On Tue, May 29, 2012 at 12:21 AM, Colin Geoffrey Hales <
> Here's a story I just wrote. I'll get it published in due course.
> Just posted it to the FoR list, thought you might appreciate the
> It's 100,000 BCE. You are a politically correct caveperson. You want
> dinner. The cooling body of the dead thing at your feet seems to be your
> option. You have fire back at camp. That'll make it palatable. The fire is
> kept alive by the fire-warden of your tribe. None of you have a clue what
> it is, but it makes the food edible and you don't care.
> It's 1700ish AD. You are a French scientist called Lavoisier. You have
> just worked out that burning adds oxygen to the fuel. You have killed off
> an eternity of dogma involving a non-existent substance called phlogiston.
> You will not be popular, but the facts speak for you. You are happy with
> your day's work. You go to the kitchen and cook your fine pheasant meal.
> You realise that oxidation never had to figure in your understanding of how
> to make dinner. Food for thought is your dessert.
> It is 2005 and you are designing a furnace. You use COMSOL Multiphysics on
> your supercomputer. You modify the gas jet configuration and the flames
> finally get the dead pocket in the corner up to temperature. The toilet
> bowls will be well cooked here, you think to yourself. If you suggested to
> your project leader that the project was finished she would think you are
> insane. Later, in commissioning your furnace, a red hot toilet bowl is the
> target of your optical pyrometer. The fierceness of the furnace is palpable
> and you're glad you're not the toilet bowl. The computation of the physics
> of fire and the physics of fire are, thankfully, not the same thing - that
> fact has made your job a lot easier, but you cannot compute yourself a
> toilet bowl. A fact made more real shortly afterwards in the bathroom.
> It is the early 20th century and you are a 'Wright Brother'. You think you
> can make a contraption fly. Your inspiration is birds. You experiment with
> shaped wood, paper and canvas in a makeshift wind tunnel. You figure out
> that certain shapes seems to drag less and lift more. Eventually you flew a
> few feet. And you have absolutely no clue about the microscopic physics of
> It is a hundred years later and you are a trainee pilot doing 'touch and
> go' landings in a simulator. The physics of flight is in the massive
> computer system running the simulator. Just for fun you stall your jetliner
> and crash it into a local shopping mall. Today you have flown 146, 341 km.
> As you leave the simulator, you remind yourself that the physics of flight
> in the computer and flight itself are not the same thing, and that nobody
> died today.
> No-one ever needed a theory of combustion prior to cooking dinner with it.
> We cooked dinner and then we eventually learned a theory of combustion.
> No-one needed the deep details of flight physics to work out how to fly.
> We few, then we figured out how the physics of flight worked.
> This is the story of the growth of scientific knowledge of the natural
> world. It has been this way for thousands of years. Any one of us could
> think of a hundred examples of exactly this kind of process. In a modern
> world of computing and physics, never before have we had more power to
> examine in detail, whatever are the objects of our study. And in each and
> every case, if anyone told you that a computed model of the natural world
> and the natural world are literally the same thing, you'd brand them daft
> or deluded and probably not entertain their contribution as having any
> Well almost. There's one special place where not only is that very
> delusion practised on a massive scale, if you question the behaviour, you
> are suddenly confronted with a generationally backed systematic raft of
> unjustified excuses, perhaps 'policies'?, handed from mentor to novice with
> such unquestioning faith that entire scientific disciplines are enrolled in
> the delusion.
> Q. What scientific discipline could this be?
> A. The 'science' of artificial intelligence.
> It is something to behold. Here, for the first time in history, you find
> people that look at the only example of natural general intelligence - you,
> the human reading this - accept a model of a brain, put it in a computer
> and then expect the result to be a brain. This is done without a shred of
> known physical law, in spite of thousands of years of contrary experience,
> and despite decades of abject failure to achieve the sacred goal of an
> artificial intelligence like us.
> This belief system is truly bizarre. It is exactly like the cave person
> drawing a picture of a flame on a rock and then expecting it to cook
> dinner. It is exactly like getting into a flight simulator, flying it to
> Paris and then expecting to get out and have dinner on the banks of the
> Seine. It is exactly like expecting your computer simulated furnace
> roasting you a toilet bowl.
> Think about it. If there was no difference between a computed physics
> model of fire and fire, then why doesn't the computer burst into flames? If
> there was no difference between a computed model of flight and flight, then
> why doesn't the computer leap up and fly? These things don't happen! Not
> only that, any computer scientist would say you were nuts to believe it to
> be a possibility. Then that same computer scientist will then got back to
> their desk, sit down and believe that their computer program can be brain
> Now I am all about creating real artificial general intelligence. Call me
> crazy, but I find I am unique in the entire world. I am set about literally
> building artificial inorganic brain tissue. Like the Wright Bros built
> artificial flight. Like the caveperson built artificial fire. I will build
> artificial cognition. There will be no computing. There will be the physics
> of cognition.
> Ay now here's the rub.
> When I go about my business of organising and researching my artificial
> brain tissue I get questioned about my weird approach. I find that I am the
> one that has to justify my position! For the first time in history a
> completely systemic delusion about the relation between reality and
> computing is assumed by legions of scientists without question, and who
> fail constantly to achieve the goal for clearly obvious reasons..... _and I
> am the one that has to justify my approach_? If I have to listen to another
> deferral to the Church-Turing Thesis (100% right and 100% irrelevant) I
> will SCREAM! Aaaaiiiiieeeeeiiiiuuuuaaaaaaarrrrgggggh!
> I am not saying artificial general intelligence is impossible or even
> hard. I am simply suggesting that maybe the route toward it is through
> (shock horror) using the physics of cognition (brain material). Somebody
> out there..... please? Can there please be someone out there who sees this
> half century of computer science weirdness in 100,000 years of sanity?
> Please? Anyone?
> By Colin Hales
> Natural physics is a computation. Fine.
> But a computed natural physics model is NOT the natural physics....it is
> the natural physics of a computer.
I recently read the following excerpt from "The Singularity is Near" on
"The basis of the strong (Church-Turing thesis) is that problems that are
not solvable on a Turing Machine cannot be solved by human thought,
either. The basis of this thesis is that human thought is performed by the
human brain (with some influence by the body), that the human brain (and
body) comprises matter and energy, that matter and energy follow natural
laws, that these laws are describable in mathematical terms, and that
mathematics can be simulated to any degree of precision by algorithms.
Therefore there exist algorithms that can simulate human thought. The
strong version of the Church-Turing thesis postulates an essential
equivalence between what a human can think or know, and what is computable."
So which of the following four link(s) in the logical chain do you take
A. human brain (and body) comprises matter and energy
B. that matter and energy follow natural laws,
C. that these laws are describable in mathematical terms
D. that mathematics can be simulated to any degree of precision by
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