[] On Behalf Of Jason Resch
Sent: Thursday, 7 July 2011 4:16 PM
Subject: Re: COMP refutation paper - finally out



On Wed, Jul 6, 2011 at 10:22 PM, Colin Geoffrey Hales
<> wrote:

Hi Richard et. al.,
Wow that thread just keeps on going!

I am designing chips that do what the brain does. There is ZERO
computing. The use of the chips is, I believe a viable source of
empirical verification of the claims of the kind that have been
discussed in this thread, insofar as any practical outcomes speak to
that end. Rather than talk about it, I'd rather just build them and
start using them.

I'd like to make an interesting (at least I think, anyway) observation.

AGI is a case of technology design, unlike any other design in the
history of technology engineering, in the construction of an artificial
version of a natural phenomenon, the original physics of the natural
phenomenon (the activity found in a brain) has been discarded, yet the
natural phenomenon is expected to occur!

The telephone enables conversations to occur over a digital,
informational medium, discarding the original physics of the direct
vibration from one person's mouth to the other's ear.  With the
appropriate wiring, sound and vibration could be eliminated altogether,
using sensors in the throat muscles to determine speech (
ld-help-sufferers-of-cerebral-palsy.html ) and replacing the headphone
with wires connected directly to one's cochlea.  When it comes to
information transmission, storage, processing, there are many physical
substitutes and possible instantiations.

        Consider if such an approach had been adopted in the case of the
        creation of 'artificial fire'. Gronk the ancient hominid has
pushed a
        rock into a clearing and carefully painted flames on the side of
        rock. Gronk then erects meat on a spit over the pretend flames
and waits
        for the feast to be cooked. The physics of fire has been
replaced by the
        physics of a rock. In the modern approach to AGI, in exactly the
        way, the physics of cognition has been replaced by the physics
of a
        slightly more complicated, hotter rock: a semiconductor chipset.
        of the flames drawn on the rock, we have drawn the program in
        chipset. Just like Gronk we await our meal of AGI. After 60
years, we
        are still waiting. What delusion has us believing it ever will?

What Gronk wanted was the experience of a warm meal.  This can be
achieved without the need for any meal at all, as our dreams show is
possible, and in the same way a flight simulator can provide the
experience of flight without leaving the ground.  What leads you to
believe the material in the brain must contain only particals having
certain chemical or nuclear bonds?  In the end, that is the only
difference between the material in the brain and the material in a rock
or a computer chip.  After all, they are all made of quarks and
electrons.  Saying thought is only possible with certain biological
material is like saying flight is only  possible with feathers.  With
flight, it is the design and organization of the matter which is
important to getting off the ground.  The same is claimed by
computationalism regarding thought.

Also, to expect AGI with the machines of today, (never mind those of 60
years ago) is like expecting a pocket calculator to render the movie
Avatar.  I've estimated that just to store the connections of all the
synapses in the human brain would require about 50,000 TB (nevermind the
processing that would be required).  Our technology is, however, quickly
closing in on these levels of storage and processing.  With the current
rate of growth these levels will be met within a few decades.

Any regular user of the Internet knows how difficult it is to read
CAPTCHA's, I struggle to correctly enter them all the time, take a look
at Google's:
They are so difficult today because AI capable of recognizing text is
that advanced.  As AI advances in little steps the domain of what we
consider requires true intelligence is continually shrinking.  If you
had a time machine to go back to the 1970s and you told them everything
AI has accomplished they would think we were most of the way there, with
our voice recognition, automatic translation, self driving cars,
automated credit card fraud detection and classification of commercial
junk e-mail, artificial grandmaster chess players, and so on.  These are
tremendous accomplishments, and that its taken 60 years to get this far
is nothing to scoff at when you consider it took nature billions of
years to get to us.  General intelligence is just a very big collection
of specialized intelligences, it is not a binary thing that you either
have or do not (in my opinion).


        You can list example after example of the implementation of
        human technology that can be expressed in the same way (eg
flight, the
        wheel, telephone, transport, power generation, lightning, the
        ..etc etc). In some technology, computation has been very
        included in the causal chain that implements the technology.
However, in
        terms of the artificial instigation of a natural phenomenon,
there is no
        instance where a model successfully eliminated the natural
        underlying it. Indeed the idea itself would be thought very odd.
        Yet in AGI that is what we have been doing for 60 years. It is
        to see that an exceptionless chain of hundreds/thousands of
        successful technology development (and related science) outcomes
        has, in the modern era, one exception. It is the only instance
where we
        humans have decided to pretend to create a human technology:
        design, without exception, we have chosen to use computers and
        computing. Indeed such is the pervasiveness of it, if you
suggest to AGI
        designers that failure will ensue in the same way that computed
fire is
        not fire, you will elicit incredulity.

When you feel pain from sticking your hand in a fire, is it because the
chemical effects of heat have reached your brain, or is it because the
nerve signal has been communicated to your brain?  What is to prevent
part of this signal propagation from being substituted with some other
implementation, such as fiber optic cable?  How far up into the brain
can this swapping be done before it no longer burns?




You have missed the point. When you feel pain in your hand your are
feeling it because the physics of specific specialized small regions of
the cranial central nervous system are doing things. This includes (1)
action potentials mutually resonating with (2) a gigantic EM field
system in extremely complex ways. Exactly how and why this specific
arrangement of atoms and behaviour delivers it is irrelevant. It is
enough to know that it does. More than that it is the ONLY example of
natural cognition we have.


The whole point of this argument is that unlike any other time in the
history of science, we are expecting the particular physics (that we
know delivers  cognition) can be totally replaced (by the physics of a
computer or even worse, a non-existent Turing machine) , yet still
result in cognition. 


If you believe that computed physics equations is indistinguishable from
physics, to the point that a computed model of the physics of cognition
is cognition, then why don't you expect a computed model of combustion
physics to burst into flames and replace your cooker? Why can't you go
to work in a computed model of a car that spontaneously springs into
your life? Why don't you expect to be able to light your room with a
computed model of the physics of a lightbulb? Why can't you compute
Maxwell's equations and create a power station?


Here's the mantra (a) "COGNITION IS COMPUTATION"


Well if so, then why isn't ILLUMINATION BY LIGHT a result of COMPUTATION
OF LIGHTBULB PHYSICS? That would be the prediction if (a) were true. A
computation of hurricane physics is not a hurricane. But then nobody
wants to create a hurricane, nor do we expect the computation to produce
one!..... But we do want to literally create cognition...and we do then,
for no valid reason, assume that computation delivers it. We are being
inconsistent and a fundamental level. We build Pinocchio the
computational puppet and kid ourselves it's somehow a boy.


A computer is not a set of resonating action potential/electromagnetic
fields of the kind found in a brain, not matter what the program is. I
know this because I am an electrical engineer+neurobiophysicist. You
cannot argue that the result is cognition without making a dramatic
presupposition/conflation about computing of the kind that creates this
mess in the first place.


This is the logical result of that belief. We have the natural world to
work with (atoms and space). That's our computer.  Either the (Turing)
computational equivalence applies everywhere or it doesn't apply at all.
Therefore it doesn't apply at all. 


We can't have it both ways.





You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at

Reply via email to