On Mon, Apr 18, 2005 at 05:14:42PM -0700, Pete Carlton wrote:
> On Apr 11, 2005, at 11:11 PM, Russell Standish wrote: 
> > I'm dealing with these questions in an artificial life system - 
> > Tierra 
> > to be precise. I have compared the original Tierra code, with one 
> > in 
> > which the random no. generator is replaced with a true random 
> > no. generator called HAVEGE, and another simulation in which the 
> > RNG 
> > is replaced with a cryptographically secure RNG called ISAAC. The 
> > results to date (and this _is_ work in progress) is that there is a 
> > distinct difference between the original Tierra PRNG, and the other 
> > two generators, but that there is little difference between HAVEGE 
> > and 
> > ISAAC. This seems to indicate that algorithmic randomness can be 
> > good 
> > enough to fool learning algorithms. 
> > 
> That's a very interesting experiment -- you might be interested to know 
> that Dennett (again, in Elbow Room) predicted something similar; that 
> for all the cases where randomness impacts an organism's choices, 
> "true" randomness would be practically indistinguishable from 
> sufficiently unpredictable pseudorandomness.  I'm glad you're doing 
> these experiments.  How does your true random number generator work?  
> Do you have preliminary results posted somewhere? 

Have a look at 

Standish, R.K. (2004) ``The Influence of Parsimony and Randomness on
Complexity Growth in Tierra'', in ALife IX Workshop and Tutorial
Proceedings, Bedau et al. (eds). 

which is posted on my website.

> You said 
> > The whole debate you quote from Dennett seems quaint and out of 
> > date... 
> > 


> Well, it looks like there are as many definitions of free will as there 
> are people taking part in the debate -- which is precisely why we need 
> to talk about it, and why it's a good idea be familiar with at least 
> the high points of the past 2500 years of philosophical literature on 
> the subject, in order to avoid making the same mistakes that other 
> brilliant minds have made. 

I agree with you on this. I am aware of most of these arguments, as
they tend to be repeated over and over whenever this topic comes
up. However, most of these arguments I find particularly unconvincing
when seen in the light of a quantum Multiverse. I think it is time to
move on, or to shut up.


*PS: A number of people ask me about the attachment to my email, which
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A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 8308 3119 (mobile)
Mathematics                                    0425 253119 (")
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