[ExI] Question for the psych squad

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Sat Jul 1 16:27:26 UTC 2017

On Sat, Jul 1, 2017 at 3:57 AM, Stuart LaForge <avant at sollegro.com> wrote:

​> ​
> One characteristic of Turing machines is that they are subject to the
> Halting Problem. Briefly, the HP is the mathematical theorem that there is,
> in principle, no way to predict whether any given TM will, for any given
> input, eventually stop or get stuck in an infinite loop.

​Actually "loop" isn't quite the right word because loops repeat and a
machine could theoretically tell if it's been in its present state before;
but Turing showed that sometimes you could be on a hopeless task with no
way of knowing you're on a hopeless task, you never repeat yourself but you
never get to your goal either. Real minds seldom get stuck like this
because of a great invention of Evolution, boredom.  Of course there is no
way for Evolution or anything else to know for certain the perfect place to
give up and move on to other problems so real minds must use educated
guesses based on rules of thumb, statistics, and ranking problems in order
of importance; in other words based on judgment.

> ​> ​
> Are there known cases of people who if left untreated would continue
> performing their compulsion until exhaustion? Or people who literally
> cannot stop thinking about their obsession while awake?

Like every other characteristic the boredom point is not the same for all
the individuals in a population; I have a theory that for world class
mathematicians the boredom point is set very high so they can give their
full concentration to problems long after you or I would have given up.
That may also be why great mathematicians often tend to be a bit...odd.
There may be a fine line between insanity and genius.

​ ​
John K Clark
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