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# Alex_Altair comments on AI is not enough - Less Wrong Discussion

-22 07 February 2012 03:53PM

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Comment author: 07 February 2012 04:36:42PM *  3 points [-]

I think this post is filled with conceptual confusion, and I find it fascinating.

You never quite state the alternative to an algorithm. I propose that the only alternative is randomness. All processes in the universe are algorithms with elements of randomness.

I'm curious as to what you think the human brain does, if not an algorithm. I, like many on LW, believe the human brain can be simulated by a Turing machine (possible with a random generator). Concepts like "heuristics" or "intuition" or exploration" are algorithms with random elements. There is a lot of history on formalizing processes, and nothing known lies outside Turing machines (see the Church-Turing thesis).

In addition, I think the human brain is a lot more algorithmic than you think it is. A lot of Lukeprog's writings on neuroscience and psychology demonstrate ways in which our natural thoughts or intuitions are quite predictable.

at some point we have to actually find an algorithm to start with

The universe started with the laws of physics (which are known to be algorithms possibly with a random generator), and have run that single algorithm up to the present day.

What do you think about my proposed algorithm/random dichotomy?

Comment author: 07 February 2012 05:33:34PM *  -2 points [-]

You never quite state the alternative to an algorithm. I propose that the only alternative is randomness.

The alternative to algorithms are non-formalizable processes. Obviously I can't give a precise definition or example of one, since in this case we would have an algorithm again.

The best example I can give is the following: Assume that the universe works precisely according to laws (I don't think so, but let's assume it). What determines the laws? Another law? If so, you get an infinite regress of laws, and you don't have a law to determine this, either. So according to you, the laws of the universe are random. I think this hardly plausible.

I'm curious as to what you think the human brain does, if not an algorithm.

I don't know, and I don't think it is knowable in a formalizable way. I consider intelligence to be irreducible. The order of the brain can only be seen in recognizing its order, not in reducing it to any formal principle.

In addition, I think the human brain is a lot more algorithmic than you think it is. A lot of Lukeprog's writings on neuroscience and psychology demonstrate ways in which our natural thoughts or intuitions are quite predictable.

I am not saying the human brain is entirely non-algorithmic. Indeed, since the knwon laws of nature we discovered are quite algorithmic (except for quantum indeterminateness) and the behaviour of the brain can't deviate from that to a very large degree (otherwise we would have recognized it already) we can assume the behaviour of our brains can be quite closely approximated by laws. Still, this doesn't mean there isn't a very crucial non lawful behaviour inherent to it.

The universe started with the laws of physics (which are known to be algorithms possibly with a random generator), and have run that single algorithm up to the present day.

How did the universe find that algorithm? Also, the fact that the behaviour of physics is nicely approximated by laws doesn't mean that these laws are absolute or unchanging.

What do you think about my proposed algorithm/random dichotomy?

Frankly, I see no reason at all to think it is valid.

Comment author: 18 February 2012 12:50:43AM 0 points [-]

"So according to you, the laws of the universe are random. I think this hardly plausible."

I don't see why it is not plausible. It's not like the Universe has any reason to choose the laws that it did and not others. Why have a procedure, algorithmic or not, if there are no goals?