**From:** *abahn@comcast.net*

**Date:** Sat Aug 16 2003 - 22:07:27 BST

**Previous message:**abahn@comcast.net: "Re: MD Rorty"**Maybe in reply to:**Lars Quisling: "MD Pirsig, Falck, and Wolfram"**Next in thread:**Ian Glendinning: "RE: MD Pirsig, Falck, and Wolfram"**Maybe reply:**MATTHEW PAUL KUNDERT: "Re: RE: MD Pirsig, Falck, and Wolfram"**Reply:**Ian Glendinning: "RE: MD Pirsig, Falck, and Wolfram"**Messages sorted by:**[ date ] [ thread ] [ subject ] [ author ] [ attachment ]

Hello Lars,

You asked:

“My question concerns Stephen Wolfram's 'A New Kind of Science.' Do those of you

who are familiar with Mr.Wolfram's work feel that its philosophical implications

are MOQ-compatible or not? I am not sufficiently familiar with Wolfram's work to

make a full judgment, but I was struck by his suggestion that his 'principle of

computational equivalence' indicates that thought, will and intentionality may

be present in all aspects of the universe, which seemed to me to recall a strain

of animism in Mr.Pirsig's writing- particularly in 'Lila.' Again, apologies if

this has already been discussed or is not deemed interesting. “

Andy:

I brought up Wolfram a few months ago, but I received only limited responses. I

was struck by Wolframs lack of concise definitions for such important terms for

his “New Kind Of Science” as complexity and randomness. In the end he concludes

that our powers of perception are our most reliable measures of random, complex

and simple. Our eyes know before we can define each condition. At best, our

mathematics can only confirm what we already know by looking at his pictures.

This reminded me of ZMM and the quest to define quality – something we all

recognize, but cannot quite put our finger on.

I greatly admire Wolfram, but I have some reservations about his “principle of

computational equivalence”(PCE) and especially the suggestion that this

indicates that “thought, will and intentionality may be present in all aspects

of the universe. Wolfram’s PCE relies on the concept of a universal machine.

What he does is he proves that a very simple program is universal. Just a few

lines of code. The Turing machine was proved to be universal long ago, but the

Turing machine is very compex and involves too many rules. Wolfram wants to

show that a much simpler program can be universal and in his book he succeeds.

Once a machine is universal it is capable of performing any computation in the

universe. It can simulate all machines including the human brain or any

computer, … This is an amazing proof he has undertaken and he suggests that

most programs and systems, beyond the most simple ones, are capable of being

universal. However, there is a glaring deficiency in his suggestion that this

means thought will and intentionality might be present…

In an early chapter in the NKS (chapter 4, Systems based on numbers), Wolfram

describes the limitations of modern mathematics. You have an input, you perform

a calculation, and an output (solution) is spit out. He spends a great deal of

effort convincing us that much is lost by not examining the details of the

computation. In his pictures you can see the complexity that results when he

demonstrates the details of a computation. Even simple computations like

additions and subtraction. The lesson is that the details of a computation are

important. However, when the PCE is introduced later in the book, the details

are no longer important. All that matters is whether or not the system is

capable of universal computation. If it is, and Wolfram suspects that the

majority of systems are, then it is computationally equivalent. However, the

qualities of each system and how computations are performed by each system vary

dramatically as well as the efficiency of the computations. I would suggest

that intentionality, will and thought are properties of how a computation are

performed and not of universality or equivalence.

Platt said:

“I don't think we've ever discussed Wolfram's work here. But if he says thought,

will and intentionality may be present in all aspects of the universe, then his

connection to the MOQ is strong indeed. What strikes me most about Wolfram is

his belief that nature uses simple programs to create all the complexities we

see. But they can't be just any old programs. They must be programs that start

with the right pattern and proceed according to the right rules. "Right," of

course, is what the MOQ is all about.”

Andy:

Right is another one of those words we will never fully grasp. We talk around

it. But, right (along with truth and knowledge) differs from quality,

complexity, and randomness, because it is not a quality of perception by our

senses, but is rather socially defined. I disagree that “Right” is what the MOQ

is all about. Rather, “Right” is what Platt is all about.

Thanks,

Andy

And perhaps the great day will come when a people, distinguished by wars and

victories and by the highest development of a military order and intelligence,

and accustomed to make the heaviest sacrifices for these things, will exclaim of

its own free will, “We break the sword,” and will smash its entire military

establishment down to its lowest foundations… Rather perish than hate and fear,

and twice rather perish than make oneself hated and feared – this must some day

become the highest maxim for every single commonwealth.

--Friedrich Nietzsche

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**Next message:**Ian Glendinning: "RE: MD What comes first?"**Previous message:**abahn@comcast.net: "Re: MD Rorty"**Maybe in reply to:**Lars Quisling: "MD Pirsig, Falck, and Wolfram"**Next in thread:**Ian Glendinning: "RE: MD Pirsig, Falck, and Wolfram"**Maybe reply:**MATTHEW PAUL KUNDERT: "Re: RE: MD Pirsig, Falck, and Wolfram"**Reply:**Ian Glendinning: "RE: MD Pirsig, Falck, and Wolfram"**Messages sorted by:**[ date ] [ thread ] [ subject ] [ author ] [ attachment ]

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