Intelligence and Nomologicalism

13 views
Skip to first unread message

Rex Allen

unread,
Sep 21, 2010, 1:10:45 PM9/21/10
to Everything List
What is the significance of intelligence in a universe with
deterministic laws?

Your performance on any IQ test is not due to your possessing some
property called "intelligence", but rather is an inevitable outcome of
the universe's initial conditions and governing causal laws.

The questions you are asked, the answers you give, the problems you
are presented with, the solutions you develop - these were all
implicit in the universe's first instant.

You, and the rest of the universe, are essentially "on rails". The
unfolding of events and your experience of them is dictated by the
deterministic causal laws.

Even if time flows (e.g. presentism), the causal structure of the
universe is static...events can only transpire one way.

So, what can be said of intelligence in such a universe? Well...only
what the deterministic laws require you to say about it. What can be
believed about intelligence in such a universe? Obviously only what
the deterministic laws require you to believe.

Solving a problem correctly is no more impressive or significant than
rain falling "correctly". You answer the question in the only way the
deterministic laws allow. The rain falls in the only way that the
deterministic laws allow.

The word "intelligence" doesn't refer to anything except the
experiential requirements that the universe places on you as a
consequence of its causal structure.

=*=

What about the significance of intelligence in a universe with
probabilistic laws?

The only change from the deterministic case is that the course of
events isn't precisely predictable, even in principle.

However, the flow of events is still governed by the probabilistic
causal laws. Which just means that to the extent that the flow of
events isn't determined, it's random.

Again, the analogy with poker comes to mind: the rules of poker are
stable and unchanging, while the randomness of the shuffle adds an
element of unpredictability as to which cards you are actually dealt.
So, to the extent that poker isn't determined, it's random.

The questions you're going to be asked and the problems you're going
to be presented with in a probabilistic universe aren't
predictable...but neither are your answers or your solutions, which
result from the exact same underlying rule set. Again, to the extent
that any of these things aren't determined, they're random.

Adding a random component to an otherwise deterministic framework does
increase the number of possible states that are reachable from a given
initial condition, but it doesn't add anything qualitatively new to
the content of those states or to the process as a whole. Nothing new
is added to the deterministic case that would give the word
"intelligence" anything extra to refer to.

1Z

unread,
Sep 22, 2010, 4:14:37 AM9/22/10
to Everything List


On 21 Sep, 18:10, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
> What is the significance of intelligence in a universe with
> deterministic laws?
>
> Your performance on any IQ test is not due to your possessing some
> property called "intelligence", but rather is an inevitable outcome of
> the universe's initial conditions and governing causal laws.

it is of course both

> The questions you are asked, the answers you give, the problems you
> are presented with, the solutions you develop - these were all
> implicit in the universe's first instant.
>
> You, and the rest of the universe, are essentially "on rails".  The
> unfolding of events and your experience of them is dictated by the
> deterministic causal laws.
>
> Even if time flows (e.g. presentism), the causal structure of the
> universe is static...events can only transpire one way.
>
> So, what can be said of intelligence in such a universe?  Well...only
> what the deterministic laws require you to say about it.  What can be
> believed about intelligence in such a universe?  Obviously only what
> the deterministic laws require you to believe.

yep. and it's still nintelligence, just as a
deterministically falling stone is still falling

> Solving a problem correctly is no more impressive or significant than
> rain falling "correctly".  You answer the question in the only way the
> deterministic laws allow.  The rain falls in the only way that the
> deterministic laws allow.


so your actual conclusion is not that intelligence isn't
intelligence, but that intelligence isn't an achivement

Rex Allen

unread,
Sep 22, 2010, 12:20:54 PM9/22/10
to everyth...@googlegroups.com
On Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 4:14 AM, 1Z <peter...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> On 21 Sep, 18:10, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> What is the significance of intelligence in a universe with
>> deterministic laws?
>>
>> Your performance on any IQ test is not due to your possessing some
>> property called "intelligence", but rather is an inevitable outcome of
>> the universe's initial conditions and governing causal laws.
>
> it is of course both

I guess I'd have to hear your definition of "property" to make any
sense of that. In what sense is it like the properties of charge,
mass, spin, or color? And in what sense is it different?


