Can Black Holes Tell Us Something About Digital Computers?

Responses to Mario Livio `s  Blog …“Can Black Holes Tell Us Something About Digital Computers?“

(Posted: 01/08/2013 5:04 pm)


“In 1981, Bekenstein used that emerging field of black hole thermodynamics to propose an interesting new principle. He found that for any system that can be enclosed within a sphere of radius R, the ratio of the entropy of the system (expressed in the appropriate units) to its energy cannot exceed a certain value that is proportional to R. Remarkably, he then used this new limit to show that one can obtain an upper limit on the number of species of elementary particles — quarks, leptons, and neutrinos — which may exist. Specifically, he showed that a few analogous generations are permitted, but more than ten strain credulity.

Most amazingly, however, he demonstrated (by combining his thermodynamic limit with restrictions imposed by causality) that this same principle shows that an ideal(but non-parallel) digital computer cannot perform more than 1015 elementary arithmetical operations per second! Astonishing, isn’t it? The physics of black holes placing limits on the rate at which information can be transferred. Bekenstein’s work demonstrated yet again that even the most abstract concepts in physics can find unexpected applications in more familiar subjects.“


(01) SKSagar:

Once again I have to say that we cannot come to a perfect understanding of these things without bringing in consciousness into the picture.

To begin with I have some questions to ask… But before I do that I reproduce here a question asked by Wigner to Wheeler + Wheeler`s reply during the 1979 Symposium held to celebrate Einstein`s one hundredth birth anniversary.

“WIGNER`S QUESTION: I have a question within physics that always bothers me in connection with the black hole, and it is this: The laws of relativity are time inversion invariant. As a result, it is clear that the same amount of information is contained after the black hole collapses as before. This is not evident because just as, even though the laws of physics are also time inversion invariant, thermodynamics shows that things come to equilibrium. But in that case we can see what it means. It means that the information that time reversal will push the system back into its original state is not relevant because we cannot reverse the velocity of every particle. Now the question is: what is a similar problem in the black hole situation? What does become uninteresting? Tell us, John“.

“WHEELER`S REPLY: One has to recognize right from the start that in all the theory of black hole physics that we do today we feed in the assumption about the direction of time — we do not deduce it. We put it in as an initial condition. We could perfectly well talk of holes that work the other way round, just as we could perfectly well talk of heat going from a cold teacup to a hot teacup. But it would violate all our understanding that it is initial conditions that count and not final conditions. And so, this one-sidedness we feed in as a generalization of our experience — not understanding, at least I don`t understand — why the world is built that way, with a one-sided initial condition.“

“WIGNER`S NEXT QUESTION: In thermodynamics we say, when deriving the law of entropy that the initial conditions are irregular except for those which are macroscopically constrained. Otherwise initial conditions are fully irregular. This is the basis of the increase of entropy. What is a similar postulate for the black hole?“

….And so on …and the dialogue continued.

My first question : Who is `WE` in Wheeler`s reply…`we` feed in the assumption…`we` do not deduce it…`we` put it in as initial condition…`we` could perfectly well have…etc.

In short `WHO` is it – in the literal sense – that is responsible for setting these initial conditions ?

Is it not `CONSCIOUSNESS` that does the trick ?

Before my second question lets discuss the second law of thermodynamics:

A glass on the edge of the table falls down and is broken into pieces…we say that `Disorder` (I use Boltzman`s term and not `entropy`) has increased towards increase in time….time cannot be reversed back in the sense that the pieces of glass on their own cannot reassemble and climb up back on the table.

The glass was in a state of `Order` while it was on the table and then it fell down and the `disorder` started increasing as per the second law.

Now consider the earlier state of the glass…While it was being manufactured in an industry…Obviously it was less orderly and the `disorder` kept changing till it was completely ready and placed on the table…

Now you might say the system itself was changed.

