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Old 05-19-2019, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Half Man Half Wit View Post
It introduces nothing new, quite simply.
You appear to be coy about directly answering the challenge. Once again you've quoted a small part of what I said but not the meat of it.

To repeat and summarize, the challenge is that you claim that your trivially simple box example suffices as proof of the multiple-interpretations thesis, and that much more complex systems are "even worse" from my standpoint because they have, in effect, a very large number of such boxes, each of which is performing computations subject to equally arbitrary interpretations. I'm not saying that I'm right and you're wrong on what may ultimately be an article of faith, but I am saying that this particular argument is deeply flawed.

Again, you ignore the very important point that great increases in complexity result in qualitative (not just quantitative) changes in the properties of computational systems. We call these qualitative changes things like synergy and emergent properties. It isn't magic, though. What's missing from your analysis is any acknowledgment of the tremendous computational implications of the interconnections and data flows between these components, none of which is apparent from any observation of the components themselves, but is only visible when viewing the behavior of the system as a whole. It is here that we observe non-trivial constraints on the range of interpretations of what the computing system is actually doing, to the point that the set of possible interpretations may equal exactly one.

I know I certainly don't need to lecture you about the broader fallacies that arise from extending an understanding of trivial components to assumptions about much more complex computational systems, but I can't help but reflect on how this is what led many to proclaim that "computers can't really think" and "they can only do what they're programmed to do", and consequently led Hubert Dreyfus to claim that no computer would ever be able to play better than a child's level of chess. This claim was put to rest when the PDP-10 MacHack program beat him badly way back in 1967*, and we all know the evolution of chess programs to grandmaster status today. Damn, those programmers must be good chess players!


* I had to look up the year because I'd forgotten. Which was when I discovered that Dreyfus had passed away in 2017. I guess I'll have to stop saying nasty things about him now. Pity that he'll never see the amazing things he claimed could never happen.