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Current Essay Contest


Contest Partners: Fetzer Franklin Fund, and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation

Previous Contests

Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
Contest Partners: Fetzer Franklin Fund, and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation
read/discusswinners

What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Sponsored by the Fetzer Franklin Fund and The Peter & Patricia Gruber Foundation
read/discusswinners

Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fund.
read/discusswinners

Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation
Media Partner: Scientific American

read/discusswinners

How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams
read/discusswinners

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008
read/discusswinners

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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Jonathan Dickau: on 5/19/20 at 1:59am UTC, wrote I enjoyed this a lot Rick... I especially liked the image of sand...

George Gantz: on 5/17/20 at 14:03pm UTC, wrote Hi Rick - Nice to see you again! Get essay, thanks. The narrative about...

Vladimir Fedorov: on 5/17/20 at 13:55pm UTC, wrote Dear Rick, I greatly appreciated your work and discussion. I am very glad...

Jason Steinmetz: on 5/1/20 at 1:24am UTC, wrote Your essay was certainly enjoyable to read. I was especially struck by: ...

Flavio Del Santo: on 4/15/20 at 15:22pm UTC, wrote Dear Rick, thank you for a very enjoyable essay, it has really a unique...

Noson Yanofsky: on 4/14/20 at 19:03pm UTC, wrote Dear Rick, I hope you and yours are safe and healthy in this crazy...

Vladimir Rogozhin: on 4/1/20 at 19:17pm UTC, wrote Dear Rick, A very interesting essay in the Cartesian spirit. It makes one...

Rick Searle: on 3/23/20 at 1:37am UTC, wrote Dear Jochen, Due to the recent chaos I’ve been absent from this forum,...


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FQXi FORUM
October 29, 2020

CATEGORY: Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest (2019-2020) [back]
TOPIC: Computational Complexity as Anthropic Principle by Rick Searle [refresh]
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Author Rick Searle wrote on Mar. 15, 2020 @ 19:55 GMT
Essay Abstract

Discoveries over the last two centuries such as that of deterministic chaos, computational complexity, black hole information paradox, have shown us that Laplacian demons are impossible. This need not be seen as a defeat, for we might be able to use this as a way to constrain our theories and thus bring us closer to a more accurate picture of our world.

Author Bio

Rick Searle is a writer and educator living in central Pennsylvania. He is an affiliate scholar for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology where his essays occur regularly and a member of The Future of Life Institute. He is the author and editor of the book Rethinking Machine Ethics in the Age of Ubiquitous Technology. He blogs at Utopia or Dystopia: where past meets future.

Download Essay PDF File

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Jochen Szangolies wrote on Mar. 16, 2020 @ 06:51 GMT
Dear Rick,

thanks for this enjoyable essay! I like the approach of introducing the 'boundaries' of prediction via a little bit of pseudohistory. It's intriguing that many of these pertain to issues that would have been readily intelligible to an 18th century intellectual, even if not exactly immediately apprehensible regarding their causes. (And in the case of a black hole, the radius that drops out of the Newtonian calculation is equal to the Schwarzschild radius only somewhat by accident, of course.)

You tie all of these 'esoteric' notions down to very down to earth problems, showing that even such apparently remote concerns can be relevant for pressing present concerns.

One thing I found particularly intriguing was your suggestion that such limitations---in analogy to the limitation given by the impossibility of perpetual motion---rather than just frustrating our attempts at prediction, may in fact serve as valuable guides to theory-building. This is something I would have liked to see explored a little more---thermodynamics can basically be reformulated in terms of impossibilities: no perpetual motion of the first kind, of the second kind, and no reaching absolute zero.

What if we take the impossibilities and limitations of prediction, of computation on board similarly? May there even be a connection---what could a Maxwell's demon accomplish if it had access to a hypercomputer? (Of course, and just in passing, by way of advertising, my own essay tries to connect these limitations to the failure of classical physics to apply universally, so it's perhaps only to be expected that my thoughts might turn to that. And as for the mind, I have an article coming out in Minds and Machines that takes a look at how such limitations apply to the problem of consciousness.)

Anyway, thanks for an engaging and well-written essay. Wish you best of luck in the contest!

Cheers

Jochen

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Author Rick Searle replied on Mar. 23, 2020 @ 01:37 GMT
Dear Jochen,

Due to the recent chaos I’ve been absent from this forum, and it’s rather difficult to focus on these issues given the state of the world, but I am taking a break from that tonight. I wanted to thank you for your very kind comments about my piece.

