What Computers Can’t Do (Hubert Dreyfus)


Hubert Dreyfus’ “What computers Can’t Do” will be 50 years old in 2022. Despite having been released half a century ago, it is still pertaining when it comes to the gap between human cognition and artificial intelligence. I like Dreyfus’ critique to artificial reason mostly because he was actually concerned with human intelligence, not so much machines’ intelligence. The book (which got a second edition, amplified, in 1992) is compelling for those interested in comprehending some of the most important challenges faced by AI – and that have not yet been overcome.

Inspired by phenomenologists like Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, Dreyfus (who unfortunately died in 2017 at 87) advocated that human intelligence is far beyond computation and representation. He suggested that we are “skillful copers”, i.e., highly skilled embodied agents capable of dealing with the world’s uncertainties and unsteadiness in a remarkably fine-grained way, anchored in the body and in the emotions. Because it is coupled to the environment, this being-in-the-world is more direct and less dependent on mediators (representations).

I also encourage readers to watch some of Dreyfus’ great interviews, lectures and talks available online.


Hubert Dreyfus’ “What computers Can’t Do” fará 50 anos em 2022. Apesar de ter sido lançado há meio século, ele ainda é pertinente quando se trata do gap entre a cognição humana e a inteligência artificial. Eu gosto da crítica de Dreyfus à razão artificial principalmente porque ele estava realmente preocupado com a inteligência humana, não tanto com a inteligência das máquinas. O livro (que teve uma segunda edição, ampliada, em 1992) é muito pertinente para aqueles interessados em compreender alguns dos desafios mais importantes enfrentados pela IA – e que ainda não foram superados.

Inspirado por fenomenólogos como Heidegger e Merleau-Ponty, Dreyfus (que infelizmente morreu em 2017 aos 87 anos) defendeu que a inteligência humana está muito além da computação e da representação. Ele sugeriu que somos “skillful copers”, isto é, agentes corporificados altamente habilidosos capazes de lidar com as incertezas e instabilidades do mundo de uma forma altamente refinada, ancorada no corpo e nas emoções. Por estar acoplado ao meio ambiente, este being-in-the-world é mais direto e menos dependente de mediadores (representações).

Eu também encorajo os leitores a assistir algumas das grandes entrevistas e palestras da Dreyfus disponíveis on-line.

Hubert Dreyfus on Embodiment (II-II)
Conversations with History: Hubert Dreyfus
Hubert Dreyfus Interview – AI, Heidegger, Meaning in the Modern World

MindBrainBody Symposium [9th MBB Symposium 2022]


The event will take place from March 16-18, 2022 in hybrid mode (in person and virtual) during International Brain Awareness Week 2022.

Postdoctoral and doctoral researchers as well as students from the domains of cognitive, affective and social neurosciences, cognitive neurology and neuropsychiatry, psychology or other behavioral and social sciences tare welcome to submit abstracts (max. 300 words) to present a talk or a poster. The talks will be recorded and extra question rounds will be available next day. Please check here for more details.

The symposium program includes keynote lectures, workshops, presentations by applicants, and a poster session (with a poster prize) as well as an MBB Young Scientist Award (see below). Attendance without presentation is possible. Previously presented posters are also welcomed.

Keynote Speakers:


Olaf Blanke (Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience Brain-Mind Institute Center for Neuroprosthetics EPFL, Geneva/Switzerland)
Beatrice De Gelder (Maastricht University, Maastricht/The Netherlands)
Katerina Fotopoulou (Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, UCL, London/UK)
Rebecca Böhme (Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience, Linköping/Sweden) 
Sahib Khalsa (University of Tulsa; Laureate Institute for Brain Research, Tulsa, OK/USA)