X-Message-Number: 15022
From: "Eunice Corbin" <>
Subject: Re: more on computers and brains
Date: Sat, 25 Nov 2000 11:49:58 -0800

Lee Corbin here.

Thomas Donaldson wrote

>So far the only person on Cryonet who has come close to
>answering my question about whether or not humans may be
>considered Turing machines is Mike Perry... [and] who
>remains the only person so far on Cryonet who has
>tried to seriously answer my question.

I'm sorry that lack of time has prevented responses to your
very good points.  I did send you an email personally, but
I don't think that you received it.  There is also the fear
that I am merely repeating points that others have already
made.  But I will summarize some of my views regarding what
you frequently write anyway:

>Does all thinking map easily into a Turing machine?

Yes, and by the following route:  processors that now 
execute millions of instructions per second may someday
execute trillions, and if not, as many of us have said,
one machine can in principle do the same thing as many.

I don't agree that time is a fundamental issue anyway
(as regards speed).  Suppose that you knew someone who
executed only a quarter as fast as the rest of us.  His
inner life would seem no less rich to him than yours
does to you, (just as your inner life would be no less
genuine than someone's who ran four times as fast as
you do).  You would talk to him exactly as you would a
time-retarded occupant of a spaceship traveling at .97c.
(In your frame of reference he REALLY IS retarded, it's
not just appearance!) Reading Greg Egan's "Permutation
City" gives one a nice feel for the problems of talking
with slower and faster people.

Anyway, if a computer program executes in a robot, and
gives every appearance of being a person, then this really
is completely the same as an exceedingly complicated UTM
executing on a tape so rich and intricate that the tape
itself is comparable to the real world (i.e., for every
structure in the real world that the robot may encounter
in a suitable time interval, the tape possesses an
equivalent structure).  But I know such arguments do
nothing for you: for one thing, for reasons never made
clear, you regard connections between objects physically
connecting and disconnecting as entirely different from
connected structures sending and not-sending information
respectively. (If one object does not communicate with
another, just how is this different from them being

Lee Corbin

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