My second question : How is it that human beings – who are themselves part of nature, being made up of trillions of constituent parts such as atoms and molecules – can alter the state of the system from `closed` to `open` or `open to `close` as they like and thus alter entropy ? ..and that they do it without changing the direction of time.

In short is it not CONSCIOUSNESS that does the trick ?

Before the next question..lets discuss the direction of time.

Now the direction of time can not be changed – refer Part 2 – at least for the duration of this universe….

This was after all the initial condition established by The Consciousness (rather the Super consciousness that programmed and then switched on the big bang).

Even in the case of a big crunch the direction of time will not change…But first….Can there be a big crunch ?…

Let us look into the deep future… trillions of years deep…Current level of knowledge says that expansion will continue forever… That the dark energy will keep driving the universe towards perpetual nothingness.

But there is one scenario we need to consider….That after a great spell of time the Galaxies which while moving away from each other will get so far apart ..they will have no influence on each other…each will be like a universe in itself and matter density will be enough for gravity to overpower entropy ..and the galaxies will start collapsing on themselves towards their black holes at the centres…

Slow at first and gaining speed in course of time…It could still take billions of years. That could be the big crunch…. But the direction of time will still be positive towards future… The glass that falls from the table will still be moving towards disorder…it will still not be able to reassemble on its own and climb back on the table. Its just that the orbit of the solar system around the centre of the galaxy will start reducing….

Only near the end will the situation become critical and dangerous. …

But by then the degrees of consciousnesses of the beings of the stars and the intelligence levels would have increased a thousand fold (or maybe a miilliionfold…..what do I know), enough to come together and form a super consciousness and then in time feed in the constants and press the appropriate buttons and at least achieve a somewhat controlled explosion of the black hole.

In fact the final question asked by Wigner to Wheeler near the end of the dialogue was this:

WIGNER: 1`ll ask one more question, then I`ll shut up – is it possible to imagine the explosion of a black hole? I often think that the big bang was an explosion of a black hole. Is that nonsense?

WHEELER: Zel`dovich and Novikov proposed it some years ago – the idea that there are in addition to black holes, white holes. And that they should vomit forth matter the way a black hole sucks in matter.….

Of course Wheeler`s reply … in continuation.. was not encouraging towards that conclusion (that a black hole explosion could cause the big bang)… but than a Super consciousness a thousand times more intelligent will know what to do.

And so I come to my next question which is in fact similar to the first two:

Is it not CONSCIOUSNESS that does the trick….. And keeps doing all the time?

@Mario Livio…… Appreciate your article…..Looking forward for your response…..Best wishes

For the full conversation between Wigner and Wheeler …refer “Some Strangeness in the Proportion“…A centennial Syposium to celebrate the achievements of Albert Einstein….Edited by Harry Woolf… One of my favorite books.

( ref…Open Discussion following papers by J,A,Wheeler and F.Dyson…Chairman P.A.M.Dirac)

(02) Carlitos1327:

Once again I must caution you that just because the universe has many symmetries does not give rise to the notion that the universe is in fact a simulation.

(03) Daemon Process :

Very good Carlitos.

(04) SKSagar :

But the universe has many constants – extremely fine tuned – embedded into the laws the universe is following ..That caused theoretical physicists to arrive and then understand the universe …which gives rise to the notion that the universe is in fact a simulation.

(05) Charliefoxtrot999:

The idea of that the universe is a “simulation” is not even scientifically coherent.

Let us say that fine tuning of natural laws is proof that a universe which has those laws is a simulation.

The universe in which our universe is being simulated must be at least as mathematically powerful as the universe we reside in, because otherwise a simulation of our universe would not be possible. There are vastly more conceivable worlds which are less mathematically powerful than our world; therefore any world which can simulate our world must also be fine-tuned.

If the world that simulates our world is fine-tuned, then that is proof that it is ALSO a simulation. Therefore there is a third world which is simulating that one. By the above logic, that world must be simulated, and so on.

