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Nominull3 comments on Reductionism - Less Wrong

40 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 16 March 2008 06:26AM

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Comment author: Nominull3 16 March 2008 03:38:43PM 4 points [-]

I'm surprised that this point is controversial enough that Eliezer felt the need to make a post about it, and even more surprised that he's catching heat in the comments for it. This "reductionism" is something I believe down to the bone, to the extent that I have trouble conceptualizing the world where it is false.

Comment author: kremlin 04 February 2013 10:09:39AM 5 points [-]

After talking to some non-reductionists, I've come to this idea about what it would mean for reductionism to be false:

I'm sure you're familiar with Conway's Game of Life? If not, go check it out for a bit. All the rules for the system are on the pixel level -- this is the lowest, fundamental level. Everything that happens in conway's game of life is reducible to the rules regarding individual pixels and their color (white or black), and we know this because we have access to the source code of Conway's Game, and it is in fact true that those are the only rules.

For Conways' Game to be non-reductionistic, what you'd have to find in the source code is a set of rules that override the pixel-level rules in the case of high-level objects in the game. Eg "When you see this sort of pixel configuration, override the normal rules and instead make the relevant pixels follow this high-level law where necessary."

Something like that.

It's an overriding of low-level laws when they would otherwise have contradicted high-level laws.