RE: Fishy Quantum Physics

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Fri May 28 2004 - 14:24:48 MDT


There are plenty of people seeking an explanation of what kind of
simple, elegant underlying deterministic computational dynamical system
would appear, from our point of view, to be obeying probability quantum

The grandfather of this work is Feynman's work on the lattice physics
models now called "Feynman checkerboards." Ed Fredkin is one person
pursuing this kind of work, another is David Finkelstein at Georgia
Tech, another is my friend Tony Smith, who was Finkelstein's PhD

My point is that there is no paradox in the notion of a deterministic
computational underlayer that, from our point of view, appears to be
obeying nondeterministic quantum equations. The challenge is making
this idea useful, and toward that end these folks have been seeking an
elegant computational underlayer giving rise emergently to "apparent
quantum indeterminism."

-- Ben G

> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On Behalf
> Of J. Andrew Rogers
> Sent: Friday, May 28, 2004 4:12 PM
> To:
> Subject: Fishy Quantum Physics
> Ben wrote:
> > As I said, in practice this assumption doesn't seem to make any
> > difference. If you assume a weird enough underlying deterministic
> > universe (like Bohm's hidden-variables theory) then you can have QM
> > and
> > determinism: everyone understands that. But for practical
> purposes, it
> > seems most elegant and convenient to make the assumption of
> > nondeterminism, as that makes the math so much simpler and fits the
> > observed data conceptually.
> Gah, the point was completely missed. Let me elucidate a
> bit, as I've actually been thinking about the broader
> question for some time. There is a subtle inconsistency in
> the mathematical assumptions of some theoretical physics.
> There is nothing "simpler" about the non-deterministic model.
> It is only nominally simpler if one views the probability
> model of the output in isolation. Yes, in that case it is
> kind of tidy to just declare a non-deterministic function and
> walk away. This is the same kind of fallacy as saying that
> "God did it" is the simplest explanation for everything in
> the physical universe.
> Shallow problem:
> In the hidden deterministic model, the probability function
> is inductive, and is only probabilistic in that there is a
> predictive limit because the model is incomplete. It
> apparently looks identical to your hypothesized
> non-deterministic model. However, by definition there is a
> simpler deterministic description of the inductive
> probability model in the deterministic case which will also
> therefore be simpler than the non-deterministic case, since
> they are indistinguishable from the standpoint of induction.
> This also implies that the non-deterministic function is in
> fact reducible to a simple deterministic description. We may
> not be able to inspect this simple deterministic description,
> but we can know that one exists. How is it allowable that a
> "non-deterministic" function is mathematically reducible to
> to a finite deterministic description in theory?
> Deeper problem:
> The other point, which is more fundamental, is that a general
> discernable distribution in the output of a function implies
> determinism ipso facto in normal algorithmic information theory.
> This isn't an inconsistency between competing concepts, this
> represents some kind of pretty basic inconsistency in the
> application of the math. In the non-deterministic models,
> there is no consistent follow through with the mathematical
> consequences of that model selection, and properties are
> assumed for the hypothetical non-deterministic function which
> are reserved for deterministic functions. If you actually DO
> follow through and consistently treat that function as
> non-deterministic with all the characteristics implied, the
> non-deterministic model clearly collapses as any kind of
> reasonable description of the physical universe.
> I haven't seen this inconsistency addressed. I've seen some
> other people nibble around the edges of this, but I'm
> wondering if I'm the first person to frame the problem like
> this. Given that we are accepting that the probability
> functions in physics are real, determinism is the only
> consistent model. Otherwise, someone will have to explain
> this required notion of a hypothesized non-deterministic
> function that just happens to exhibit the algorithmic
> information theoretic characteristics reserved for a
> deterministic one.
> j. andrew rogers

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