Therefore, by your logic, no universe is non-simulated, so there is no meaningful distinction between a simulated and a non-simulated universe.

In fact, a sufficiently powerful simulation is mathematically identical to the “real” thing, so the idea of a simulated, as opposed to non-simulated, universe is entirely incoherent.


(06) DiogenesOfAlaska:

It’s not that simple. If it were that simple, it would be easy to rule out the Cantor set.

btw whether something is coherent does not (NOT) depend on whether it is “scientifically” coherent. To the contrary: it is the job of science and expertise and education to make sure that at the very least “coherence” is not a property that needs to be judged by experts.

And given the Cantor set, that’s certainly not easy.

The difference between pathological and non-pathological arguments should not itself be subject to debate.

(07) charliefoxtrot999

We can rule out the cantor set…


But that’s beside the point. My argument was using reductio ad absurdum on the SPECIFIC argument used by the poster that fine tuning of laws somehow represented evidence of a PHYSICAL simulation of our universe in another universe. There’s a whole host of other, thornier philosophical arguments to be had about simulations in general.

I don’t think the idea of our universe being a simulation is coherent, but I should have phrased it better to avoid making it seem as if that was the intention of my argument, when the argument was merely that saying that fine-tuned laws was evidence that the universe was physically simulated in another universe was incoherent.

Such are the difficulties of communicating complex philosophical thoughts in limited-word comments on news articles.


Here we are talking `philosophy`…Neither can I say with a 100 % degree of certainty that the Universe is a simulation…nor can anyone say with a 100 % degree of certainty that it is not a simulation…

This universe though 13.7 billion years old is considered still in its infancy…The degrees of consciousnesses and the levels of intelligence are forever increasing and there will be ample time to know the truth regarding `simulation`.

For the time being lets consider the evidence available and then judge for ourselves what is the probability that the universe could in fact have been `simulated` …

And when we do that … When we study the evidences available…..When we look at these constants ..When we see how extremely fine tuned they are in such an extremely narrow range… And there are so many of them ..perhaps more than twenty..And each one of them has to be that finely tuned for the desired end results…. We will realize that the probability of the universe not a `simulated` one is just about as low – as someone said – As that of an aircraft getting assembled by a tornado striking a junkyard.

(09) charliefoxtrot999:

That’s not a good argument. All teleological arguments about the nature of the universe are no good.

The argument from fine-tuning which you are using makes the assumptions that:

A.) Natural Constants are 100% arbitrary (ie they could just as well have been any value, with intrinsic changes to our physics)

B.) Life of ANY KIND must be like ours and can only exist in “possible” worlds very close to ours.

C.) There is only one universe and it is this exact one we are in.

First, you blow C out of the water by making this an argument about simulation. If there’s another universe where we’re being simulated, maybe there is an infinite number of universes with slightly different laws. You have no reason to pick “simulation” over “unguided anthropic selection”. It’s a matter of choice. What we know is perfectly consistent with a multiverse generally inhospitable to life.

B, there are surely an infinite variety of information processing species possible in all of these infinite “possible” worlds, according to their physics. Basing your argument on the necessity of carbon-based Earth life is dumb.

A, we have no reason to assume the natural constants you think are “fine tuned” are arbitrary. For all we know they can be established mathematically from fundamental principles. Choosing to believe that they are arbitrary is, again, a choice, and a totally unscientific one.

The comment cut it off, so here’s a paper by physicist Victor Senger which rebuts all of your arguments:

(It’s focused on rebutting intelligent design, which is why it’s hosted on an atheism website, but all of the rebuttals work equally well for your arguments)

(10) SKSagar:

The required quantum of simulation is not that high… It is not that each and every activity is a consequence of that simulation… As Carlitos 1372 said it is somewhat of a notional simulation..

Only a computer programme was prepared and the mathematical constants provided as inputs by the designers….

