Fwd: [asa] NASA - Climate Simulation Computer Becomes More Powerful

From: Iain Strachan <igd.strachan@gmail.com>
Date: Thu Sep 10 2009 - 16:14:08 EDT

This was intended for the list, not just Randy. I hit the wrong button!


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Iain Strachan <igd.strachan@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 9:13 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] NASA - Climate Simulation Computer Becomes More Powerful
To: Randy Isaac <randyisaac@comcast.net>

On Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 7:33 PM, Randy Isaac <randyisaac@comcast.net> wrote:
> Yes, you have a good point. Any specific application will probably have a
> more relevant benchmark. Linpack is probably chosen because it is the most
> widely available and gives a common reference point across many
> applications. That's why I said it was a good proxy for a trend. But it
> wouldn't be good for specific quantitative performance of any given
> application.
> Ah yes, the relevance of the topic? I better watch out before I get
> reprimanded by the moderators!!
> No, it's not directly related to science/faith issues but there are many
> indirect implications. One, as Rich noted when he started this, is the
> rapidly growing capability to do very complex modelling, continually
> improving the quality and credibility. Another, totally different,
> implication was brought up by someone a few weeks ago who asked me whether I
> thought the rapidly growing computer performance capability would mean that
> someday computers would outdo humans in mental capability, whatever that
> might mean. I continue to maintain the answer to that is no, though many
> transhumanists would argue otherwise.

Actually, Randy, there is something that brings this last observation
back on topic.

Although you maintain the answer is "no" that computers would out-do
humans in mental capacity, if the answer turned out to be "yes" it
would be an immediate and complete refutation of Dawkins's famous
"Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit" argument - that the creator must be more
complex than that which is created - presumably we would have created
the computer that outdoes us.

In a weaker sense, the existence of computer chess programs like "Deep
Blue" that beat Kasparov (often thought to be the greatest player
ever) has already refuted the Dawkins complexity argument.  The
programmers of Deep Blue know a lot less about playing chess than does
Kasparov, and if they played against their creation it would crush
them far more easily than it crushed Kasparov.


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Received on Thu Sep 10 16:14:46 2009

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