Hello again Jesse,
I am going to assume that by trashing computationalism that Marc Geddes 
has enough ammo to vitiate Eleizer's various predilections.... so... to 
that end...

Your various comments (see below) have a common thread of the form "I 
see no reason why you can't ..X.". So let's focus on reasons why you 
can't ...X.  These are numerous and visible in real - empirically 
verifiable physics...let's look at it from a dynamics point of view. In 
saying 'you can see no reason....' would mean that if you chose a 
computationalist abstraction level (you mentioned atoms) that you would 
claim the resultant agent able to demonstrate scientific behaviour 
indistinguishable from a human.

I would claim that to be categorically false and testably so. OK. 
Firstly call the computationalist artificial scientist, COMP_S. Call the 
human scientist HUMAN_S. Call computationalism COMP. This saves a lot of 
writing! The test regime:

HUMAN_S constructs laws of nature tn using the human faculty for 
observation (call it P) delivered by real atoms in the brain of HUMAN_S. 
If COMP_S and HUMAN_S are to be indistinguishable then the state 
dynamics (state vector space) of COMP_S must be as sophisticated, 
accessible as HUMAN_S and ALSO /convergent on the same outcomes as those 
of HUMAN_S/. Our test is that they both converge on a law of nature tn, 
say. Note: tn is a abstracted statement of an underlying generalisation 
in respect of the distal external natural world (such as tn = ta, a 
model of an atom). Yes? That is what we do... the portability of laws of 
nature tn proves that we have rendered such abstractions invariant to 
the belief dynamics of any particular scientist.. Yes?

HUMAN_S constructs a model of atoms a 'law of nature' =  ta.  Using that 
model ta we then implement a sophisticated computational version of  
HUMAN_S at the level of the model: atoms. We assemble an atomic-level 
model replica of HUMAN_S. We run the computation on a host COMP 
substrate. This becomes our COMP_S. We expect the two to be identical to 
the extent of delivering indistinguishable scientific behaviour. We 
embody  COMP_S with IO as sophisticated as a human and wire it up....If  
the computationalist position holds, by definition, the dynamics of 
COMP_S must be (a) complex enough and (b) have access to sufficient 
disambiguated information to construct tn indistinguishably from HUMAN_S.

If computationalism is true then given the same circumstance of original 
knowledge paucity (which can be tested), A demand for a scientific 
outcome should result in state-vector dynamics adaptation resulting in 
the delivery of the same tn (also testable), which we demand shall be 
radically novel.... If they are really equivalent this should happen. 
This is the basic position (I don't want to write it out again!)

I would claim the state trajectory of COMP_S to be fatally impoverished 
by the model ta. (abstracted atoms). That is, the state-trajectory of 
COMP_S would fail to consistently converge on a new law of nature tn and 
would demonstrate instability (chaotic behaviour). Just like ungrounded 
power supplly voltage drift about, a symbolically  ungrounded COMP_S 
will epistemically drift about.

Indeed I would hold that would be the case no matter what the 
abstraction level: sub-atomic, sub-sub atomic , sub sub sub atomic 
...... etc ... the result would be identical. Remember: there's no such 
'thing' as atoms...these are an abstraction - of a particular level of 
the organisational hierarchy of nature. .... also note ... so-called' 
ab-initio quantum mechanics of the entire HUMAN_S would also fail 
because QM is likewise just an abstraction of reality, not reality. COMP 
would claim that the laws of nature describing atoms behave identically 
to atoms. The model ensemble of ta atoms should be capable of expressing 
all the emergent properties of  an ensemble of real atoms. This already 
makes COMP a self-referential question-begging outcome.  HUMAN_S is our 
observer, made of real atoms. COMP assumes that P is delivered by 
computing ta when there is no such 'thing' as atoms! Atoms are an 
abstraction of a thing, not a thing. Furthermore, all the orighinal 
atoms of HUMAN_S have been replaced with the atoms of the COMP_S substrate.

