[p2p-research] is the mind a computer

Samuel Rose samuel.rose at gmail.com
Mon Nov 9 14:57:45 CET 2009

Paul, thanks for reply. Comments follow:

> While I agree in general with what you are saying, part of this impass is
> definitional.
> You are saying a machine like an 1920s Model T automobile can't do all the
> things people or even amoeba can, and you are right (it can't
> self-replication, it can't respond much to it's environment, it can't
> collaborate, and so on).
> Andrew is defining machine as, what I might term, collection of matter that
> does stuff according to the laws of physics (and I'd add, thus physical
> computation, where electron movements are part of physics). So, in that
> sense, amoeba, trees, dogs, and people are all "machines".

I do understand what Andrew is defining a machine as. What I am
saying, is that he is wroing

> So, can a machine think? In that sense, yes, because people are machines in
> those terms, and they think (or at least, we think they think. :-)

You are missing what I am saying here, I think. I am saying that yes
brains compute, bodies contain mechanics, etc.  I said this earlier in
my responses to Andrew.

But, Humans are *more than* machines. Calling a human a machine is
*inaccurate*. That is my position and argument in this discussion.
Humans are **complex adaptive systems**, who's whole is more than the
sum of their parts.

The above description (maybe for the purposes of clarification)
downplays the complex adaptive system part, and focuses on the "it
works like a machine" part. The "it works like a machine" part of the
argument is not the total definition of what a human is.

> Similarly, Andrew is defining computer as a collection of matter that does
> stuff (again according to physical law). And really, by extension, any
> machine is really a form of computer. Even a rock computes the law of
> gravity in a sense. So, is the mind a computer? Well, sure, if a human is a
> machine, and machines are all comptuters, then yes, the mind is a computer.

The mind computes, but is more than a computer. A rock can compute if
you drop it off of a building.

> I don't say this to make fun of Andrew's point. I actually agree with the
> above in that sense, because I have a computational view of our reality. (Of
> course, that may be an occupational hazard of being a computer programmer.
> :-)

I also have a computational view of reality, insofar as there is lots
of apparent evidence that algorithmic interaction appears to happen on
may scales throughout the universe that we can detect.

> But on the other side issue you raised of personal attacks and so on, I
> agree that Andrew's style here is not winning many friends. :-( Which is
> sad, because he obviously knows a lot and has a lot of interesting stuff to
> say. Still, he might say it more effectively if his generalizations,
> including about this list, were not so sweeping.

I think that Andrew could just drop the need to get all of us to agree
that minds are computers and humans are machines, and get on with
telling us why he thinks this is important already. I do agree that
minds compute, and that should be enough.

Sam Rose
Social Synergy
Tel:+1(517) 639-1552
Cel: +1-(517)-974-6451
skype: samuelrose
email: samuel.rose at gmail.com

"The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human
ambition." - Carl Sagan

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