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

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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
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It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
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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
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American
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What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams
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The Nature of Time
August - December 2008
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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Jason Steinmetz: on 5/26/20 at 10:12am UTC, wrote I do not know if you interpreted my comments as suggesting that I supported...

Lachlan Cresswell: on 5/18/20 at 2:02am UTC, wrote Thanks for your comments, Jason. I'm not sure where to start in replying....

Jason Steinmetz: on 5/18/20 at 1:42am UTC, wrote You wrote: "Just for fun, what are your thought about a reality in which...

Jason Steinmetz: on 5/17/20 at 22:07pm UTC, wrote You wrote: "I believe that the 3 Un’s , as creations of skuld entities,...

Vladimir Fedorov: on 5/17/20 at 13:59pm UTC, wrote Dear Jason, I greatly appreciated your work and discussion. I am very glad...

Lachlan Cresswell: on 5/15/20 at 11:44am UTC, wrote I agree with your conclusion that HUP is a fact of reality. But I believe...

Alyssa Adams: on 5/15/20 at 7:28am UTC, wrote Hi Jason! Thank you so much for your essay! It was a very nice read. Just...

Jason Steinmetz: on 5/13/20 at 19:24pm UTC, wrote You wrote: "From LEM and LNC we can construct reductio ad absurdum...


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FQXi FORUM
September 19, 2021

CATEGORY: Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest (2019-2020) [back]
TOPIC: To Be or Not to Be? But is that really the Question? by Jason W Steinmetz [refresh]
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Author Jason W Steinmetz wrote on Apr. 25, 2020 @ 17:41 GMT
Essay Abstract

Despite how fundamental the concepts of undecidability, uncomputability, and unpredictability may be to our understanding, these concepts are, at best, not well defined and, at worst, part of an interpretation that reinforces long held misapprehensions of reality.

Author Bio

Professional programmer/systems analyst, self-taught metamathematician

Download Essay PDF File

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Stefan Weckbach wrote on Apr. 26, 2020 @ 04:55 GMT
Dear Jason,

thank you for a well elaborated and very interesting piece of paper that tries to tackle the questions that have been posed by the essay contest's current theme. I very much enjoyed reading your lines of reasoning and also your good explanations of what Gödel's theorems say, according to Gödel himself. Good work!

Let me annotate a crucial detail: at page 7 you come to...

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta replied on Apr. 27, 2020 @ 12:01 GMT
Well said Stefan Weckbach,

I feel Godels theporem is not applicable in Cosmology. I created and tested Dynamic Universe Model for the last forty years, I never encountered some situation as said by Godel.

You may please have a look at my essay A properly deciding, Computing and Predicting new theory’s Philosophy

Best Regards

=snp

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Author Jason W Steinmetz replied on Apr. 28, 2020 @ 18:56 GMT
Stefan,

Thank you for your detailed review/response. And I agree with most of your analysis. Where I do not agree I do not disagree (pun intended).

I especially agree with your identification of the problem (or at least part of it) as "negation within deductive formal systems." In fact, this is one of the (many) things I had to cull from this short essay.

However, I would have...

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Stefan Weckbach replied on Apr. 29, 2020 @ 08:20 GMT
Hi Jason,

thanks for your reply.

Although I am not into Buddhism, the latter surely has produced some profound intellectual heritage for the world.

In my last two essays I argue that to overcome the “catuskori”, one could label all attempts to reflect reality as being generically incomplete.

Predicting reality in my view critically hinges on whether or not reality is completely predictable. If there are areas where it isn't, it may be useful trying to figure out what the reasons could be. Maybe that could also shed some light on how to more meaningful reflect about reality (maybe, but not necessarily).

“What would it mean (i.e., what would it say about reality) if our scientific (formal) systems could be realistic or effective, but not both? “

Very deep question and interesting in its own rights. Although there surely would be a multitude of interpretations about that question (just like for QM), spontaneously I think of the world as a kind of simulation (abstraction) – it works effectively, but it is hard to realize that it is rather an unrealistic environment – compared to the reality outside of that simulation.

I you like and are interested, I would be happy if you would read and comment on my own essay, I would be interested in your opinion.