But the designers had no control over `Randomness` `probability` and the `laws of causation`…

The designers could not say when and where life would emerge and then understand the universe…or when a civilization from planet `x` would conquer a civilization from planet`y`… or if Obama would win a certain election. One just presses a button and then see what happens….

This also explains all the imperfections in our World.

Its like when we press a button to cause a massive explosion in a crowded city.. We are sure the damage will be done…but we cannot say which buildings will be destroyed or precisely how many people will be killed


The “imperfections” of the world are a well-understood result of chaotic dependence on initial conditions and thermodynamic entropy. They don’t need a metaphysical explanation beyond that.

“It is not that each and every activity is a consequence of that

simulation…Only a computer programme was prepared and the mathematical constants provided as inputs by the designers….”

The problem is that you need some computational substrate for this simulation to exist in, so in fact every activity HAS to be a consequence of that simulation. What I mean is you can’t just say (to be flip) “Let there be light” and have a simulation of light appear; you have to have a system that can simulate it. That’s what a simulation IS. The point I’m making is that YOU seem to be implying that the simulation is a mechanism being controlled by designers. My argument is that the computational substrate could as easily be an abstract simulation in the realm of Platonic forms. All simulations of our universe would be equivalent mathematically, so there’s no need to assume more than necessary, like that there are intelligent designers behind its creation.

(12) SKSagar:

@Charliefoxtrot999…(I like the name)

With regard to your argument…`That the mere fact that there are those fine tuned constants embedded in nature is no evidence that the universe was `Physically` simulated by someone in another universe`…This indeed is a valid point….and here again we are talking philosophy… rather deep `philosophy`…. Neither can I say with a 100% degree of certainty that the `simulation` was actually a `Physical simulation` carried out by the Superconsciousness of the pre big bang universe…..nor can anyone say with a 100 % degree of certainty that the `simulation` happened on its own…ie by `Magic` or something.

Both alternatives require `carrying a quantum of metaphysical baggage` …Here I think It can be said… that in the former case ie `Super consciousness doing the trick`..its a finite quantum of metaphysical baggage that needs to be carried…whereas in the latter case ie `Magic doing the trick`…it looks like this quantum is enormously high .. perhaps infinite.

(Fanned for making the discussion so interesting)

This is a continuation of my initial responses…

Will come back again…to respond further

Best wishes


It is rather deep philosophy. I tend to side with Plato on the subject–specifically that the universe we live in is a partial representation of a perfect mathematical reality. Some might look at this and call it “simulation”, and that phrase has been used in Plato’s presence an awful lot.

However, my major point is that there’s a huge difference between the Platonic simulation (matter simulating form) and computational simulation (form simulating matter), which is what most people are talking about when they argue that the world is simulated.

Both have some concept they are modeling and some substrate they are using to model it with. Plato’s forms are pure mathematical ideas, and the substrate is matter–essentially, matter acts as the computer and the forms the software. A computational simulation (like the ancestor simulations some transhumanists talk about) has a pre-existing idea of reality as its model and some kind of computer as its substrate.

The huge difference here is that in the Platonic simulation, our physical reality is a byproduct of the simulation of forms. In the computational simulation, physical reality is the intended end-product, which brings into question where the physical reality being modeled comes from, and leads to infinite regress.

(Fanned back for keeping the discussion so civilized)


(13) DiogenesOfAlaska:

The argument in favor of our universe being a simulation is a different one:

Its core goes like this, and it’s perfectly plausible – as far as it goes:

“A long-proposed thought experiment, put forward by both philosophers and popular culture, points out that any civilization of sufficient size and intelligence would eventually create a simulation universe if such a thing were possible.

And since there would therefore be many more simulations (within simulations, within simulations) than real universes, it is therefore more likely than not that our world is artificial.”

It’s merely a challenge. Food for thought. But it’s also good enough to debunk the entirety of New Atheism in one paragraph.

I am SO sad that I didn’t come up with that paragraph. But at least I’m not denying it.

