Fare's response on threads

Kyle Lahnakoski kyle@arcavia.com
Sun, 24 Sep 2000 14:23:30 -0400

"Lynn H. Maxson" wrote:
> 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
> efficient."
> "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
> or elaborate.

We agree here.

> 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.

I believe you are the one that uses religion and mysticism when defining
the abilities of the human brain.  You consider it the only "real"
analytical engine that is possible.  You have not presented a basis for
this belief.

Humans are deterministic.  We just lack the appropriate understanding of
biology, and have insufficient computational power to consider
environmental influences.  If you like, we should discuss our reasons
for our "beliefs" off the list. 

> 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.

You bring up a good point: The current social climate may make the use
of humane words to describe software less efficient, rather than more. 
I have seen the the advertising industry use these humane words to help
sell their products.  It will work for a while, but the masses will
catch on, and our language will have changed to compensate.  English
will have changed, not by elevating the machine, but by demystifying yet
another skill that humans consider uniquely human.  My point being: the
change of view from machine-as-tool to machine-as-an-entity is

> While it has a place in computer science fiction it has no place
> in computer science fact.

We disagree on this point.
Kyle Lahnakoski                                  Arcavia Software Ltd.
(416) 892-7784                                 http://www.arcavia.com