Search FQXi


If you are aware of an interesting new academic paper (that has been published in a peer-reviewed journal or has appeared on the arXiv), a conference talk (at an official professional scientific meeting), an external blog post (by a professional scientist) or a news item (in the mainstream news media), which you think might make an interesting topic for an FQXi blog post, then please contact us at forums@fqxi.org with a link to the original source and a sentence about why you think that the work is worthy of discussion. Please note that we receive many such suggestions and while we endeavour to respond to them, we may not be able to reply to all suggestions.

Please also note that we do not accept unsolicited posts and we cannot review, or open new threads for, unsolicited articles or papers. Requests to review or post such materials will not be answered. If you have your own novel physics theory or model, which you would like to post for further discussion among then FQXi community, then please add them directly to the "Alternative Models of Reality" thread, or to the "Alternative Models of Cosmology" thread. Thank you.

Contests Home

Current Essay Contest


Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fnd.

Previous Contests

Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation
Media Partner: Scientific American

read/discusswinners

How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams
read/discusswinners

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008
read/discusswinners

Forum Home
Introduction
Terms of Use

Order posts by:
 chronological order
 most recent first

Posts by the author are highlighted in orange; posts by FQXi Members are highlighted in blue.

By using the FQXi Forum, you acknowledge reading and agree to abide by the Terms of Use

 RSS feed | RSS help
RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Erik Hoel: on 2/23/17 at 16:21pm UTC, wrote As I said, you're right that have a relation, but they can also be...

Satyavarapu Gupta: on 2/21/17 at 12:23pm UTC, wrote Dear Jochen Szangolies Nice reply and analysis… have a look at my essay...

Jochen Szangolies: on 2/21/17 at 9:18am UTC, wrote Hmm, I don't really think these two problems can be usefully separated....

Erik Hoel: on 2/17/17 at 16:35pm UTC, wrote Thanks for the clarifications Jochen. It's clearer to me what your account...

Jochen Szangolies: on 2/11/17 at 10:19am UTC, wrote Hi Edwin, thank you for your kind words, and for giving my essay a...

Edwin Klingman: on 2/11/17 at 1:26am UTC, wrote Hi Jochen, You began by observing that "a stone rolls downhill because...

Lawrence Crowell: on 2/11/17 at 1:10am UTC, wrote This definition of open world is with respect to entanglement swapping in...

Jochen Szangolies: on 2/9/17 at 9:16am UTC, wrote Thank you for your comment. I'm sorry to hear you found my essay hard to...


RECENT FORUM POSTS

Jose Koshy: "James Putnam, What do you mean by the acceleration of light? Do you mean..." in Alternative Models of...

Jose Koshy: "Steven, Because we are not sitting face to face, I may not be replying..." in Alternative Models of...

Algernon kk: "Steve Agnew is a legend for doing that. A lot of people at online resume..." in Weinberg: Why quantum...

Mohan rao: "Voot app free download Flash Recovery" in Time in Physics & Entropy...

Mohan rao: "My partner and I stumbled over here different website and thought I might..." in Time in Physics & Entropy...

Gary Simpson: "Ted, BTW, it is the community vote that matters ... not the public vote...." in FQXi Essay Contest 2016:...

Gary Simpson: "Ted, You statement regarding your score does not make any sense. You..." in FQXi Essay Contest 2016:...

Algernon kk: "Steve Agnew is a legend for doing that. A lot of people at custom..." in Weinberg: Why quantum...


RECENT ARTICLES
click titles to read articles

Quantum Replicants: Should future androids dream of quantum sheep?
To build the ultimate artificial mimics of real life systems, we may need to use quantum memory.

Painting a QBist Picture of Reality
A radical interpretation of physics makes quantum theory more personal.

The Spacetime Revolutionary
Carlo Rovelli describes how black holes may transition to "white holes," according to loop quantum gravity, a radical rewrite of fundamental physics.

Riding the Rogue Quantum Waves
Could giant sea swells help explain how the macroscopic world emerges from the quantum microworld? (Image credit: MIT News)

Rescuing Reality
A "retrocausal" rewrite of physics, in which influences from the future can affect the past, could solve some quantum quandaries—saving Einstein's view of reality along the way.


