Can a computer work anything out?

Discussion in 'Computer Information' started by John Jones, Jul 15, 2009.

1. doraymeGuest

Tell your interlocuter to solve

if he is so numerate. Expect him to misunderstand everything possible
about this delicious puzzle. I know that you, Patricia, solved it ages
ago in another connection. This guy sounds very confused to me!

dorayme, Jul 27, 2009

2. Patricia AldorazGuest

Nope, he never said or meant this. You misunderstand. It has been
explained to you so many times now.

No it can't, not unless you make background assumptions about the
world that bias the whole enterprise. It has been explained to you
many times.
Nope. Random is about their being no engine that follows a rule in its
very mechanism or lawful action. Mere numbers and events are blind to
law, are blind to reason. That is what the Gambler's Fallacy is all
Why say "is" when it might also not be at all? It might be without
reason, pure luck.
Not in the context of a set of numbers on a screen coming from a
machine the complexity of which which you have *no idea at all*. You
cannot get this from the numbers alone because the numbers seen so far
might not 'represent' the numbers in the long run.

In that case, how come you are making no progress on setting us
straight? Are you suggesting that we are unreasonable people? Please
don't be like that. It hurts my feelings.

I was trying to abbreviate. It doesn't seem to matter with you. Long
explanations do no better.

But I am kind and compassionate and will add this explanation:

You are looking at the screen we started with and 1 2 3 4 5 come up.
You are told truly that either 43 or 97 will come up next. Never mind
why! It is just a hypothesis for a thought experiment. Your guess that
it will be 43 is no more probable on this hypothesis than a guess for
97. In respect to this hypothesis, each is 50% likely.

We can generalise further but this will only give you even more ways
to misunderstand things.
It is a completely uninteresting question whether something is in fact
random or not. If this is what you wish to study, go do maths or
science. dorayme is answering the the most general of questions (as
befits this usenet group's purpose, Philosophy)

Patricia Aldoraz, Jul 27, 2009

3. Don StockbauerGuest

How did the constipated computer solve its problem?

It worked it out with its slide rule!

Hah!

Converted old joke

1955

Don Stockbauer, Jul 27, 2009
4. ErrolGuest

You seem to have missed Zinnic's post that Patricia is another
pseudonym that dorayme uses to confuse the issues, with regard to
whoever he is engaging in debate.

Errol, Jul 27, 2009
5. Patricia AldorazGuest

You of course declining to explain how deep it is. There is nothing
deep about it in one sense, it is simply that, against the evidence,
there is just the same chance of getting a heads on the twenty
millionth toss as on the first toss. The way the tosses have panned
out previously is irrelevant. The Gambler';s Fallacy is to suppose the
previous is relevant. You show no understanding of this. And at every
stage a misunderstanding of it.
There is no such thing as a random output in the sense hat you can
inspect *just the output itself* to tell. You have shown time and
time again that any particular set of numbers is consistent with
infinite numbers of patterns, so it cannot be *the numbers alone* that
determine this question. You have never cottoned on to this idea and
it is looking increasingly that you never will. It is a powerful
argument.It is staring you in the face and you cannot grok it. Want me
to repeat it?

Any particular set of numbers is consistent with infinite numbers of
patterns, so it cannot be *any set of finite numbers alone* that
determine if the generator is working to a plan or not.

....
It is part of the very meaning and fabric of what dorayme said from
the very beginning. You assume that your misunderstandings govern what
was said and meant.
Straw man for what argument? It is silly to simply blurt out these
debating phrases that you might have read in a book or dictionary
somewhere. You need to understand what they mean and show you do.
This pretty well conclusively shows you have no clue at all about the
case. It was repeatedly explained to you that the condition of the
case is that the watcher has no knowledge or any idea at all of the
generator, how complex it is or how it is made.
It has been explained to you over and over again that if you have no
idea how complex the generator is, you have nothing to hang your
judgement that 1 2 3 4 5 is a sign that the formula a(n)=n is the one
that best describes this generator's workings. You have the simple
minded idea that 1 2 3 4 5 is somehow priviliged to continue as 6 7
8 ... and it is just not so for the reasons given.

