On Tue, Jun 12, 2007 at 09:33:00AM +1000, Colin Hales wrote:
> Hi again,
> Russel:
> I'm sorry, but you worked yourself up into an incomprehensible
> rant. Is evolution creative in your view or not? If it is, then there is
> little point debating definitions, as we're in agreement. If not, then we
> clearly use the word creative in different senses, and perhaps defintion
> debates have some utility.
> Colin:
> There wasn't even the slightest edge of 'rant' in the post. Quite calm,
> measured and succinct, actually. Its apparent incomprehensibility? I have
> no clue what that could be.... it's quite plain...
> RE: 'creativity'
> ... Say at stage t the biosphere was at complexity level X and then at
> stage t = t+(something), the biosphere complexity was at KX, where X is
> some key performance indicator of complexity (eg entropy) and K > 1 ....

Thats exactly what I mean by a creative process. And I also have a
fairly precise definition of complexity, but I certainly accept
proxies as these are usually easier to measure. For example
Bedau-Packard statistics...

> This could be called creative if you like. Like Prigogine did. I'd caution
> against the tendency to use the word because it has so many loaded
> meanings that are suggestive of much more then the previous para.

Most scientific terms have common usage in sharp contrast to the
scientific meanings. Energy is a classic example eg "I've run out of
energy" when referring to motivation or tiredness. If the statement
were literally true, the speaker would be dead. This doesn't prevent
sensible scientific discussion using the term in a well defined way.

I know of no other technical meanings of the word creative, so I don't
see a problem here.

> Scientifically the word could be left entirely out of any desciptions of
> the biosphere.

Only by generating a new word that means the same thing (ie the well
defined concept we talked about before).

> The bogus logic I detect in posts around this area...
> 'Humans are complex and are conscious'
> 'Humans were made by a complex biosphere'
> therefore
> 'The biosphere is conscious'

Perhaps so, but not from me. 

To return to your original claim:

 Re: How would a computer know if it were conscious?


"The computer would be able to go head to head with a human in a competition.
The competition?
Do science on exquisite novelty that neither party had encountered.
(More interesting: Make their life depend on getting it right. The
survivors are conscious)."

"Doing science on exquisite novelty" is simply an example of a
creative process. Evolution produces exquisite novelty. Is it science
- well maybe not, but both science and evolution are search
processes. I think that taking the Popperian view of science would
imply that both science and biological evolution are exemplars of a
generic evolutionary process. There is variation (of hypotheses or
species), there is selection (falsification in the former or
extinction in the latter) and there is heritability (scientific
journal articles / genetic code).

So it seems the only real difference between doing science and
evolving species is that one is performed by conscious entities, and
the other (pace IDers) is not. But this rather begs your answer in a
trivial way. What if I were to produce an evolutionary algorithm that
performs science in the convention everyday use of the term - lets say
by forming hypotheses and mining published datasets for testing
them. It is not too difficult to imagine this - after all John Koza
has produced several new patents in the area of electrical circuits
from an Evolutionary Programming algorithm. Is this evolutionary
algorithm conscious then?


A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
UNSW SYDNEY 2052                         [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Australia                                http://www.hpcoders.com.au

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