Re: Protean Self-Transformation

Gregory Houston (
Mon, 31 Mar 1997 13:10:17 -0600

David McFadzean wrote:

> If it was like imagination then the vision program would be able to
> change what it was trying to see. Since the images come from outside
> the program (perhaps they were generated years ago by another computer
> and are merely stored on disk), they are an objective feature of the
> program's world. It is not at all like imagination.

I agree it is not like imagination, but it is also not like seeing the
real world either. Perhaps a better analogy would be of remembering in
which case the computer is accessing the memory of another computer. But
it is still remembering an image that is not from the real world. It is
not seeing in that sense of seeing. At best, it is seeing
metaphorically. If computer A was able to access the memory of another
computer, computer B, which had hardware for seeing the real world, then
computer A could then be said to have the ability to see via computer B.
But at some point along the chain, hardware must exist for recieving
data from the physical world.

> If it looks like it is walking (it moves around its world) and thinks
> it is walking, then what is the difference? I suppose you could define
> "walking" narrowly enough to exclude what the simulated cockroach is
> doing,

I can watch a movie and people might look like they are being killed,
but they are not *really* being killed. Its an illusion. What you are
talking about is an illusion of walking. What I am talking about is real
walking. The difference: One is an abstract concept or emulation of
walking, and the other is ACTUAL walking. I can go to a video arcade and
play a simulation driving game, but I am not really driving anywhere. I
may go through all the motions of driving, and I might even be tricked
into feeling a sense of movement, but I have not driven anywhere. I am
still in the same location as I was when I put the quarters in the

What you are asking for is suspended disbelief. You want me to entertain
your illusions. But just as I will not entertain the illusion of a
Christian god, I will not entertain the illusion of artificial life. I
am not saying that we will not be able to create life from silicon or
something else, but what I am saying is that it will not be called
artificial life, for artificial life is just that, artificial. It is not
real. To date it has been nothing more than a model, and a poor model at
that of life. This is not to say it will remain this way.

> but that is like saying computers don't do math until the results
> are printed on paper.

No it is not. Math is an abstract concept. It can take place in abstract
space. Math does not require legs as walking does, math does not require
sensations as emotions do, math does require hardware though. Math
requires a computational device, either a computer or a brain capable of
processing mathematics.

Gregory Houston                 Triberian Institute of Emotive Education  
phone:    816.561.1524
cellular: 816.807.6660          snail: PO Box 32046 Kansas City MO 64171

"Empowered, impassioned, we have a lust for life insatiable!"