Emergence of behavior through software

Lynn H. Maxson lmaxson@pacbell.net
Fri, 06 Oct 2000 08:56:44 -0700 (PDT)

Fare wrote:
"Again, you insist on this trivial point that is completely 
irrelevant to any debate regarding emerging systems and artificial 

Irrelevant?  We have an agreement on this point.  The logical 
implications of this agreement prove (1) that software does not 
have a life of its own, (2) that no software executes 
independently of its programmer(s), (3) that software utilizes 
nothing extra regardless of our ability to understand or predict 
the results.  In effect that emerging systems have the same causal 
relationship to their source as non-emerging.  Now these are 
claims that Fare entered into this debate.  If he agrees to this 
irrelevant point, then he must agree to drop his claims for the 
others.  Under the circumstances it hardly seems irrelevant.

This does not make emerging systems less entertaining, curious, 
fascinating, useful, or challenging.  It does eliminate any 
magical properties of randomness in software, pointing out the 
difference in its "use" here (externally controlled) and its 
occurrence in real world events.  There is a fundamental 
difference between a "planned" random selection of software and 
one which simply arises within the events occurring within the 
process which is the real world (in which we participate).  The 
one is a simulation, mimicry, with entirely different causes than 
the other.  The one is a map.  The other is the territory.  Never 
the twain shall meet.

As to the debate regarding emerging systems and artificial 
intelligence I don't know of any regarding emerging systems, 
except whether they possess "magical" properties.  With an 
irrelevant agreement we have assurances that they do not.  Even 
without them they seem to produce the same (useful, curious, 
fascinating, challenging) results as before.<g>

With respect to artificial intelligence which version instills 
debate?  Certainly not the current version based on logic 
programming and rule-based logic engines and neural nets.  My own 
project depends upon exploiting them within the software 
development process to increase developer productivity and reduce 
costs by orders of magnitude over current methods.

If you mean the version which replicates in software and a host 
computer that which occurs in living organisms, specifically the 
human organism, I know that there is some debate about whether it 
is possible or not.  I won't say that it is impossible though I 
lean toward the most highly improbable approaching impossible in 
the extreme.  I am perfectly content not to consume the energy of 
those who would pursue it.  Their task is difficult enough.

However, I do have a problem with your achieving "true" artificial 
intelligence which leaves "purpose" untouched.  That implies that 
these manifestations, dynamic aspects arising from the singular 
process of the brain, i.e. the same causal energy, are somehow 
separable and not intractably melded in terms of their source.  
That leads me to believe that production of intrinsic intelligence 
through software (if possible) must give rise to intrinsic purpose 
as well.  I have no problem with that.  Just realise that it has 
suddenly ceased to be a tool, a directed extension of a human 
capability.  Why we would choose to pursue a non-tool use of 
software and a host computer eludes me.  Whatever we think we 
would solve with success is nothing compared to the problems it 
presents.  You have to be careful of what you ask for as you may 
get it.<g>

"NO. There is no absolute notion of "choice".  Volition, free 
will, or whatever name you give to it, is a property of a system 
with respect to its environment.  It is about a system's behavior 
being largely determined by its own internal state rather than by 
externally modifiable factors."

I don't think you grasp the real world at all.  In the real world 
you are not separate from your environment, you don't end here and 
have it begin there.  Whatever you are is part of that environment 
as well.  Choice occurs in reaction to events, whether the 
deliberate choice that we make to events at our level or what 
occurs at the level of quanta.  Most definitely within all 
software we have an absolute notion of choice, utterly predictable 
regardless of whether we use random selection or not: the choice 
has to be a path allowed in the logic.

Now internal state and externally modifiable may appear separately 
linguistically, but no such separation occurs in the real world: 
we are how we have reacted to our participation in the 
environment.  We obtain life in this manner.  Choice.  Volition.  
Emotion.  Whatever.

"That a system obeys its own rules is no offense to its own free 

This assumes that a system sets its rules independently of 
external influences.  Specifically no software system ever written 
established its rules independently.  Randomness in selection of a 
data value or an instruction path doesn't change this.  We may not 
know which selection may occur in a particular instance, but we 
know absolutely the set of possible selections and data values 
because we control them.  We have no known means of giving up that 
control and passing it intact to the software.

As to the remainder of your response you offer much fuel for my 
engine.  However, we have basic disagreements whose truth-value 
remain somewhere into the future.  I have no desire to infuriate 
you in any manner.  Thus let us agree to disagree, letting the 
future have its feedback effect on our views.  It should not 
affect our cooperating in the goals of Tunes.  I believe that it 
is a French term for what will be will be.<g>  I do wish to thank 
you for the time you have spent.