Knowledge and Computing: A Course on Computer Epistemology

Knowledge and Computing: A Course on Computer Epistemology

Knowledge and Computing: A Course on Computer Epistemology

Knowledge and Computing: A Course on Computer Epistemology

Excerpt

This book is neither a textbook nor a monograph, but an essay. The style is defined by the subject and the objective. The subject matter lies in an area between computer science and philosophy, while the objective is to offer something between a general overview and practical advice. An essay is the form best suited for a work of this intermediate nature.

The thoughts presented here are the results of 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 me a critical appreciation of and respect for both abstract theory and the practical methodology that grows out of—and, in turn, shapes—those theories. As I dealt with the basic problems of large-scale systems modeling and control, my professional career—although seemingly diverse to an observer—led to this balanced view of the pros and cons of theory and practice.

From that perspective, this essay can be read as a philosophical reflection on large scale systems' practice, but this mirror also works in the opposite direction as well, as do most of our meditations. That is a natural aspect of any approach to the unreachable. Studying the philosophical background, nowadays mostly forgotten in the literature of artificial intelligence, I could find practically all the most recent technical ideas, presented more or less clearly, as far back as Greek Antiquity. As will be discussed in further detail, the flourishing of Greek philosophy around the 3 century BCE, Medieval Science, especially the British schools of the 12–14 century, and the Age of Reason in the 17–18 century, have all contributed tremendously to those ideas about truth and falsity on which we . . .

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