A Response to Adam Berg’s Computing the Engima of Love


I read this essay and I really like Adam Berg, I think he’s a smart and talented guy. So I read his piece on glass bead and crafted as sort of meditation interpretation.

What happens when we look at love from a computational perspective? We can look at love from a biological perspective, an evolutionary perspective, a cultural perspective, but now we have computation (a new law of nature), and what does computation tell us about love? What does it mean to look at love through the lens of computation? “When I experience sense perception as love, from a computational perspective, I am engaged in a symbolic encoding.”

This is love beyond language, but as a symbol perhaps used in another formula.  The computational aspect is to translate this symbolic coding.  Compiler theory is transcendental philosophy. Where certain perceptions are translated via foundational categories such as the identity statement, the conditional, into another symbolic language.

The paper is called “Computing the enigma of love”. Love here exists in the sentence formula “computing the enigma of love”, and Berg unpacks the computation of love by examining the three concepts of computation, enigma and love, as well as the entire equation ‘computing the enigma of love’, It reminds me of other great fours in philosophy like Heidegger’s  fourfold (the unity of earth, sky, divinities and mortals that makes a world).

Computation becomes automata theory of love, enigma becomes a meditation on free will, love becomes a meditation on the sublime, and the equation becomes a meditation on the black box / the unknowable.

What type of computer computes love? Automata theory defines different types of computational systems and the spacial, temporal, and veridical (probabilistic) time limits of what they can compute.  Berg describes two systems: the B-computer and the P-computer.

A B-computer is love as a product of the brain, a P-computer is love as a product of pleasure and pain. One is about inputs and outputs with the processor as a black box (a.body without organs), the other is about reducing sensation to different parts. -the organs. Which is which – I forget.

The Engima, this is the engima machine that the British used to decipher codes in WW2. Work on this machine was spear headed by Alan Turing.  So the enigma of love -love is some sort of code – maybe SHA256 – that we need to decrypt. This is different than love as a automata that processes signals in a particular way. What is the horizon of decryption?


It will take me a long time to decrypt a message encrypted in SHA256,

Love as a product of time helps it escape the linear predictability of P-Machines and B-Machines. By unfolding in time love becomes a product of free will. We could also call this unpredictability or non-linear results.  Freedom is that which is unable to be predicted. I suppose as our machines become more accurate at prediction perhaps we will lose freedom, but that is neither here nor there. It is this unpredictability via the unfolding of love over time, the decryption of the algorithm that takes time, that gives us this quality of love.

How does computation address love, which is sublime? Well this is just one point of view. From the Kantian perspective this means something that cannot be measured, from the Burkean perspective it is something that produces the strongest emotion possible (probably painful). So how does a computer compute these two things? The B-Computer computes Kant and the P-Computer computes Burke.

The inputs are the messages which must be decrypted over time,

We could have a different equation, with love not being equated with the sublime. This is just an assumption of this essay, so lets roll with it.Finally we have the boxism – that is the unknowable -the entire formula: computing the enigma of love. We can understand the components but not how they come together. But are there really things that we cannot know, maybe there are things we cannot know empirically but we can know them interpretively. We can have speculations on what is happening inside the box. Who cares what is outside the box! What a relief.

Computing the enigma of love does not answer anything for us, as good philosophy never does. Instead we start to think about how love exists from a computational aspect. This is not the only formula or program that can be computed regarding love and this is the special power of computation. That it can run many programs, and even yet run many simulations for the same program. That it exists in a realm of probability and world generation.

Another way talk we can talk about computing the enigma of love is the manifold of worlds that this sentence/formula creates.

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