>> Solving a problem correctly is no more impressive or significant than
>> rain falling "correctly".  You answer the question in the only way the
>> deterministic laws allow.  The rain falls in the only way that the
>> deterministic laws allow.
>
> so your actual conclusion is not that intelligence isn't
> intelligence, but that intelligence isn't an achivement

No, my actual conclusion is the part where I conclude:

1Z

unread,
Sep 23, 2010, 12:12:26 PM9/23/10
to Everything List


On 22 Sep, 17:20, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 4:14 AM, 1Z <peterdjo...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> > On 21 Sep, 18:10, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >> What is the significance of intelligence in a universe with
> >> deterministic laws?
>
> >> Your performance on any IQ test is not due to your possessing some
> >> property called "intelligence", but rather is an inevitable outcome of
> >> the universe's initial conditions and governing causal laws.
>
> > it is of course both
>
> I guess I'd have to hear your definition of "property" to make any
> sense of that.  In what sense is it like the properties of charge,
> mass, spin, or color?

it's a distinguishing characteristic
that is detectable


> And in what sense is it different?

it's not physically basic

> >> Solving a problem correctly is no more impressive or significant than
> >> rain falling "correctly".  You answer the question in the only way the
> >> deterministic laws allow.  The rain falls in the only way that the
> >> deterministic laws allow.
>
> > so your actual conclusion is not that intelligence isn't
> > intelligence, but that intelligence isn't an achivement
>
> No, my actual conclusion is the part where I conclude:
>
> "The word 'intelligence' doesn't refer to anything except the
> experiential requirements that the universe places on you as a
> consequence of its causal structure."

I have no idea what that means

Rex Allen

unread,
Sep 23, 2010, 11:26:24 PM9/23/10
to everyth...@googlegroups.com
On Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 12:12 PM, 1Z <peter...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> On 22 Sep, 17:20, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> I guess I'd have to hear your definition of "property" to make any
>> sense of that. In what sense is it like the properties of charge,
>> mass, spin, or color?
>
> it's a distinguishing characteristic
> that is detectable

So your position is that there is an algorithm that would correctly
detect all instances of intelligence with no false positives?

If you possessed this algorithm, I could present you with a large cube
of metal, silicon, and flashing lights, you could apply your algorithm
to determine for certain whether any form of artificial intelligence
was instantiated by the cube?

No matter how obfuscated, encrypted, or abstract the representation
used to instantiate the AI?

This would be in contradiction to Hilary Putnam's work:

"Putnam's proposal, and its historical importance, was analyzed in
detail in Piccinini forthcoming b. According to Putnam (1960, 1967,
1988), a system is a computing mechanism if and only if there is a
mapping between a computational description and a physical description
of the system. By computational description, Putnam means a formal
description of the kind used in computability theory, such as a Turing
Machine or a finite state automaton. Putnam puts no constraints on
how to find the mapping between the computational and the physical
description, allowing any computationally identified state to map onto
any physically identified state. It is well known that Putnam's
account entails that most physical systems implement most
computations. This consequence of Putnam's proposal has been
explicitly derived by Putnam (1988, pp. 95-96, 121-125) and Searle
(1992, chap. 9)."

