Re: Jaron Lanier

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Dec 02 2003 - 11:46:42 MST

Eugen Leitl wrote:
> In biology, the system and the representation have coevolved. There is no
> separation between state and the physical layer, they're amalgamated.
> The system uses noise and dirt effects to do computation. It turns
> ugly warts into actual advantages.

Taken literally, this seems to me to contradict the second law of
thermodynamics. A system that evolves in the presence of noise may
require the presence of noise to go on working. An algorithm that does
exploration using a merely pseudo-random algorithm may degrade even
further if the pseudo-random steps are replaced by steps with heavy
correlations. A system that evolves to tolerate noise will also,
usefully, tolerate some other errors that look like noise, and will
tolerate some useful mutations that introduce noisy side effects.
Evolution (a noisy design process) in the presence of environmental noise
is one particular way to get flexibility and robustness in the face of
design and environmental changes. But you cannot actually use noise to do
computation any more than you can use thermal noise to turn a ratchet
wheel. Mystification of noise is part of a general mystification of

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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