FQXi FORUM
February 28, 2017

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: Von Neumann Minds: A Toy Model of Meaning in a Natural World by Jochen Szangolies [refresh]
Bookmark and Share
Login or create account to post reply or comment.

This essay's rating: Community = 6.0; Public = 6.6


Author Jochen Szangolies wrote on Jan. 27, 2017 @ 17:03 GMT
Essay Abstract

The question of meaning, or intentionality, is plagued by the homunculus fallacy: postulating an 'internal observer' appraising mental representations leads to an infinite regress of such observers. We exhibit the structure behind this problem, and propose a way to break it down, by drawing on work due to von Neumann. This allows to eliminate the dichotomy between a representation and its user, eliminating the infinite regress. We briefly comment on how the resulting model handles other problems for a naturalistic account of meaning, such as the problem of error and the frame problem.

Author Bio

Jochen Szangolies studied physics in Siegen and Düsseldorf, recently completing and defending his PhD-thesis. He has worked on the phenomena of quantum contextuality, the detection of quantum correlations, and their application in quantum information tasks.

Download Essay PDF File




Lee Bloomquist wrote on Jan. 27, 2017 @ 23:07 GMT
Jochen Szangolies writes to us:

"The source of the homunculus fallacy is glossing over whom a given symbol is supposed to have meaning to: we imagine that the internal picture is simply intrinsically meaningful, but fail to account for how this might come to be—and simply repeating this ‘inner picture’-account leads to an infinite regress of internal observers."

In this way we...

view entire post


report post as inappropriate

Author Jochen Szangolies replied on Jan. 29, 2017 @ 10:56 GMT
Dear Lee Bloomquist,

thank you for the interesting response! I'll have to take a look at both the book you cite (hopefully the university library has a copy), and your essay before I can comment more in depth, but I think we have broadly similar concerns---a circularity need not automatically be vicious. In some sense, my whole essay is an attempt at removing the vicious circularity in the idea that 'a mind is a pattern perceived by a mind', which seems to bear some relation to your 'self=(self)' (I interpret this as a kind of set notation?).

The homunculus regress is vicious, because it needs to be completed before, so to speak, the first element of the hierarchy is done---i.e. before a given representation has meaning to the lowest-order homunculus, all the representations on the higher levels must have meaning.

In contrast, an acoustic feedback, or a control loop, aren't vicious---in a feedback loop, we have an acoustic signal being generated, which is then recorded by a microphone, amplified, re-emitted, re-recorded, and so on. This may be undesirable, but there's nothing fundamentally problematic about it. It would be different if, in order to emit sound on the first 'level', the whole infinite tower of recording-amplifying-emitting would have to be traversed: in this case, the production of a sound is simply logically impossible, and likewise the production of meaning in a homuncular setup.

The same goes for an algorithm that calls itself before producing a certain output: no matter how long the algorithm is run, the output is never produced.

Anyway, I'm going to go have a look at your essay!



Lee Bloomquist replied on Jan. 29, 2017 @ 23:07 GMT
-- "'self=(self)' (I interpret this as a kind of set notation?)"

Yes! It's the language of "non-wellfounded sets" where the set need not be "founded" in different objects.

-- "The homunculus regress is vicious, because it needs to be completed before, so to speak, the first element of the hierarchy is done---i.e. before a given representation has meaning to the lowest-order homunculus..."

In "self = (self)" there is no hierarchy of order between "selves." There is only one "self": "self = (self)."But I do think that hierarchy is relevant. In "The Knowledge Level Hypothesis," there is a hierarchy of analyses-- One could analyze the system in terms of the wave functions of the electrons in circuit components; or in terms of the voltage and amp levels at circuit components; or in terms of microcode in the processor; or in terms of the assembly language; or in terms of the higher level language used (e.g. C++, Pharoh); or in terms of the formal specification of the algorithms involved; or finally, in terms of the "knowledge level" where there are knowledge, *goals,* and actions. The knowledge level hypothesis says there is no higher level than this useful for analysis.

-- "...an algorithm that calls itself before producing a certain output: no matter how long the algorithm is run, the output is never produced."

