The Bleeding Edge

23 Jun

I don’t know if this is right or not.  It’s just something I decided to wander through.


One common argument against the idea that description is inadequate for life: it would seem to be theoretically possible, given a moon’s worth of computing capacity, to exhaust any pitiful creature on Earth.

However, making arguments with imaginary computers is only sometimes reputable.  Where do these computers come from in the first place?  Gedanken storks?

The processes of generation and invention would seem to imply a vanguard executive, without which all of this exquisitely ordered and powerful technology is not possible.  This is a rough term for all the essential components of high civilization as we know it today — no simple thing.

The thing about the vanguard is that it is seldom, if ever, adequately understood until it’s in the rear-view mirror.  Even then, it is only comprehended by a new vanguard which is itself only partially self-explicit.

The point being that to exhaust something, it would seem one has to exceed it.  But then, one is presumably creating another entity/process which is not entirely exhausted/explicit/described…and so on.

This problem is especially challenging in higher life forms, given that creatures can form populations which make exotic measurements and innovations, exhibit considerable autonomy and originality, behave cunningly, employ deceit, evolve, learn unknown unknowns, access implicit components of themselves and the world, etc.  In colloquial terms: that’s some serious shit.  One presumes that a ‘computer’ able to model all of that would be one serious mother.  However, maybe the most interesting thing about it is that it would almost certainly require incredible executive ability..which would make it much less like the ‘models’ as we think of them today and more like a sapient being.  Perceptual ability would also be a must.

Would not this juggernaut have its own existential issues?  Would it not cast shadows onto its own soul?  Oh cruel world!

Anyway, my position here seems to imply a sort of hierarchy of control and description, or possibly one of epistemic symmetry.  The very advanced and very vital might be able to exhaust the relativity simple, but the vanguard probably can’t adequately model itself.  Instead, it has to read Kierkegaard’s intolerable ramblings.

Oh man.  Too much implicit and explicit rigmarole.



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