Re: virus:"other reality"

Dan Henry (
Sun, 12 May 1996 12:14:13 +0600

At 10:16 AM 5/10/96 -0400, Reed Konsler wrote:

>I think I disgree on both points you make in this statement. First, it is
>possible to write an algorithm which will distinguish an A from other symbols
>in the environment. The algorithm, however, is not simple. It is an
>indication of the processing power of a single human brain that it seems easy.

I'm not trying to say that such an algorithm is impossible. I am saying it
is very difficult, and one does not yet exist that approaches the capability
of the human mind with its observational tools. Most people can recognize
the following from early grade school:


It is not easy for a computer to do so.

I take your point, that definition relies on observation, but only in the
larger sense. That is, the development of our consciousness and our
world-picture relies on observation. We can't understand the world without
observation. But once we have a sufficiently complex world view, we can
build concepts based on previous observations. (We frequently do this: how
often have you described a movie as a cross between two others? Your
listener then has an idea about what that movie is like, without having seen

Therefore, I still say that a definition of an object does not depend on
observing that _particular_ object. We don't need to define a method of
observing beliefs in other people in order to have a definition of 'belief.'
I don't even think I need to be able to observe a 'belief' in myself to know
what a 'belief' is. Think of predjudices: we all know what they are, but
are still shocked to discover that we have them, even when they affect our
outward behavior. Again, a workable definition does not depend on our
ability or skill of observation.

My belief in something does not depend upon your observation.

Besides, Marek and I have reached agreement on a definition that, in
principle, submits to the possibility of external detection:

"To believe X is to incorporate X into one's meme-structure
permanently with corresponding physical change in one's neural structure
(synaptic complexes in the brain)."

Dan Henry