ICA4.4 Henry Taylor on Philosophy and Cognitive Science
Play • 1 hr 12 min
Mike Livermore speaks with ICA4 Fellow Henry Taylor, Senior Lecturer of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham. Taylor’s work examines the interaction between cognitive science and philosophy, with a particular focus on consciousness, perception, and attention. After explaining that his interest in philosophy stretches back to his youth, Taylor describes his current work in psychophysics, or the study of the relationship between physical and psychological events (:50 – 5:40). Taylor then provides an in-depth explanation of his work into attention and summarize some of the key concepts and experiments of the field, including “inattentional blindness,” “blindsight,” and the G.Y. case, one of the field’s foundational studies. In addition, Taylor explains the importance of being able to test philosophical hypotheses in a lab (5:45 – 23:30). Taylor then expands on the concept of attention itself, providing different possible definitions of the concept and how scientists approach these definitions. (23:35 – 34:20). Livermore compares the difficulty with settling on one definition of a concept to the debates that occur when a given term must be defined for legal purposes, and Taylor then relates how similar debates occur in the scientific world (34:25 – 42:44). The conversation then shifts focus to consider the concept of consciousness, with Taylor summarizing both the concept and his work into the concept. Taylor touches on ideas such as subliminal messaging, the relationship between sight and perception, and the films Demolition Man and Minority Report. Taylor and Livermore point out the inherent vagueness of language, with Taylor using the famous Jaffa Cake tax tribunal case (43:00 – 54:25). This leads to a discussion of vagueness in relation to artificial intelligence, where Taylor explains that, in fact, vagueness can be a useful tool in understanding the world, because the world itself is often vague (54:30 – 1:04:46). The conversation winds up with Taylor contrasting differing views of how the world is constructed and conceived of (1:04:51 – 1:10:58). The Intercontinental Academia (ICA) is a global network of future research leaders sponsored by the University-Based Institutes of Advanced Studies. The ICA4 explores the complementarities between artificial intelligence and neuro/cognitive-science.
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