Turing Completeness Unifies Eastern and Western Mysticism
Your body is a finite state automata; your soul, your true identity, is that which is Turing complete.
Are modern computers Turing machines? In one sense, yes, they are. There’s a pedantic objection which says, no, they aren’t Turing machines, since they don’t have infinite memory. This pedantic objection conceals something beautiful: a way of unifying eastern mysticism and western monotheism and squaring them with materialism.
A pedantic objection says, “Turing completeness requires infinite memory, that doesn’t apply here”. Of course, assuming infinite memory clearly isn't accurate. Yet, in lots of cases, it's a useful approximation to pretend that computers are Turing machines. So clearly, there's value in seeing general purpose computers - and humans - as Turing machines.
In many cases in life, telling the nerd beat it is a plus EV move; intellectual jocks play poker while intellectual nerds call the whole business distasteful. But in this case - as is often the case - I think what the “it’s not really Turing complete unless its infinite” nerds are doing is attempting to articulate value on a cosmic scale.
But by embracing the pedantic objection, you open up a great lens on consciousness, life, interrelatedness, &c &c. Consider the perspective that says a human's body is the head of a Turing machine (a finite state automaton), and the world outside of our bodies is the Turing tape. For a network-connected machine , the same perspective works: The machines themselves are just finite state automata. What makes them Turing complete - what gives them infinite memory, the requirement for a Turing machine - is their ability to both perceive and affect the state of the world outside of themselves.
Communication - with other people, with the world, or even with ourselves - is our connection to the infinite.
From this perspective, the whole world is a Turing tape, each of us are tape heads that move around the world, reading in some symbols, modifying our internal state, possibly marking on the tape, and then continuing on. I can gain access to new modes of computation, the ability to accurately recognize some extremely complex languages, by means of communication with the tape, i.e. the world outside my head.
The cosmic union sought by yogis is then understandable, simply, as identifying with "the thing that is Turing complete", which is not your body (i.e. the tape head) but rather the entire Turing machine, i.e. the tape head and the tape, i.e. your body and your environment. Likewise, Abrahamic notions of 'an immortal soul' can be comprehended simply as the Turing machine view on humans (connecting them to infinity!) rather than the finite state automaton view of the body. Even if the tape head breaks down and disappears, the Turing machine itself, with many many heads, marches on.
The gap between eastern and western mysticisms then comes down to whether or not there really is just one giant Turing machine, doing all of this, (a materialist would say, the physical universe being the only thing there is), and you are that thing, or whether or not there are, say, layers and layers of Turing machines.
Is there just one giant turtle, or is it turtles all the way down? I can’t answer that question for you. But I can give you this rendering fresh from the tape:
Somehow DALLE has learned to associate rainbows and hearts, perhaps because lots of humans over time seem to have articulated that a full spectrum view of reality includes the necessity of love.
Thanks for reading this portion of the tape! If you put your thing into the thing and do the thing, you will either achieve union with the cosmos immediately, or else after some delay for your model to converge.
> The cosmic union sought by yogis is then understandable, simply, as identifying with "the thing that is Turing complete", which is not your body (i.e. the tape head) but rather the entire Turing machine, i.e. the tape head and the tape, i.e. your body and your environment.
This is a really neat idea!
I don't think it captures everything though--there's also the realization that the "tape head" and the "tape" are made of the same stuff. I.e. I'm not just a static agent peering into the universe and modifying it (which is how we typically feel), I'm also changing with every interaction.
Or maybe "tape head" is mind and "tape" is matter? It's an interesting metaphor to play with.