Jump to content

  • Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account


When does an algorithm turn alive?


Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.

  • You cannot reply to this topic
88 replies to this topic

#41 hplus0603   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4966

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 02:56 PM

First: how do you define "alive"? If you have a good definition for "alive" then you have the answer to your initial question.

Second: do you believe in free will? If so, where does it come from? And how would you formulate an experiment to distinguish free will from a random process? Your notion of "soul" might be a start, but the philosophers over thousands of years have postulated several rather more intricate theories that you probably want to read up on before continuing down this path.

OH... MY... GOD! There might be a use for philosophy in Computer Science!? What is the world coming to!!1!one? ;-)

Sponsor:

#42 Sneftel   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 1776

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 02:58 PM

Quote:
Original post by aphydx
right. i meant a complete representation

And there's the mistake: assuming that comprehension requires representation. Consider: I comprehend my car's internal combustion engine, despite the fact that I do not know the exact configurations of the atoms which comprise it, or even how many atoms there are in it.

#43 morbik   Members   -  Reputation: 363

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 03:30 PM

I don't know. This whole thing is very confusing and I agree with the authors prognosis that 'something weird' is definately going on around here :).

Just throwing this on the table, because I have been thinking this topic over for a number of years also. I was reading in a Popular science magazine talking about teleportation. In the article it happened to mention a conference held by a lot of big companies like IBM, Intel, Sony, etc., a few years back. The conference was discussing the feasability of quantam mechanics and teleportation on the scale of teleporting humans. Well they wrote a paper and in it said that for something to be teleported, the Original must be destroyed(ie. Kill that person.) Now think about that. They scan all of the particles in your body (and keep in mind this was just high-level 'what-ifs' to say. They dont know how to actually do that, they are just saying), they transmit the particle information via communication lines, and then they destroy the original and reproduce the particles on the other end.

Now still bearing with me that this is all just a hypothetical situation just think about what that means. Your all talking about having a ghost. So if we do in fact have a ghost, when they destroy your original, does your ghost go with it? When they duplicate your original, will it be 'you'. Do you understand why this scenario is so perplexing?

So several things to say here going along with the author... if nr 1 is true and we were created by a higher being... then I don't even know what would happen when they recreated you. You would probably just be the equivilant of dead.

If nr 2 was true, then your body would create a ghost itself, since the brain is able to hold a ghost. Now think about this: would that new "ghost" be "you" or would you still be destroyed and some other ghost is running around with your body.

Now if nr 3 was true I would imagine the same thing such as nr 2 would happen, but for a different reason.

I guess this just brings a new element to the table, when taken into a scenario like this, not only the question "what is life", but the question "what is death"

If that was too ridiculously confusing/stupid, im sorry I'm ranting and its late :)

#44 T1Oracle   Members   -  Reputation: 100

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 03:59 PM

Quote:
Original post by neonicI was reading in a Popular science magazine talking about teleportation... Original must be destroyed(ie. Kill that person.)

I read PopSci quite religiously and I don't recall anything on murderous teleporters. I believe there was a mention on a way in which the properties of some particles may be instantly transmitted to a another set of particles. Although, I do not interpret "properties of particles" as teleportation, definately not in the Star Trek sense.

Programming since 1995.

#45 Horatius83   Members   -  Reputation: 187

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 06:00 PM

When my car is not functioning correctly I may say that it is "being stubborn" and perhaps a few other things that I won't repeat. This anthropomorphism is a way for me to cope with the fact that the machine is very complicated and I don't understand it. Perhaps this is all personality, and by extension, "ghost" is, we take what we know of our own emotions, and actions in certain situations, and then project it onto other people or things, then we check their actions against this model and determine how closely it fits. More similar and it's more human, less similar and it's more mechanistic or foreign, and it triggers more anxiety because of this. A mad-dog killer, or worse yet, his lawyer, may be accused of having no soul simply because their actions are so foreign and beyond what our model of a human being is capable of. If a person can identify with a machine I think that they will accept it as human, or at least a decent substitute. You already see this with people who have irrational attachments to inanimate objects, a good AI would just make these feelings more mainstream.

As for life, this is a tricky question, traditionally the battle lines have been drawn around the subject of whether or not a virus is alive since it depends on a host to reproduce. The problem I see is that if you say viruses aren't truly alive then you can say that all men are dead since they depend on women to reproduce. (I know you're all programmers but trust me, I read it in a book so it must be true) So my guess would be any thing capable of creating a copy of itself (by any means) would be a good candidate for being alive. This seems to preclude sterile animals from being alive, but consider the fact that at the cellular level they're reproducing like crazy, skin cells, bacteria in the intestines, muscles, the whole deal.