Perhaps these ideas are very difficult, they do not seems so to me,
but perhaps that is because I am familiar with them from the writings
of dorayme. And perhaps the dorayme is familiar with them from the
writings of other giants? Don't worry, John. Philosophy does not quite
seem to be your natural game.

Patricia Aldoraz, Jul 28, 2009
6. Patricia AldorazGuest

Anything that Zinnic says, and you for that matter, is probably best
missed! You two are perfect examples of people who have such little
feel for the subject of Philosophy that you find comfort and refuge in
all this personal nonsense.

If you had something to say about the actual arguments on the concept
of random, say them. You will seem a big fool, but a lesser fool than
your obsession with personal crap like this.

Patricia Aldoraz, Jul 28, 2009
7. ErrolGuest

On Jul 28, 4:08 am, Patricia Aldoraz <>
wrote:
..
Personal attacks from the sock puppet again! LOL

Errol, Jul 28, 2009
8. Patricia AldorazGuest

Keep laughing. When you stop, consider being a lesser fool than you
already are and discuss actual philosophical matters.

Patricia Aldoraz, Jul 28, 2009
9. Patricia AldorazGuest

It has not seemed that way to me.
This sort of thing should be beneath you. Do not be influenced by
quarter-wits like Zinnic and Errol. Come away from among them.
Oy! You have just made me cough my coffee all over this keyboard!

Please do not be crude with me.

Patricia Aldoraz, Jul 29, 2009
10. Patricia AldorazGuest

Am I so bad to have a chat to across the oceans of this beautiful
world of ours? Surely not!

Patricia Aldoraz, Jul 29, 2009
11. Patricia AldorazGuest

Perhaps I go too far sometimes.

Patricia Aldoraz, Jul 29, 2009
12. doraymeGuest

The fault must be mine then, not yours, Patricia. You have seemed to
explain my idea very well but perhaps not appreciated the difficulty
many people will have with the idea of *having no idea of the complexity
of the generating engine*.

Your co-debater on this, John Stafford, has not moved one iota in
fathoming this idea deep down. He is at the level of understanding that
if you really did come into a room and saw numbers coming up, you might
very well not know *quite* how complex the generating engine is.

He would also understand surely that many sequences of numbers that
might come up can be consistent with a lot of possible formulae. As any
intelligent person would.

However, he is at the level of understanding of the whole thought
experiment being *a half likely one* on earth.

Now, when I have considered the man sitting in front of the numbers
appearing before him, I am thinking, for illustrative purposes, a
situation that abstracts any clues that the screen affords (a screen
means a computer, a computer mean a program, a program means a human
being...) or that the person reasonably suspects this has been set up by
a human being, a researcher for example. If you do not abstract from
this information, it is impossible not to really be in a theory free
state of mind with respect to the generating engine. If we were to
suspect reasonably that it was made by a human, we would already not be
in the thought experiment I am imagining. Why?

Because we already know a bit about the sorts of complexity that a human
is capable of. Humans can be impressively strong, but we know they
cannot pick up military tanks. Similar things we know about their
intellectual capacities.

In order to get a real foothold on randomness, it is useful to imagine a
really thoroughgoing ignorance of the complexity of the generator.
Complexity is not quite the right word nor is generator. For what I am
saying, the numbers could simply appear in the sky and there be no
generator, there is *just* the numbers appearing! But this sort of story
generally gets half-wits guffawing so best stay away from it.

Your John Stafford is right, inside his inability to suspend belief in
any background assumption about complexity that in this world, to
suppose that some sequences would appear to be random and others not to
appear to be so.

dorayme, Jul 29, 2009
13. Patricia AldorazGuest

We are not doing practical. This is philosophy, get it?
You are simply a blockhead now. It has been shown time and time again
to you that any set sequence of numbers is consistent with an infinite
number of possible series.

presumably because he thoughtyou had the capacity to abvstarct a few
things from the situation under his explicit instuctions about not
assuming anuytging about the complexity of the generator that supplied
the fifigures to the screen.

