My question for today (Turing sticks in my craw):
What bearing does the 1935 thought experiment referrred to as Schrodinger’s Cat (here and here and most interactively here) which proves the superposition of atomic states of decay (that is, decayed or not decayed) and atomic indterminacy have on Turing’s universal machine, the conceptual paper for which was written a year later, 1936? What does Schrodinger’s experiment prove if not that the on-off representation of 1 and 0 is not a valid symbol of the basic elements of a life-form.
If quantum, physical life is one in which nuclei go through half-lives and the observed (and therefore the represented) is always and already changed by the observation, how can a system (the universal machine) based on discrete states of 1 and 0, on and off, be considered an appropriate basis for rendering artificial life?
Partial answer to my own question from Kittler’s “There is no software”:
Switching components, however, [and here he is talking about the Boolean logica which Shannon came up with in 1937 and upone which the whole 1/0 logic is based] be they telegraph relays, tubes, or finally, microtransistor cells, pay a prize for their very composability. Confronted as they are with a continuous environment of weather, waves, and wars, digital computers can cope with this real number avalanche only by adding element to element . . . Precisely this maximal connectivity, on the other, physcial side, defines nonprogrammable systems, be they waves or beings. that is why these systems show polynomial growth rates in complexity and, consequently, why only computations done on nonprogrammable machines can keep up with them. In all evidence, this hypothetical, but all too necessary, type of machine would constitute sheer hardware, a physical device working admist physical devices and subject to the same bounded resources. Software in the usual sense of an ever-feasible abstractation would not exist any longer . . .
“How can a system (a universal machine) based on discrete states of 1 and 0, on and off, be considered an appropriate basis for rendering artificial life?”
Interesting question! It seems to me that the answer depends on how the ‘rendering’ occurs and to what extent you mean ‘basis.’
To ask a couple counter-questions:
1. Given that no position in a DNA strand can ever have two nucleotide values simultaneously, how can atomic indeterminacy be considered an appropriate model for rendering artificial life? That is, are we considering a process-model of life or a stored-information model of life?
2. Given Bohr’s model of electrons orbiting at fixed-energy that electrons orbit at fixed distances and jumping only by discrete quanta, how can a continuous/wave/analog method of simulation claim a more privileged relationship to simulation than a discrete method – either approach would seem to be incomplete, and both Schrodinger and Bohr’s models are of events that are pretty low level even for simulating mitochondria.
I still need to think about how this fits into Kittler saying that pure abstraction doesn’t scale well….