Vitalism would be that there are some substances which are used by
biological organisms and others that are not. There would be no bump from
cell to animal to human being, or even from molecule to cell - vitalism
would be that living cells are composed of life-giving molecules which are
fundamentally different from non life-giving molecules. I'm not saying that
at all. I am saying that you can have all the organic chemistry you like and
you still won't get cells unless the molecules themselves figure out how to
make them. I don't say that silicon can't make cells, only that they haven't
so far, and that if we force silicon to act like cells, they won't be the
same as organic cells which generate themselves naturally.

They certainly won't be the same but, how will they differ?  Do you claim
that such a non-biological cell will not be able to perform each and every
action that is performed by a biological cell?  If you do make such claim,
on what basis, what justification do you make that claim?


Clearly you believe that organic chemistry has something that computer chips

Clearly you believe that there is nothing that a ham sandwich has that a bag
of sand lacks.

perhaps you don't like the phrase "vital life force" for that difference and
prefer some other euphemism, but it amounts to the same thing.    

No, it is not the same thing in any way. I am specifically saying that there
are no forces or fields in the universe. None. Not literally anyhow. No more
than there is a force which stops my car at a red light. There is only
sense: perception and participation on different levels of qualitative


> Programs can and do produce outcomes that are not directly anticipated by
the programmer



> but that these outcomes are trivial

If they could only do trivial stuff computers would not have become a
multitrillion dollar industry that has revolutionized the modern world.   

That's like saying 'If soft drinks were just carbonated sugar water with
drugs in it, they wouldn't have become a  multibillion dollar industry...".
It's a fallacy and a misrepresentation of my comment. I didn't ever say that
computers can only 'do trivial stuff', only that their capacity to exceed
the constraints of their programming is trivial. Computers have capacities
that far exceed our own, but only in some respects and not others. They are
good at doing boring repetitive shit that we can't stand doing. Why are they
good at it? Because they are unbelievably stupid. They will compute Pi to
the last digit until they corrode just because someone accidentally pressed
the enter key. Dumb. Not sentient. No awareness. They don't care, they don't
feel, they don't understand...anything at all. Those are things that we are
(supposedly) good at.


This is a problematic statement.  Consider Myhill's work on constructor
machines, where their abilities to construct is unbounded.  Each machine is
able to construct 

a machine having just slightly greater construction capacity, ad infinitum.
See the paper The Abstract Theory of Self-Reproduction as presented in Burks
collection Essays on Cellular Automata, U of Illinois Press, 1970.


>Conway's game of life can produce a new kind of glider, but it can't come
up with the invention of Elvis Presley, 

Not true. You can make a Turing Machine out of things other than a long
paper tape, you can make one out of the game of life by using the gliders to
send information; and if you started with the correct initial conditions you
could have a game of life Turing Machine instruct matter how to move so that
the matter was indistinguishable from the flesh and blood king of rock and

You are missing my point entirely. It is no trick to make Elvis from a
machine which has the correct initial conditions to make Elvis. The point is
that no amount of GoL transitions strung together will ever become anything
other than what it is - recursively enumerated digits. There is nothing to
generate any qualities other than that in the machine or the program - any
patterns which we project on this data; 'gliders', 'cells', whatever, are
nothing but simulacra...the projections of our own psyche.


Thus my interest in constructing machines, not just Turing machines.
Biological organisms are at root built on the backs of constructing



> We only use materials which are subject to absolute control by outside
intervention and behave in an absolutely automatic way to sustain those
introduced controls. Living organisms are very much the opposite of that

The opposite of  "automatic way" is random way.

That is your completely unsupported prejudice. The legal system of every
human group that has ever persisted on Earth would disagree. The opposite of
automatic, according to them, is voluntary or intentional. Welcome to planet
Earth, where there are things we like to call living organisms who are able
to do things 'on purpose' rather than randomly or unconsciously.

It might actually take a program to get random; random not necessarily
opposite of automatic.



  John K Clark

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