Since the 1960s, when computers first appeared, a machine that can think just like humans was claimed to be just a few years away. This idea has been called Artificial Intelligence (AI) and it reappears every few years in a new form, the latest being the brouhaha around “Machine Learning”, “Deep Learning”, etc. The algorithms and techniques underlying these trends have existed for a few decades, and their limitations are…


Computers and the Mind – What’s the Difference?
This post discusses the widespread notion that the mind is some kind of computer; that the computer is able to represent knowledge, and this knowledge can be about the world. As we shall see, this notion is quite silly, although people—who are either not physicists, mathematicians, or computer engineers, or just happen to have an academic title without an understanding of these subjects—tend to profess it over and over. This post explores…

Evolution and Mechanism – Are They Compatible?
A computer is a canonical example of a machine. Every machine can be described by a mathematical theory, and every mathematical theory can be automated on a computer. Therefore if you could describe something mathematically, you could also automate it in a computer. People often suppose that this means if we had a mathematical description of nature, that description could also be automated on a machine. In the case of…