If you just take this idea and ask yourself: what would happen to folks living 5000 years ago when they came across something like it? What would they do?

Prove that the Continuum hypothesis is independent from the remaining axioms of Zermelo Frenkel set theory?

Or come up with a religious myth of the creation of the world by a superior intelligence?

And most importantly: which one of the two has better chances to survive for the number of millenia it takes so that somebody can tackle the foundations of mathematics – telling us that the answer is approximately 42.


Uh huh. You’re talking about ancestor simulations; the poster I was responding to was using a fine-tuning argument, so that’s what I focused on.

The problem with this idea is that we have very good reason to think that it is NOT possible to create such a simulation, except on a limited scale. That is to say that fundamental limitations (in our case the Bekenstein bound, which limits the amount of information that can exist in a volume of space, but also thermodynamic considerations, not to mention the economic impracticality of such an endeavor) would force our simulation to be limited compared to our universe–or, in other words, a simulation of the universe utilizing all the space and energy of that universe would BE that universe, and not a simulation.

Therefore, because all simulations are small, and nested ones even smaller, the original universe would be staggeringly large and contain the vast majority of people. This, I think, totally invalidates that argument.

(15) Diogenes of Alaska:

So you rely on the strong Leibniz principle and a rough estimate on sizes of abstractly possible universes in order to settle a metaphysical dispute that is at least as undecidable with finitist means as the fine structure of the Cantor set.

Some people are really brave around here.

(16)DiogenesOfAlaska ..reply to 09 of charliefoxtrot999:

re: “All teleological arguments about the nature of the universe are stupid.”

That’s a pretty strong claim given that the best theories about the nature of the universe are so far unable to reconcile the very small and the very big. Under those circumstances, who is to rule out the possibility that the only way to “round up” our understanding may even REQUIRE teleology? Or something similar, like “entelechy”?

Because you don’t like theology and metaphysics? Is that the reason why?

Then please explain to me the non-metaphysical documentation of this:

“A, we have no reason to assume the natural constants you think are “fine tuned” are arbitrary. For all we know they can be established mathematically from fundamental principles. Choosing to believe that they are arbitrary is, again, a choice, and a totally unscientific one.”

First of all, “we” clearly CANNOT establish mathematically from fundamental principles the constants of the Standard Model. But even assuming that “we” could, how would that be non-metaphysical and non-theological?

For all I can tell, you have NO way of ruling out that the answer will prove equivalent to some variant of “entelechy”. In fact, the only alternative seems to admit that theory will arrive at the limit of its wits. Or has already done so.

(17) charliefoxtrot999:

“…how would that be non-metaphysical and non-theological?”

You’re using a strawman here. There’s nothing inherently theological about mathematics.

As for metaphysics, when you’re talking about the mathematical underpinnings of nature you’re talking about something INHERENTLY metaphysical. I’m not sure what your issue is here.

Teleological arguments are not good evidence of intelligent design. You can only ascribe them to intelligence when you’ve either

A.) Given some other persuasive evidence that an intelligence could exist (we have no evidence either way at this point)

B.) Proven that no other argument suffices to explain a phenomenon

In either case you need much more persuasive arguments to support the teleological one.

As for unguided teleology, like the strong anthropic principle, you still need evidence of some unguided mechanism which can be selected for the desired outcome. Your argument may be true but it needs a lot of evidence.

So simply from the basis of logic, teleology should be avoided in science unless absolutely necessary. You’re right that it may be true, but it’s probably not.

As for establishing constants from first principles, we’ve done that already with some constants. Pi, for example, began as an observed phenomenon–every time we measured circles we got the same answer. But the value of pie arises essentially from the nature of euclidian space–it couldn’t be any other value. That’s the kind of thing I suspect we’ll find about the “fine-tuned” constants.

