[Haskell-cafe] Re: Re: Re: Re[2]: Wikipedia on first-class object

Ben Franksen ben.franksen at online.de
Sun Dec 30 22:18:51 EST 2007

Bulat Ziganshin wrote:
> Hello Ben,
> Saturday, December 29, 2007, 7:14:47 PM, you wrote:
>>>>> "for a computer" is superfluous here. people are not smarter than
>>>>> computers and can't do anything that's impossible for computers
>>>> I don't think my computer can be sorry, but I know I can be.
> i've about smartness, but well. i, your computer, is really sorry
> and? it's only question of *your* perception. when you hear "a'm
> sorry" from the man - you think that he does it. when you hear
> ABSOLUTELY THE SAME from the computer - you *belive* that some man was
> programmed it to speak.

If I find out that the human was just programmed to act as if he or she were
sorry, but in fact is not, I would feel cheated.

You seem to be content to be cheated. You even seem to believe that
there /is no/ cheating involved, even if I program the computer so that you
just /think/ it has emotions.

Remember the chinese room!

> if you will believe that computers have free
> will and people are directed by God/spirits - you conclusions will be
> just opposite

I see no reason to believe that computers have free will. I see not the
slightest evidence for it, nowhere.

> the same true for thinking. it's you who believe that people are smart
> by itself but computers are smart only in the bounds they programmed
> by people.

No, not even that. Computers are not smart at all, not 'less smart'. Calling
computers 'smart' is sloppy speach, nothing more. We yell 'damn stupid
computer' if it doesn't do what we expect them to do. But we know very well
that the only reason is the program has an error, or the specification was
not what we think it is.

> you may believe that human wisdom is created by the Creator
> (or Natural Selection, if you believe in Science Religion) or,
> opposite, you may believe that computers are smart creatures

It is not a question of believing. It simply doesn't make sense to talk of
computers being 'smart'. Computers don't think, they just compute. I have
never seen even the slightest evidence of 'thinking' or 'smartness' in any
computer. I'd be very surprised if you had.

> but you select mean point. why? only because it's pleasant for people
> to believe in their free will, creativeness, smartness and don't

The sorry truth is that you /can/ reduce humans to machines, if you really
want to (and have the means). IMO it is the perhaps most evil thing humans
can do to each other.

> believe in computers' ones. nevertheless, there is no difference
> between acts of creating people by Natural Selection and cresating
> computers by engineering

Do you claim you can explain in full how evolution brought about the
existence of thinking beings? If you can't, maybe a little more humbleness
would be in order.

It is a long way from drawing a crude anology to presenting a consistent
scientific theory.

>>>> And don't forget that there are 'undecidable' problems.
>>> Which I have never yet seen decided by a person...
>> In many cases, equality of functions has been decided by humans, as has
>> termination of programs. Of course this doesn't prove that humans can, in
>> principle, decide equality for any pair of functions. But neither has the
>> opposite been proved.
> yes, it's great example of unfair treatment of computers vs people!

I am not unfair. Show me a sign of a computer acting like an intelligent
being and I will reconsider all I wrote.

> let's see - computers don't have general method of checking function
> equivalence. and you conclude that computers are limited in their
> abilities. 

It is mathematically proven, I even understand the proof, so yes.

> but the people don't have it too!

Maybe. Maybe not. We don't know. It depends on how far the human brain
really works like a machine. And whether and to what extent humans can
transcend the limitations of their material existence, brain included.

> moreover, if some way
> will be discovered - it should use mathematic notation which can be
> used by computers too, so this immediately means that it's impossible!
> but you don't want to notice it! instead, you notice that humans can
> do it in some particular cases. and you absolutely doesn't notice that
> computers can do the same. there is no general algorithm to find
> algorithm of checking f.e., humans can only do it by try-and-try
> method

Yes, of course. What you call 'try-and-try method' is usually
called 'creativity'. Everything else is boring: once we discover a method
to solve the problem in a certain class of cases, we can develop an
algorithm and let the computer do it automatically, right?

> so where is real difference?

Computers are machines. Humans are not, at least not /only/.

> it's in what we have formal math model
> for computers which allows to prove some theorems about them but we
> doesn't have model for humans. does this really mean that they are
> smarter?

Again: people are not 'smarter than' computers. Calling computers 'smart' is
a fundamental mistake, caused by over-extending a crude anology.

> why you don't believe that Martians are smarter than humans
> only because we don't know anything about them?

I don't claim to know anything about martians. But I wouldn't find it very
surprising if one day we find aliens that are 'smarter' (on average) than

> moreover, with assumption that humans are physical creatures and
> strictly obey to the rules of physical world (and that's common
> assumption for Science - are you believe in it) 

No. I am just a sceptic, I don't believe in 'science' any more than I
believe in 'god'. (Science is useful, that's all. Though there are people
who claim that god is a lot more useful to them, and who am I to tell them

> and with standard Physics
> assumption that any physical objects may be described by mathematical
> equations

Even if I would blindly believe in this dogma, it would certainly be
resticted to material things. Please note that /any/ scientific theory has
an area of applicability. Physics does not talk about thoughts or feelings.
Don't let yourself be brainwashed to think that there is nothing besides

> you immediately draw conclusion that humans are not smarter
> than computers and both doesn't have free will. people aren't sorry by
> free will, it is some circumstances together with their education that
> force them to sorry - exactly like virus in your computer may force it
> to say "please give me a choke".

I don't say that humans are not, to a certain extent, 'programmed' and
sometimes (maybe more often than we like to admit) act machine-like, i.e.
predictable. I merely claim that this is not their only 'nature', that
there is more to them. And this 'more' I treasure dearly. It is what we
should strive to cultivate.

> this is that your experience say, are
> you agree? you never hear that anyone say "sorry" without some
> previous cause as you have never seen computer saying "give me choke"
> without previously been infected by a virus. it's only you that
> believe that some of them does it by free will (but not without any
> reason) and some doesn't it only because they are programmed by some
> external activity. where is the real difference? ;)

I might as well say that the stone that falls to earth chooses to do so by
its free will. Or that my micro-wave oven chooses to heat my pizza because
it chooses to do so, by its own free will.

Once again: Yes, to a certain extent man is and works like a machine. Such
that you can program him to react to certain stimuli and he will do
whatever was programmed into him. But to state that this is /the human
nature/ per se, is to mentally /reduce/ man to a machine, and thus gives
rationale to dictators and other proponents and practitioners of mind
control. Human nature, and even life itself, is more than just reacting to
stimuli according to program.

In fact, if I were The Almighty, I would find it extremely boring to create
a universe in which even the most complex beings merely react according to
how I programmed them. No, I would rather try to make them similar to
Myself: creative, unpredictable, full of passion and lots of fun to
watch ;-)


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