You see, this is philosophy and you don't get it, right? You have not
the capacity to do this abstracting. You seem not even to know what to
abstract in spite of it having been explained to you over and over
again.
Again you simply are not seeing things. Philosophy is not your game,
you don't seem to "get it",

You can't see the point. You do not even know what the analogy is
trying top pointout but this does not stop you from declaring it
impoverished. You seem to think this is just some sort of pissing
competition.
It does not look empty to me. dorayme has identified that you simply
lack the capacity for abstraction needed to do this part of
philosophy.

Patricia Aldoraz, Jul 30, 2009
14. doraymeGuest

Your co-debater on this, John Stafford, is at the level of understanding
that if he really did see numbers coming up one after the other, he
would be able to make an informed guess about how they would go on or at
least be able to judge whether they were random or not.

And this, indeed, is what we would all have a go at and this is science
in action. There are established procedures for mathematicians and
statisticians to tell if a series of numbers are random or not in the
normal scheme of things.

But he is not understanding that for any given set of numbers there are
an infinite number of ways those numbers could go on. Or to put this
another way, for any given set of numbers there are an infinite number
of formulae that describe the different ways the numbers could go on.

Perhaps he missed my post where I explained this?

For example, suppose the screen showed one number after the other, we
were to guess what might be next at each stage. But we had no idea at
all about the complexity of the program of the machine that was
producing the numbers or even if anything was producing the numbers, it
being perhaps a magical happening. What could we say was a more likely
number than any other after the very first number (n=1), 1? There is
simply no number that is more likely than any other number for second
place.

Here are some formulae to cover a few of the possibilities. Most folk
with elementary maths skills should be able to see that these can be
added to at will and they will all start a series with 1 and diverge
from there on. The principle is not different if we had more starting
place numbers to be constant across possible series, it is just that the
formulae would be more complex.

a(n)=n
a(n)=2n-1
a(n)=3n-2
a(n)=4n-3
a(n)=5n-4
a(n)=6n-5
a(n)=7n-6
a(n)=8n-7
a(n)=9n-8

Each of these formulae generate a different series, but all of them

It is easy enough to devise formulae types (you should notice a pattern
above) to cover a larger number of places than just where n=1. But not
so easy when the number of places needing covering becomes large. But
ease is not the issue here.

Or perhaps he missed Jim Burns's further elucidation and particularly,
his "Actually, it's still pretty easy, conceptually. True, the
required calculations grow pretty quickly" to a point in this. To which
I replied:

Yes, indeed, conceptually dead easy. It is even easy to give an
unmathematical person many rules that start a series with Â 1 2 3 4 5 ...
but continue in quite different ways:

Make the first five places as if counting from 1 and then keep repeating
the count for each set of five place: 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 1 2
3 4 5...

Make the first five places as if counting from 1 and then reverse count
these same numbers for the next five places, alternating both
procedures: 1 2 3 4 5 5 4 3 2 1 1 2 3 4 5 5 5 4 3 2 1...

It should be obvious that there is no limit to the series that begin
with any numbers continuing in "a different way". For those with a
*philosophical* interest in this matter, I put the last phrase in quotes
because, in fact, if any rule *at all* is being followed (eg. a person
or program is really using it to generate the numbers), it does not
matter what the 6th and subsequent places in the series are: the numbers
are following in *the same way*. The *same way* refers to the actual
rule being followed, not some other imagined rule that would generate
the first five places.
Indeed quite so. I don't think Stafford has any background in Philosophy
itself. Perhaps he has dabbled in a bit of maths at school?

Perhaps what he has not connected is the idea of complexity of the
generator with the complexity of the formula it uses to generate the
numbers. A simple child can count simply, a more advanced one can
generate a more complex series, a clever mathematician or savant could
generate very complex.

But the point of imagining no knowledge at all of the generator's
complexity is to mirror the logical situation of a theory free
environment. In this environment, every formula is as likely as any
other formula. And here the concept of randomness is to be found in its
purest form.

Unfortunately Patricia, you are dealing with Platonic Cavemen types,
used to thinking the shadows they see on their walls are the real thing.
<g>

dorayme, Jul 30, 2009