As I understand it that's the classic "halting problem." Pragmatically, in a real world computer the called routine would never return to the memory address of execution. But I want to mean something different. "self = (self)" will terminate when all it's possibilities are zeroed. But during its lifetime, it's possibilities are not all zeroed!

report post as inappropriate

Author Jochen Szangolies replied on Feb. 1, 2017 @ 12:35 GMT
Note that the hierarchy of homunculi is something very different from the hierarchy of knowledge you propose. In the latter, you can, in a sense, go as far as you like---each new level being a sort of 'coarse-graining' of the level below; in many cases, in fact, the hierarchy will terminate, because eventually, there's nothing left to coarse-grain.

The hierarchy of homunculi, however, is...

view entire post





Jack Hamilton James wrote on Jan. 29, 2017 @ 10:36 GMT
Great essay - I enjoyed it very much, thank you. A couple of questions.

1. Is this analogy/explanation a modern (physical/informational/mathematical) form of idealism?

2. If it's not, how does the self-reproduction arise initially from non-life?

report post as inappropriate

Author Jochen Szangolies replied on Jan. 29, 2017 @ 11:05 GMT
Dear Jack,

thanks for your kind words! I'm not quite sure I understand your questions correctly, though. I don't intend to put forward a modern form of idealism in the traditional sense---i.e. that everything is ultimately mental at the bottom. In some sense, I suppose one could argue that in my model, ideas are shaped only by certain mental background conditions, and hence, properly speaking, only refer to those---but I still intend for these background conditions (providing the fitness landscape) to be essentially provided by the outside, physical, world. You could think of a robot, having a cellular automaton for a brain, in which ideas 'evolve' according to the conditions created by the impact of the outside world.

Regarding your second question, are you asking about how self-reproduction arose in biological systems, or how it got started within the minds of biological creatures? If the former, I'm hardly an expert---but the basic idea is that there exist certain autocatalytic reactions, which then, over time, grow more efficient at creating copies of certain molecules. I think something like that may also have occurred in the brain: organisms prosper if they can adapt to a wide variety of circumstances, and as I outlined in my essay, the evolution of stable structures mirroring the outside world within the brain may be a general-purpose way of coping with near-limitless variation in the outside world.

Thus, creatures with a simple sort of self-replicating mechanism in the brain did better than creatures without, and this simple mechanism then got gradually refined via natural (and perhaps, also cultural) selection.

Did that address your questions at all?




Stefan Weckbach wrote on Jan. 29, 2017 @ 12:28 GMT
Dear Jochen Szangolies,

your essay is interesting and thought-provoking, at least for me. You give an attempt to model meaning in terms of algorithmic encodings. Your attempt is based on the assumption that brains are cellular automata, exhibiting patterns that can be encoded by the cellular automaton itself. You define CA patterns to be mental representations, thereby excorcising the...

view entire post


report post as inappropriate

Author Jochen Szangolies replied on Jan. 30, 2017 @ 09:03 GMT
Dear Stefan Weckbach,

thank you for reading my essay, and especially for your comments. I think one thing I must clarify right off the bat: I don't claim for my von Neumann minds to be a model of full-fledged consciousness, by which I mean especially phenomenal consciousness---the 'what-it's-likeness' of being in a conscious state.

But I think this problem can be usefully separated...

view entire post





Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Jan. 29, 2017 @ 22:41 GMT
Your model has a definite selection mechanism to it. The more precise emulation of the exterior world by the tripartite system is a sort of self-correcting system. Is this similar in ways to Dennett's heterophenominon idea, where there might be several competing systems that result in a one of them that has the best outcome. Further, could this be derived within something like maximum entropy?

LC

report post as inappropriate

Author Jochen Szangolies replied on Jan. 30, 2017 @ 09:15 GMT
Dear Lawrence,

thank you for commenting. I'm not sure the selection mechanism you outline really works---I see a danger of hidden circularity: how do I select for a 'better match' to the environment, without already having a representation of the environment in hand? Whatever tells me that a given replicator matches the exterior well already contains the information that I want to evolve within the replicator, so I could just use that instead. Or am I misunderstanding you?

