[PD] CVs

Bryan Jurish jurish at uni-potsdam.de
Sun May 22 00:22:38 CEST 2011

On 2011-05-20 07:01, Chris McCormick wrote:
> On Thu, May 19, 2011 at 05:12:09PM +0200, Bryan Jurish wrote:
>> If forty-two trees fall in a forest and no one is around to count
>> them, __forty-two__ trees have still fallen.
> Of course, there is nothing to stop there being models of things that
> don't exist in the real universe, but those models still exist in the
> physical universe on the chemical and electrical substrate of
> somebody's physical brain.

Sorry, I don't buy that.  My two main problems with that sort of
hardcore empiricism are (in a nutshell) ego (aka "consciousness") and
will.  To paraphase the ol' p-ant hisownself, 'where does the "I think"
come from which can be prepended to any proposition or perception I'm
currently entertaining?'  And if thoughts are just phsyical processes in
brains and brains are just physical objects subject to physical laws,
you run into determinism pretty darned fast, which is often taken to be
a bit of a bummer.  The really insidious problem (afaic, and the one
that's most germane to the present (way way way off-topic by now)
discussion) is that of inductive "knowledge", and I'm more or less
professionally obliged to come down on the rationalist side of that one.

> The physical painting is a zipfile containing a program that you run
> on the chemical computer inside your head.

... but the __process__ that runs (whether on wetware, some massive
parallel neural net, a suitably configured universal Turing machine, or
whatever) is something distinct from and independent of the hardware it
runs on, not to mention the location of that hardware, the time interval
for which the process runs, and the physical laws of the universe in
which it's running.  The kind of existence and independence that process
has is the same kind of existence and independence all formal objects
have, imho.

> but I don't think it's accurate to say without the computational
> aparatus to perceive it that "42 trees are falling".

I do :-)

> Well, that's my current rather crap and innaccurate model of reality 
> anyway. It's crap but I think it's less wrong than yours, where
> there is some nebulous flying spaghetti monster called "42 trees"
> floating around outside of physical reality. ;)

... I think we're probably bound to to disagree on this, and that's fine
by me, but just to be precise here:

No, in my version there's an FSM called "42" floating around
__independently__ of physical laws and processes.  "Outside of" is
locative, and I'm not talking about location (which I'm sure you know,
I'm just trying to set the record straight here).  And "outside of
physical reality" is just polemics -- I'm saying not all that is real is
(always) phyiscally realized.

> Information, Matter, Energy - all just crude models for something we 
> probably can't ever truly know.*

See above re: inductive knowledge ;-)

> Also, physicists probably have much 
> better models.

Knowing a few of them, I kind of doubt it.

> http://mccormick.cx/news/entries/inherent-limitations-of-a-computational-model-of-reality

That's a pretty twisted take on Gödel you've got there.  By your logic
(if I'm reading it right), there can be no such thing as a universal
Turing machine *because* its ability to simulate itself prevents its
very existence.  But a universal Turing machine is really not all too
hard to define (Turing, 1937): sure, we can't say whether or not it
__terminates__ for itself, but that's a problem with *computability*,
not with existence.  We may at some point actually define a `perfect'
computational model of reality, we just won't be able to prove it, since
at that scale the map will have become indistinguishable from the territory.


Bryan Jurish                       "There is *always* one more bug."
jurish at uni-potsdam.de       -Lubarsky's Law of Cybernetic Entomology

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