[ExI] Do digital computers feel?

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Fri Dec 30 14:50:18 UTC 2016

On Fri, Dec 30, 2016 at 12:50 AM, Rafal Smigrodzki <
rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 1:59 PM, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>>> That neurons are complicated is no argument against their computability.
>>> A valid such argument would involve a claim that neurons utilise
>>> non-computable physics.
> ### Well, there are non-computable mathematical problems, why can't you
> have non-computable physics (at least, not computable on digital computers
> with finite storage)?
> This is an important part of the argument I proposed when starting the
> thread - that there could be qualitative differences between digital
> simulations of brains and the inherently analog computations that occur in
> brains.
They are possible, but up until now, all known physical laws are
computable, which is why Penrose and Hameroff have to propose a speculative
undiscovered physics for their theory to rest upon. It is worth noting,
that what led Penrose to his belief that the brain does incomputable things
was his idea that halting problem does not apply to humans. Turning
discovered the Halting problem, which was the idea that no fixed computer
program can decide whether any other given program will complete or not.
But it would seem this limitation applies to humans as well. $1,000,000 was
offered to any person who could prove whether or not this simple program
ever finishes or not, the prize was never claimed:

Step 1: Set X = 4
Step 2: Set R = 0
Step 3: For each Y from 1 to X. if both Y and (X - Y) are prime, set R = 1
Step 4: If R = 1, Set X = X + 2 and go to Step 2
Step 5: If R = 0, print X and halt

Given that humans appear equally limited by the halting problem, the entire
motivation for Penrose and Hameroff to propose there exist undiscovered
physical laws that are incomputable evaporated.

This is not to say that there could not be, but there are none that are
known. Moreover, they would have to be exploited by the brain, in other
words, the laws would have to have been already discovered by natural
selection, but not yet by us. There is evidence against this. IBM's Blue
Brain project and others have implemented realistic simulations of
biological neurons and groups of neurons. No speculative physical laws had
to be assumed for these models to accurately mimic the behaviors of
similarly arranged groups of biological neurons.

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