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    The Limits of Logic

    Postby moreh_yeladim » 05 Apr 2009 12:44

    Is it just me, or did Frank Herbert's whole thing about the limits of logic really only apply to computation? And didn't he seem to have a certain fundamental misunderstanding of computation itself?

    I advise a reading through of Dune from a computer-science perspective to see if any Mentats perform calculations that should require impossibly-large asymptotic run-time.

    Aw well, I guess prescience really was better than computing. Still seems as though he ripped on "thinking machines" for no better reason than a plot device.
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    Postby DuneFishUK » 05 Apr 2009 13:03

    I've just been reading FH's Listening to the Left Hand (Swordmaster posted a copy here) :P - the man with a stepladder knows logically that because he has been up once before he can go up again. Computational thinking requires an absolute logical base to begin from. FH says there are no absolutes - the stepladder might be rotten - so any attempt at total logic (machine thinking as it were) is going to be imperfect.
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    Postby Schu » 05 Apr 2009 20:47

    Also humans think differently to computers. Computers have far inferior skills of inference and strategy. Humans can work off incomplete data and come up with a useful prediction. Computers get stuck on the finest details. So something that might require huge amounts of time for even the most powerful computer might be not so hard for a mentat.

    A mentat understands that there are no absolutes (especially a zensunni mentat like Idaho) so he is not constrained by the limitations of logic, and also knows his projections for what they are: tentative. I've always seen mentats as a form of scientist, in the role of of the cynic, which is one of the strengths of the scientific method.
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    Re: The Limits of Logic

    Postby cmsahe » 08 Apr 2009 22:35

    moreh_yeladim wrote:Is it just me, or did Frank Herbert's whole thing about the limits of logic really only apply to computation? And didn't he seem to have a certain fundamental misunderstanding of computation itself?

    I advise a reading through of Dune from a computer-science perspective to see if any Mentats perform calculations that should require impossibly-large asymptotic run-time.

    Aw well, I guess prescience really was better than computing. Still seems as though he ripped on "thinking machines" for no better reason than a plot device.
    I want to answer, but I think that I better re-read three episodes of a book on computing science, those chapters discuss the limits of computation, Gödel's incompleteness theorems and the Turing machines. Then if I have something intelligent to write about, I'll be answering. That's why I like the Jacurutu forum, you all make me think.
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    Re: The Limits of Logic

    Postby DuneFishUK » 09 Apr 2009 07:06

    moreh_yeladim wrote:Is it just me, or did Frank Herbert's whole thing about the limits of logic really only apply to computation? And didn't he seem to have a certain fundamental misunderstanding of computation itself?

    I advise a reading through of Dune from a computer-science perspective to see if any Mentats perform calculations that should require impossibly-large asymptotic run-time.


    Yes - would you care to expand on this at all? I did do a bit of this stuff for my second year essay at uni.. but it wasn't exactly in depth :P
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    Postby Freakzilla » 09 Apr 2009 10:21

    Mentat thinking is on the other end of the spectrum from mechanical thinking.

    Mentats were valued for their ability to get accurate conclusions from incomplete data, they are trained to get as much from what is missing as the data they have. The work with patterns. This was a big theme too.

    Could a computer ever be taught to recognize a pattern it has never seen before?
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    Postby SadisticCynic » 09 Apr 2009 10:34

    I thought that was one of the cooler aspects of Mentats. I attributed it to a highly amplified intuition as my current theory is that intuition is a subconscious noting of small details to fit a pattern.

    My question, however, is that can we truly identify patterns we've never met before, or are they treated as new experiences which then become recognisable patterns?

    Aside: I like wave-particle duality for this reason, everything we have is based on patterns of experience and its nice to see that apparently nature is built of repeating patterns i.e. waves.
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    Postby Rakis » 09 Apr 2009 11:26

    My question, however, is that can we truly identify patterns we've never met before, or are they treated as new experiences which then become recognisable patterns?


    Maybe there's an answer in heredity or the survival instinct, for example : we recognize patters, even thought we have never lived them...a computer starts only with the data given to it...

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    Postby SwordMaster » 09 Apr 2009 14:35

    DuneFishUK wrote:I've just been reading FH's Listening to the Left Hand (Swordmaster posted a copy here) :P - the man with a stepladder knows logically that because he has been up once before he can go up again. Computational thinking requires an absolute logical base to begin from. FH says there are no absolutes - the stepladder might be rotten - so any attempt at total logic (machine thinking as it were) is going to be imperfect.


    well said DuneFishUK

    Im not highly educated within science or computer science, as I think Mr. moreh_yeladim is. But anytime you work off an "if statement" you run the risk of the first fact being wrong thus everything afterwards is also not correct. Also, Frank had a real gift in his understanding that our logic is limited by our understanding of the universe and the ever evolving nature of it. Physics is not absolute anymore then chemistry and biology. All science suffers from the pitfall of absolute value, that always has the capacity for change, but in the human need for absolute knowledge, we attach absolute value to ideas and subjects. Also the fact we attempt to use mathematics to quantify all research and knowledge.

