Imagining Order as Hypercomputing
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 4 Aug 2014
Operating an Information Engine through Meta-Analogy
For 75 years, computers have worked within limits defined by the mathematician Alan Turing — although he had also foreseen the possibility of a form of universal computing machine. A recent report draws attention to new investigations into the possibility of such a machine — one that can solve the unsolvable (Michael Brooks, Turing’s Oracle: the computer that goes beyond logic, New Scientist, 16 July 2014). As the editorial notes:
We already have machines that answer our questions in ways we can’t fully appreciate: from quantum computers, whose physics remain opaque, to data-crunching black boxes that translate languages and recognise faces despite knowing nothing of grammar or physiology… Turing showed that any computer predicated on human logic alone will struggle with the same questions we do… But Turing also conceived of an “oracle” that might transcend these limitations… Conventional computers give us the answers to questions that we can articulate… Turing’s oracle could address issues we can’t even articulate… [emphasis added]
As noted by Brooks:
In his short life Turing never tried to turn the oracle into reality. Perhaps with good reason: most computer scientists believe anything approximating an oracle machine would soon fall foul of fundamental restrictions on how information and energy flow in the universe. You could never actually make one…. two researchers are now seeking to prove the sceptics wrong. Building on theoretical and experimental advances of the past two decades, Emmett Redd and Steven Younger… think a “super-Turing” computer is within our grasp. With it could come insights not just into the limits of computation in the cosmos, but into the most intriguingly powerful computer we know of within it: the human brain. [emphasis added]
Those researchers, in collaboration with Hava T. Siegelmann, are focusing on experimenting with chaotic neural networks as a basis for the physical construction of such a computer (Computing by Means of Physics-Based Optical Neural Networks, 2010; Development of Physical Super-Turing Analog Hardware, 2014).
By contrast, the exploration which follows exploits the chaotic neural networks of the writer in an effort to imagine the functioning of such an oracular process. The assumption is that in some respects, as yet to be “re-cognized”, the brain is such a “super-Turing” computer — and is indeed potentially capable of “going beyond logic” to “address issues we can’t even articulate”. One indication, for example, is provided by reports of the renowned ability of Nikola Tesla to perform highly technical experiments in memory. The discussion is empowered through recognition of the role of meta-analogy in creative imagination by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander (Surfaces and Essences: analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking, 2013)
Given the only too evident poverty of response to global issues framed by conventional computer-enhanced logic, there is every justification for speculating on how a new form of thinking might engage more effectively with the chaotic reality of the times (Edward de Bono, New Thinking for the New Millennium, 2000; Richard A. Slaughter, New Thinking for a New Millennium: the knowledge base of futures studies, 1996).
There is a certain poignancy in exploring what Turing imagined might exist, given the tragedy of his own life and the manner of his death in 1954. It could be said that he embodied remarkably the application of a particular mode of intelligence which enhanced immeasurably the capacities of conventional thinking. However, through the response of UK authorities (described by one Prime Minister as “appalling”) to his unconventional sexuality — necessitating his chemical castration — he also embodied alternatives which continue to challenge such thinking. Thus, in championing the possibilities of a binary reality, he also tragically demonstrated its limitations.
It required special UK legislation to enable Queen Elizabeth II to grant a posthumous royal pardon for Turing’s conviction for gross indecency on 24 December 2013. The UK Justice Secretary then indicated that he deserved to be “remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort” and not for his later criminal conviction. It might be asked whether the future will see fit similarly to pardon the institutions and leaders of this period for their humanitarian “effort” — despite later recognition of their hideous crimes against humanity in failing to engage imaginatively with the problems of their times, even to the extent of effectively “castrating” each other.
The editorial introduction to the possibility of Turing’s Oracle by the New Scientist is framed with a reference to the widely known “ultimate computer” (Deep Thought) imagined by Douglas Adams to have been constructed by pan-dimensional, hyper-intelligent species of beings to answer The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. It is in that imaginative spirit that the following exploration is undertaken.
The concern follows from earlier explorations (Transcending Simplistic Binary Contractual Relationships, 2012; Marrying an Other whatever the Form Reframing and Extending the Understanding of Marriage, 2013; Discovering Richer Patterns of Comprehension to Reframe Polarization, 1998; Epistemological Panic in the face of Nonduality, 2010). It lies beyond what might otherwise be expected of supercomputers (Superquestions for Supercomputers, 2010).
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 4 Aug 2014.
Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Imagining Order as Hypercomputing, is included. Thank you.
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