Re: What difference it makes

From: Eric Hawthorne <>
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2004 14:24:56 -0800

Doug Porpora wrote:

> I apologize for diverting this list into a discussion of mind-body. I
> came onto the list to explore Tegmark's thesis about our persons'
> being endlessly duplicated. It seems to me that this thesis depends
> not just on cosmology but also on what we know about persons. It
> struck me that the discussion here assumed without question (i)
> reductionism and (ii) determinism.
> I don't think these assumptions hold even in physics. You can all
> correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that the Pauli
> Exclusion Principle is not explainable by the properties of atomic
> parts. It is an emergent property of an entire atom. Similarly,
> there is good reason to think that determinism does not hold at the
> quantum level.
> Whatever is the case in physics, after long debate, (i) and (ii) above
> have been rejected at the human level by most current social
> scientists. So the relevance of my line of questioning was what
> difference it makes to Tegmark's thesis if assumptions (i) and (ii)
> are relaxed.
> One difference it might make is that the whole universe is not
> computable because our own behavior is not computable.

Our behaviour is computable. Our minds are (fancy, large-capacity,
massively parallel), computers.

Non-determinism and computation can co-exist happily.Just compute the
deterministic parts and accept the non-deterministic
input when you get it. Happens all the time. Also, even within
computation, non-determinism is not a show-stopper. Many
computational algorithms are equally valid in result if there is
non-determinism at some stages of the algorithm execution.
People are thinking too much of "the simple hand calculator" kind of
computation, and not of complex, concurrent,
layered-system symbolic computation when they criticize what computation
is like or can do.

Computation does not entail reductionism and a rejection of
emergent-system notions. In fact, emergent systems (as a concept and
research area) have gained popularity recently probably because it was
realized by many computer programmers/researchers
that they were creating emergent systems. (e.g. the web with google is a
pretty compelling example of an emergent system. It's
also, because of concurrency and the non-deterministic way in which
information (input) is added into the system in
real-time, essentially non-deterministic system (with some chaotic
regimes) at any global level of analysis.

Received on Sat Jan 17 2004 - 17:31:45 PST

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