RE: Minds, Machines, and the Multiverse

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sun May 07 2000 - 08:11:59 MDT

On Sat, 6 May 2000, Billy Brown wrote:

> This is just a special case of a much more general (and obvious) rule: no
> form of software can ever perform a computation that could not, in
> principle, be done by the hardware it runs on.
I think this needs to be phrased differently. I can write a program
to take the square root of a number that the hardware executing that
program simply cannot do. I can also design hardware that would
take the square root of a number that would be incapable of executing
said program. Hardware that can execute programs and compute square
roots would by definition be larger than either case separately.

Interestingly, there is a lot of work going on now to allow programs
to reformat the hardware (typically a sea-of-gates) to execute parts
of the program more efficiently. If this trend continues, it would
allow large fractions of the hardware to be dedicated to special
purpose "programs". That raises interesting question regarding comparisons
with the brain/mind, where the question is what fraction of
the brain's computronium can you actually divert to focus on a single
problem. It is certainly true that all of the sensory/motor and
much of the memory hardware is dedicated and cannot be reused
for other purposes.


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