    Also, the term techno peasant is a term Frank coined himself. I plan to start a new thread related to this, but if you can start to understand Frank's techno peasantry then you will have a better idea of why "thinking machines" were used as the illness of humanity. In relation to the original charge that "Still seems as though he ripped on "thinking machines" for no better reason than a plot device." That is not true at all. Frank honestly feared humanity relying too heavily on technology for multiple reasons, the core one relating back to the flaw of logic. If the original fact itself is not correct(or more importantly subject to change/evolution/lack of understanding the universe/etc. then whatever the logic the "machine" comes up with is going to be used to "skip' steps in understanding the topic and issue itself. If you always use a calculator, you will never know how to do math. The answer is given to you without the need for you to understand how the calculation was done.

    Im not the best writer and I am not Frank when it comes to making ideas accessable. But I can I say in my opinion the man in some ways saw himself as a steward of humanity. He truly did try and think about ways the entire race can improve itself and in that same light, the things should avoid as race to become enslaved, not to "thinking machines" but to a lazy collective mind set, and most importantly enslaved to absolutes and limitations we create.
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    Postby Freakzilla » 09 Apr 2009 14:39

    In all of my universe I have seen no law of nature, unchanging and inexorable.
    This universe presents only changing relationships which are sometimes seen as
    laws by short-lived awareness. These fleshly sensoria which we call self are
    ephemera withering in the blaze of infinity, fleetingly aware of temporary
    conditions which confine our activities and change as our activities change. If
    you must label the absolute, use it's proper name: Temporary.

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    Postby SwordMaster » 09 Apr 2009 14:43

    Freakzilla wrote:In all of my universe I have seen no law of nature, unchanging and inexorable.
    This universe presents only changing relationships which are sometimes seen as
    laws by short-lived awareness. These fleshly sensoria which we call self are
    ephemera withering in the blaze of infinity, fleetingly aware of temporary
    conditions which confine our activities and change as our activities change. If
    you must label the absolute, use it's proper name: Temporary.

    -The Stolen Journals


    Thanks for that quote FZ, one of my favorites. And as always Frank explains himself far more articulately then his fan boys like me can.
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    Re:

    Postby moreh_yeladim » 10 Apr 2009 17:14

    Freakzilla wrote:Mentat thinking is on the other end of the spectrum from mechanical thinking.

    Mentats were valued for their ability to get accurate conclusions from incomplete data, they are trained to get as much from what is missing as the data they have. The work with patterns. This was a big theme too.

    Could a computer ever be taught to recognize a pattern it has never seen before?

    As it turns out, yes.

    As a matter of philosophy, we know as a fact that a human brain can simulate a Turing Machine. We don't know whether a Turing Machine can simulate a human, but we get a hint about the Dune version from Herbert: his description of the Butlerian Jihad does include "conscious robots".
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    Re: Re:

    Postby Schu » 11 Apr 2009 02:40

    moreh_yeladim wrote:
    Freakzilla wrote:Could a computer ever be taught to recognize a pattern it has never seen before?

    As it turns out, yes.


    I don't think that's a valid example.

    Their process begins by taking the derivatives of every variable observed with respect to every other – a mathematical way of measuring how one quantity changes as another changes. Then the computer creates equations at random using various constants and variables from the data. It tests these against the known derivatives, keeps the equations that come closest to predicting correctly, modifies them at random and tests again, repeating until it literally evolves a set of equations that accurately describe the behavior of the real system.


    That's almost the definition of brute force. No recognition at all, and no comprehension whatsoever. It doesn't "recognise" or "deduce" or "work out" or "analyse". Brute force can't be called AI.
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    Re: The Limits of Logic

    Postby SandChigger » 11 Apr 2009 03:04

    Judging the computers (AI?) of tomorrow by the limitations of those we have today is possibly kinda silly, no? :ugeek:
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    Re: The Limits of Logic

    Postby Freakzilla » 11 Apr 2009 07:35

    SandChigger wrote:Judging the computers (AI?) of tomorrow by the limitations of those we have today is possibly kinda silly, no? :ugeek:


    Yes, but what else can we do?
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    Re: The Limits of Logic

    Postby SandChigger » 11 Apr 2009 08:46

    Have a little imagination? ;)
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    Re: The Limits of Logic

    Postby SandChigger » 11 Apr 2009 10:12

    Or Moravec. ;)
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    Re: The Limits of Logic

    Postby Schu » 11 Apr 2009 10:34

    People get things mixed up so often with computers. For one thing, they say that computers are better at chess than people. Nonsense! Humans can program a computer to play better than any human around, these days, yes, but that is guided by human knowledge, each of the pieces is given a certain value by humans, positional evaluation is done according to human standards, same with king safety and pawn structure etc.