Best wishes,

Stefan

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Author Jason W Steinmetz wrote on May. 1, 2020 @ 20:02 GMT
Note that there are two typos on page three. In the discussion of line 10 the two instances of the formula φ(x) are missing the negation symbol (the negation symbol is not missing from line 10). In other words, the two instances of φ(x) should be ¬φ(x) in the interpretation of line 10.

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Roger Schlafly wrote on May. 3, 2020 @ 00:03 GMT
I am surprised that you do not mention quantum logic as an argument against the law of the excluded middle. The idea is that you can explain the double-slit experiment by saying that the particle goes thru one slit or the other, but if we deny the LEM, then we cannot say that the particle definitely goes thru one of the slits. That is, the disjunction (particle passes thru slit A OR particle passes thru slit B) is true, but particles that just go thru one slit do not show the diffraction pattern.

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Author Jason W Steinmetz replied on May. 3, 2020 @ 17:33 GMT
Your question has two answers (pun not intended). First, I did actually hint in that direction by mentioning Bohr's principle of complementarity. Although complementarity violates the LNC, if the LEM and LNC are actually equivalent, then complementarity would also violate the LEM.

Second, and I think more importantly, to claim that the wave nature of light (i.e., the double-slit experiment that you mentioned) violates the LEM would rely on interpretation and thus it would be a weak argument that is not very clear and thus would require much more examination/discussion, which is not available in this relatively short essay. This is because an established interpretation of quantum theory does not exist.

In other words, in the same way that it is said that quantum theory seems to refute determinism but it is not generally accepted as a conclusive refutation of determinism, it would equally be the case that quantum theory does not constitute a conclusive refutation the LEM. For example, consider a holistic interpretation of quantum theory that assumes an underlying holism and thus also that particles and waves are just convenient fictions. The LEM would not necessarily be violated in that interpretation.

Hence, I chose to focus primarily on Gödel's proof because his proof provides a compelling and clear potential refutation of the LEM whereas the argument from quantum logic relies on interpretation and thus only provides a weak argument that is not very clear.

However, some interpretations, such as the one you implied, would provide a refutation of LEM so, behind Gödel's proof, it could certainly be counted as further evidence worth considering.

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Yutaka Shikano wrote on May. 4, 2020 @ 21:19 GMT
Dear Jason,

While I am not familiar with the Godel incompleteness theorem, I learned a lot of things from your essay.

I like the following point.

the real underlying question is whether the fundamental goal should be to

construct formal systems that accurately reflect reality or to construct formal systems that can accurately predict reality.

On quantum mechanics, what do you think about the "verification" of quantum mechanics in this context? This verification context in computation is shortly written in my essay. I think that you are interested in this point.

Best wishes,

Yutaka

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Author Jason W Steinmetz replied on May. 7, 2020 @ 20:13 GMT
As I stated in my comments on your paper, yes, I do think that "verification" of quantum mechanics could be of utmost importance. This idea is certainly relevant to the ideas that my essay was exploring, especially within the context of the line that you quoted. Would a truly random number be invented (generated ex nihilo) or discovered?

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Yutaka Shikano replied on May. 11, 2020 @ 00:40 GMT
Dear Jason,

Thanks a lot for answering my comment.

> This idea is certainly relevant to the ideas that my essay was exploring, especially within the context of the line that you quoted.

Does it mean that "verification" and the Godel incompleteness theorem are relevant?

> Would a truly random number be invented (generated ex nihilo) or discovered?

Let me see. Our trials keep going now.

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Michael muteru wrote on May. 6, 2020 @ 09:41 GMT
very nice essay, love the mathematical aspect of your essay.you earned my votes. For theories are manufactured by humans.Can perceptual limits to Cognitive abilities be a source of incompleteness.Kindly read here-https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3525.will appreciate your feedback. Thank you, All the best in the contest.

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Author Jason W Steinmetz replied on May. 7, 2020 @ 20:17 GMT
Thank you for your kind words.

You wrote: "Can perceptual limits to Cognitive abilities be a source of incompleteness."

Or also, could cognitive limits to Perceptual abilities be a source of incompleteness? The plot thickens.

