Randomness, consistency, physics, mystery

From: Ben Goertzel (ben@goertzel.org)
Date: Fri May 28 2004 - 05:59:25 MDT

> The way physics *really* works, of course, certain quantum
> experiments
> appear to be "random" because versions of you exist entangled
> with both
> outcomes. If you say "heads", one version of you shall see
> heads, and one
> version tails; if you say "tails" the same is true. All quite
> deterministic. Since I comprehended many-worlds theory and
> Jaynes, I find
> that I have absolutely no idea what a "random variable" or
> "non-deterministic" process might be. I am not sure that the
> concept is
> logically consistent, and it doesn't matter, since in this
> real world there
> is nothing non-deterministic. I have dispensed with the concept of
> physical randomness, and can no longer imagine what I once thought it
> meant. It is like trying to imagine "time" after reading Barbour.

I know what you mean about randomness, Eli. I tried a long time to show
that the concept of randomness is mathematically inconsistent, but just
wound up with various variants of Godel's Theorem instead!

The real mystery here, to me, is that introducing such whacky concepts
as uncomputable numbers appears to drastically improve the elegance of
our theories about the physical world. So, the physical world
apparently is a finite computational-type system -- yet to model some of
the more basic aspects of it, it's apparently most convenient to assume
these uncomputable entities (like "truly random numbers"). Very weird.
Yet inarguable: for instance, ordinary differentio-integral calculus,
resting on the implicit assumption of uncomputable numbers, is a lot
more elegant for making physics calculations than "computable calculus"
that does the same thing using only computable numbers.

Making consistent but Godelishly-weird mathematical models of the
unmeasurable and nonexistent appears to be a great strategy for
understanding the measurable and existent.

And this is a different point from the weirdness of quantum

Weird universe, huh?

Oh wait a minute -- maybe the problem is with our brains? ;-p

-- Ben G

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