[FOM] The Lucas-Penrose Fallacy

Eray Ozkural examachine at gmail.com
Fri Oct 13 02:13:26 EDT 2006

On 10/12/06, hendrik at topoi.pooq.com <hendrik at topoi.pooq.com> wrote:
> > We can conclude twice against mechanism.
> >
> We can conclude that we know more about machines than
> about human beings.  This seems to be a limitation
> on our knowledge rather than a limitation on the thing
> known (or not).  In particular, I would say your argument
> only shows we lack enough information to show
> constructively that human being are machines.

Luno seems to pursue a quite dangerous form of argumentation,
namely an argument from ignorance, which is no doubt a
favorite style of rhetoric among mysticists. Before we knew
the internal mechanisms in a living cell, mysticists would think
of the "breath of life". Likewise for the brain, before the science of
the brain, mysticists sought mysterious powers of mind, like
immaterial essences. However, today's scientists acknowledge
the brain as just another organ in our body. All physical, and
all mechanical. This allows us to ask scientific questions, for
instance by characterizing the computation of a single neuron:


If on the other hand, we believed in mysticists, there would be
no point in writing the above paper.

At any rate, as I have repeatedly stressed, human brains cannot
solve the halting problem, because they can process and store
only a finite amount of information. On the other hand, an oracle
would require an infinite amount of information processing, a result
which is conclusively established by algorithmic information
theory (despite some trivial misunderstandings prevalent in
"philosophical" literature).


Eray Ozkural, PhD candidate.  Comp. Sci. Dept., Bilkent University, Ankara
http://www.cs.bilkent.edu.tr/~erayo  Malfunct: http://myspace.com/malfunct
ai-philosophy: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ai-philosophy

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