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Fabien Paillusson wrote on May. 11, 2020 @ 16:28 GMT
Dear Jason,

This was a very stimulating and well-argued essay.

If I would have any complaint, it would be that the notation appeared to me quite obscure at times, especially in the part on Godel's proof.

I would have some questions:

From LEM and LNC we can construct reductio ad absurdum arguments in logic and mathematics. Do you have any thoughts on the value of this type of argument in physics?

Could you please elaborate on what you mean by "meaning" in the introduction?

Many thanks and good luck for the contest.

Best wishes,

Fabien and Matthew

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Author Jason W Steinmetz replied on May. 13, 2020 @ 19:24 GMT
You wrote: "From LEM and LNC we can construct reductio ad absurdum arguments in logic and mathematics. Do you have any thoughts on the value of this type of argument in physics?"

Yes, as a matter of fact, your question identifies what I would consider one of the principal ideas of my essay. The only way a proof by contradiction (which is based on the principle of reductio ad...

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Lachlan Cresswell wrote on May. 13, 2020 @ 04:35 GMT
Dear Jason,

I believe that the 3 Un’s , as creations of skuld entities, are certainly intertwined with object reality, as we are part of that reality ourselves.

Even if the Universe is not infinite, it will always be beyond our reckoning, and thus we are forced to make assumptions, which inevitably lead to paradoxes. Paradoxes are good if they force us to re-evaluate our assumptions. Thus over a long period of time, using the scientific method, we will progress to a better understanding with less paradoxes, especially if we drop LEM when formulating our theories. Whether the Universe is deterministic or not will not really matter, as long as the future is open.

Best Regards

Lockie Cresswell

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Lachlan Cresswell replied on May. 15, 2020 @ 11:44 GMT
I agree with your conclusion that HUP is a fact of reality. But I believe its interpretation has been overstretched, way beyond what Heisenberg originally intended. As I have mentioned in other posts I do not believe uncertainty in momentum can be translated to meaning enormous energies for preon particles acting at much smaller scales than protons or neutrons. Objective reality is what it is. It is only undecidable, uncomputable and unpredictable when we apply our approximations to it, and I believe that is all we can ever do. However the current coarse-graining of the 3 un’s will improve over time thanks to the scientific method, better engineering and better philosophy.

LL&P

Lockie Cresswell

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Author Jason W Steinmetz replied on May. 17, 2020 @ 22:07 GMT
You wrote: "I believe that the 3 Un’s , as creations of skuld entities, are certainly intertwined with object reality, as we are part of that reality ourselves."

Ah ha! I had to read your essay to understand what "skuld" is! I think your perspective is interesting and it is one that I certainly do not disagree with. However, I would not say that we need to "drop LEM" because I think...

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Lachlan Cresswell replied on May. 18, 2020 @ 02:02 GMT
Thanks for your comments, Jason.

I'm not sure where to start in replying. I met a philosopher in my dog walking park a couple of days ago and he was trying to convince me that subjective reality is all there is, that everything I see and touch and do is all a projection of my mind. Well I must have a very complicated mind, inventing this essay competition and a huge variety of essays to...

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Alyssa Adams wrote on May. 15, 2020 @ 07:28 GMT
Hi Jason!

Thank you so much for your essay! It was a very nice read. Just for fun, what are your thought about a reality in which there are no observers? Do you think such a thing is possible? And second, do you think the 3 Uns remain the same for any possible observer? (Basically, I'm wondering just how objective reality is with respect to every possible observer, and how this could change our intuition about the three un's.)

Cheers!

Alyssa

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Author Jason W Steinmetz replied on May. 18, 2020 @ 01:42 GMT
You wrote: "Just for fun, what are your thought about a reality in which there are no observers? Do you think such a thing is possible?"

To answer this question the term "observer" must be defined and that is a very "hard problem." I think Ian Durham said it best in the quote that I chose to reproduce in my comments on his essay: "Any attempt to comprehend it must necessarily depend on the...

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Vladimir Nikolaevich Fedorov wrote on May. 17, 2020 @ 13:59 GMT
Dear Jason,

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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