    Until you can tell the computer the rules of the game, maybe give it some chess books if it has the ability to read and comprehend that, and then play a game based on that and evaluate positions based on its own judgement, it isn't even better than a bright 3 year old that is taught the rules.

    But hey, I give computers a lot of credit. Look how far they've gone in a few decades! We've had the benefit of billions of years of evolution.
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    Re: The Limits of Logic

    Postby SandChigger » 11 Apr 2009 11:08

    I don't think anyone here is making that mistake. Chess programs are probably the quintessential example of brute force problem solvers; because of the faster processing speed, they can evaluate all the possibilities (not really all of them, of course, but far more than a human could or would need to in the same time) many moves ahead and choose the optimum result according to some numerical criteria. There is absolutely no thought or comprehension involved. ;)
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    Re: The Limits of Logic

    Postby loremaster » 11 Apr 2009 11:22

    My personal favourite from Frank was that "Logic may be fine for pyramid chess, but it's often too slow in real situations" (paraphrased from CH:D)

    Also, to humour chigger and try to postulate about future computational ability and the current limits of technology, does anyone know about this idea of quantum computing? It's a sort of thought experiment whereby utilising quantum phenomena we could have computers which render redundant many of todays security and computing features. An example would be a padlock, with any length code, and any number of potential symbols per place, STILL has a definite number of combinations. Quantum computing is supposed to be able to bypass this sort of thing.

    But i cant really explain it, its not my specialist subject.

    Also, on that note, has anyone read about this before:

    http://www.netscrap.com/netscrap_detail.cfm?scrap_id=73

    You want to know where skynet begins? it's in a lab in london. It's kinda tangential but the fact it models the evolution of "fitter" units by random alterations from less fit predecessors suggests that computers could "consciously" evolve simply by introducing random changes to themselves over many generations. However, given the length of time to produce and test any one unit, a robotic "generation" could be hours, not years.
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    Re: The Limits of Logic

    Postby SadisticCynic » 11 Apr 2009 11:34

    Don't know enough about quantum physics yet but I think quantum encryption might be one of the things you're refering to there. The idea is to get two particles in phase with each other then send one to someone else. Because the particles are somehow 'entangled' if anything affects one it affects the other thus you know when someone interfere with you're transmission.

    Forgive me for mentioning the atrocity but I believe Philip Pullman used this as a piece of technology in the His Dark Materials trilogy.
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    Re: The Limits of Logic

    Postby SandChigger » 11 Apr 2009 11:53

    (Have you read the Pullman books? Are they badly written? Had a student wrote her graduation thesis on them last year. ;) )

    Artificial life/evolution research run amok is the origin of the AIs in both the TV show "Odyssey Five" and IIRC the TechnoCore in Dan Simmons' Hyperion novels.


    Edit: Or maybe they just arose naturally from garbage code in the Simmons? It's been a while now since I read them....
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    Re: The Limits of Logic

    Postby SadisticCynic » 11 Apr 2009 12:05

    Yeah I read them and because I'm so odd I almost always like things just after I've read them (probably some weird emotional resonance with characters, I don't know :confusion-shrug: ) but then when I have time to think about it things seem not as bright and fun as they where. With Pullman's it was the same. I was mostly wowed by the use of quantum mechanical ideas which appeals to me. But deliberate misinterpretation (as I see it) of religious texts annoys me.

    His idea was to link the 'dust you are and dust you will return' bit to dark matter and thus gravity so we should all love each other and be happy because gravity is attractive right? But at the same time he gets very angry at religion while using one of its teachings as the 'good guy' part of his tale. :crazy: But at least he can write well unlike a certain Twain I am familiar with :wink:
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    Re: The Limits of Logic

    Postby SandChigger » 11 Apr 2009 12:11

    Yeah, but deliberate misinterpretation of religious texts and teachings is something as old as ... Saul of Tarsus? :P

    (Actually, much much older even than his wankeries.)
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    Re: The Limits of Logic

    Postby moreh_yeladim » 11 Apr 2009 22:35

    loremaster wrote:My personal favourite from Frank was that "Logic may be fine for pyramid chess, but it's often too slow in real situations" (paraphrased from CH:D)

    Also, to humour chigger and try to postulate about future computational ability and the current limits of technology, does anyone know about this idea of quantum computing? It's a sort of thought experiment whereby utilising quantum phenomena we could have computers which render redundant many of todays security and computing features. An example would be a padlock, with any length code, and any number of potential symbols per place, STILL has a definite number of combinations. Quantum computing is supposed to be able to bypass this sort of thing.

    Actually, notice how quantum computing functions like Dune prescience in a way. Even when a problem is what we computing sorts call "NP-complete" (meaning that there's no algorithm to solve it quicker than trying every individual possibility), quantum computing can supposedly find a solution by trying all those possibilities in a quantum superposition and settling on the one that is correct. Guild Navigators are completely unnecessary!
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