RE: Bruno's argument

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2006 15:19:41 +1000

Peter Jones writes (quoting SP):

> > The constraints (a) and (b) you mention are ad hoc and an unnecessary complication. Suppose Klingon
> > computers change their internal code every clock cycle according to the well-documented radioactive
> > decay pattern of a sacred stone 2000 years ago. If we got our hands on one of these computers and
> > monitored its internal states it would seem completely random; but if we had the Klingon manual, we
> > would see that the computer was actually multiplying two numbers, or implementing a Klingon AI, or
> > whatever. Would you say that these computations were not valid because it's a dumb way to design
> > a computer?
> I'd say that a defintion of "computer" that applies to everything is
> useless.

I agree, it's completely useless to *us* because we couldn't interact with it. That would be the end of the matter unless we say that computation can lead to consciousness, creating as it were its own observer. Are you prepared to argue that the aforementioned Klingon AI suddenly stops being conscious when the last copy of the manual which would allow us to interact with it is destroyed?
> I can say that a hydrogen atom can't compute an entire virtual
> universe,
> because there isn't enough "room".

If you can map multiple computation states to one physical state, then all the requisite computations can be run in parallel on a very limited physical system.

> And even so, there is the other part of the problem. You can't
> validly infer from "any computation can be implemented
> by any physical system" to "any computation can be implemented by
> without
> any physical basis"

Yes, that is a valid point, and the same can be said about mathematical Platonism in general. Perhaps we have to say: all of mathematics is contingent on the existence of a real universe with at least one physical state.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Sat Jul 29 2006 - 01:21:54 PDT

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