Fare's response on threads

Lynn H. Maxson lmaxson@pacbell.net
Sun, 24 Sep 2000 18:21:57 -0700 (PDT)

Kyle Lahnakoski wrote:

"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."

I liked it better on the part where we agree.<g>  I have this 
feeling that we agree more than we disagree.  In this particular 
instance I engage in no awe, religion, or mysticism when it comes 
to the working of the brain.  All I know from the facts we have is 
that it in no way resembles a computer.

"My point being: the change of view from machine-as-tool to 
machine-as-an-entity is inevitable."

Well, you're entitled to your view and I will respect it.  But 
that machine will not be exhibit von Neumann architecture nor 
Turing rules.  I will go out on a limb further to say that its 
software, what it does, will not be separable from its hardware, 
how it does it.  As programmers in a universe where such 
separation exists will find ourselves "useless", not necessary in 
that universe you suggest.  It is the height of human folly to 
believe that we can achieve "entity" status for a "machine" 
through externally imposed instructions, i.e. software.

"Humans are deterministic.  We just lack the appropriate 
understanding of biology, and have insufficient computational 
power to consider environmental influences."

Here I must disagree.  The argument is that we do not know enough, 
that if our knowledge increased beyond some threshold value, one 
for which we had sufficient computational power, then everything 
that occurred within the brain for the interval under 
consideration would be deterministic.  Carrying that one step 
further to believe that it extrapolates in predicting future 
behavior also assumes that environmental factors themselves are 
predictable.  I had thought that argument effectively had been 
laid to rest by quantum mechanics and Heisenberg's principle of 

Given that the observation itself at that level affects the result 
and at higher levels any attempt to effect divisions in what is 
observed will in turn affect the result, I think you are going to 
have a hard time either proving or disproving determinism or free 
will.  All that regardless of the amount of computing power 
available to you.

Actually I am not a proponent of either.  They have been arguments 
for philosophers, not scientists.  Here we engage in computer 
science.  Moreover we judge our success by how much we can produce 
predictable results, whether we know those results or not.  We may 
only be able to predict in some instances after the fact.  
Whatever occurs must be predictable from the instructions we 
issue.  That is deterministic.  Otherwise we set ourselves about 
"fixing" it.  That implies we know it is "wrong".

I have no objection to the pursuit of machine-as-entity.  Should 
Tunes shift its direction toward such a production we obviously 
can cease any and all concerns about a Tunes HLL.<g>  Or 

However like you I believe it is a possibility.  However the 
machine will be biological in its entirety.  If you believe a 
non-biological basis is possible, then more power to you.