Fare's response on threads
Lynn H. Maxson
Sat, 23 Sep 2000 07:55:01 -0700 (PDT)
Kyle Lahnakoski wrote:
" If a human programmer defines the simple rules, I doubt the
programmer should be credited for the emergent behavior."
Whatever the emergent behavior it corresponds exactly to the rules
supplied. More importantly it never "strays" from those rules
allowed. Nothing in the emergent behavior occurs from any other
source. Therefore it cannot take on an independent existence,
i.e. make decisions "on its own".
I have no concerns about who does or does not get credit. Humans
create tools as a means of extending their own ability. It may
occur to extend strength, to increase speed, to increase range of
vision, whatever. In none of those instances does the tool itself
suddenly acquire capability not inherent in the human design
regardless of "unexpected" emergent behavior.
More to the point a computer system based on von Neumann
architecture combined with software obeying the computational
rules of a Turing machine can never evolve on its own or with the
most elaborate, sophisticated instruction of its human author(s)
into anything like the human brain. First, the hardware, the
physics, is entirely different. Second, the software is not
necessary nor present. Ashby dashed such thoughts with his
homeostat which "exhibited" adaptive behavior in a machine system,
the homeostat, which had neither an instruction set nor any
The gap that begins at the start of our software journey remains
the same regardless of our software tricks, elaborate or
sophisticated processes, or multiple levels of reflective behavior
through meta-programming. We are no closer to achieving the
computing system as a brain at the end of such efforts than we
were at the beginning. Regardless of how well we "mimic" the
brain's behavior at no point in the process will we cross over the
threshold from mimicry.
This does not mean it is pointless to improve the range and
capabilities possible with our tools. It does mean that our tools
will always remain within the controls we have set, that they will
not suddenly acquire an independence, an ability to suddenly take
off in a direction all their very own.
In short it doesn't change the value that comes from incorporating
reflection into software. We have a very simply means of
replicating humans and human ability, a manufacturing process that
we have yet to master on our own. What success we have had has
come from participating in that process rather than attempting its
replication in one of our own invention.
The point is to remain computer scientists, not alchemists. The
is no magic in the machine which we have not provided. No matter
what we do with a von Neumann architecture follwing Turing
computational rules we will never produce a "brain".
People like Steven Pinter like so many other science fiction
authors we retain for entertainment, some enlightenment of
alternate (fictional) universes, and flights of fantasy.