Regarding Dennett, yes, there is some similarity to his multiple drafts: as different replicators come to dominance, different 'versions' of experience---or at least, of beliefs about the world---arise in the agent, as in the example where an agent mistakes a jacket in a dark room for a stranger. There, the difference between both is clear, but there might also be cases where the earlier set of beliefs is erased, such that there is no introspective evidence of having believed otherwise, but where we can extract it by behavioural experiments---much as in Dennett's model.

Your suggestion towards a maximum entropy principle is interesting. Indeed, in some sense, we should be able to arrive at the 'most sensible' set of beliefs of an agent about the world in terms of maximizing the entropy---in a sense, we should find the set of beliefs with maximum entropy regarding the constraints set up by the environment. I wonder if this is possible with a sort of genetic/evolutionary approach?



Steve Dufourny replied on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 20:47 GMT
Hi to both of you,

Lawrence, what is this maximum entropy ? a maximum Shannon entropy because if it is the maximum thermodynamical entropy or the maximum gravitational entropy ,it is different.Could you tell me more please?

report post as inappropriate

Steve Dufourny replied on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 21:04 GMT
A maximum entropy so in theory of information is when we have all probabilities without constraints for the message, the signals.But I don't see how this concept could be derived ? for what aims?could you explain me please?

report post as inappropriate


Harry Hamlin Ricker III wrote on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 14:35 GMT
Hi, I was unable to understand how this essay related to the essay topic. I don't think it does.

report post as inappropriate

Author Jochen Szangolies replied on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 15:06 GMT
Dear Harry,

thank you for your comment. The topic of this essay contest is 'Wandering Towards a Goal – How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intentions?'.

To me, the key words here are goal, aims, and intentions: in order to have either, agents need the capacity for intentionality---that is, they need to be capable of having internal mental state directed at, or about, things (or events, or occurrences) in the world. To have the goal of climbing Mount Everest, say, you need to be able to have thoughts about Mount Everest; to intend an action, you need to be able to plan that action, for which you again need to be able to think about it, and so on.

Consequently, it is this aboutness---the aforementioned intentionality---that is the prerequisite to all goal-directed behaviour; my model then proposes a way of how such intentionality might arise in a natural world. Agents within which something equivalent to this model is implemented are able to represent the outside world (or parts thereof) to themselves, and consequently, to formulate goals, have aims, and take intentional action. Thus, the model is a proposal for how goals, aims, and intentions may come about in a natural world governed by 'mindless mathematical laws'.

Does this help answer your concern?



Lee Bloomquist replied on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 23:30 GMT
Yes, and "Wandering towards a goal" in the context of mathematical physics suggests to me the "fixed point problem."

Say that in a shopping mall your goal is the sporting goods store. So you stand in front of the map of the mall.

What enables you to plan a path towards your goal is that there is, on the map in front of you, the point "You are here." Which is where you are actually standing in the mall.

Without this "fixed point" you would be faced with a random walk towards the goal (If, like me most times, you are unwilling to ask strangers).

The fixed point-- "You are here"-- enables you more efficiently and effectively to move towards your goal.

So to me, the key in an effective use of a map for moving towards a goal is FIRST to know where you are. (First understand "self.")

After "self" is identified both in the real world and on the map, then a goal can be located on the map and a route planned towards that goal in the real world.

But before that-- you have to know where the "self" is, and where it is imaged on the map.

There may be a potentially useful mnemonic for this: When going towards a goal, first know what the self is so you can locate it in both places-- in other words, "Know thyself."

report post as inappropriate

Author Jochen Szangolies replied on Feb. 1, 2017 @ 12:17 GMT
Joe Fisher, thanks for your comment. I will have a look at your essay.

Lee Bloomquist, it's interesting that you mention fixed points---in some abstract sense, the self-reproduction I study is a fixed point of the construction relation: the output is the same as the input.

In fact, you can more stringently formulate von Neumann's construction as a fixed point theorem, as shown by Noson Yanofsky in his eminently readable paper "A Universal Approach to Self-Referential Paradoxes, Incompleteness and Fixed Points". It essentially elaborates on and introduces Lawvere's classic "Diagonal arguments and Cartesian Closed Categories", showing how to bring Gödel's theorems, the unsolvability of the halting problem, the uncountability of the real numbers, and von Neumann's construction under the same scheme.




