Re: Is the universe computable?

From: Georges Quenot <>
Date: Thu, 08 Jan 2004 11:34:45 +0100

David Barrett-Lennard wrote:
> Georges Quenot wrote:
> > Also I feel some confusion between the questions "Is the universe
> > computable ?" and "Is the universe actually 'being' computed ?".
> > What links do the participants see between them ?
> An important tool in mathematics is the idea of an isomorphism between
> two sets, which allows us to say *the* integers or *the* Mandelbrot set.
> This allows us to say *the* computation, and the device (if any) on
> which it is run is irrelevant to the existence of the computation. This
> relates to the idea of the Platonic existence of mathematical objects.

I am very willing (maybe too much, that's part of the
problem) to accept a "Platonic existence" for *the* integers.
I am far from sure however that this does not involve a
significant amount of faith. There are some objections to
it and I am not sure that none of them make sense. Also, as
someone said (if anybody has the original reference, in am
interested): the desire to believe is a reason to doubt.
I think that, even if it is true, arithmetic realism needs
to be postulated (or conjectured) since I can't figure how
it could be established.

> This makes the "confusion" between the above questions irrelevant.

I don't see how arithmetical realism, were it be true,
makes the "confusion" between the two questions irrelevant.

> I think it was John Searle (who argues that computers can't be aware)
> who said "A simulation of a hurricane is not a hurricane, therefore a
> simulation of mind is not mind". His argument breaks down if
> *everything* is a computation - because we can define an isomorphism
> between a computation and the simulation of that computation.

It does not make much sense to me to consider that *everything*
is a computation (or there may be some kind of game of words
considering two possible senses for "computation".

I would say that John Searle argument breaks down much earlier.
I just see his lignuistic construction "A simulation of a
hurricane is not a hurricane, therefore a simulation of mind
is not mind" as a simple game of words. First, I don't buy the
"therfore" and second, I would say that what he calls a
"simulation of mind" should rather be called as a "building
of a mind" in a way similar to what biology does.

This does not tells me that computers can be aware neither the
type of awareness they can or cannot have but Searle's argument
seems flawed anyway to me.

Georges Quénot.
Received on Thu Jan 08 2004 - 05:37:00 PST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:09 PST