A Time for Reckoning?

I keep falling foul of my use of the word “computation” being taken as the formal “machine” kind intended by Turing, algorithmic at the level of interest with all the corollaries of computability and halting/decidability and Gödelian incompleteness.

I just use it to mean processing (inc. communication) of information quite generally – however it’s done, whether particles exchanging photons or electrons say (information being the complement of entropy in physical system thermodynamics) or whether organismic, human and/or social systems making decisions.

However I intend it’s use, I’m not reducing organisms to that level of deterministic physics machine, even if I’m OK with thinking of them / us as a special kind of “soft machine”. All the interesting “machines” involve formally non-computable levels of emergence, because their complexity is many layered. Dynamical systems where causation is multi-directional.

My smartphone may be a computing machine, but it’s not a very interesting one until our system control volume includes our human brains, eyes and thumbs in real time, locally and remotely. That’s an altogether different kind of “computing machine”. A system complex enough that some layers involve the “algorithm-breaking” agency of free will.

So, I still suspect the whole involves – is based-on – formal “computable” algorithmic computation, right down to fundamental physics of quantum bits, even if the biological and mental level processes are not themselves of that kind. Of course, for me, that’s a metaphysical statement about the basis of even physics long before we get to the sentient living. At this level of abstraction I’m not so interested in the details of computability, even though I appreciate many are for their own good reasons.

Maybe if, instead of “Computation”, I used the word “Reckoning” for this most generic / abstract sense of processing information for decision-making purposes.

What do you reckon?


Hat tip to Yogi Yaeger for a clarifying discussion on Mastodon.
Useful, even if all outstanding misunderstandings are mine 🙂


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.