#46 NQ   Members   -  Reputation: 328

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 07:47 PM

Quote:
Original post by M2tM
"When does an algorithm turn alive"

Let me just say that the title itself is poorly worded and the arguments within are not entirely well stated. Others have pointed out things with regard to that statement so I won't repeat them.

Perhaps:
"When does an algorithm live?"
or
"When is an algorithm alive?"
or even:
"When does an algorithm become alive?"

Because "turn alive" just sounds silly. My apologies if you feel offended, I'm really just trying to make a suggestion that might help set a more serious tone.

Oh, thank you for that notion! I still make errors in english language, and i fear I lose lots of credibility when I can't even express myself properly. Thanks for correcting me. I will change the title.


#47 NQ   Members   -  Reputation: 328

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 07:48 PM

Quote:
Original post by darookie
Quote:
Original post by Sneftel
Quote:
Original post by aphydx
the central creative core of your mind cannot comprehend something as complex as itself.
Prove it.

Good one [smile]


I was just going to say the same... :)

#48 HemoGloben   Members   -  Reputation: 314

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 08:01 PM

Uhh...Isn't a more likely option to the whole internet seemingly alive, france being alive thing the fact that both happen to be in large part run by humans that are alive? I mean, ...meh.

Ok, focus on the france thing. It acts like a living entity because it's run by living entities. Doesn't that make more sense than trying to pretend that france itself is a living entity? Your entire thought experiment attempts to grapple the idea of seperating acts like an entity and is an entity, but somehow manages to miss acts like entity because it's run by entity.

Meh, again.

I apologize for the incoherence, but I think my general thought is there.

#49 NQ   Members   -  Reputation: 328

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 08:14 PM

Quote:
Original post by TheBigJ
I only skimmed over your actual article, as I'm reading this from work, so ignore me if I draw the same conclusions as you have. You would benefit by including an abstract introduction/conclusion clearly stating your answer to the question raised.

Quote:
When does an algorithm turn alive

I'm going to rephrase your question:

"When does the complexity and/or sophistication of an algorithm become sufficent so as to be considered alive?"

I suggest that this question is misleading.

Well... perhaps I did something silly, but I put that title not as a summary of the entire text, but as something to attract readers. I've already been informed that it displays improper English, so I'll change it anyway. Your rephrasing of my initial question is highly correct. But how many would have read my text if I had called it that? The idea to read it would seem like something utterly boring, wouldn't it? I wouldn't have gotten this much lovely feedback if I hadn't put something profound in the title. It's main purpose was to be profound, not to summarize or prove anything.

Quote:
Life, or consciousness (which is what we're really discussing here) should, IMHO, not be considered in terms of a binary distinction; things are not merely conscious or unconscious. Rather, consciousness should be defined as a spectrum. Ants at one end, Humans at the other. The more complex the algorithm, the better it performs, the higher on the scale it goes.

[snip]

My text is merely a summary of the presently possible ways to interpret things, and would you have read all of it you would have seen that... not only do I not limit myself to the phrasing 'life' or 'consciousness', but I also talk about exactly what you said. At least I hope I did, if not then my English sucks worse than I thought. We cannot agree even what life is or what consciousness is, so I choose to skip that whole debate by not using either phrasing.

I see now that I made a mistake in starting to use the titillation 'life' in my last section, which easily could make people misinterpret how I mean the word. I did so because it was no longer valid to use the titillation 'ghost' since the premise what that ghosts doesn't exist. I should rethink that part, and write it in a way which doesn't use the word 'life'. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Quote:
The Philosophy of Mind is a debate that has been going on forever, but in my opinion, if you hold that there is no "ghost in the shell", then it makes no sense to start talking about consciousness as a binary distinction.

Oh, I'm starting to think my style of writing trips some people over. Perhaps I should write it differently...
The thing is I do not hold that there is no 'ghost in the shell'!
Since I present arguments from both sides, the common reader obviously misinterprets this and reads it as I represent one side or the other. I present the consciousness as a binary distinction compared to consciousness as a relative distinction. And several other ideas! Side by side.


#50 Sneftel   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 1776

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 08:15 PM

Quote:
Original post by HemoGloben
Uhh...Isn't a more likely option to the whole internet seemingly alive, france being alive thing the fact that both happen to be in large part run by humans that are alive? I mean, ...meh.

Ok, focus on the france thing. It acts like a living entity because it's run by living entities. Doesn't that make more sense than trying to pretend that france itself is a living entity? Your entire thought experiment attempts to grapple the idea of seperating acts like an entity and is an entity, but somehow manages to miss acts like entity because it's run by entity.