What is NOT in law of nature ta is the relationship between the 
abstraction ta and all the other atoms in the distal world outside 
COMP_S. (beyond the IO boundary). Assume you supplied all the data about 
all the atoms in the environment of the original human HUMAN_S used to 
construct and initialise COMP_S. You know all these relationships at the 
moment you measured all the atoms in HUMAN_S to get you model 
established. However, after initialisation, when you run the COMP_S, all 
relationships of the model with the distal world (those intrinsic to the 
atoms which the model replaced) are GONE .... the instant the 
abstraction happens, from that moment on you know NOTHING about the 
current state of the distal environment...all you have is IO 
measurements. You cannot claim that the model includes all those 
relationships because you are doing SCIENCE and you cannot a-priori know 

That is, the very thing you mention below - interaction between 
component parts - cannot be claimed to be 100% complete because all the 
relationships with the distal natural world are GONE - the relationship 
of the original atoms with space and everything else has been replaced 
by a model inside a totally different substrate where the relationships 
are abstracted and cannot even be guessed. They are GONE. You can't 
replace them because you are doing science and you don't know where the 
items are, nor do you know their nature - for you are doing science to 
find that out! The IO is fundamentally degenerately related to the 
distal world and there is no supervision.

RE: No free lunch theorem (NFL)
The scenario around which NFL is constructed is functionally 
indistinguishable to COMP. Your "machine learning" mission is to choose 
functions to match measurements, not match laws of nature to 
observations. The former happens at the periphery (in data). The latter 
happens in the phenomenal consciousness of an appropriately endowed 
scientist who has a view of the origination of the measurements and can 
then contextualise them into a law of nature.  There is no a-priori way 
of distinguishing a 'law of nature' describing the origination of 
measurements from the measurements themselves. It is impossible to 
construct such a thing from the peripheral measurements alone....QM 
degeneracy prohibits that. A function that predicts the behaviour of 
data is *not a law of nature*. The data in COMP_S arrives, just as it 
arrives in the NFL scenario... without context - no amount of IO cross 
correlation restores access to the distal real world- remember the 
artificial scientist is demanded to be fundamentally unsupervised 
'learning' of tn.

*Game over!*
Note that thios does not mean I hold that an "artificial scientist" is 
impossible. Far from it: it is my mission in life (artificial general 
intelligence). I hold that it will not happen with ABSTRACT computation. 
I aim to build chips with all the REAL molecular electrodynamics in them 
where everything important to cognition is conserved... It's what my 
science is about. I am not building a COMP_S. I am building an 
INORGANIC_S with all the physics in it. Such a creature does NOT do 
abstract computation (manipulate abstract symbols) Yes there are 
manipulation of the abstraction called the 'action potential'... but 
this is < 50% of reality.

So once again I reiterate: COMP is FALSE, but not in the way you think. 
It's false as a general claim because it can't simulate a scientist in 
the act of doing an original scientific act on the a-priori unknown. 
Indeed the use of the word 'simulate' is an oxymoron. You can't simulate 
an original scientific act. If an artefact does the science then there 
is no simulating going on - the act is REAL SCIENCE. Conversely if you 
get an artefact to simulate a scientific act then it cannot be original 
(you must have all the knowledge a-priori) ... and therefore, when faced 
with radical novelty the same agent will fail because ultimately it 
relied on human supervision - humans defined what novelty looks like.

This position is not a trivial/simplistic position. It clarifies a great 
deal in an unexpected way. Throughout this whole discourse it has been 
the assumption that you can 'simulate' everything. This is almost 
true.... 99.9999999% true... except for this one special 
circumstance.... simulating an original scientific act... where 
simulation is merely meaningless/useless, not wrong!

A final nuance.

In claiming COMP to be false now I make the claim based merely on the 
balance of probabilities - after proper critical argument in respect of 
design choices. Maybe one day when we've built INORGANIC_S with the 
full  electrodynamics of real brain material and acquired more knowledge 
of the possible roles of abstract computation in such an entity - maybe 
then we'll be in a better position to entertain 100% COMP_S. I doubt it 
but I'm willing to entertain the possibiltiy d from a vantage point of 
HINDSIGHT, not assumption.....What I claim is that right now the COMP 
assumption is a critically inferior choice for very practical, 
empirically testable reasons. As such COMP is to be eschewed as an AGI 
design choice. yes COMP can be used to model brain behaviour and the 
science will be useful... but "COGNITION is COMP" is an invalid stance. 
It was 50 years ago and it daily grows more erroneous.

