Standard Turing machines and interactive adaptive Turing machines
The English mathematician Alan Turing provided an influential formalisation of the conceptof algorithm and computation by the so-called Turing machine. On an abstract level, everyTM is a device that reads a finite input string (always one symbol at a time) from an inputtape, and rewrites the tape based on a finite set of rules (i.e. the software). We say the TMaccepts an input string if it starts at the beginning of the input string and halts after a finitenumber of steps in a halting state. The new, rewritten string on the tape is called the outputstring. Although this model seems to be very simple, it can be proven that it can implementthe most complex functional computations. Turing machines are one of several ways todescribe the mathematical class of what are known as '
. A specialTuring machine is the Universal Turing machine (UTM), which can simulate any otherTuring machine.(U)TMs are used in machine state functionalism within the philosophy of mind
to describethe functioning of the human brain. For various reasons critics have raised objections againstcomputational functionalism
. We add a mathematical argument against the use of StandardTuring machines to describe human thinking:Whenever a (U)TM starts with a given input string s
, it either always accepts s
or never. Inother words, the set of input strings it accepts is fix. Accordingly, a Turing machine cannot'learn'! There is no way a (U)TM could ever change its operational behaviour. Even a non-deterministic (U)TM always accepts a fixed set of input strings
. Therefore, it is false to say,that a TM can simulate a human brain, since each human can acquire knowledge and changeher/his response (i.e. acceptance or non-acceptance) to the same input.A Standard Turing machine is not even adequate to describe a modern computer. At least fournew ingredients need to be added to the model of computation:
In contrast to a Standard Turing machine humans and moderncomputers have a persistent memory even if they are turned off (or are asleep) for a while.If they start again, further computations may depend on the memory content.
A TM does not interact with its environment. As we will see, 'interaction' isfundamental for the propagation of existing knowledge and the evolution, i.e. the learningof new knowledge.
Infinity of operation:
Humans or computers may in principle interact with theirenvironment without a definite end.
Non-uniformity of programs
means that agents in a network may change their algorithmsduring operation. Nowadays most computers are regularly upgraded, and their software,which represents their algorithms, may be fundamentally changed. If the agent representsa human, the human may have learned something from others.To model this kind of computation we introduce the abstract notion of interacting adaptiveTuring machines (IATM), similar to the notion of interactive Turing machines with advice,
LEWIS, Harry R. and PAPADIMITRIOU, Christos H. (1981), Section 5 introduces
-recursive functions' andseveral other alternatives to the TM and discusses the so-called Church-Turing theses according to which there isno other more powerful formalisation of 'effectively calculable' functions.
see for instance PUTNAM, H. (1960)
see for instance SHAGRIR, O. (2005)
Moreover, it can be proven, that any set of input strings accepted by a non-deterministic TM can also beaccepted by a deterministic TM (see LEWIS, Harry R. and PAPADIMITRIOU, Christos H. (1981), p. 211)
see GOLDIN, Dina and WEGNER, Peter (2003) and GOLDIN, Dina and WEGNER, Peter (2005) for articlesabout the expressiveness of interactive computing with persistent memory compared to the classical Turingmachine model.