Of Machines and Men
By MortazaviBlog on Jun 24, 2005
If you would like to read the punchline of this note, you may advance to its last paragraph.
And Richard wrote, equally simply:
This should be a very deep question, at least for the computing types.
A Turing Machine, which is ultimately the best model of a computing machinary we have, realizes the connection between time and space—otherwise, how could it be capable of trading one off the other?
However, we are not, ourselves, machinary per se. Our time-space trade-off fulfils a different purpose when compared to the computer.
In other words, just because the Turing Machine can trade-off space and time, it doesn't mean we can. In fact, we are incapable of it, in the sense that we grow to find the distinction between time and space to be fundamental, although time can be interpreted, philosophically speaking, as simply a distance in space—see for example works of John McMurray where he has made this point quite clear in his analysis of how children grow a relationship, in time, with the outside world, with the world of parental love and care, through the occasional spacial absence of that very love and care. (For a good one-paragraph account of McMurray's philosophy, search for his name on this web page for Bannan Center of Jesuit Education.)
So, when we (not the machine) play against the computer, we are not simply competing against the clock. The computer occupies a space that is quite different from the space that a human opponent would occupy for us. Therefore, the game against the computer becomes a sport, just as Kasimdzhanov notes (see above), and by definition, all sports include an aspect that tests the limits of our "performance."
Furthermore, the space that a human opponent would occupy not only differs physically, in the contours that completely distinguish it from the space occupied by a computer opponent, but also extends itself to relations to other human spaces. Human spaces relate to other human spaces in ways that are qutie different from the way the space of a machine relates to the space of the room where it is sitting, the wires that connect it to the wall and the cieling fans that cool the room.
Therefore, playing against the computer cannot be like playing against the clock, unless the one who plays the computer is itself a computer.