Steve Dufourny wrote on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 20:33 GMT
Hello Mr Szangolies,

Thans for sharing your work.Congratulations also.It is an intersting appraoch considering the works of structure of von neuman.It is always a question of hard drive and memmory and input and output with Of course an arythmetic method of translation, logic and an unity of checking also logic in its generality.But the add to this unity of codes in considering the mind and intentions seem really difficult considering the main gravitational codes different than photons and binar informations.That is why an AI is possible with the structure of von Neumann, but not a free mind like us the humans because I beleive that gravitation and souls are linked.We cannot approach the main singularities, personal.Like all singularities in fact.

Best Regards

report post as inappropriate

Steve Dufourny replied on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 20:45 GMT
It is true what.How can we define whzt is a meaning, how to quantify the importance of a meaning for the synchros and sortings of codes and informations.The nature seems utilising spherical volumes and rotations.Lawrence is right in saying that sélections with environments are important.How to rank with an unbiversal logic in fact.

report post as inappropriate

Steve Dufourny replied on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 20:59 GMT
if we consider that informations and the Shannon entropy can reach an infinity, it is more logic than a maximum.The potential is infinite simply like for the electromagnetic and gravitational informations when we superimpose nor add these informations.A machine mimating the universe could be relevant for the sortings and synchros of codes.The evolutive point of vue is always relevant.

report post as inappropriate


Erik P Hoel wrote on Feb. 1, 2017 @ 19:28 GMT
Dear Jochen - thank you so much for the essay. It's cogent and well-put together, and it's definitely hitting upon an interesting line of thought and thus is very stimulating.

I think actually what you said above to one of the other comments is the best paraphrase of your position:

"an organism with a CA-brain encounters a certain environment, and receives certain stimuli; these...

view entire post


report post as inappropriate

Author Jochen Szangolies replied on Feb. 3, 2017 @ 08:51 GMT
Dear Erik,

thanks for your comments! I'm glad you see some value in my thoughts. I should, perhaps, note that to me, my model is more like a 'proof of concept' than a serious proposal for how intentionality works in actual biological organisms (to point out the obvious difference, none of us has a CA in their brain).

So the bottom line is that if the model works as advertised, what...

view entire post




Erik P Hoel replied on Feb. 6, 2017 @ 16:20 GMT
Dear Jochen - thanks so much for your detailed response!

I agree with most everything you say, I just disagree that this solves the actual issue you bring up of intentional reference.

The initial problem you set up is this one: "the notion of reference: when we interpret the word ‘apple’ to refer to an apple, a reasonable suggestion seems to be that the word causes an appropriate mental representation to be called up—that is, a certain kind of mental symbol that refers to said apple."

When then after giving your account, you admit that there are still things like reference-error, twin-earth problems, etc, and answer those things by saying "My meanings are all in the head." In analytic philosophy this is called a "narrow content" view of representation. But once one takes a narrow content view, why specify this tripartite structure and use the analogy of the CA-replicators?

For instance, one could give a more general answer that takes the same form as your proposal, and just say that through development, learning, and evolution, our internal brain structure correlates to the outside world. But when pressed about errors in reference, twin earth, etc, the more general proposal just says "well, sure, all that's true. But the meanings are in the head anyways!"

In other words, if you've admit that meanings are all in the head anyways, can have errors, and don't have a fixed content in terms of referencing the outside world, I'm not sure what further work needs to be done in terms of the analogy to Von Neumann machines. The traditional problem that narrow-content views run into is that of underdetermination -> there are many possible interpretations to some brain states (or CA-states) in terms of what it's representing, and I'm not sure how the analogy gets you out of that.

Btw I know I sound critical here - but it's only because it's so advanced as an essay that we can even have this discussion.

EPH

report post as inappropriate

Author Jochen Szangolies replied on Feb. 8, 2017 @ 13:33 GMT
Dear Erik,

please, don't apologize for being critical---if the idea is to have any chance at all, it must be able to withstand some pressure. So every issue you point out is helping me, and I'm grateful for having the opportunity of discussing my idea.

