Re: Objective Meaning Must Exhibit Isomorphism

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Tue Mar 04 2008 - 21:49:48 MST

Stathis writes

No written language will be based upon

>> But if they sent us one of their sacred stones, we would eventually
>> find the non-random redundant pattern in the radioactive decay....
>> Great example. We would find the pattern because it is objectively
>> there, and its Komolgorov complexity is less than that of a random
>> string.
> I picked radioactive decay as an example of a truly random process
> (you can predict the average number of decay events per unit time, but

Oops. Sorry, I did misunderstand. If they're using anything analogous to
a one-time pad, then of course.

You had earlier written

> > But there is no reason why the written language of an alien species
> > might not be, for example, based on the radioactive decay pattern of a
> > sacred stone, in which case to us a message would look completely
> > random.

In fact, it would *be* entirely random, which is what threw me off:
Why would anyone ever have a *language* based on total encipherment?
It makes no sense.

> I'm not sure that there *has* to be a pattern in the functioning of a
> computer or whether it could instead be deliberately be designed with
> the equivalent of a cryptographer's one-time pad.

I guess I can see that: as you were saying, you could run some machine
at one set of randomly chosen galactic coordinates for one picosecond,
then run the next part of the computation light years away at another
randomly chosen location, and so on.

> Suppose for the sake of argument that there does have to be a pattern,
> which an intelligent being after long observation could in theory crack.
> You could still increase the randomisation by breaking up a computation
> into parts, implementing the parts on computers with different (randomly
> chosen) architecture, and shuffling them. The only discernible pattern might
> then be within short runs of the one type of computer, and if the
> period of the runs could be brought down to the length of one clock
> cycle, we might be back to a situation where the one-time pad analogy
> holds.

Sounds plausible. Certainly someone would have to go through
a lot of trouble for this, and I don't see why anyone or anything
would evolve to do it.

> In any case, having very short runs exponentially increases the
> probability that an isomorphic system will occur somewhere by
> accident.

Yes. Was that the point? Sorry, I've forgotten what the point here

I've generally said that among the swirling dust clouds and random
particle motions of deep intergalactic space one could eventually
find a set of atoms isomorphic in structure to my brain at this instant.
That was sort of Hilary Putnam's point when he said that any rock
emulates anything. But to me, it's pointless unless an emulation is
driven causally in real time in order to effect a computation.

By the subject line, my claim was that any meaning found in a
communication (or artifact) if in order to truly be objective,
must exhibit isomorphism. Some message that has meaning
which needs an exterior Rosetta stone or one-time pad to
decipher does not have objective meaning. For, as you and
others have said, then anything can mean anything, with the
right key.


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