Meh, again.

I apologize for the incoherence, but I think my general thought is there.


Seems a little weak. Are you saying that things cannot be alive unless they are comprised of parts which are alive? That seems to break down. Carbon and hydrogen atoms can't really be said to be alive. Concurrently, humans display much more capability for adaptation and intelligence than the cells of which they are composed. They can, by some measure of "alive", be said to be MORE alive than those cells: they display traits above those which the cells themselves can "run".

Also, who's this Meh person?

#51 NQ   Members   -  Reputation: 328

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 08:16 PM

Quote:
Original post by Sneftel
It's an important thing to keep in mind (no pun intended). That the mind can't comprehend itself is something that seems trivially true at first, but can lead one to seriously mistake the nature of comprehension. It's analogous to saying that no country can contain a map of itself, or a description of its political process.

I do try to keep this in mind.

Whenever I reach an intersection, in the text, where I cannot say that it's one way or the other, I treat BOTH paths as equally valid.

#52 NQ   Members   -  Reputation: 328

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 08:26 PM

Quote:
Original post by hplus0603
First: how do you define "alive"? If you have a good definition for "alive" then you have the answer to your initial question.

That quesiton was a retorical question. At no point do I try to say what life is and what it's not. If I cannot prove either way, I treat them both with equal validity.
Quote:
Second: do you believe in free will? If so, where does it come from? And how would you formulate an experiment to distinguish free will from a random process? Your notion of "soul" might be a start, but the philosophers over thousands of years have postulated several rather more intricate theories that you probably want to read up on before continuing down this path.

Hmm... As I think about it, I do not really find the concept of free will to be part of this.
However, about those thousand years of theories, I know about most of them. Well no, not most of them - there's as many as there's been people - but the most important ones.
Most of them all start with "I am here in this moment - how did I get to this moment, and what is 'I' anyway?"
This starting point gives you a whole array of really crazy possible scenarios, including seperate realities, higher beings, alternate dimensions, illusionary phenomena and flying spaghetti monsters.

As a contrast, I begin with "evolution happened". This gives a more solid starting point, and makes all alternate realities and "the world is here because I think it is" discussions completely irrelevant.

#53 NQ   Members   -  Reputation: 328

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 08:27 PM

Quote:
Original post by Sneftel
Quote:
Original post by aphydx
right. i meant a complete representation

And there's the mistake: assuming that comprehension requires representation. Consider: I comprehend my car's internal combustion engine, despite the fact that I do not know the exact configurations of the atoms which comprise it, or even how many atoms there are in it.


I must say that was a very attractive phrasing. *applause*

#54 NQ   Members   -  Reputation: 328

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 08:34 PM

Quote:
Original post by neonic
I don't know. This whole thing is very confusing and I agree with the authors prognosis that 'something weird' is definately going on around here :).

Just throwing this on the table, because I have been thinking this topic over for a number of years also. I was reading in a Popular science magazine talking about teleportation..........

Yup. I have not read that article, but I am familiar with the concept. It is in all a very interesting topic. If you're recreated to 100% accuracy with other atoms - would that be 'you'?

Interesting as it may be, it is a derivative of this whole 'ghost' thing. Going onwards and trying to make something out of teleportation, without having first settled what a 'ghost' really is, is interesting but not relevant.
Quote:
So several things to say here going along with the author... if nr 1 is true and we were created by a higher being... then I don't even know what would happen when they recreated you. You would probably just be the equivilant of dead.

If nr 2 was true, then your body would create a ghost itself, since the brain is able to hold a ghost. Now think about this: would that new "ghost" be "you" or would you still be destroyed and some other ghost is running around with your body.

Now if nr 3 was true I would imagine the same thing such as nr 2 would happen, but for a different reason.

I guess this just brings a new element to the table, when taken into a scenario like this, not only the question "what is life", but the question "what is death"

You summarize the topic correctly. I also did mention the 'if this is so, then what is death?' question in my text, but only as a side comment to number 2 and 3.

#55 NQ   Members   -  Reputation: 328

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 08:45 PM

Quote:
Original post by Horatius83
When my car is not functioning correctly I may say that it is "being stubborn" and perhaps a few other things that I won't repeat. This anthropomorphism is a way for me to cope with the fact that the machine is very complicated and I don't understand it. Perhaps this is all personality, and by extension, "ghost" is, we take what we know of our own emotions, and actions in certain situations, and then project it onto other people or things, then we check their actions against this model and determine how closely it fits.

