Re: Bruno's argument

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2006 11:51:24 -0700

1Z wrote:
> Brent Meeker wrote:
>>>Stathis Papaioannou
>>Yes, that's roughly my idea. Of course you can't insist that a
>>computation interact continuously to count as computation, only that it
>>does occasionally or potentially.
> Most of the counterfactuals that make up a computation
> are internal. There has to be some sense in which
> it could have gone down the other branch of an if-then
> statement (or that is must have gone fown the same one)
>>In your example I would say that you
>>can only know that there is computation, as distinct from noise, going
>>on if the computer, via the emulation code, can still interact with its
>>environment (i.e. you). I don't believe the simplicity or complexity of
>>the internal operations is relevant. For example, if you could see the
>>movements of electrons in my computer, you couldn't tell whether it was
>>displaying this email or just doing something random - but if you look
>>at the dispaly screen you can. On the other hand, to the alien from
>>alpha centauri, the screen might also look random.
> The underlying physics of the thing will tell youwhether
> it is capable of supporting countefactuals without
> running a programme at all. There is something objectively
> machine-like about machines -- complex , but predictable
> behaviour.

But so far as we know all machines, all physical objects, are described
by quantum mechanics and therefore are subject to random variations,
i.e. they could have done otherwise. So I don't see how that helps in
distinguishing computation from noise. Are you thinking of abstract
computation - which of course can be deterministic if you rule out
randomness in the abstraction?

Brent Meeker

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Received on Mon Jul 31 2006 - 14:53:34 PDT

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