The universe as computer

chris arkenberg carkenbe@adobe.com
Tue, 4 Jun 2002 13:33:06 -0700


See comments inline below...

>chris arkenberg wrote:
>
>>  My personal feeling is that it is empirically impossible for a
>>  subsystem to effectively (perfectly) simulate it's parent.
>
>A turing machine is capable of (perfectly) simulating a
>multitape/multihead turing machine...

Ok but can it perfectly simulate Alan Turing?

>Perhaps what you mean to say is
>that is is impossible for a machine to simulate another machine that is
>more expressive, but that is obvious since the containment relationship
>only goes one way.

This is exactly what I am saying.

>  > Or that a
>>  computer could effectively model a human brain.
>
>Nope it's not like saying that at all... You are making a leap of faith
>here which does not necessarily follow from your previous statements. It
>is undetermined whether or not the human brain uses an equivalent
>computational model to the turing machine. Until this is determined, you
>simply cannot make statements like this.

I can and I will. It may be possible to reduce the computation model 
of the human brain to a Turing-like process but this would still 
remain a generalization of human cognition. Algorithms do not govern 
the subtleties of human consciousness. I assert that it takes much 
more than a Turing machine to create a consciousness capable of 
mythologizing it's own evolution or realizing it's own dreams.

>Your caveat about granularity is true, at some level, but often
>what we are concerned with isn't about the lowest levels of description.
>I care much more about the hurricane, not the leaf!

Well, so much for "perfect simulation" then.

>  > The rules
>>  must be loose enough, and the algorithms elegant enough so that
>>  emergent properties will arise. Maybe if we could figure out all the
>>  rules, then it might be possible to _simulate_ the whole.
>
>This seems like a slight recant of your earlier position of the ultimate
>goal being impossible.

Not exactly. I don't believe we will ever be able to figure out all 
the rules. In fact, I think that's one of the rules.

>  Making sweeping generalizations and predictions of
>the future only hinders good science.

Oh, I'm sorry...we're we talking about science? I thought we were 
talking mysticism here..  ;) My position is simply that solid-state 
systems cannot perfectly simulate dynamic organic systems. And just 
as a silicon computer cannot simulate a human brain, the human brain 
cannot logically comprehend the entire nature of reality. Just like 
QM, as long as there's an observer, the data will be flawed. This 
_is_ the realm of mysticism: Logic fails at a certain point, ego 
fails, the observer ceases and there is only that which is. No 
computer will ever apprehend this and hence, any model of reality 
will fall short of reality itself (or, conversely, the only perfect 
model of the universe is the universe itself).

>Magna est veritas et praevalebit.

Non servium.