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Causalities and Epiphenomena, Laws and Noticings Part III

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  • david_dodds_2001
    Copyright 2008 David Dodds Causalities and Epiphenomena, Laws and Noticings Part III I was at back to back week-long computer conferences the previous couple
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 10, 2008
      Copyright 2008 David Dodds

      Causalities and Epiphenomena, Laws and Noticings Part III

      I was at back to back week-long computer conferences the previous
      couple weeks, additional material for this Yahoo group was found.

      In some previous two episodes we saw discussion of BACON, and in the
      era it was hyped, there were claims made by its authors of the BACON
      series that it (re)discovered a number of scientific laws, such as
      Boyles Gas Law, Ohms Law (electrical resistance), and so on. We also
      saw that what the program's authors claimed that the program did was
      a bit of a stretch, compared to what the code actually did.

      For example, the program did not literally print out or otherwise
      announce "I've (re)discovered Boyles Gas Law". The program would need
      to have in some way known what Boyles Gas Law was ahead of time in
      order to know that it had found it.

      Typically computers detect or recognize things when there is some
      conditional statement where a is equal to b. A in this case would be
      the equation the system had "found" and B would be Boyles Gas Law. If
      somethingA is *equal* to somethingB then a computer (program) can say
      it has found or detected somethingB. The nub of this is that B has a
      data type, which means it can only be something legitimately
      representable in a Von Neuman computer and not something like the
      beauty of a sunset. Also it means that the *equal* part must be a
      hardware performable matching process, specifically "near", and
      "similar (to)" are not included. I am not aware of any computer
      hardware that "has" a "similar (to)" functionality. Certainly there is
      less-than and greater-than but neither of these is "similar (to)", and
      calling 'value +- x' "similar (to)" is doing violence to the meaning
      of "similar (to)". With a bit of a stretch 'value +- x' might be force
      fitted into the representation for 'within' but it doesnt really
      correctly / completely capture even the meaning of that expression
      ('within').

      Of course B does not have to be only a simple variable, it could be an
      entire computable expression such as a set of logical statements or
      equations, like e=mc**2
      (or e=mc^2, or e=(times (m , (power(c,2))), or ..). All of the things
      that may go on the right hand side of the equation sign must be
      computable in a Von Neuman computer.

      So that suggests that since what BACON was doing was determining which
      of its predefined equation patterns best (curve) fit the data that the
      program was given that either a) a representation of the equation
      itself, or b) a name or label representing that (equational)
      representation constituted the left side of the equal sign (somethingA
      as it were), and that somethingB on the other (or right hand) side of
      the equal sign has to be of a type and content which the computer
      hardware can detect "equal" (equality). If the equal sign means
      nothing more than somethingA evaluates to TRUE we may not have gained
      much. If the equal sign means that somethingB is an exact duplicate of
      the binary string somethingA its not clear that that is a powerful
      conditional.

      In the case 'a) a representation of the equation itself', this
      suggests that somethingB be an a representation of an equation and
      that it be representing exactly the same equation as occurs in
      somethingA. This amounts to playing a recording of the opera The
      Barber of Seville to the computer and after it has done an end-to-end
      waveform comparison announces, I recognize that sound (opera).

      Case a) also means that by some unstated means, the computer must have
      'a representation of the equation itself' stored associated with the
      term somethingB, in order to 'recognize it' when somethingA is the
      same equation.

      Assuming that there is a set of 'a representation of the equation
      itself' for each of the 'laws' that BACON 'discovers' to be used as
      the term somethingB, then assuming the input data was clean enough (ie
      low enough variance from the ideal values) to be used in the curve
      fitting process and that superfluous variable data sequences were not
      included in the input data set then it is likely that BACON would
      indeed identify (ahem, 'discover') the 'laws' (but only as represented
      by their somethingB equations).

      To my knowledge BACON did not in fact have these somethingB equations
      (representing the 'laws') predefined and did not attempt to match the
      best-fit equation it 'discovered' for each data set that was input to
      it. The best-match curve-fit was the end / last of the processing set
      of sequences which BACON did. It was the hyping humans who then made
      the claim that, the program having 'discovered' the equation which
      best-fits the (carefully groomed) data input to it had identified
      ('discovered') Boyle's Law, Ohm's Law, Burke's Law, etc. What the
      program did was find that equation in a prespecified set of equations
      which produced the best curve-fit of the (carefully groomed) data
      input to it. The hyping humans then made the claim that the program
      had discovered the law which that equation was already known to
      science as describing the numerical characteristics of the actors
      (gases, liquids, solids) in that realm of the world.

      Having thoroughly beaten that horse I simply point out that the
      (identity or 'name of' the) 'law' that was said to have been
      discovered by the program, was in fact not discovered or identified at
      all. It was the humans who, knowing the equation for each such 'law',
      claimed that, (the BACON program) having 'discovered' the (same)
      equation, had thereby discovered the 'law' [it's existence, and it's
      name / identity]. The program never had any awareness of any kind of
      a) such an existence, nor b) the name / identity of a).

      Perhaps you missed the point of this discussion. What is to be made
      clear is that the BACON programs are algorithms which perform
      predefined functions, in BACON's case this is mostly curve-fitting (of
      a) relevant, and b) not unruly data). None of the architecture nor
      coding of BACON was intended to provide any representation of nor
      modelling of 'awareness'. This is to say that there was no capability
      present in BACON programs to 'know' in any way 'what the program was
      doing', so it didn't 'know' that it was (trying to) 'discovering', and
      it didn't know about the 'laws' (of Boyle, Ohm, etc) by their names
      nor by their representative equations. It didn't know that it was
      curve-fitting, nor that the data was artificially constrained to be of
      only relevant variables ((conveniently) relevant to the 'law' it was
      currently 'discovering') and that no values were input that strayed
      too far away from the 'correct' or 'ideal' value. (This latter thing
      is called 'noisy data' versus 'clean data'.) It did not know that it
      had 'discovered' anything, let alone something that might / should be
      labelled as a 'law'. One does not give a named law to just any old
      curve-fit data, context and methodology are required to do that
      correctly; else one ends up with the 'logic' exercised in the Monty
      Python sketch within Search for the Holy Grail, where the good town's
      people are discussing the 'logic' of determining whether or not the
      woman with the carrot attached to her nose, is a witch.

      This point is one aspect of a phenomena which I call cognitive
      finessing, which I will be talking about across a number of episodes.
      Without the ability to do this finessing adult humans would not be
      able to function singly or collectively in / as societies. By seeing
      the emergence of this capability in the development of children's
      cognitive abilities we can come to appreciate this facility in the
      typical adult. No we will not be discussing child development in these
      episodes, you are spared this. (Here is a hint: 'Commander Data' is
      often portrayed as 'not getting' humans. He was shown once sitting
      intently watching a pot boil. The (supposed) humour in that is about
      the facility (or lack of it) of cognitive finessing (versus literal
      equalities and micro-deliberation).)
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