Regarding the problem you see, do you think that narrow content is just in principle not capable of solving the problem of reference,...

view entire post





Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 6, 2017 @ 13:21 GMT
Good essay sir…

Taking your apple example….

One apple will not be same another apple. Each single apple will be different. Each apple will have a different picture in different direction.

-How will this homunculus algorithm will recognize it is an apple ?

-How will it recognize it is a different apple?

-How will it recognize it is a different view?

report post as inappropriate


Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 6, 2017 @ 13:50 GMT
Good essay sir…

I have a small further doubt, hope you will analyze it for me. Now taking your apple example….

One apple will not be same another apple. Each single apple will be different. Each apple will have a different picture in different direction.

-How will this homunculus algorithm will recognize it is an apple ?

-How will it recognize it is a different apple?

-How will it recognize it is a different view..?

report post as inappropriate

Author Jochen Szangolies replied on Feb. 8, 2017 @ 13:47 GMT
Thank you for the compliment! I suppose you're essentially asking about how there come to be different categories of objects that can be represented. I.e., what makes a different apple an instance of the category 'apple'? What makes a peach not an instance of the same category?

In a sense, this harks back to the problem of universals, with all the attendant baggage that would take too long to even review, much less address, here.

But I think that, from a more modern perspective, one can draw an interesting analogy to a hash function. A hash function, used, e.g., in cryptography, is a function that takes a set of inputs to the same output, thus 'grouping' inputs into distinguishable sets.

Thus, we get a partitioning of a certain domain into different classes---like, e.g., the domain 'fruit' is partitioned into 'apples', 'peaches', and so on. So, one possible response here would be that two different replicators represent different instances of the same sort of object if they are mapped to the same hash code. This doesn't have to be explicit; for instance, when the replicator guides behavior, it might be that only certain of its properties are relevant for a given action---this ensures that the reaction to 'apple A' will be the same as to 'apple B', but different from 'peach X'.

Alternatively, one can think about this more loosely in terms of Wittgensteinian 'family resemblances': if there is a resemblance between objects, there will be a resemblance in the replicators, and consequently, a resemblance in actions taken upon encountering these objects (such as saying, 'that's an apple').

However, I think that this is an issue whose detailed treatment will have to wait until the model is more fully developed, and one can start applying it to real-world situations.



Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta replied on Feb. 21, 2017 @ 12:23 GMT
Dear Jochen Szangolies

Nice reply and analysis… have a look at my essay also please….

Best wishes for your essay

=snp.gupta

report post as inappropriate


Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Feb. 8, 2017 @ 11:37 GMT
I found your small paragraph at the top of page 5:

The key to shake the agent’s mind free from empty, self-referential navel-gazing is the design’s evolvability.

Assume that the agent is subject to certain environmental stimuli. These will have some influence

upon its CA brain: they could, for instance, set up a certain pattern of excitations. As a result, the

evolution of patterns within the CA brain will be influenced by these changes, which are, in turn, due

to the environmental stimuli.

as interesting. This is similar to what I argue with the necessity of the open world. The open world, or the environmental stimuli that is not predictable in a closed world, is what cuts off the self-referential endless looping. I discuss this in my essay at the end with respect to MH spacetimes and black holes. I don't necessarily think black holes are conscious entities, but that they have an open quantum structure means they are not complete self-referential quantum bit systems. In my essay I also invoke the MERA logic which has a cellular automata nature.

The randomizing influence of the environment is crucial I think to prevent the duplicator from the universal Turing machine problem. The duplicator duplicates the object and blueprint, but in doing so duplicates the blue print encoding a copy of itself, which leads to this infinite regress. This is why there is no UTM; there is the need for the UTM to emulate itself emulating all TMs and itself emulating TMs which then ... . It leads to an uncountable infinite number of needed copies that runs into Cantor's diagonalization problem.

Great essay! LC

report post as inappropriate

Author Jochen Szangolies replied on Feb. 9, 2017 @ 09:05 GMT
Thanks for your comment, and the compliment! I've already had a preliminary look at your essay, but I'll hold off on commenting until I've had time to digest it somewhat (there's quite a lot there to be digested).

