Hi All,

Wei Dai wrote (in part):

>Perhaps it would help if list members each posts a short biography of
>themselves, and tell us their intellectual backgrounds. What fields are
>you familiar with, what relevant books/papers have you read, etc.? This
>way, if you don't understand someone's post, you can look up his JOINING
>post in the archive and figure out what background he is assuming. I got
>this idea from the SL4 mailing list; maybe it will work here as well.

OK. I am a belgium mathematician from Brussels University (born in 
Germany 1955).
I got a PhD thesis at the french University of Lille (you can download
it from my URL). The subject of the thesis is ..., well almost the very subject
of this list: it is a deductive argument showing that if we take very
seriously the computationnalist hypothesis in the cognitive science, then
the mind body problem is partially reduced into a derivation of the physical
laws from the platonic existence of *all* computations. A consequence is that
physics becomes a branch of "machine's psychology".
How did I find this? My starting obsessive question was "How long lives
an amoeba?", or "Does an amoeba survive its self-replication?". I made public
my first "theory" in 1963 (at school), where I answered positively
the last question. After that, my poor mind transforms itself into a 
where two different approaches concerning the amoeba question evolve.
The first approach was biological and mainly mechanist and discrete, the
second approach was chemical and based on the idea that a continuum exists,
which  put a doubt on the biological discreteness. So I got conflicting
craving for biology and chemistry. My first bible-book was the book
by Watson "Molecular Biology of the Gene" (its french version). Its chapter
"The cells obey to the chemical laws" leads me to Pauling books on chemistry.
But I got a feeling that despite appearances biology was more fundamental
that physics. I was suspecting the existence of a more abstract biology capable
of explaining the form of the physical laws, and that it should be so if we
want ever been able to understand the nature of reality and where did it come
In 1971 I discover Logic in "Alice in Wonderland" and soon after I 
discover books
on Godel's theorems containing an abstract (matter independent) explanation of
self-replication processes.
The Godelian logic of self-reference appears to be a good candidate for the
abstract biology and psychology I was searching.
This solved my Chemist/Biology hesitation, and I decided to do math 
at university.
Unfortunately most mathematicians, including the only
local logician, were allergic to Godel's theorem! (not so rare attitude)
I will submit different project
for a thesis in 1977, including a work showing that the bacteria Escherichia
Coli was essentially Turing equivalent. Although biologists and engineers were
interested, the mathematicians were negative (to say the least), so 
much that I get a
depression which leads me to Buddhism and Taoism for years, earning my life by
teaching mathematics or working for private societies (biotechnology), and
using my free-time for meditation and chineese calligraphy, but also more and
more chemistry (again) and quantum chemistry.
10 years later, biologists, physicians (!) and engineers from 
Brussels, but also a
logician from Liege (other city in Belgium) will "force" me to publish a
paper in a proceeding for a meeting at Toulouse around artificial intelligence
and cognitive science, and they will provide me a financement for 
doing a thesis.
The paper "Theoretical computer science and philosophy of mind" (which includes
the result of my thesis except theorem 14) will be
published in 1988 at Toulouse (precise french ref in my thesis).
It contains the comp and quantum suicide argument, the movie graph argument
(one year before Maudlin, I've been lucky!). The logical technical part
has been  shortened for length reasons, though. I will published 
those missing part
in 1991 and 1992: Amoeba, planaria and dreaming machine, Mechanism and Personal
Identity. (ref in the thesis).
Then I will be asked to submit the thesis at Brussels. Due to the continued
harrasment by the same Godel-allergic mathematicians I will eventually (1998)
submit it at the french university of Lille. I'm still working at IRIDIA at
Brussels University. I finance myself like almost everybody at IRIDIA
(cf my URL). Although I got a price for the thesis one year after (in 1999), I
know it will still take some time before people get familiar with the idea.
I know that in this list some people have had very similar intuition and I
encourage them to work them out---despite academical difficulties in front of

Strictly speaking the background needed for my work is -Mathematical 
Logic, Quantum
Mechanics and some Cognitive Science.

A shortcut for the logic part of the thesis are the following two books:

    - Formal Logic its scope and limits, by Richard Jeffrey (McGraw-Hill, Second
      Ed.1981).    A good elementary introduction to formal logic.
    - Computability and Logic, by George Boolos and Richard Jeffrey (Cambridge
      University Press (third ed. 1989).

I mentionned often the Boolos 1993 as the classical treatise of the (modal)
Godelian logics of self-reference (also known as "logics of 
provability", mainly
the modal logics G and G* and their children).
Smullyan's book "Forever Undecided" is a recreative introduction to G.

But see also for the machine-mind/godel link the important book by Judson Webb:
"Mechanism, Mentalism and Metamathematics" D. Reidel Publishing Co., Dordrecht.

My favorite textbook on quantum mechanics is the two volumes "Cohen-Tannoudji
Diu Laloe" Quantum Mechanics I & II, (Hermann editeur for the french edition,
I know it has been translated in English but I ignore where).

"Mind's I" edited by Dennett and Hofstadter can help the understanding of the
pure cognitive part of my thesis. Science fiction book like "permutation city"
by Greg Egan or the older "simulacron 3" by Daniel Galouye are good 
introduction too.

Currently I am working and teaching math. I give also an elementary free course
on the mind body problem, including comparisons between classical and quantum
computing/information sciences, self-reference logic, etc.

Since I read Kitaev paper(++) on topological quantum computing I am interested
in knot theory and I am currently reading the very good "Knots and Physics"
by Louis H. Kauffmann (Singapore publi.). It is not impossible that knots will
help me to make progress in the search of a formal semantics for Z1* (which is
the "physical theory" extracted from the machine 
psychology/self-reference logic).
I am writting (very slowly) a long and technical papers corresponding 
to my french thesis. It is hard to find a good way of writing which 
can satisfy simultaneously cognitivists, logicians and physicists.

(++) Downloadable at http://xxx.lanl.gov/find   (Los Alamos Archives)
      quant-ph/9707021 [abs, ps, pdf, other] :
      Title: Fault-tolerant quantum computation by anyons
      Authors: A. Yu. Kitaev
      Comments: 27 pages, Latex2e, uses amssymb.sty, 13 Postscript figures

Oh! Looking for the correct orthograph of "Kauffman" I just discover its recent
"biologic" (See http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/quant-ph/0204007 ) which 
beginning is quite akin to the abstract biology I worked on and 
described in "Amoeba, Planaria ...",
perhaps even easier to read. I'm quite glad to discover Kauffman has no
prejudice against non mathematical use of Godel ...

I want also point on John Case's web page for similar abstract-biological
application of godelian type of self-reference: 
Other reference are in my thesis (for exemple John Myhill).

I guess you all know Everett, Deutsch ... so I stop here.



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