AI and cognitive psychology rant (getting more and more OT - tell me if I should shut up)
steve at ninereeds.fsnet.co.uk
Sun Oct 26 15:44:48 CET 2003
On Sat, 25 Oct 2003 22:34:47 GMT, Alex Martelli <aleax at aleax.it>
>Stephen Horne wrote:
>> True. But perception cannot change reality. Reality is not about
>> perception - it existed long before there was anything capable of
>You are so WONDERFULLY certain about such things -- including the
>fact that "before" is crucial, i.e., the arrow of time has some
Take a look around. When you can walk back to last Wednesday, I'll
believe that time has no special meaning.
Just because physicists don't have a perfect model yet, it doesn't
change basic facts that anyone can observe by opening their eyes.
If you want to believe that time has no significance, proove it. When
you have successfully discounted all the clear and obvious artifacts
of times arrow, I will be happy to consider the possibility that times
arrow has no significance.
>"observer-participancy" is a delightful way to say "perception", of
No. Perception does not require participation of any kind, except in
that sense (which does not imply control) in which any observation
involves an interaction and changes what it observes.
"deriving a working model of reality from sensory input" is what
perception is all about.
>, but the most interesting part of this is that, to a theoretical-
>enough physicist, the mere fact that something happens in the future is
>obviously no bar to that something "building" something else in the past.
Yes, for the theoretician. It is a theoreticians job to test the
limits of the current models, and thus hopefully find better models.
But look around you. When was the last time you lived in a house that
was due to be built 50 years later?
The model is not reality, but only a working approximation of reality.
If the theoreticians could arbitrarily choose the results, why would
anyone bother with experiments?
>Now, it IS quite possible, of course, that Wheeler's working hypothesis
>that "the world is a self-synthesizing system of existences, built on
>observer-participancy" will one day turn out to be unfounded -- once
>somebody's gone to the trouble of developing it out completely in fully
>predictive form, devise suitable experiments, and monitor results.
Or else someone could simply say "I do not require that hypothesis".
>But to dismiss the hypothesis out of hand, "just because", does not
>seem to me to be a productive stance. That the universe cannot have
>built its own past through future acts of perception by existences
>within the universe is "obvious"... but so, in the recent past, were
>SO many other things, that just didn't turn out to hold...:-).
Absolutely true. But take a close look at the pattern. The central
role of people in defining the universe is something that, step by
step, we are being forced to give up. We are not created in the image
of god, the Earth is not the center of the universe, and our minds are
no more special than any other arrangement of matter.
In quantum theory, the observer is nothing more than a sufficient mass
that a superposition must be resolved quickly. Not so long ago, people
were grasping to the idea that being an 'observer' in quantum physics
was a special function of human consciousness. I do not need that
hypothesis any more than I need the hypothesis of god, or the
hypothesis that we are living in the matrix acting as magical
batteries that somehow produce more energy than we consume.
>Searle has written a book with a curiously similar title, "The
>Construction of Social Reality", and takes hundreds of pages to defend
>the view that there ARE "brute facts" independent of human actions
>and perceptions -- but does NOT deny the existence of "social reality"
>superimposed, so to speak, upon "brute reality".
Yes - but that "social reality" is nothing special either. There are
good practical reasons for it - reasons which can be derived fairly
simply from what we know of reality.
If you, like me, had Asperger syndrome you would understand the
practical consequences of not having full access to the definition of
As it happens, I have little patience for the constructionism vs.
deconstructionism thing. I have not chosen a side, and I do not see
deconstructionism as a single true faith. I do not believe all the
things that constructionists might say "then you must believe X" to.
To be honest, I don't see the point of basing opinions on what was
said by philosophers before the current level of knowledge about
physics and about the mind was achieved.
steve at ninereeds dot fsnet dot co dot uk
More information about the Python-list