Or, as Hans Moravec puts it:

"What does it mean for a process to implement, or encode, a
simulation? Something is palpably an encoding if there is a way of
decoding or translating it into a recognizable form. Programs that
produce pictures of evolving cloud cover from weather simulations, or
cockpit views from flight simulations, are examples of such decodings.
As the relationship between the elements inside the simulator and the
external representation becomes more complicated, the decoding process
may become impractically expensive. Yet there is no obvious cutoff
point. A translation that is impractical today may be possible
tomorrow given more powerful computers, some yet undiscovered
mathematical approach, or perhaps an alien translator. Like people who
dismiss speech and signs in unfamiliar foreign languages as
meaningless gibberish, we are likely to be rudely surprised if we
dismiss possible interpretations simply because we can't achieve them
at the moment. Why not accept all mathematically possible decodings,
regardless of present or future practicality? This seems a safe,
open-minded approach, but it leads into strange territory."


Where do you think that Putnam and Moravec went wrong?


>> And in what sense is it different?
>
> it's not physically basic

Then what is it? In what sense does it exist, if not physically?


>> >> Solving a problem correctly is no more impressive or significant than
>> >> rain falling "correctly". You answer the question in the only way the
>> >> deterministic laws allow. The rain falls in the only way that the
>> >> deterministic laws allow.
>>
>> > so your actual conclusion is not that intelligence isn't
>> > intelligence, but that intelligence isn't an achivement
>>
>> No, my actual conclusion is the part where I conclude:
>>
>> "The word 'intelligence' doesn't refer to anything except the
>> experiential requirements that the universe places on you as a
>> consequence of its causal structure."
>
> I have no idea what that means

Okay, so here's a definition of intelligence from the Merriam-Webster
dictionary:

"the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to
think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests)"

But what is an ability in a deterministic universe?

For any given input, a deterministic system can only react in one way.

If you expose a deterministic system to a set of inputs that represent
a particular environment, the system will react in the one and only
way it can to that set of inputs.

Knowledge is just the internal state of the deterministic system.

This is true of a human. This is true of a bacterium. This is true
of a Roomba vacuum cleaner. This is true of a hurricane. This is
true of a rock.

And, as I pointed out in the original post, probabilistic systems are no better.

Intelligence is an arbitrary criterion based only on how things "seem"
to you, and which has no other basis in how things are.

So, that is what I mean by:

1Z

unread,
Sep 24, 2010, 5:49:52 AM9/24/10
to Everything List


On 24 Sep, 04:26, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 12:12 PM, 1Z <peterdjo...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> > On 22 Sep, 17:20, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >> I guess I'd have to hear your definition of "property" to make any
> >> sense of that.  In what sense is it like the properties of charge,
> >> mass, spin, or color?
>
> > it's a distinguishing characteristic
> > that is detectable
>
> So your position is that there is an algorithm that would correctly
> detect all instances of intelligence with no false positives?

no. that isn't possible for physical properties either, and in any
case has nothing to do
with determinism
I assume your list of mass, charge, etc, were intended to be.

Again, this has nothing to do with determinism

> >> >> Solving a problem correctly is no more impressive or significant than
> >> >> rain falling "correctly".  You answer the question in the only way the
> >> >> deterministic laws allow.  The rain falls in the only way that the
> >> >> deterministic laws allow.
>
> >> > so your actual conclusion is not that intelligence isn't
> >> > intelligence, but that intelligence isn't an achivement
>
> >> No, my actual conclusion is the part where I conclude:
>
> >> "The word 'intelligence' doesn't refer to anything except the
> >> experiential requirements that the universe places on you as a
> >> consequence of its causal structure."
>
> > I have no idea what that means
>
> Okay, so here's a definition of intelligence from the Merriam-Webster
> dictionary:
>
> "the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to
> think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests)"
>
> But what is an ability in a deterministic universe?