RE: Uploading? IMHO this will be possible with my chips, but impossible 
with purely COMP chips. It will depend on the existence of imaging 
systems with sub-molecular-level spatial resolution and on a 
time-resolution of the order of nano-seconds worst case.. In the interim 
it may be better to replace your brain with my chips...slowly...and then 
the rest of the hardware - slowly... you'd end up 100% inorganic, but 
you would NOT be a COMP entity. This is more doable in the shorter term.

So I can think of multiple reasons 'why you can't...X'......Thanks for 
forcing me to verbalise the argument...in yet another way...


Colin Hales

Jesse Mazer wrote:
> Colin Hales wrote:
>> Hi!
>> Assumptions assumption assumptions....take a look: You said:
>> "Why would you say that? Computer simulations can certainly produce results 
>> you didn't already know about, just look at genetic algorithms."
>> OK. here's the rub... "You didn't already know about...".
>> Just exactly 'who' (the 'you') is 'knowing' in this statement?
>> You automatically put an external observer outside my statement.
> Of course, I was talking about the humans running the program, which I 
> assumed is what you meant by "you" in the statement "If you could compute a 
> scientist you would already know everything!" If there is no fundamental 
> barrier to simple computer programs like genetic algorithms coming up with 
> results we didn't expect or know about in advance, I see no fundamental 
> reason why you couldn't have vastly more complex computer programs simulating 
> entire human brains, and these programs would act just like regular 
> biological brains, coming up with ideas that neither external observers 
> watching them nor they themselves (assuming they are conscious just like us) 
> knew about in advance.
>> My observer is the knower. There is no other knower: The scientist who gets 
>> to know is the person I am talking about! There's nobody else around who 
>> gets to decide what is known... you put that into my story where there is 
>> none.
> Like I said, when you wrote "If you could compute a scientist you would 
> already know everything", I assumed the "you" referred to a person watching 
> the program run, not to the program itself. But if you want to eliminate this 
> and just have one conscious being, I see no reason why the program itself 
> couldn't be conscious, and couldn't creatively invent knew ideas it didn't 
> know before they occurred to it, just like a biological human scientist can 
> do.
>> A genetic algorithm (that is, a specific kind of computationalist 
>> manipulation of abstract symbols) cannot be a scientist. Even the 'no free 
>> lunch' theorem, proves that without me adding anything....
> No it doesn't. The free lunch program only applies when you sum over all 
> possible fitness landscapes, most of which would look completely random (i.e. 
> nearby points on the landscape are no more likely to have nearby fitness 
> values than are distant points--see the diagram of a random fitness landscape 
> in section 5.3 of the article at 
> http://www.talkreason.org/articles/choc_nfl.cfm#nflt ), whereas if you're 
> dealing with the subclass of relatively smooth fitness landscapes that 
> describe virtually all the sorts of problems we're interested in (where being 
> close to an optimal solution is likely to be better than being far from it), 
> then genetic algorithms can certainly do a lot better than most other types 
> of algorithms.
> Anyway, I didn't say that a genetic algorithm can "be a scientist", just that 
> if "you" are a human observer watching it run, it can come up with things 
> that you didn't already know. I think a very detailed simulation of a human 
> brain at the synaptic level, of the kind that is meant when people discuss 
> "mind uploading" (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_uploading ) should in 
> principle be capable of displaying all the same abilities as the biological 
> brain it's a simulation of, including scientific abilities. Anyone who 
> believes in scientific reductionism--that the behavior of complex systems is 
> ultimately due to the sum of interactions of all its parts, which interact in 
> lawlike ways--should grant that this sort of thing must be possible *in 
> principle*, whether or not we are ever actually able to achieve it as a 
> technical matter.
>> but just to seal the lid on it....I would defy any computationalist artefact 
>> based on abstract symbol manipulation to come up with a "law of nature" ...
> I take it you reject the idea that the brain is an "artefact" whose 
> large-scale behavior ultimately boils down to the interaction of all its 
> constituent atoms, which interact according to laws which can be approximated 
> arbitrarily well by a computer simulation? (if space and time are really 
> continuous the approximation can never be perfect, but it can be arbitrarily 
> close)
> >

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