Re: Singularity Objections

From: Thomas McCabe (
Date: Thu Jan 31 2008 - 11:53:50 MST

On Jan 31, 2008 1:30 AM, Peter de Blanc <> wrote:
> On Wed, 2008-01-30 at 22:43 -0500, Thomas McCabe wrote:
> > How simple? 10 bits? 100 bits? 1000 bits? I have no idea what the
> > Kolmogorov complexity of intelligent life in general is. For large
> > enough selection pressures to produce general intelligence, you need
> > (
> I don't think it makes sense to ask about the Kolmogorov complexity of
> intelligent life. The idea of Solomonoff Induction is to ask about the
> Kolmogorov complexity of your theory of everything. 'Intelligent Life'
> is a high-level phenomenon within the universe.

Yes, but if the theory requires intelligent life as a prerequisite,
the complexity of the theory must be equal to or greater than the
complexity of intelligent life.

> Let's say Alf and Beth are journeying to a foreign land.

This is anthropomorphic reasoning, one step removed. By "foreign
land", you're already assuming that whatever place you're going to is
inhabited by intelligent creatures. The closest real-world analogy to
the 'foreign land' of other universes is sending spaceships to other
planets. Any other universes we encounter will be even *more* foreign
than astronomical bodies, because the laws of physics probably won't

> "Do you think
> they'll have paintings?" Alf asks.
> "Paintings!" says Beth. "Why would you expect to find something so
> complex? I think we'll find some polynomials, or maybe an exponential
> function."

This is pretty much what any astronomer would say if you proposed
finding paintings on Mars, or any other celestial body. In this
universe, the only math to 'find' is written in the laws of physics,
and those are the same everywhere. However, we would expect to find
things with very small K complexities. Rocks. Atmospheres. Volcanoes.

> Alf says, "I think that the universe is probably simple; maybe not very
> much more complex than some polynomials. A painting looks complex if you
> are only looking at the painting, but if you look at the whole universe,
> you see that the universe is simple, and the universe contains the
> painting."

We already have one test case where this reasoning has failed
miserably- SETI. If intelligent life was of low complexity, it would
have arisen somewhere else within a billion light-years. In another
universe, it would require even more complexity, because the laws of
physics would have to be capable of supporting intelligent life.

> It seems to me like you expect your experience of the universe to be
> close to the fundamental computations of reality, but the most popular
> theory is that you are living inside a simulation in your own head, a
> machine composed of millions of different kinds of molecules. We're so
> far from the fundamental computations of reality that it took us 200,000
> years to find out about quantum mechanics.

Yes, but a simulator (by definition) isn't part of our universe. It's
in another universe entirely.

> > Yes, these are very difficult questions to answer precisely. I can't
> > answer them myself. Giving a rigorous mathematical proof/disproof of
> > God's existence seems to be very difficult, no matter how you go about
> > it; if it were easy someone would have done it already. Be aware that,
> > by general societal standards, you are proposing a new religion here.
> > And a solution to the First Cause problem.
> Hahaha, is that supposed to scare me?
> - Peter de Blanc

No, it's supposed to answer any 'unreasonable burden of proof' objections.

 - Tom

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