Objective Meaning Must Exhibit Isomorphism (was Mindless Thought Experiments)

From: Lee Corbin (lcorbin@rawbw.com)
Date: Mon Mar 03 2008 - 09:24:27 MST

Stathis writes

> [Krekoski wrote]
>> I dispute the can opener argument. You make the assumption that all of the
>> 'signal' is contained inside the packaging, i.e. that all meaning of the
>> email is external to the email itself, and dependant upon cultural context.
>> But an extreme construal of that position implies that there is no objective
>> meaning,

Yeah, sometimes there is objective meaning---sometimes not. There are two
cases. The first I call "isomorphic meaning", and the second "conventional meaning".

>> ...most serious logicians, even on the extreme externalist end of the
>> spectrum would concede that a signal has an internal logic.

I would caution again: only *sometimes*.

>> The position is somewhat akin to saying that if I create a sequence such as:
>> -.-.--.---.-----.--------. etc
>> that an alien intelligence could not possibly interpret it as a fibonacci
>> sequence, since of course, all the meaning is contextually dependant.

Yes, that sequence has enough *isomorphic* meaning to be deciphered
by an enemy code breaker or an alien intelligence (assuming, as is only
reasonable to assume, that to be sufficiently intelligent is to be able to
"see" and figure out such sequences).

> You would be relying on an evolved intelligence having at least some
> similarity with human intelligence, not an unreasonable assumption.
> But there is no reason why the written language of an alien species
> might not be, for example, based on the radioactive decay pattern of a
> sacred stone, in which case to us a message would look completely
> random.

But if they sent us one of their sacred stones, we would eventually
find the non-random redundant pattern in the radioactive decay....
Great example. We would find the pattern because it is objectively
there, and its Komolgorov complexity is less than that of a random
string. (Of course, after breaking the "code" we might still be
totally baffled by *conventional* meaning embedded, such as
what "jerryfooling up" means to them, or that Xmaph is one of
their kings.)

> Similarly, an alien computer could seem to us completely random. There
> need not even be a causal connection between the subcomponents of a
> computation. A virtual environment in which you experience Monday
> could be run on computer A, and then Tuesday run on (completely
> different) computer B in the Andromeda galaxy a billion years later at
> one billionth speed. As far as you're concerned, you experience Monday
> followed by Tuesday. You could be in a simulation in which every
> second of experience is implemented on different hardware, at
> different rates, different physical locations, in no particular
> sequence, and you would have no way of knowing it. The shorter the
> frames are, the more likely that a sequence of physical events
> isomorphic to whatever hardware/software combination you specify
> arises by chance.

Isn't this analogous to the code-maker's efforts to change frequencies
extremely often in order to thwart enemy decryption? But even in
those cases, if there really is a pattern there, sooner or later others
break the code.

(Naturally, there has to be *isomorphic* meaning in, say, a long
passage. No one can break the following code I just invented five
seconds ago that in a *convention* I just created five seconds

But Krekoski's "-.-.--.---.-----.--------." contains *isomorphic*
meaning. Isomorphic, that is, to many extant real world structures,
and also isomorphic to rather rudimentary mathematical investigations.


P.S. No one could have guessed that by "ACJXM TBBCP EHYSK
QNLRZ", I meant "sticks hicks nix pix", which also happens to be laden
only with *conventional* meaning.

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