It's something you can have, but not choose to have.
It is not, in other words an achievement; one wuuld be no more
responsible for ones
rationality or intelligence than eye-colour

> For any given input, a deterministic system can only react in one way.
>
> If you expose a deterministic system to a set of inputs that represent
> a particular environment, the system will react in the one and only
> way it can to that set of inputs.
>
> Knowledge is just the internal state of the deterministic system.
>
> This is true of a human.  This is true of a bacterium.  This is true
> of a Roomba vacuum cleaner.  This is true of a hurricane.  This is
> true of a rock.

ie they are all equally deterministic. You
haven't shown they are equally (un)intelligent.

the behaviour of a dropped rock and a dropped
feather may be equally indeterministic, but it is not the
same


> And, as I pointed out in the original post, probabilistic systems are no better.

better at what? the only thing determinism is incompatible with is
free choice.

in order to argue that determinism is incompatible with intelligence,
you have to take intelligence to mean something like freely chosen
intelligence


> Intelligence is an arbitrary criterion based only on how things "seem"
> to you, and which has no other basis in how things are.

not established. That something has a relatively wide and complex
repertoire of
responses to stimuli is an objective fact. (That it has "memory", or
the ability to modify its responses according to its whole history and
not just
the present stimulus is as well)


> So, that is what I mean by:
>
> "The word 'intelligence' doesn't refer to anything except the
> experiential requirements that the universe places on you as a
> consequence of its causal structure."

nothing above explains the "experiential requirements" clause

Brent Meeker

unread,
Sep 24, 2010, 2:21:27 PM9/24/10
to everyth...@googlegroups.com
And if that reaction is to manipulate it's envrionment is a way advantageous to it, it's intelligent.  Intelligence must always be relative to some situation or environment.  That's where Putnam and Moravec go wrong and Merriam-Webster get it right.


Knowledge is just the internal state of the deterministic system.
  

That's not a usable definition: internal=inaccessible.  Knowledge must be expressible.  It must be information that makes a difference. Otherwise you fall into the paradox of the rock that computes everything.

Brent

Bruno Marchal

unread,
Sep 25, 2010, 2:43:40 AM9/25/10
to everyth...@googlegroups.com

That description is too vague. You may conclude that the movie graph
is conscious from it. Which makes no sense. The mapping has to be
computational or verify some "causal/arithmetical links/relations" so
that we can ascribe intelligence/consciousness, but this leads
eventually to attach consciousness to the logical relations, and not
the physical activity.

I can agree with this. But it means that intelligence does mean
something.
Actually if we are machine we could say the same for the universe(s)
it(them)selves.
The word 'universe" does not refer to anything except the observable
experiential first person plural (sharable among collection of
programs) that arithmetic places on us as a consequence of addition
and multiplication.
But that is not a reason to say that the universes and intelligence
does not exist, only that they are not primitive.

Bruno


>
> --
> You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google
> Groups "Everything List" group.
> To post to this group, send email to everyth...@googlegroups.com.
> To unsubscribe from this group, send email to everything-li...@googlegroups.com
> .
> For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list?hl=en
> .
>

http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/

Bruno Marchal

unread,
Sep 25, 2010, 2:49:20 AM9/25/10
to everyth...@googlegroups.com
OK.



Knowledge is just the internal state of the deterministic system.
  

That's not a usable definition: internal=inaccessible.  Knowledge must be expressible. 

It should be at least first person accessible.


It must be information that makes a difference. Otherwise you fall into the paradox of the rock that computes everything.

OK. Rocks eventually do compute everything, but in a sense similar that the quantum vacuum superposes all the state of the universe. We belong to such rock, which as physical observable objects are projection of the whole universal dovetailing.

Bruno


Evgenii Rudnyi

unread,
Sep 25, 2010, 3:59:51 PM9/25/10
to everyth...@googlegroups.com
The text is well done. Thanks. A question. What would be the consequence
of the nomologicalism for a person that would like to earn some more
money? Well, let us not consider the case when one successfully sells
the text about nomologicalism.

Evgenii


on 21.09.2010 19:10 Rex Allen said the following:

Rex Allen

unread,
Sep 26, 2010, 2:59:24 AM9/26/10
to everyth...@googlegroups.com
On Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 2:21 PM, Brent Meeker <meek...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
> On 9/23/2010 8:26 PM, Rex Allen wrote:
>> If you expose a deterministic system to a set of inputs that represent
>> a particular environment, the system will react in the one and only
>> way it can to that set of inputs.
>>
>
> And if that reaction is to manipulate it's envrionment is a way advantageous
> to it, it's intelligent.

