Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Brent Meeker writes (quoting SP):
> 
> 
>>>>>Every physical system contains if-then statements. If the grooves on the
>>>>>record were different, then the sound coming out of the speakers would 
>>>>>also be
>>>>>different.
>>>>
>>>>That's not a statement contained in the physical system; it's a statement 
>>>>about
>>>>other similar physical systems that you consider possible. You could as well
>>>>say, (print "Hello world.") contains an if-then because if the characters 
>>>>in the
>>>>string were different the output would be different.
>>>
>>>
>>>I don't see how you could make the distinction well-defined. 
>>
>>That's my point.  Counterfactuals are defined relative to some 
>>environment/data/input 
>>which we suppose to be possibly different.  It's not so much that it's not 
>>well 
>>defined, but that it's aribtrarily defined.  So I think lz's point about 
>>intelligence 
>>requiring counterfactuals is the same as saying intelligence is relative to 
>>some 
>>environment - a view with which I agree.  In the case of reproducing 
>>organisms the 
>>organism/environment distinction is clear.  In a simulation it's not.
> 
> 
> Sorry to keep returning to this, but it's important. I still don't see how 
> you can distinguish 
> between the conditionals in a computer program and the conditionals inherent 
> in any 
> physical system. A computer is a device set up so that input A results in 
> output B, while 
> input C results in output D. The conditional is inherent even if the C->D 
> branch is never 
> realised because it *could* be realised. But a rock is also a device set up 
> so that input 
> A results in output B while input C results in output D: if you push it on 
> its left side (A) it 
> moves to the right (B) while if you push it on its right side (C) it moves to 
> the left (D). The 
> rock has this inherent conditional behaviour even if the C->D branch is never 
> realised, 
> because it *could* be realised if things had been different. 

OK, I take your point.  But the movement of the rock right or left is not a 
property 
of the rock.  The rock is not computing its motion.   But by including 
spacetime, 
inertia, etc, I will grant that the system computes.  And it has implicit 
if-thens 
because you suppose you could have pushed it the other way; even if you don't.

>If you include the computer's 
> data in the program then it becomes an inputless system, a self-contained 
> simulation. If 
> you include yourself, the rock and everything else that might interact with 
> it in one system 
> you have a self-contained, inputless universe. Both the closed simulation and 
> the universe 
> (in the absence of CI type quantum randomness) are at least as deterministic 
> as what we 
> normally call a recording, despite all the conditionals, because it is rather 
> more likely that I 
> will change a recording than that God will intervene to push rocks around or 
> provide 
> computers with miraculous inputs.

Right.  So within this simulation you may say there are intelligent subsystems 
by 
making a somewhat arbitrary cut between subsystem and environment.  This still 
seems 
different from a recording though.  The recording is only of the paths actually 
taken, whereas looking at the program you can see other paths that could have 
been 
taken - just as you say the rock computes because you *could have* pushed it 
the 
other way.

And in anycase  there does seem to be quantum randomness.

Brent Meeker


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