X-Message-Number: 21621
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2003 08:58:07 -0400
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: CryoNet #21612 - #21615

To Mike Perry:

First of all it seems to me that quantum computers would be quite
far from Turing machines. So we may even have COMPUTERS which 
are not Turing machines. Second, in what sense does discreteness
become symbolic? To be symbolic, the meaning of a symbol (which
could be almost anything) is assigned by someone else, it is in
no way intrinsic to the symbol. When we deal with computers WE
are the ones who interpret their output. This remains so even
if we try to attach special circuits to them which get them to
tell us what they have found: WE MADE THOSE CIRCUITS.

It is quite certainly true that we can probably find it easier
to talk about discrete processes than continuous ones --- though
DE's and PDE's (Differential Equations and Partial Differential
Equations) make me wonder about that. But our ease in attaching
symbols to a process in no sense makes it symbolic itself.

As human beings we do have a fundamental problem in NOT seeing
everything as symbolic, at least in the sense that we try to
use our language to describe it. But our language comes from
us, it does not comes from the events we see happening around
us. This remains true even if we look at the very complex output
of computers.


I've already argued that we should not expect a singularity, but
I will point out that the real case that such a civilization,
whether or not it comes into existence suddenly or takes 
a million years to develop, might take over the universe is that
it would continually expand. That expansion need have no relation
at all to replication. If each of a finite number of beings grows
larger and larger, that will be enough.

And cosmically, even 1 million years is a short time. The problem
of "where are they, then?" remains. 

               Best wishes and long long life for all,

                    Thomas Donaldson

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