Re: Can mind be a computation if physics is fundamental?

From: russell standish <>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 2009 13:30:18 +1000

On Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 12:54:00PM +1000, Colin Hales wrote:
> ronaldheld wrote:
> > As a formally trained Physicist, what do I accept? that Physics is
> > well represented mathematically? That the Multiverse is composed of
> > mathematical structures some of which represent physical laws? Or
> > something else?
> > Ronald
> >
> This is /the/ question. It always seems to get sidestepped in
> discussions that fail to distinguish between (a) "/reality as some kind
> of natural computation/" and (b) "/reality represented by formal
> statements(laws of nature) of regularity, //apparent in an observer,
> //that may be artificially computed/ /by a Turing style machine/". The
> conflation of (a) and (b) is a constant in the discussions here.
> (a) does not need an observer. It /constructs/ an observer.
> (b) involves an observer and are regularities constructed by the
> observer made by (a)

I confess I don't see this conflation here. a) is the sort of
viewpoint advocated by Steve Wolfram, and maybe by Schmidhuber, but he
seems to have left the list long ago. b) is more the viewpoint of
myself or Bruno.

Stuff snipped, because I didn't get that from your paper.

> The following statements summarise the effects:
> (A) The fact that the natural world, to an observer, happens to have
> appearances predicted by a set of formal statements (Laws of
> Nature/Physics) does not entail that those statements are in any way
> involved in running/driving the universe. Eg. The assumption that the
> concept of a 'multiverse' is valid or relevant is another symptom of the
> conflation....the reason? QM is a mathematical construct of type (b),
> /not/ an example of (a). The whole concept of a multiverse is a malady
> caused by this conflation.

No - the Multiverse is a malady caused by the operation of Occams
Razor. The appearance of a multiverse only makes the malady worse :).

> (B) The operation of a Turing Machine ( = hardware-invariant//artificial
> abstract/ symbol manipulation) is /not /what is going on in the natural
> world and, specifically, is /not/ what is happening in the brain (of a
> scientist). Assuming 'cognition is computation' is unjustified on any level.

Nobody is suggesting that brains are Turing machines. All that is
being suggested (by COMP) is that brains perform computations (and
nothing but), hence can be perfectly emulated by a Turing machine, by
virtue of the Church-Turing thesis.

> I find the situation increasingly aggravating. It's like talking to cult
> members who's beliefs are predicated on a delusion, and who a re so deep
> inside it and so unable to see out of it that they are lost. Common
> sense has left the building. The appropriate scientific way out of this
> mess is to
> (i) let (a) descriptions and (b) descriptions be, for the purposes,
> /separate scientific depictions of the natural world/ If they are not
> then at some point in the analysis they will become
> which case you have a /scientific/logical approach./
> (ii) Drop /all/ assumptions that any discussion involving Turing
> machines as relevant to understanding the natural world. This means
> accepting,/ for the purposes of sorting this mess out/, (a) as being a
> form of computation fundamentally different to a Turing machine, where
> the symbols and the processor are literally the same thing. If you

Are you implying that thought is a form of computation that lies
outside the class of Church-Turing thesis? There are such things as
hypercomputations, but they remain controversial as having any
relevance to the real world. Even probabilistic machines (my favourite type
non-Turing machine) still only compute standard computable functions,
albeit with different complexity class to standard machines.

> predicate your work on (i) then if COMP is true then at some point, if
> (a) and (b) become indistinguishable, /then/ COMP will be a-priori
> /predicted/ to be true.
> I leave you to unpack your personalised version of the conflations.
> Traditional physics/math training will automatically infect the trainee
> with the affliction that conflates (a) and (b). The system of organised
> thought in which an observer is a-priori predicted with suggested
> sources of empirical evidence, is the system that we seek. (a) and (b)
> above represent that very system. We are currently locked into (b) and
> have all manner of weird assumptions operating in place of (a) which
> mean, in effect, that _the /last/ thing physicists want to explain is
> physicists_. Endlessly blathering on about multiverses and assuming COMP
> does /nothing/ to that end. I've had 05 years of listening to this
> COMP/Turing machine/Multiverse stuff. It's old/impotent/toothless/mute
> (predicts nothing) and sustained only by delusion . It operates as a
> cult(ure). I am the deprogrammer. :-)

What is your constructive theory then?

Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
UNSW SYDNEY 2052         
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Received on Mon Aug 10 2009 - 13:30:18 PDT

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