Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Turing Machine as Context.

The following was first posted on the Biosemiotics Forum, operated by Fatima Cvrckova:

"Consider this example of the a priori nature of context vis-à-vis meaning. The Turing machine, of which modern computers are a close approximation, contains within itself the capacity for all possible computations. This is to say, the computer contains all possible computational meaning. Programs, on the other hand, are informational, and in particular, serve to whittle away from the total set of meanings contained within a computer, yielding the particular subset of meanings that define a specific computational goal.

"While programs can learn (for example, see the work of John Myhill 1963), computers cannot learn. Instead, computers are computationally omniscient. That is, the Turing machine embodies all possible computational meaning, a priori, just by its construction. The mere fact of construction provides the Turing machine with this omniscience."


Biosemiotics by Hoffmeyer

This is an excellent book. My thanks to Bruce Weber, for recommending that I read it. I've learned with every turn of the page.