Minds and Machines

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 61-86

First online:

How Would You Know if You Synthesized a Thinking Thing?

  • Michael KaryAffiliated withChaire en Gestion des Bioindustries, Université du Québec à MontréalDepartment of Mathematics, Boston University
  • , Martin MahnerAffiliated withCenter for Inquiry –- Europe

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


We confront the following popular views: that mind or life are algorithms; that thinking, or more generally any process other than computation, is computation; that anything other than a working brain can have thoughts; that anything other than a biological organism can be alive; that form and function are independent of matter; that sufficiently accurate simulations are just as genuine as the real things they imitate; and that the Turing test is either a necessary or sufficient or scientific procedure for evaluating whether or not an entity is intelligent. Drawing on the distinction between activities and tasks, and the fundamental scientific principles of ontological lawfulness, epistemological realism, and methodological skepticism, we argue for traditional scientific materialism of the emergentist kind in opposition to the functionalism, behaviourism, tacit idealism, and merely decorative materialism of the artificial intelligence and artificial life communities.

artificial intelligence artificial life biomimetic computation cognitivism emergence functionalism lawfulness life materialism mind Turing test