Carr writes: Menuge wrote 'What's puzzling about the passage below is how we can specifiy what the information that is being transmitted is without talking about its meaning.'But a CSI detecting machine can, according to Menuge,pattern match the specification of the information without knowing about the meaning of the specification.Is *specified* information something that cannot be detected by naturalistic methods, or can only human beings detect specified information (as only agents can understand the meaning of the specification)?
Well, here's an example: a mindless computer program might be programmed withcertain information that in fact contains CSI, such as, to use Dembski's example, a long sequence of prime numbers. Now suppose that in the Search forExtra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project, a radio signal is detected from deep space that consists of a large sequence of these prime numbers. Theprogram could match the received sequence with a subsection of the sequence ofprimes in its database, and also determine if the sequence was long enough to be"complex" (in the sense that it is too unlikely to have been generated by chance). It seems to me, so long as "detect" is used in a minimalistic way (athermometer detects the temperature in this sense), there is no reason to denythat the program detects CSI.Â Â The machine can detect (reliably register /signal) this CSI even though there is no reason to suppose it knows what a primenumber is, or why the sequence it received consitutes CSI. The way I see it, detection does not require understanding, and the detection of CSI that has a meaning does not require that the detecting device can access the meaning. This is rather like the way a voice-activated computer can be programmed to obey thespoken words "Open Word" without knowing what it means to open the program. So it seems that, at least in some cases (I'm not sure in all, because some information is not so easy to represent computationally: there might be problems raised by Turing's halting problem or Godel's incompleteness theorem, where a human can detect CSI that is not computationally tractable---but this is endlessly debated), CSI can be detected by naturalistic methods. However, just as there is distinction between non-conceptual seeing (seeing red) and conceptual seeing (seeing red as danger), it seems to me that the program thatdetects CSI is not, like the scientist, seeing it as CSI, because it lacks the relevant concepts.. Angus