Fare's response on threads
Lynn H. Maxson
Sun, 24 Sep 2000 09:08:26 -0700 (PDT)
Kyle Lahnakoski wrote:
"...I just want to acknowledge that it is the machine that did the
computation, and not me. This simple allowance allows me to use
language as if the machine was alive, and to make the conversation
"Even though I use the language of software, and imply the use of
instruction sets, I do not mean limit the discussion to those
phenomena. The homeostat uses mechanical means to define the
simple rules, and feedback is used to generate the "iterations".
The emergent behavior is identified only when the homeostat is
run, it can not be foreseen without the feedback present."
You may not know entirely what will occur in the emergent
behavior. However in every instance you can trace the path from
the rules to the "surprise". You may not predict everything, but
everything is predictable.
That's the point with mimicry attribute of all software: it does
nothing which is not traceable back to the rules. In short it
cannot create rules on its own. It cannot do what we as
programmer's do. Thus it cannot assume the role of programmer
without our defining it. Mimicry remains mimicry regardless of
whether it is good or bad, unsophisticated or sophisticate, simple
Mimicry has no means within it nor have we any means of giving it
that little extra boost that will change it from mimicry to
non-mimicry (real). It makes no difference how close it comes to
"resembling" the "real thing" or how difficult it may be to tell
them apart. It remains mimicry. Do not confuse it with the
mathematical concept of infinity (which is a human construct only
and does not exist in reality) of approaching something
numerically in the limit as the path is strewn with non-mimic
members. Infinity is a convenient fiction. We should not confuse
it with the actual reality. The map is not the territory.
Ashby's homeostat did not follow von Neumann architecture nor
Turning computational rules and still it "exhibited" adaptive or
"goal-seeking" behavior. It did not do it the way the brain does
it, but it did illustrate that "programming" per se (as we know
it) was unnecessary.
I do not worry that any one who hears me talk about what I do with
my various tools and what "they" did will ever confuse them with
being alive or sentient. However, with computers and software it
is different, because we frequently engage in science fiction, in
movies, and unfortunately in other public publications in sentient
computers and androids.
Even in these responses we get suggestions of that possibility.
Those people who have done so have stepped over the line from fact
to fiction. They are then caught in a self-deception, of doing in
one instance of a tool use what they would never do in another,
regardless of how they talked about it.
While you may not limit your range of discussion to von Neumann
architectures and Turing rules (and neither do I), unless we
broaden the scope of the Tunes project all those discussions
should be so limited. By you, by me, by everyone else. It is
wrong (because it is factually impossible) for responsible people
to suggest in the slightest that continuation of a process of
sophistication and elaboration will produce "magic in the box".
While it has a place in computer science fiction it has no place
in computer science fact.