I'm thus not quite sure we mean the same thing by an 'open world'. It's true that I use the evolvability of my replicators in order to cope with the limitless possibilities that an agent in the world is presented with---that's why something like an expert system simply won't do: it's essentially a long, nested chain of 'if... then... else' conditionals, which the real world will always exhaust after some time (and given the limitations of feasibility of such constructions, usually after a rather short time).

It may be that something like this intrinsically non-delimitable nature is what you have in mind with the concept of openness, which you then more concretely paint as the existence of long-range entanglement between arbitrary partitions of a system, defining a topological order. But I'll have to have another look at your essay.



Lawrence B. Crowell replied on Feb. 11, 2017 @ 01:10 GMT
This definition of open world is with respect to entanglement swapping in the framework of ER = EPR. With cosmology there is no global means to define a time direction. A time direction is really a local structure as there does not exist a timelike Killing vector. Energy is the quantity in a Noether framework that is conserved by time translation symmetry. So if you have cosmologies with entangled states across ER black hole bridges (non-traversable wormholes) the only means one can define an open world is with entanglement exchanges. For instance the right timelike patch in a Penrose diagram may share EPR pairs with the left patch. In general this can be with many patches or the so called multiverse. There can then be a sort of swapping of entanglement.

I then use this to discuss the MH spacetimes and the prospect this sets up the universe to permit open systems capable of intelligent choices. Your paper takes off from there to construct a possible way this can happen.

Cheers LC

report post as inappropriate


Declan Andrew Traill wrote on Feb. 9, 2017 @ 06:36 GMT
I found the essay a but hard to read and a bit waffly.

It seems to me you are over complicating the problem.

We can easily see how a robot can build another copy of itself & then install the software that it is using itself into the new robot - job done!; no problems about infinite regress etc.

In nature, creatures that are unable to reproduce will die out, so given enough time and different types of creatures being formed due to essentially random changes, those that have formed the ability to copy themselves will continue to exists - those that don't won't.

Declan T

report post as inappropriate

Author Jochen Szangolies replied on Feb. 9, 2017 @ 09:16 GMT
Thank you for your comment. I'm sorry to hear you found my essay hard to read; I tried to be as clear as I can. One must, however, be careful in treating this subject: it is easy to follow an intuition, and be led down a blind alley. Hence, I simultaneously tried to be as scrupulous in my formulations as possible---perhaps excessively so.

Take, for instance, your example of the self-reproducing robot: at first sight, it seems to be a nice, and simple, solution to the problem. Likewise, a machine that just scans itself, and then produces a copy, seems perfectly adequate.

But both actually don't solve the problem, as can be seen with a little more thought. For the self-scanning machine, this is described in my essay; for your robot, the key question is about how it copies its own software. The first thing is that the robot itself is controlled by that software; hence, all its actions are actions guided by the software. So, too, is the copying: consequently, the software must actually copy itself into the newly created robot body.

But this is of course just the problem of reproduction again: how does the software copy itself? So all your robot achieves is to reduce the problem of robot-reproduction to software-reproduction. Consequently, it's an example of just the kind of circularity my essay tries to break up.

So I don't think I'm overcomplicating the problem; it's just not that easy a problem (although as von Neumann has shown us, it is also readily solvable, provided one is a little careful).




Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Feb. 11, 2017 @ 01:26 GMT
Hi Jochen,

You began by observing that "a stone rolls downhill because of the force of gravity, not because it wants to reach the bottom." In fact, life is almost defined by its ability to work its will against gravity. One might ask how this happens.

But your paper, on the homunculus fallacy is excellent. The main problem of representations 'using' themselves...

view entire post


report post as inappropriate

Author Jochen Szangolies replied on Feb. 11, 2017 @ 10:19 GMT
Hi Edwin,

thank you for your kind words, and for giving my essay a thorough reading! I'll have to have a look at yours, so that I can comment on some of the issues you raise.

Regarding the selection problem, I think this is something my model can only hope to address in some further developed stage. Right now, my main concern is to show, in a kind of 'proof-of-principle'-way, that a...

view entire post





Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Please enter your e-mail address:

And select the letter between 'T' and 'V':


Note: Joining the FQXi mailing list does not give you a login account or constitute membership in the organization.