Correction: Theda Skocpol is a woman.

Expand full comment

Re: " have a quite capable although sub-Turing instantiation of an imago of ..."

I think this is a conceit, but there is a way to try to test this idea. For the experiment:

1. pick a living person that you think you know well and can instantiate a mental model to talk with.

2. Pick a topic, and start with your comment or question. You can record your side of the conversation. After the conversation, try to remember the replies and possibly take notes.

3. Now start the conversation with the living person using the same initial interrogation. Whatever the responses, try to keep your replies as close as is relevant to the responses you made in your mental conversation. The order need not be the same.

4. Now check the responses of the live person to your mental model. Just how similar were the responses? Did the conversation stay on track or rapidly veer off. Were the aggregate responses essentially a reproduction of the mental model?

You can then gauge how "sub" your Turing complete your mental model is. ;)

Expand full comment

That won't work—these imago instantiations running on my wetware may be sub-Turing, but they are definitely also chaotic. They are, however, very good at saying the kinds of things that the Turing-class original might have said.

Niccolo Machiavelli feels the way I do: "On the coming of evening, I return to my house and enter my study; and at the door I take off the day's clothing, covered with mud and dust, and put on garments regal and courtly; and reclothed appropriately, I enter the ancient courts of ancient men, where, received by them with affection, I feed on that food which only is mine and which I was born for, where I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the reason for their actions; and they in their kindness answer me; and for four hours of time I do not feel boredom, I forget every trouble, I do not dread poverty, I am not frightened by death; entirely I give myself over to them. And because Dante says it does not produce knowledge when we hear but do not remember, I have noted everything in their conversation which has profited me, and have composed a little work On Princedoms..."

Do note Machiavelli's "do not fear death" part—at this point he is still under house arrest in the suburbs of Florence, and the post-coup Medici rulers may well decide to torture and execute him...

Expand full comment

Fair point. I need to think of a better way to determine the fidelity. It reminds me of the toy ML systems I have worked on that learn fragments of sequences and can then "burble" like a baby by regurgitating sub-sequences in some fashion. So it has learned to store patterns that were fed to it, but can then only spit out pieces in some order that contains only the recognizable parts of the stored patterns.

Expand full comment