[p2p-research] is the mind a computer

Ryan Lanham rlanham1963 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 13 15:50:37 CET 2009

Hi Sam,

I am familiar with Brian Arthur's work at the Santa Fe Institute on
emergeance and complexity...it sounds like this is the same vein.  That does
help.  That whole area has been productive and very interesting.

It is emerging as a reductionist versus chaos theory sort of argument.  My
own explorations of this area were in relationship to economics...along
lines set by people like Brian Arthur.  I think I understand the basis of
your position now.

The information theorists being cited by Andrew are clearly reductionists,
so the outline of disagreement is now clearer to me.

Andrew dismisses pretty much all prior AI in favor of these current Super
machine theorists.  Would that such a clear break could occur...perhaps it
will.  I'm unconvinced so far, but their vein is also interesting.

It would be nice to be right-tracked by some set of thoughts.  I'm in favor
of truth...not ideas, so if truth is winning, I'm happy.  As a philosophical
pragmatist, truth, for me, is what seems most right at the moment given
reasonable vetting...so better vetting is always the aim.  Better is the
tricky word...that takes one down all sorts of philosophy of science worm
holes.  Perspective is one of them.  Clearly minds are chaotic in a Santa Fe
Institute sense of the term.  But clearly there components allow for
reductive analysis in an information theory/math sense of the term.  There
will end up being a lot of probability theory on both sides.  Algorithms are
like political theories...great to argue about...hard to move in real terms
toward progress.

The emergeance agenda I am familiar with has produced relatively few viable
tools.  As such, it seems to be most useful in setting challenges to
engineering approaches.  The Machine Super Intelligence crowd seems to be
interested in tools, but so far have only produced this thing Andrew
mentions can AIXI which is interesting but apparently useless so far.  The
work I am much more familiar with is in areas related to computer vision and
robotics research...vision is an area that combines a lot of both of these
topics...and it has progressed a great deal of late...3D printing in real
time from photos is an example of a tool that comes from this work.

Interestingly, the brain uses competing chaotic algorithms...(my source is
research cited by Derik Bownds recently.)  But it can also be reduced.

I have my own biases toward the reductionists.  But the cosmologists also
have interesting things to say...and interesting challenges to lay down.
Always a fascinating (and contentious) topic.


On 11/13/09, Samuel Rose <samuel.rose at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Ryan,
> On Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 11:54 AM, Ryan Lanham <rlanham1963 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >
> >
> > On 11/12/09, Samuel Rose <samuel.rose at gmail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> "A Complex Adaptive System (CAS) is a dynamic network of many agents
> >> (which may represent cells, species, individuals, firms, nations)
> >> acting in parallel, constantly acting and reacting to what the other
> >> agents are doing. The control of a CAS tends to be highly dispersed
> >> and decentralized.
> >
> >
> > This is very difficult for me to understand because the boundary
> conditions
> > for what is and isn't a system are difficult to define.  Something
> discreet
> > occurs when a person exists.  They are part of social processes, etc.,
> but I
> > know of no one who quibbles much with the idea of an individual.  Nations
> > are interconnected...as are ecosystems  Discreetness is much less clear.
> > But a person could talk about resident bacteria in a human...that humans
> are
> > ecosystems, etc.  I'm struggling with that...
> >
> > There is also a macro versus micro approach issue going on I think.  At
> one
> > level we are discussing differences in macro systems...a brain versus a
> > highly complicated machine (say a supercomputer running a large program).
> > At another level there is a question as to whether processes that cause
> > changes to genetic material...whether those are programmatic and can be
> > simulated...or whether the workings of a set of neurons can be simulated.
> > At the macro scale, difference of opinion is more plausible to me.
> >
> > So far is it the Complex Systems' peoples' opinion, Sam, that there is
> > something at an elemental level that makes these systems different?  Or
> is
> > it something that occurs as complexity arises?  In other words, are there
> > boundary cases between complex and not-complex?  You were getting into
> this
> > a little...
> >
> Complex systems theory is a post-human-centric viewpoint, meaning that
> it focuses on the nature of the system. The properties of the system
> are more important than whether it is human or not.
> The core property (the moment of complexity):
> http://knowledgetoday.org/wiki/index.php/Emergence
> "...what a system does by virtue of its relationship to its environment"
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Lewontin, though not a complexity
> theorist himself, per se, gave a thorough picture of how this works
> with living things. He also explains why this prevents us from
> programming genes like a computer in the same book.
> On each scale, from micro, to macro, "...what a system does by virtue
> of its relationship to its environment" results in multi-scalar
> emergent behavior. What you see as a "human" is now the result of
> millions of these evolutionary relationships (what I referred to
> earlier as "connections"). They are emergent connections.
> It is possible to *model* emergence with computers. People have been
> doing this for years
> It is NOT possible to PROGRAM emergence.
> This means that it is possible to program complicated behavior (like
> the behavior of machines of any type), but not complex behavior (like
> the behavior of emergent systems like ants, stockmarkets, and
> galaxies).
> Emergence is the result of simple rules and functions on many scales
> *interacting* and leading to complex behavior (not complicated
> behavior).
> I hope this helps.
> > Ryan
> >
> --
> --
> Sam Rose
> Social Synergy
> Tel:+1(517) 639-1552
> Cel: +1-(517)-974-6451
> skype: samuelrose
> email: samuel.rose at gmail.com
> http://socialsynergyweb.com
> http://socialsynergyweb.org/culturing
> http://flowsbook.panarchy.com/
> http://socialmediaclassroom.com
> http://localfoodsystems.org
> http://notanemployee.net
> http://communitywiki.org
> "The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human
> ambition." - Carl Sagan

Ryan Lanham
rlanham1963 at gmail.com
Facebook: Ryan_Lanham
P.O. Box 633
Grand Cayman, KY1-1303
Cayman Islands
(345) 916-1712
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