X-Message-Number: 23952
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2004 10:10:08 -0400
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: CryoNet #23943 - #23951

Hi everyone!

Mike Perry and I have gotten into this kind of discussion before. I 
am not abandoning it because I think Mike has a good brain and what
he says always deserves consideration, if not agreement. And so:

In what sense is QM a formal system? Just as with any other phenomena
in the world, we can produce a formal theory which describes how it
works --- so far as our experiments with it go. However physical 
theories should never be confused with reality. It's not that physical
theories aren't very useful; they just aren't the same. 

Furthermore, computers by their nature are supposed to follow Turing's
Theorem. This at least looks like a much stronger requirement than
following a formal system (theory?). Chess follows a formal system
in that its rules can be set out and breaking them can be clearly
verified. Does the game of chess then constitute a computer? Careful
here: it's not enough to say that it can be played on a computer.
So can celestial mechanics, on a large and parallel computer, but
no one claims that celestial mechanics IS a computer. (At least
no one whom I would consider sane).

And since this subject began with human beings, I will discuss
humans here too. Yes, human beings like everything else must follow
physical law, chemical laws, biochemical laws, and all the rest.
Do human brains then work like ANY kind of computer? To make a
computer like a human brain you'd need one which grows new processors
and new connections between both old and new processors, with that
connectivity constituting its memory. Fundamentally language itself,
which plays such a big role in human thinking, grew out of 
nonlinguistic characteristics of brains. It is languages which 
we use to construct formal systems, but no language yet can be
simply identified with reality itself. And we, with our brains,
when faced by events which don't follow our formal systems,
abandon them to make other ones which fit better. It's our ability
to do that which provides evidence that we aren't computers, we
just use them.

               Best wishes and long long life,

                   Thomas Donaldson

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