UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Could a Computer Learn to Be an Appeals Court Judge? : The Place of the Unspeakable and Unwriteable in All-Purpose Intelligent Systems Woods, John (John Hayden)


I will take it that general intelligence is intelligence of the kind that a typical human being—Fred, say—manifests in his role as a cognitive agent, that is, as an acquirer, receiver and circulator of knowledge in his cognitive economy. Framed in these terms, the word “general” underserves our ends. Hereafter our questions will bear upon the all-purpose intelligence of beings like Fred. Frederika appears as Fred’s AI-counterpart, not as a fully programmed and engineered being, but as a presently unrealized theoretical construct. Our basic question is whether it is in principle possible to equip Frederika to do what Fred does as an all-purpose participant in his own cognitive economy. Can she achieve a sufficiency of relevant similarity to him to allow us to say that she herself can do what Fred can do, perhaps even better? One of the things that Fred can do—or at least could learn from experience to do—is discharge the duties of an Appeals Court judge. As set down in the ancient doctrine of lex non scripta, Fred must be able to detect, understand and correctly apply certain tacit and implicit rules of law which defy express propositional formulation and linguistic articulation. Fred has an even more widespread capacity for the epistemically tacit and implicit, clearly one of his most cost-saving kinds of intelligence. Indeed, most by far of what Fred will ever know he will know tacitly and implicitly. So we must ask: how tightly bound to the peculiarities of Fred’s cognitive enablement conditions is the character of the intelligence that he manifests? And how far down Fred’s causal make-up does intelligence actually go?

Item Citations and Data


CC BY 4.0