In Defense of the Unprovability of the Church-Turing Thesis

One of us has previously argued that the Church-Turing Thesis (CTT), contra Elliot Mendelson, is not provable, and is — light of the mind’s capacity for effortless hypercomputation — moreover false (e.g., [13]). But a new, more serious challenge has appeared on the scene: an attempt by Smith [28] to prove CTT. His case is a clever “squeezing argument” that makes crucial use of Kolmogorov-Uspenskii (KU) machines. The plan for the present paper is as follows. After covering some necessary preliminaries regarding the nature of CTT, and taking note of the fact that this thesis is “intrinsically cognitive” (§2), we: sketch out, for context, an open-minded position on CTT and related matters (§3); explain the formal structure of squeezing arguments (§4); after a review of KU-machines, formalize Smith’s case (§5); give our objections to certain assumptions in Smith’s argument (§6); support these objections with some evidence from general but limited-agent problem solving (§7); and explain why Smith’s argument is inconclusive (§8). We end with some brief, concluding remarks, some of which point toward near-future work that will build on the present paper (§9)
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