[extropy-chat] Fragmentation of computations

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Mon Mar 26 02:09:30 UTC 2007

Russell writes

> On 3/25/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> > So, sadly, I'm reduced to a 99.9% functionalist.  Show me a
> > working device that looks like a duck, sounds like a duck and
> > acts like a duck, and I'll agree that it's a duck.  But then I will
> > back off if you somehow are able to make the case that in 
> > this particular instance it is not a causal process.
> Since when is database lookup not a causal process?

Yes, it itself is a causal process, but it blocks the information flow
from one state to the next for the process in question.  Or, if you
think of it in Life terms, the information contained in one generation
doesn't directly give rise to the next generation.

Instead, it's funneled through the lookup table.  For example,
say that you create a perfect hash of the present state, or present
generation, and interpret this as an address in the lookup
table, and the "next" generation, or state, is supposed to be
stored at that address.  But exactly what is stored there is rather
arbitrary; what is stored there is not necessarily the same computation
as generated by the rules of Life, or your physics.  Naturally,
to achieve a realistic simulation (though, I claim, a failed emulation)
of a person or conscious process, you would have the correct next
state stored at that address. 

(If you were to change one pixel in the generation, then the address
could be vastly different.  But in the real computations which 
exemplify what we think is going on in a conscious program,
or would be going on in a giant Life board, a tiny change only
makes a small and *local* change in the next state.)

This is a crucial point, and, I think, a difficult one.  Thanks to anyone
who can either explain it better or shed light on it.


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