[extropy-chat] Role of Observer is not Relevant

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sun Apr 1 03:00:30 UTC 2007

On 4/1/07, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:

On Sat, Mar 31, 2007 at 11:39:15PM +1000, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> >    OK, so you take the whole simulation (with an agent that can count)
> >    and run it on a system that is Turing-equivalent (I used an abacus
> >    above; a counter machine is Turing-equivalent and resembles an
> >    abacus). This running can take one of three forms: (a) the TM
> designer
> >    physically manipulates the machine; (b) the TM designer writes out a
> >    program and has an ignorant person who can follow instructions
> >    manipulate the machine; (c) the wind happens to manipulate the
> machine
> >    in the same way as the human would have. Does the program run and
> >    counting occur in each case?
> Sorry, as long as you won't touch the Hash Life scenario
> (observer + environment implemented in
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashlife which
> is Turing complete http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway's_Game_of_Life), no
> dice.

A Life board will do, although it is more physically complex than a counter
machine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counter_machine). We don't need to
discuss Hash Life because I am not looking at shortcuts to compute frames
out of sequence: let's assume that in general there aren't any. If Life is
Turing-complete, then there is some configuration of cells which will
compute the program "an oscillator driving a counter driving a comparator
driving a bomb detonator", all in a virtual environment. We can imagine a
physical Life board with little toggle switches in each square, such that
"up" corresponds to "black" and "down" corresponds to "white". If a human
operator ignorant of what this all means flicks the switches according to
the usual rules of life, does that constitute running of the program? What
about if the switches are operated in exactly the same combinations due to
random events, like a child playing with the board but having no knowledge
of the rules, as well as no knowledge of the program?

Stathis Papaioannou
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