Thursday, December 20, 2007

Phenomenology in computation (and visual art?)

Tesla Event:Phenomenology in computation (and visual art?)
Speaker: Prof. Igor Aleksander, Imperial College LondonUCL
Contact: Gordana Novakovic (Visitors from outside UCL please email in advance).
Date/Time: 22 Jan 08, 18:00 - 19:00Venue: Garwood LT
AbstractPhenomenology primarily relates to discussions of consciousness by philosophers of the 20th century: Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre and Heidegger. It is a philosophy of personal, individual reality rather than the absolute reality of ontologists and functionalists. I shall try to give thumbnail sketch views of these forbidding sounding concepts as they have affected me as a computer scientist who tries to understand whether machines may help us to understand consciousness. So I shall describe virtual machines in general as they offer an opportunity in information science to discuss consciousness without crashing into 'the hard problem' of links to a physical substrate. I shall explain what are functional virtual machines that are judged by their behaviour and then phenomenological virtual machines which are judged by their ability to create usable inner worlds. I shall suggest that visual artists are special as they make explicit some aspects of their phenomenal worlds. This type of communication is still an open question in computer science but one where interest in art may prove to be beneficial for both the artist and the scientist.

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