(18) DiogenesOfAlaska :

It’s very refreshing that you’re not worried about metaphysics at all. Very rare too in these forums. And you clearly don’t seem to be materialist either. We can quickly agree that indeed there is something inherently metaphysical about the role of mathematics in all sufficiently rich models of nature.

Whether that makes mathematics theological or not is another question. There are guesses and opinions though. For example, a famous Bourbakist once said that “We know that god must exist because mathematics is consistent, and we know that the devil must exist because we cannot prove it”.

I didn’t defend Intelligent Design (in the sense of the movement) and never will. Teleology and even Creationism is something else. What I claim is you can’t prove them inconsistent. Not with the means you need to assume when you believe in a unified theory of the universe, and not without those means. Hence never, no matter what.

Your optimism with respect to the mathematical meaning of the constants of the Standard Model is breath-taking, and on certain days I would like to share that optimism.

But then I watch the movie “Pi” and recall that numerology isn’t science…


There is also a theory called “the anthropic principle”, that speaks to the universe as we see it.

You are absolutely correct that “simulation” is nothing more than a notion.

(20)Diogenes of Alaska … Reply in general to sksagar):

You’re making very interesting points. But trying to answer too many things at once invariably leads to a lack of precision. And ultimately, the assumption that there must be a way of making all of this stuff clear may not be warranted. I agree that we cannot rule out the idealist view that traces everything back to consciousness. But historically, such attempts have always resulted in worldviews that lacked in resilience.

Scientism is merely the other extreme and doesn’t work either. But the core problem is the lack of resilience. To avoid that problem, help only comes from pragmatism. And that means, among other things, accepting that we may not be able to figure it all out.

Nor do we need to.


“help only comes from pragmatism. And that means, among other things, accepting that we may not be able to figure it all out.“

I already said that we may not be able to figure it all out…for a long long time…But as the degrees of consciousnesses and levels of intelligence keep increasing with time ….We will keep getting closer and closer to that – figuring it all out – stage.

“Nor do we need to“

Do we need to play football…watch movies…eat out etc.

We find it interesting and we do it for fun….

Besides philosophical discussions (not limited to the `simulation` issue) will forever remain a continuous process …forever moving towards a `World view` acceptable to people of all countries and all religions.

S(22) SKSagar ….In continuation of 01:

(In a lighter vein)

@ Diogenes of Alaska..charliefoxtrot999..carlitos1372.. and @Mario livio (if interested)…..

Continuing the discussion on `Simulation issues`…In the broadest sense (or nonsense), there are only two players playing this game of `Reality`, and their names are : 1) `Matter and energy` hereinafter denoted by the symbol `MAE` ..and 2) `Mind and consciousness` call it `MAC`

Now there are two alternatives:


MAE is the primary player and responsible for the occasional appearances of MAC at various locations and times, whenever – and wherever – it has `randomly` created a certain biochemistry for MAC to arrive.

In this alternative … there is no such thing as an anthropic principle and `Randomness` is supreme and the kind of life which is commensurate with the constants provided (also chosen randomly) materializes. This alternative does not explain how and from where does `Intelligence` arrive on the scene. Perhaps it is an extremely rare commodity.. and also perhaps the quantum of intelligence is extremely limited…certainly not enough to prevent itself from self destruction, and definitely not enough to avoid getting obliterated by a major Asteroid hit.

Also in this alternative, the universe in the deep future – with the kind help of dark energy ( a major part of MAE) – will proceed towards nothingness…and that’s it.

No more universes – in that universe – , no more MAE, let alone MAC.

Or if the galaxies in that universe at some time in the future start collapsing on themselves towards their black holes (ref 01)…perhaps new smaller universes will be created after the ensuing explosions …Randomness will still be supreme and randomly selected `funny` constants will determine what type of MACs will appear.

Lives will be rare in this alternative, intelligent lives even rarer and whatever lives are there will be constantly killing and eating each other in an everlasting strife.

If a choice is given to me I am not going to come back in this sort of universe.

