Rickert on embedded computation (was re: science of consciousness.)

Patrick Juola patrick at gryphon.psych.ox.ac.uk
Thu Apr 30 10:18:03 EST 1998

In article <6ia3ho$ldc at ux.cs.niu.edu> rickert at cs.niu.edu (Neil Rickert) writes:
>>Your CPU, for example, doesn't manipulate the video screen
>>directly -- instead it puts a specific set of symbols to a
>>specific bit of tape area, and the video hardware performs the
>Completely irrelevant.  You demonstrate that how thoroughly you have
>missed the point.
>In a system running Win95, there is a location in RAM where the mouse
>pointer is stored.  The way Win95 manipulates the contents of that
>data is by displaying information on the visible screen, and using
>the services of the human sitting in front of that screen to move the
>mouse around.  Then it use the codes received on the mouse port for
>its update.  What is happening in the brain of the human operator has
>become an essential part of the computation.

Unfortunately, no.  The human uses the computer, and not vice versa.
Any programmer who routes a "part of the computation" through the
I/O channel as anything other than a source of random numbers is,
well, crazy.  

Part of the reason being, of course, that humans don't do things
predictably enough to be part of the "computation" -- and partly
because there's no way of the machine to know what is actually
located at the other end of an I/O port.

Suggesting that the machine uses the human as an essential part
of its operation is rather like suggesting that the steering
wheel uses the human as an essential part of the getting-to-the-
filling-station operation.


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