In this paper, I discuss how children come to disentangle purpose and causation—or psychological and physical descriptions—when explaining the behaviors of “simple-minded intelligent artifacts," as well as the behaviors of people and of things. I argue that very early on, children attempt to build a synthesis between these two kinds of expla> In this paper, I discuss how children come to disentangle purpose and causation—or psychological and physical descriptions—when explaining the behaviors of “simple-minded intelligent artifacts," as well as the behaviors of people and of things. I argue that very early on, children attempt to build a synthesis between these two kinds of explanations, and that they do so in a similar way when explaining the functioning of people, of objects, and of living and artificial creatures.
Mitchel Resnick is currently building a computer-based microworld for exploring the behavior of very large populations of such simple-minded creatures (second-order cybernetics).
We know from the history of cybernetics (and later, of AI and cognitive science) that as soon as the first intelligent artifacts were built, many fundamental concepts such as "self," "purpose," "intentionality," and "free will," needed to be reconsidered.
In studying the Macy Conferences, we noticed time and again that engineers and psychologists quite consistently picked different sets of concepts for describing the functioning of self-regulating devices.
Engineers usually insist that no vital principle needs to transcend, or live independently, from a material substrate. To them, if mind might well emerge from matter, the building of a mind—out of matter—does not require the use of higher-order concepts such as purpose and ntentionality. Such concepts are not operational or useful in the work of engineers.
In contrast, most psychologists (as well as educators) study behavior __as it becomes meaningful to—and controllable by—a subject__. And not surprisingly, since it is their job to help people use whatever reflecting capabilities they have (self-awareness) as a means of monitoring their own behavior.
Programming is many things to many people, and not everyone agrees on its potential for human learning. This is especially true at a time when ever younger children are increasingly “expert” gamers, tweeters, information-seekers, and digital “bricoleurs”. ... This paper looks at programming “obliquely,” as an opportunity to explore issues of agency, control, and interaction styles, as played out in the creative and critical uses of “smart” tools by curious minds.