What the Shed Looks At

Friday, October 9, 2009

A nice saying and a long ramble

Freedom of the individual must be asserted against privilege and custom.

Also, maybe it's because I recently read Programming the Universe but the more I read history the more I appreciate the simplicity of qubits being the bytes of the universe. A computer the size of the universe would be able to predict the future with 100% accuracy and only that. Any arrangement of atoms otherwise would be unable to predict the future. The simplicity of this idea comes into relevance with history in the unanswered questions we have when we study history. Why did Napoleon stay in Moscow for thirty three days? Why did Caesar enter the Senate unprotected when he knew there was a senator involved in a plot to kill him? Why did MacArthur insist so heavily that we nuke China? For that matter, why did Obama get the Peace Prize?

The deficiencies of written history are clearly not confined to writing as the totality of the events that shape who we are and therefore our actions, and therefore the world we call the future is incommunicable with our deficiencies to understand the dense mass of electric activity in other people's skulls, and our own to boot. This inability to communicate all the things that made us who we are, and our own personal inability to understand all the things that made us who we are will lead to an uncertain future and therefore a future we will be unable to plan for with certainty. I could deal with the certainty of a condom (85%) but from everything that I can see we are pitifully short of that. Some things, with the aid of science, can be predicted with near total certainty but when humans get involved the workings of the brain make it a nigh unpredictable world.

Only a complete understanding of the workings of the brain, meaning how every chemical interacts with every other and how the synapses fire and what every little variation in any baseline or trend means for the outcome, then an understanding of how any action on the part of an individual in an ecosystem would affect the outcome of that system combined of course with the actions of every individual in the ecosystem and then how all the ecosystems interact with each other on the planet and how anything we do here might affect the universe around us and how the universe will affect us.

So basically a computer the size of the universe is the only way to accurately predict the future.


  1. There is no accurate way of predicting the future, even with a computer of the scale you talk of. Qubits exist as 1s and 0s at the same time. This allows them to collapse at the correct answer, but only one correct answer. Each bit has a certain probability of collapsing a certain way. If you were to set up a universe sized quantum computer and turn it on you would receive a different result each time.

    You are talking about a concept called determinism. We used to believe that if we know the positions and velocities of every particle in the universe, then we could compute the future, indeed the entire history, of the universe with 100% accuracy. However, a physicist named Hiesenburg discovered the uncertainty principle, and as a result there is no definite determinism.

    A computer you describe would give you a possible future. One of many possible futures. Assuming you could set such a computer up and turn it on an infinite amount of times, then it would be possible to know all the possible outcomes of the universe that were possible at the time you turn it on. Such a computer could not, however be used to understand the past, nor could it be used to see other possible outcomes of the universe from a moment in the past, as this would require knowing the positions and velocities of all the partincles in the current universe, so that you could determine the state of the universe in the past. All of those inifinitely branching universes of the past are completely lost to time.

  2. Well, now i feel a bit ridiculous because I know of the uncerteinty principle but hadn't thought about it when I was writing that the other night.

    I had been thinking of the deterministic view of our current reality but of course it could go in any number of infinite directions.

    I don't know, maybe I am irrationally in love with the idea of qubits being the bytes of reality.



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