21.408 capacious memories & sufficient organizing ability

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2007 06:58:38 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 408.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2007 06:55:26 +0000
         From: Ryan Deschamps <Ryan.Deschamps_at_Dal.Ca>
         Subject: Re: 21.400 capacious memories & sufficient organizing ability

After reading Ian Beardley's _Decoding the Universe_ I am of the mind
that this property of knowing answers without understanding them is
one not unique to computers, although quantum physics and the
computer are very closely connected via information theory.

We do not understand why atomic particles behave as they do (see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_superposition), but we are able
to do pretty amazing computations because they behave in predictable
patterns, however strange or unintuitive.

There is a strong epistemological question here, however. Computers
seem to offer a choice to humans about the way they will understand
time and space; quantum information doesn't give us a choice -- it
behaves how it behaves and that's it. But we are in an era where
people are looking for the existence of quantum computers. Have we
assumed wrongly that the computer mirrors human thought when in fact
it may mirror something more fundamental (ie. quantum
motion/behavior)? Perhaps we do not have a choice at all?

Ryan. . .
Received on Tue Dec 11 2007 - 02:15:08 EST

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