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Re: [ox-en] Germ of a new form of society ? [Phylosophical Investigation]

Niall Douglas <s_fsfeurope2> writes:
On 30 Jan 2004 at 3:31, Adam Moran wrote:

I found a striking similarity in the method of the investigation
...  almost mathematical ... but I can't quite but my finger on
it ... and I don't want to go off lists because I'm a bit swamped
at the moment.

Computer types think alike. You will get far less variance here
than among artists for example, despite that any programmer worth
their salt is an artist.

Weird. Why do artists keep coming to us for ideas?

Why I harp on about the Greeks so much is because I find in them
a striking similarity also in the self / other, *I*/*We* method
of investigational which occur across the lists I'm on, and
suspect that we are experiencing the same phenomenon.

Greek philosophy is good for gaining an interest, but it's riddled
with logical typing errors. As Bertrand Russell said, most of the
questions they posed are solvable with rigourous application of
logic. I would recommend reading it once or twice, then moving on.

If you can exhaust Lysistrata in two readings, you're a better man than
any I've known.

Oh ... I've remembered what the point of this email was - its
from your Ecosystem thread ... On the 28-01-04  you wrote:

Software development is an ecosystem

Hmm, and yours was the only reply :(

On this mailing list we obey the laws of thermodynamics! [1] If you
don't get replies within 120 days, you should worry.

Could you conclude from this, that the following were true /
false ?

*Information systems are ecosystem *Ecosystems are information

An information system is an ecosystem. The reverse is not true
(typing error).


When asserting, qualify. One version of this statement reads:

        An information system is (an example of) an ecosystem.

Another version reads:

        An information system is (maps 1-1 onto) an ecosystem.

A third version reads:

        An information system is (a useful metaphor for) an ecosystem.

Disqualifying statements as typing errors misses the depth in the statements.

*information is an ecosystem *ecosystems are information

Both false.

*information is life *life is information

Both definitely false.

Okay, now you appear to assert that you have privileged access to some
kind of objective reality. 

Software is something quite special - a bit like a live fish is
special when compared to the same fish dead.

Running software, anyway.

I think it was this nature of software that programmers from the
60's intuitively realised before their brains caught up which led
them to make such wild predictions. True, we've doubled transistor
density every year for nearly thirty years now which no one
expected, but computers aren't like HAL yet.

True - but we have bittorrent, freenet, cvs, ... things that HAL never
considered, despite Clarke sowing the seeds...

This is stranger than it should be. In the next ten to fifteen
years, the computer will exceed the raw processing capacity of the
human brain yet it will not be intelligent nor alive. Why?

You mean - linear extrapolation from here suggests to you that those
properties could not be ascribed to those machines of 15 years hence.

My definition of software as illustrated on solves the
problem.  Software is maths + the set of relations between the
maths. We have hammered ahead with the maths angle but paid scant
attention to improving the ability to manage and organise
complexity - and most especially for software to create complexity
on its own.

We've spent the entire time since "No Silver Bullet" and "Mythical Man
Month" looking at complexity. The whole non-linear dynamics/evolutionary
theory/artificial life/emergent systems mob have spent 20 or 30 years
generating deeper and deeper insights into complexity[2]. What we
*don't* have is a mathematics that will deal with software
in-the-small. No-one alive on the planet can formalise BASH - and this
is a damning indictment of the lack of progress that has been made in
formal analysis of real tools.

If you look at biological life, wherever complexity exceeds a
certain amount, new forms of order emerge. Actually this is also
true of the quantum mechanical substructure of the universe - this
universe and all matter is merely an emergent strand of new order
from increasing complexity. Thus it is inevitable that with time,
new and ever more complex species of life/order/creation of more
complexity will emerge.

They might emerge - but they might not! What were the most complex
structures that emerged from Tierra simulations?

Similarly, those complex species of life will reach a certain
threshold of complexity of their own to create their own strands
of new order eg; how to talk and converse or to invent
machines. We have created computers which are a new and very
interesting form of order because nothing naturally would work as
they do.

Venture capital has migrated to bioengineering (a very dangerous
arena as it reduces diversity) and back to pharmaceuticals which
is always a consistent earner. However I think we've barely
scratched the surface of computers - they do less than 0.1% of
what they're capable of. I won't live long enough to see them past
a 100x improvement, but I can certainly give the boat its push!

Now you're arguing in favour of the GPL!

cheers, Rich.

Cheers, Niall

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[1]  I've never used a Simpsons quote here before. I won't again.

[2]  Still worth reading W. Ross Ashby, Ludwig Bertalanffy and the early
     stuff on catastrophy theory and chreodes (sorry, forgot the names)

rich walker | technical person | Shadow Robot Company | rw
front-of-tshirt space to let     251 Liverpool Road   |
                                 London  N1 1LX       | +UK 20 7700 2487

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