Knowledge and Computing

Knowledge and Computing: Computer Epistemology and Constructive Skepticism

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 228
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  • Book Info
    Knowledge and Computing
    Book Description:

    The result of the author’s extensive practical experience: a decade in computer process control using large scale systems, another decade in machine pattern-recognition for vision systems, and nearly a decade dealing with artificial intelligence and expert systems. These real-life projects have taught Vámos a critical appreciation of, and respect for, both abstract theory and the practical methodology that grows out of—and, in turn, shapes—those theories. Machine representation means a level of formalization that can be expressed by the instruments of mathematics, whereas programming is not more and not less than a special linguistic translation of these mathematical formulae. How these all are related and controlled is a most practical philosophical and computation professional task. Wide experience in the practical fields of computer science, and the research of the underlying theoretical issues have led Vámos to the development of the attitude and activity of constructive skepticism.

    eISBN: 978-615-5211-80-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 1-2)
  4. Preface of Computer Epistemology, 1991
    (pp. 3-6)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. 7-8)

    After about fifteen years since my first book about computer epistemology was published, I decided to complete a review of further progress in computer science and of my own personal views and experience. I found shortly that the original book is still valid, nothing had to be corrected, but there was much to add, especially regarding the epistemic lessons and their background in mathematical basics.

    Concerning these, an introductory chapter explains the epistemic relations of computer science and the information age. It emphasizes the role of computers in the transformation of communicational contents. Computers have emerged as the intermediate agent...

  6. Chapter 1 Why Computer Epistemology?
    (pp. 9-36)

    The practice of a critical view of all kind of activities is a useful activity in itself. Creating some professional procedures for critical views is also useful. This book puts an emphasis on the mathematical-computational instruments of our computer and information technology supported activities, and by this focuses on more general philosophical considerations.

    The reasons for a review of the mathematical-computational arsenal are obvious, the philosophical detour is reasonable, due to the ubiquity of highly complex, computer and information controlled systems.

    The application of all these ideas changes our worldview and the worldview changes the applications. Where, how, why, and...

  7. Chapter 2 Algebra: The Discipline from the Simplest to the Most General
    (pp. 37-80)

    Let us start with a thought-experiment. That is a common way of thinking about how to construct complex objects: define, or assume, or imagine a small set of basic components and a similarly small set of fundamental rules for combining of them. From the very start of computing history, games were designed in this way, following the great traditions of chess and similar amusing constructions. The Game of Life, first published in 1970 by John Conway, a British mathematician, stimulated by the ideas of John von Neumann, applies these obvious principles, and this was followed by a huge family of...

  8. Chapter 3 Logic, the Origin of All Programming
    (pp. 81-108)

    The question of mathematics or philosophy is not new and not a formal disciplinary classification problem. Logic, as it was born, belonged to philosophy, not only because all science belonged to philosophy. Logic was a major achievement in the first Age of Reason, that of the Greeks, an insight and simultaneously an external view of perception, understanding the order of the world and of the mind in both mental and verbal representations. Maybe this was not conceptualized in that way, not even by the greatest philosophers of the age, but essentially, this is how it happened. Reading their works, we...

  9. Chapter 4 How Uncertain is Uncertainty?
    (pp. 109-140)

    We are unable to get deep into the minds of our ancestors. Nevertheless, we can draw some hypotheses on their beliefs, on their view about the world order, mirrored in their fantasy. With some certainty, we can state that most of the events and circumstances were uncertain for them, especially from our point of view. The difference in definition is relevant for the whole essay. What I take as certain, can be uncertain for any contemporary and even more for somebody living in the future and possessing much deeper knowledge about the phenomena.

    The world was almost totally uncertain for...

  10. Chapter 5 Excursion to the Fields of Ontology, Being and Beliefs
    (pp. 141-148)

    The problems around uncertainty reach the border of epistemology and ontology. Ontology is understood here in the original philosophical sense—philosophy of Being.

    The ontology question arose much before the times of modern robots and related computer intelligence: is man able to create an artificial homunculus, a Golem which is, in affective and cognitive respects, similar or even mightier than a natural human? Mysticism of the Middle Ages was a fertile soil for these ideas. The Homunculus in the Christian world and the Golem in the Judaic world both developed later to widely used symbolic figures in literature.

    By the...

  11. Chapter 6 Conclusions
    (pp. 149-150)

    1. Computation and information technology started a radical change in human relations to all kinds of work and communication by the introduction of their technological instruments.

    2. This injection introduces the necessity of translating all computer-mediated tasks into the language of computers. The language of computers, programming, is a direct translation of mathematics. This means: most human activities are to be formalized by the instruments of mathematics.

    3. Mathematics, used in this vital formulation as a modeling procedure, is based on the principles of algebra, in a hierarchical abstraction similar to evolution, starting with a few basic conceptual components and...

  12. Appendices
    (pp. 151-190)
  13. References
    (pp. 191-208)
  14. Picture Credits
    (pp. 209-210)
  15. Name Index
    (pp. 211-214)
  16. Subject Index
    (pp. 215-218)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 219-219)