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Re: [ontolog-forum] Digital Ontology and digital ontology

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Christopher Spottiswoode" <cms@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2009 12:15:55 +0200
Message-id: <9E5BA9E94FB34C2E8E9772639F10DA0F@Dev>
Paola, many many thanks for your pointer to that Wolfram lecture!
His entire work teems with deep questions that are certainly
relevant to ontology, and you were very right to draw our attention
to that amazing performance.    (01)

John, thanks too for the usual balance in your response.  However,
I'm not sure that on the face of it this is correct:    (02)

> [...] he wasn't making the mistake of claiming that the real world
> is as simple as a digital automaton.    (03)

Whether or not that would be a mistake (which is a whole other
question...), I think he does in fact claim that the real world has
a certain underlying simplicity.    (04)

He does indeed propose and investigate many kinds of digital
automata that are far from the simple cellular automata we've all
seen.  But his work is about how apparently real-enough complexity
can be produced by simple automata.  And on NKS p469 he does say
this:    (05)

"But it does mean that if one once discovers a rule that reproduces
sufficiently many features of the universe, then it becomes
extremely likely that this rule is indeed the final and correct one
for the whole universe."    (06)

where the "it" clearly refers to a long line of reasoning to which
he appears to subscribe.  And while NKS does cover many other areas
of application of his complexity-out-of-simplicity theme, and his
"computational irreducibility" does have a great generality, his
heart and mind do appear set on discovering that one rule!    (07)

That is my impression, anyway, after having studied much of his NKS
(as best I could...) and tried to follow his doings since.  But I
would be keen to learn of any counter-arguments.    (08)

Christopher    (09)

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