A rock interacts with its environment. A human interacts with its environment.

The term "manipulate" is misleading...in that it adds nothing over
"interacts with" except the implication of intentionality. Which
assumes that which must be proven...that there is something
intrinsically different in the rock's interactions and the human's
interactions.

Basically I am arguing that intentionality is epiphenomenal in a
rule-driven universe. It has no causal power, it doesn't add anything
to the underlying rules, and it isn't part of the underlying rule set.

Intentionality is just part of how things seem to us...an aspect of
our conscious experience. It is a concept that we are conscious of,
but which has no existence outside of conscious thought.

Since intentionality is merely experiential, epiphenomenal, and
non-causal - an abstract concept - then intelligence is as well.


> Intelligence must always be relative to some
> situation or environment. That's where Putnam and Moravec go wrong and
> Merriam-Webster get it right.

If you can find a Putnam-mapping that can extracts a representation of
a conscious entity, you can also find a mapping that extracts a
representation of an environment to go with it.

The attribution of intelligence is just part of our experience. Which
is just to say, "that person seems intelligent to me". But the
rule-generated belief that the person is intelligent is all there is
to his intelligence.

Therefore: No one is intelligent, but many people are believed to be.

>> Knowledge is just the internal state of the deterministic system.
>>
>
> That's not a usable definition: internal=inaccessible. Knowledge must be
> expressible. It must be information that makes a difference. Otherwise you
> fall into the paradox of the rock that computes everything.

A rock's internal state does make a difference in how it interacts
with its environment. It's just that these differences are too subtle
to be easily detected. The way the rock absorbs and emits heat and
radiation, it’s response to vibrations, and even the precise way air
molecules interact with it all reveal information about it’s internal
state.

To quote Jim Holt:

"Take that rock over there. It doesn't seem to be doing much of
anything, at least to our gross perception. But at the microlevel it
consists of an unimaginable number of atoms connected by springy
chemical bonds, all jiggling around at a rate that even our fastest
supercomputer might envy. And they are not jiggling at random. The
rock's innards 'see' the entire universe by means of the gravitational
and electromagnetic signals it is continuously receiving. Such a
system can be viewed as an all-purpose information processor, one
whose inner dynamics mirror any sequence of mental states that our
brains might run through. And where there is information, says
panpsychism, there is consciousness. In David Chalmers's slogan,
'Experience is information from the inside; physics is information
from the outside.'

But the rock doesn't exert itself as a result of all this 'thinking.'
Why should it? Its existence, unlike ours, doesn't depend on the
struggle to survive and self-replicate. It is indifferent to the
prospect of being pulverized. If you are poetically inclined, you
might think of the rock as a purely contemplative being. And you might
draw the moral that the universe is, and always has been, saturated
with mind, even though we snobbish Darwinian-replicating latecomers
are too blinkered to notice."

Rex Allen

unread,
Sep 26, 2010, 3:14:44 AM9/26/10
to everyth...@googlegroups.com
On Sat, Sep 25, 2010 at 2:43 AM, Bruno Marchal <mar...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:
> The word 'universe" does not refer to anything except the observable
> experiential first person plural (sharable among collection of programs)
> that arithmetic places on us as a consequence of addition and
> multiplication.

I agree that first person experience can probably be represented that
way, but I doubt that it "is" that way in an ontological sense.


> But that is not a reason to say that the universes and intelligence does not
> exist, only that they are not primitive.

I think I agree. The term "intelligence" has meaning in the first
person experiential sense, but not in the third person.