Sorry, but I must cincerely object. This style of thinking is not evident in all humans, and certainly not within myself! I do never match peoples actions to my own way of thinking, and I also never call my car 'stubborn'. This is because I understand the workings of the car. People who do not understand it, thus superimposes their own view of things upon the car. But this is only true for the people who do not understand.

Your're trying to disprove something with an invalid argument. That way of thinking is not present in all human beings.

Quote:
As for life, this is a tricky question, traditionally the battle lines have been drawn around the subject of whether or not a virus is alive since it depends on a host to reproduce. The problem I see is that if you say viruses aren't truly alive then you can say that all men are dead since they depend on women to reproduce. (I know you're all programmers but trust me, I read it in a book so it must be true) So my guess would be any thing capable of creating a copy of itself (by any means) would be a good candidate for being alive. This seems to preclude sterile animals from being alive, but consider the fact that at the cellular level they're reproducing like crazy, skin cells, bacteria in the intestines, muscles, the whole deal.


Yeah, that section is most correct. I hope you don't thinking you're arguing against me there, coz that would mean I'm a sloppy writer. This section might as well have been written by me.
edit: Oh, except the guess that anything capable of reproducing means it is 'alive'. I do not assume that. In fact, I want to stay wayyyyyyy clear of the term 'alive', coz that is not really part of what I'm trying to say.

#56 NQ   Members   -  Reputation: 328

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 09:03 PM

Quote:
Original post by HemoGloben
Ok, focus on the france thing. It acts like a living entity because it's run by living entities. Doesn't that make more sense than trying to pretend that france itself is a living entity? Your entire thought experiment attempts to grapple the idea of seperating acts like an entity and is an entity, but somehow manages to miss acts like entity because it's run by entity.


Very good, HemoGloben! I was wondering when somebody was going to pick this one up.

It is certainly a possibility. In fact, this is the main reason why I couldn't say that EVEN if the premises for Nr. 2 is correct, even then I couldn't say that ghosts would certainly appear within systems.

I didn't really feel that that side-notion was necessary to put in the text, since hardly anybody would think about it.
But yes it's a point, however I'm not sure what to make of it. I'm having trouble giving examples of complex systems - like France - which are not run by living beings, so I cannot counter the argument. Therefore I simply state that it's a possibility that such systems could have ghosts.

#57 NQ   Members   -  Reputation: 328

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 09:08 PM

Quote:
Original post by Sneftel
Quote:
Original post by HemoGloben
Uhh...Isn't a more likely option to the whole internet seemingly alive, france being alive thing the fact that both happen to be in large part run by humans that are alive? I mean, ...meh.


Seems a little weak. Are you saying that things cannot be alive unless they are comprised of parts which are alive? That seems to break down. Carbon and hydrogen atoms can't really be said to be alive. Concurrently, humans display much more capability for adaptation and intelligence than the cells of which they are composed. They can, by some measure of "alive", be said to be MORE alive than those cells: they display traits above those which the cells themselves can "run".

Also, who's this Meh person?


Sorry, but I think you misunderstood his point abit. He merely said it didn't necessarily have to have a ghost to behave like that. I agree. His point does not in any way counter your argument.

edit: LOL! I've gotten rated down because of this thread!! And I didn't even represent a side!! Absolutely hilarious! =D

#58 Sneftel   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 1776

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 09:11 PM

Quote:
Original post by NQ
Sorry, but I think you misunderstood his point abit. He merely said it didn't necessarily have to have a ghost to behave like that. I agree. His point does not in any way counter your argument.

I know... I was going on his tangent. His implication, though, seems to be that if it doesn't have its own big ghost, it has to have a bunch of smaller ghosts puppeting it. And I don't see any reason to believe that's true.

EDIT: BTW, let's use standard terminology and just call the "ghost theory" dualism.

#59 busyme   Members   -  Reputation: 124

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 09:16 PM

When you know your self and understand, then you can develop such AI. Otherwise it just fruitless, it may emulate but never be it no matter how automated it is.

So you first you must understand yourself, your inner working, and your "I am" identity then you can talk about this. Other wise like someone here said this "REDUNDANT"!

#60 NQ   Members   -  Reputation: 328

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 03 January 2006 - 09:21 PM

Quote:
Original post by busyme
When you know your self and understand, then you can develop such AI. Otherwise it just fruitless, it may emulate but never be it no matter how automated it is.

So you first you must understand yourself, your inner working, and your "I am" identity then you can talk about this. Other wise like someone here said this "REDUNDANT"!


:) Nobody's trying to create it. This is meant as a treat for people who find it fun and interesting to think about these things. If you do not find it fun and/or interesting then you are free to not participate.




Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.



PARTNERS