I have just finished your wonderful essay and will leave my comments there, but please vote for mine if you have a chance. Given that I have no votes so far I am afraid that my essay will soon be lost to invisibility.

Rick

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Mar. 21, 2020 @ 09:40 GMT
Dear Dr Rick Searle,

Thank you for giving a wonderful essay please. In your imagined tale some of the nice words.......

“The problem of three bodies,” Laplace exclaimed.

“What?”

“The position of three orbiting bodies cannot be calculated exactly.”........

I want to tell few words about "Dynamic Universe Model". This model is a singularity-free General N-Body problem solution. That includes 3 Body's of-course!

For further details, have a look at my essay please.

“A properly deciding, Computing and Predicting new theory’s Philosophy”

Best Regards

=snp.gupta

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Apr. 1, 2020 @ 19:17 GMT
Dear Rick,

A very interesting essay in the Cartesian spirit. It makes one strain the mind and "dig" to the most remote meaning-distinguishable depths ...

With kind regards, Vladimir

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Member Noson S. Yanofsky wrote on Apr. 14, 2020 @ 19:03 GMT
Dear Rick,

I hope you and yours are safe and healthy in this crazy situation.

Thank you for a very creative essay. It is very interesting.

Of your five "deepest discoveries of since over the last two centuries" deterministic chaos, computational complexity, the Black hole information paradox, and the paradox of self reference, I believe that the paradox of self reference is...

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Flavio Del Santo wrote on Apr. 15, 2020 @ 15:22 GMT
Dear Rick,

thank you for a very enjoyable essay, it has really a unique approach. I wish you the best for the contest!

If you have a moment, I would appreciate your opinion on my essay as well.

All good wishes,

Flavio

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Jason W Steinmetz wrote on May. 1, 2020 @ 01:24 GMT
Your essay was certainly enjoyable to read. I was especially struck by:

"Still none of this will answer what is perhaps the ultimate question when it comes to the role of computation in our world, the question that lies at the heart of our discovery of computation itself- is the world itself at bottom deterministic or random (in the sense of Wheeler’s “law without law)? Everything so far would appear to suggest that it is a finely tuned balance of both."

You sound just like Forrest Gump! (The link is to one of my favorite quotes by the sage.)

Actually, I think there might another (i.e., a "middle") option. The (old-fashioned) concept of determinism has its limits. And the concept of randomness simply doesn't make any sense, except within games of chance, of course.

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Vladimir Nikolaevich Fedorov wrote on May. 17, 2020 @ 13:55 GMT
Dear Rick,

I greatly appreciated your work and discussion. I am very glad that you are not thinking in abstract patterns.

While the discussion lasted, I wrote an article: “Practical guidance on calculating resonant frequencies at four levels of diagnosis and inactivation of COVID-19 coronavirus”, due to the high relevance of this topic. The work is based on the practical solution of problems in quantum mechanics, presented in the essay FQXi 2019-2020 “Universal quantum laws of the universe to solve the problems of unsolvability, computability and unpredictability”.

I hope that my modest results of work will provide you with information for thought.

Warm Regards, `

Vladimir

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George Gantz wrote on May. 17, 2020 @ 14:03 GMT
Hi Rick - Nice to see you again! Get essay, thanks. The narrative about Laplace's demon was excellent and funny. Drawing upon ancient Egypt was fun - in my essay I borrow from the middle-aged mysticism of Omar Kayyam.

I hope you have a chance to check my essay out! Time is short and the end is near!

LXIX. But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays

Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days;

Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,

And one by one back in the Closet lays.

Cheers - George: The Door That Has No Key: https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3494

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on May. 19, 2020 @ 01:59 GMT
I enjoyed this a lot Rick...

I especially liked the image of sand pictures. I had a dream once of a chamber where characters were projected. A wonderful weaving of the historical with the evolution of Physics. Of course; some of the statements you make are weak, if hyper-dimensional super-determinism holds true. But nobody other than me is likely to call you on that point.

You won't read anything about the 7 pairs of oppositely-directed timelines at the Planck scale, in my current essay. But you might learn something about what gets contained and what goes to infinity. I hope you enjoy the kind review and boost in rankings I have given you. This is excellent work.

Regards,

Jonathan

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