Rex Allen

unread,
Sep 26, 2010, 3:40:39 AM9/26/10
to everyth...@googlegroups.com
On Sat, Sep 25, 2010 at 3:59 PM, Evgenii Rudnyi <use...@rudnyi.ru> wrote:
> The text is well done. Thanks. A question. What would be the consequence of
> the nomologicalism for a person that would like to earn some more money?
> Well, let us not consider the case when one successfully sells the text
> about nomologicalism.

Hmmmmm. Well, I'd say the consequence is that whether you earn more
money in the future is a function of the universe's initial conditions
and (possibly probabilistic) causal laws.

Either things will go your way, or they won't. To the extent that it
isn't predetermined, it's random.

Bottom line: At the end of the day, the day is over.

Brent Meeker

unread,
Sep 26, 2010, 2:42:34 PM9/26/10
to everyth...@googlegroups.com
Sure - but it's not our environment.

The attribution of intelligence is just part of our experience.  Which
is just to say, "that person seems intelligent to me".  But the
rule-generated belief that the person is intelligent is all there is
to his intelligence.

Therefore:  No one is intelligent, but many people are believed to be.

  
Knowledge is just the internal state of the deterministic system.

      
That's not a usable definition: internal=inaccessible.  Knowledge must be
expressible.  It must be information that makes a difference. Otherwise you
fall into the paradox of the rock that computes everything.
    
A rock's internal state does make a difference in how it interacts
with its environment.  It's just that these differences are too subtle
to be easily detected.  The way the rock absorbs and emits heat and
radiation, it�s response to vibrations, and even the precise way air
molecules interact with it all reveal information about it�s internal
state.

To quote Jim Holt:

"Take that rock over there. It doesn't seem to be doing much of
anything, at least to our gross perception. But at the microlevel it
consists of an unimaginable number of atoms connected by springy
chemical bonds, all jiggling around at a rate that even our fastest
supercomputer might envy. And they are not jiggling at random. The
rock's innards 'see' the entire universe by means of the gravitational
and electromagnetic signals it is continuously receiving. Such a
system can be viewed as an all-purpose information processor, one
whose inner dynamics mirror any sequence of mental states that our
brains might run through. And where there is information, says
panpsychism, there is consciousness. In David Chalmers's slogan,
'Experience is information from the inside; physics is information
from the outside.'

But the rock doesn't exert itself as a result of all this 'thinking.'
Why should it? Its existence, unlike ours, doesn't depend on the
struggle to survive and self-replicate. It is indifferent to the
prospect of being pulverized. 

In some mapping it does.� That's the paradox.� If you allow arbitrary mappings then the rock is conscious, has intentions, actions, etc.� But not in our environment.

Brent

Rex Allen

unread,
Sep 26, 2010, 3:15:49 PM9/26/10
to everyth...@googlegroups.com
On Sun, Sep 26, 2010 at 2:42 PM, Brent Meeker <meek...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
>> If you can find a Putnam-mapping that can extracts a representation of
>> a conscious entity, you can also find a mapping that extracts a
>> representation of an environment to go with it.
>>
>
> Sure - but it's not our environment.

Is our environment the only environment? Is the mapping that
constitutes our environment priviliged in some way?

Perhaps environment is relative to observer? But then from whence the observer?

Brent Meeker

unread,
Sep 26, 2010, 3:29:17 PM9/26/10
to everyth...@googlegroups.com
On 9/26/2010 12:15 PM, Rex Allen wrote:
On Sun, Sep 26, 2010 at 2:42 PM, Brent Meeker <meek...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
  
If you can find a Putnam-mapping that can extracts a representation of
a conscious entity, you can also find a mapping that extracts a
representation of an environment to go with it.

      
Sure - but it's not our environment.
    
Is our environment the only environment?  Is the mapping that
constitutes our environment priviliged in some way?
  

It is if we're the ones doing the mapping.


Perhaps environment is relative to observer?  But then from whence the observer?
  

That's possible, but it's solipism.

Brent
Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages