*To*: "soft_skinned_space" <empyre@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>*Subject*: RE: [-empyre-] what is to be done?*From*: "Jim Andrews" <jim@vispo.com>*Date*: Sat, 6 Jan 2007 18:01:59 -0800*Delivered-to*: empyre@gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au*Importance*: Normal*In-reply-to*: <1168091624.459fa9e8bb135@alcor.concordia.ca>*Reply-to*: soft_skinned_space <empyre@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>

Hello Ollivier, It is a little-appreciated irony that Turing's mathematical model of an all-purpose computing machine fell out of his successful efforts to solve Hilbert's Entscheidungsproblem (literally 'decision problem'). The fundamental object of the theory of computation--the Turing machine--was developed in an attempt to solve a famous math problem. Turing proved that no algorithm exists that performs the task Hilbert had asked an algorithm for. It is ironic that the Turing machine, that abstract mathematical machine which can do anything that any computer--now, or into the foreseeable future--can do, was formulated by Turing in a successful effort to show the existence of tasks for which no algorithm can ever possibly exist. The theory of computation was born not out of an expression of limitless possibility for computing, but in a successful attempt to show that there are things that no machine will ever do. Not that these are things that humans *can* do. There is no accepted proof that there exist thought processes of which humans are capable and computers are not. It seems that, in the processes of computation, we do indeed have an all-purpose machine that could eventually pass the Turing test, but there are things that neither machines nor we, apparently, are capable of. Machines are not going to 'outshine' humanity. They are going to help us understand our humanity and the limits of the possible, the limits of what is possible by humans or any other sentient being. Already we appreciate better what it is to be human by the deep problems that artificial intelligence has encountered. We are more subtle and complex than we understand. Already our notions of what it befits intrepid artists to do have changed in light of what is possible with machines. How many of us are still in the art of making pretty pictures? Or writing poemy poems? Or playing the blues? The edges move. From production of the objects of art to automation of the production, to an art of algorithms that leaves both behind as the fundamental activity of interest. The machines follow in imitation, and the drones continue as before. The art of algorithms, meanwhile, continues to explore what it means to be human in these times. ja http://vispo.com

**References**:**[-empyre-] what is to be done?***From:*odyens@alcor.concordia.ca

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