Re: Protean Self-Transformation

David McFadzean (
Mon, 31 Mar 1997 14:22:26 -0700

At 01:10 PM 31/03/97 -0600, Gregory Houston wrote:

>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.

What if I personally build a model of some simple portion of the
real world (say a square room with coloured boxes) and that is used
to render photographic quality images that the program perceives?
Would you call me program's optical hardware?

>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

When the simulated cockroach walks it goes to a different location
in its world (and also on the screen). You can measure the distance
it travelled. You can add a wall to its environment that it cannot
walk through so it has to walk around it. Would you claim it is moving
without walking or that it is not moving?

>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.

Many artificial things are real. Ask someone with an artificial heart
whether they are really alive or if its just an illusion.

>> 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.

OK, let's say in order to walk something must move by use of its legs.
The simulated cockroach does this. If it doesn't move it legs in the
right order and it the right way, it doesn't move, therefore it walks.
I mentioned that the same program downloaded into a real six-legged
robot allows the robot to walk in the real world to prove that the
simulation was sufficiently realistic to model the real world.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Kumo Software Corp.