normally taught how to do conceptual analysis, with unfortunate consequences.

Chapters 6 and 7 explain the need for some internal structures and processes to be part of the computational environment (a sort of Cartesian theatre) and for some external structures and processes to be part of the mind (e.g. mathematical reasoning using external diagrams). The latter idea was later developed independently by others and dubbed 'the extended mind', but often over-generalised.

CRP did not attempt to give an overview of AI, as an outstanding overview for philosophers and others had recently been provided by Margaret Boden:

Artificial Intelligence and Natural Man Originally published in 2007, Second edition 1986. MIT Press. (Later supplemented by a stream of additional books and papers)

The discussion on learning about numbers in Ch 8 of CRP is part of an ongoing project to expound and defend Kant's philosophy of mathematics, which has generally been rejected for bad reasons. His observations undermine wide-spread recent claims for neurally inspired 'Deep learning' mechanisms: if used only to derive probabilities from statistical evidence they are constitutionally incapable of discovering impossibilities or necessities such as pervade mathematics.

Some examples illustrating points in the book, and further developments, are here, with links to many more:
(also pdf)

Designers of neurally inspired models of cognition almost all (perhaps all?) ignore most of what goes on in brains, e.g. in sub-neural chemical information processing.

CRP later led to work on varieties of information processing architectures and their relevance to analyses of varieties of affect (e.g. motives, attitudes, values, emotions, etc.) and the concept of information, distinguishing Jane Austen's concept of information from Claude Shannon's (misnamed) concept.
     http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/austen-info.html (also pdf)

From 2012, the Turing Centenary, Turing's 1952 paper on chemistry-based morphogenesis triggered a massive lurch into the Meta-Morphogenesis project investigating the evolution of varieties of information processing since the very simplest organisms:

http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/meta-morphogenesis.html (or pdf)

That spawned several sub-projects including a study of evolved construction kits of various sorts, the Meta-Configured genome (with biologist Jackie Chappell) and uses of compositionality in biological evolution, including parallel developments of compositionality in multiple interlocking structures in eggs and the complex behavioural competences available after hatching that could not be based on learning after hatching.

All the papers, videos and discussions are available online. Formally published versions are mostly out of date, as almost all the papers are improved and extended after publication. E.g. (still messy work in progress documents):

http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/meta-morphogenesis.html (also PDF)
The Turing-inspired Meta-Morphogenesis project

http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/movies/meta-config/ (also PDF)
The Meta-Configured Genome (work with Jackie Chappell).

http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/compositionality.html Biologically Evolved Forms of Compositionality (also PDF)

These online documents all reference other freely available documents.

A related paper published in a special edition of Entropy, 2 Jun 2020:
Varieties Of Evolved Forms Of Consciousness, Including Mathematical Consciousness:

A later paper, still being updated:
Notes for a talk on evolution and in-egg development, linked to Kant's problems in philosophy of mathematics, given several times since December 2020, and repeatedly extended with more complex detail added:

Last updated: 24 Dec 2021

Maintained by Aaron Sloman with help from WJR
School of Computer Science
The University of Birmingham