> Brent Meeker wrote:
>>Yes, that's roughly my idea. Of course you can't insist that a
>>computation interact continuously to count as computation, only that it
>>does occasionally or potentially.
> Most of the counterfactuals that make up a computation
> are internal. There has to be some sense in which
> it could have gone down the other branch of an if-then
> statement (or that is must have gone fown the same one)
>>In your example I would say that you
>>can only know that there is computation, as distinct from noise, going
>>on if the computer, via the emulation code, can still interact with its
>>environment (i.e. you). I don't believe the simplicity or complexity of
>>the internal operations is relevant. For example, if you could see the
>>movements of electrons in my computer, you couldn't tell whether it was
>>displaying this email or just doing something random - but if you look
>>at the dispaly screen you can. On the other hand, to the alien from
>>alpha centauri, the screen might also look random.
> The underlying physics of the thing will tell youwhether
> it is capable of supporting countefactuals without
> running a programme at all. There is something objectively
> machine-like about machines -- complex , but predictable
But so far as we know all machines, all physical objects, are described
by quantum mechanics and therefore are subject to random variations,
i.e. they could have done otherwise. So I don't see how that helps in
distinguishing computation from noise. Are you thinking of abstract
computation - which of course can be deterministic if you rule out
randomness in the abstraction?
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