Failed States (part 3)

This ends an arc of exploration of a Combinatorial-State Automata (CSA), an idea by philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers — who despite all these posts is someone whose thinking I regard very highly on multiple counts. (The only place my view diverges much from his is on computationalism, and even there I see some compatibility.)

In the first post I looked closely at the CSA state vector. In the second post I looked closely at the function that generates new states in that vector. Now I’ll consider the system as a whole, for it’s only at this level that we actually seek the causal topology Chalmers requires.

It all turns on how much matching abstractions means matching systems.

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Failed States (part 2)

This is a continuation of an exploration of an idea by philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers — the idea of a Combinatorial-State Automata (CSA). I’m trying to better express ideas I first wrote about in these three posts.

The previous post explored the state vector part of a CSA intended to emulate human cognition. There I described how illegal transitory states seem to violate any isomorphism between mental states in the brain and the binary numbers in RAM locations that represent them. I’ll return to that in the next post.

In this post I want to explore the function that generates the states.

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Failed States (part 1)

Last month I wrote three posts about a proposition by philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers — the idea of a Combinatorial-State Automata (CSA). I had a long debate with a reader about it, and I’ve pondering it ever since. I’m not going to return to the Chalmers paper so much as focus on the CSA idea itself.

I think I’ve found a way to express why I see a problem with the idea. I’m going to have another go at explaining it. The short version turns on how mental states transition from state to state versus how a computational system must handle it (even in the idealized Turing Machine sense — this is not about what is practical but about what is possible).

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…”

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Chalmers Again

Over the last few days I’ve found myself once again carefully reading a paper by philosopher and cognitive scientist, David Chalmers. As I said last time, I find myself more aligned with Chalmers than not, although those three posts turned on a point of disagreement.

This time, with his paper Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness (1995), I’m especially aligned with him, because the paper is about the phenomenal aspects of consciousness and doesn’t touch on computationalism at all. My only point of real disagreement is with his dual-aspects of information idea, which he admits is “extremely speculative” and “also underdetermined.”

This post is my reactions and responses to his paper.

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Lost is Found!

Oh, the advantages of finally getting around to starting to clean out the garage (which, in Minnesota, is strictly a summer activity).

I just knew I had a copy of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas Hofstadter. (Full disclosure, it’s a copy someone lent me decades ago that I never returned because it took me so long to get around to reading it. By then I’d lost touch with the co-worker who’d given it to me.)

Lately, I’ve been wanting to go at it again (and finish it this time), but I couldn’t find the copy I was sure I had. Turned out to be, along with a few other long-missing friends, in a box of books in the garage; one I’d just left out there with some other boxes (and luckily, no weather damage).

So added bonus to finally starting a chore I’ve been putting off for years!


Fourier Curves

Fourier Curve 1

Don’t let the title put you off — this is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while. It’s because of math, but there’s no need to get all mathy to enjoy this, you just need to think about clocks. Or even wheels that spin ’round and ’round.

The fun thing is what happens when we connect one wheel to another in a chain of wheels of different sizes and turn rates. If we use the last wheel to trace out a pattern, we get something that resembles the Spirograph toy of old (which worked on a similar principle of turning wheels).

And if we pick the wheel sizes and spin rates just right, we can draw just about any picture we want.

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Small Sci Fi Gems

I’ve said before that I’m kind of bored with the high-calorie low-nutrition CGI spectacles Hollywood cranks out. Some of that is on me; I was into movies long before all that started, so very much a case of ‘been there, seen that, bought the DVDs.’

I’m just weary of the same old thing, which is all many bigger movies are. They cost so much to make and have to earn that back, so producers stay with formulas and formats they know. It tends to turn movies into commodities, like burgers or pizzas.

Which is fine, but I find I really prefer the smaller, non-mainstream, artisan-oriented movies. Today, for Sci-Fi Saturday, I want to tell you about two very tasty treats.

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The Grateful Eight

We all have our personal milestones, those marker days that tick off the passing years. July 4th has become a big one for me over the years. I’ve always liked fireworks (and thunder), so the day was always something of a joy. Various personal events over the years give it a bullet list of associations.

At the top of that list, today is my blog anniversary, so I’ve spent all month working on a little something to celebrate:

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Gluten-Free Root Beer

I’ve always meant to try it, and it was on sale at the grocery store the other day, so I grabbed a couple cans (and one of the cream soda). Before even tasting it, I was amused by the prominent label declaring the brew both gluten- and caffeine-free. (I’m expecting a similar warning on my bottled spring water any day now.)

I suppose root beer could have caffeine, but its whole gestalt is mellow childhood. No one puts caffeine in! (Do they?) As for gluten, real beer has it, and I suppose it’s possible someone might link beer with root beer. (As I’ve said before, I find myself bemused by the necessity of treating consumers like stupid children.)

It’s got a cool name, though. Ya gotta give it that!

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No Slamming!

I have a proposition for all of us on the left. Starting now, let’s not support any Democratic candidate who slams another Democratic candidate (for any reason). Let’s make them focus on the Pumpkin Goblin and the Republican party.

Let’s make them allow us, the voters, to decide between their proposed solutions. Don’t make us take sides, one against each other, for that way we will surely all lose.

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