Now compare this with Alternative 2 where MAC is the primary player but has complete control over MAE.

Here in this alternative MAC on reaching a state of Super consciousness, prepares a comprehensive programme with beautifully designed mathematical constants and then switches on the computer at the appropriate time and ushers in the next big bang… And after trillions of years the next …and so on…a cyclic phenomena.

An excellent universe with billions of galaxies and millions of stars in each galaxy, trillions of planets brimming with life and intelligence. Plenty of Einsteins and Newtons , Plenty of Christ’s, and Buddha’s too,

Of course Randomness will be prominent in this alternative also, and so there will be some Hitler`s too.

Here in this alternative I`ll have no choice…I will be forever conscious ..(even if there are some time gaps between successive consciousness states for the simple reason that I will be unconscious of these `unconscious tenures` which will pass instantly for me )…

I can`t help it is programmed that way.

But its nice…sometimes not so nice.

In this alternative you could call MAC as `Mathemetics` who gives orders and call MAE as Physics who follows these orders.

Indeed `Mathemetics` is the President and the company is called `The Universe`

And there are many such laws where Mathemetics is giving Orders on how to proceed …and they were well crafted with nicely designed `constants` to create good enough probabilities for lives and consciousnesses to evolve at millions of locations and theoretical physicists to arrive and then understand these laws.

Laws such as the `Uncertainty Principle` where `Mathemetics` has played such a trick that it does not allow the quanta to get created out of nothing except for the shortest possible – and thus irrelevant – period of time.

Laws such as `Quantum entanglement` where `Mathemetics`has played such a trick that it permits entanglement but does not permit information to be sent faster than at speed of light.

And both these tricks have been played out by the Mathematician by incorporating a certain randomness in the nature of reality… In the former case ..the vacuum randomly fluctuates between being and nothingness…and in the latter case the Mathematician keeps shuffling the deck of nature in such a way that the randomness remains intact .

I should go as far as to say that `Randomeness` is the Vice President.

And then at the center of everything … there is this thing called `EQUIVALENCE` ..The cleverest of all the laws …it goes without saying that this law is out and out Mathematics and Physics is just dancing to its tune.

Who knows when – in the deep future – when dark energy drives the universe into perpetual nothingness… what will that energy get converted into…perhaps not into void …

In this alternative…good sense may prevail …Science and religion may converge.. Conflicts of the world may be resolved.. rise of population may be reversed… self destruction avoided.

And in this alternative… If an Asteroid is on course to hit us… Scientists may come up with a solution that saves us from a collision.

(23) DiogenesOfAlaska:

alright. I see. Pretty cool.

I was just a little worried that maybe you weren’t aware of the fact that speculative thought needs some constraints too.


Although I’m not entirely sure what exactly it would mean to “agree” with your point of view, I’m basically open to it. It might be the truth. But as I said, most of the time I prefer to act and think in contexts where it’s just a little bit easier to tell whether or not I have a firm grip on the totality of propositions entailed by what I put forward (aka; knowing the truth, according to Tarski).

Which, together with the fact that it’s an impossible feat, is the daily bread of the comedian and of the mathematician?

But of course I would never go as far as claiming that this makes me a “mathemetician”.


It sure is good enough to link rational thought to “memetics”.

(24) SKSagar:

Great….. Di

Hope you are still there and hoping Cf 999 also joins the discussion.

Yes I am  aware  that speculative thought needs some constraints…and the biggest constraint is that the truths already established by Science must not be violated…and I am trying my best to follow this principle.

I have read   your conversations with Cf (in response to some of my comments… with deep interest…it was nothing short of spellbinding.

Cf  indeed has some valid objections to `Physical simulation by intelligent designers` …such as …1) Some computational substrate is required for the `simulation` to exist in,  and that  this computational substrate could as easily be an abstract simulation in the realm of platonic forms, and  2) It is not possible to create a `simulation` except on a limited scale, a simulation of the universe utilizing all the space and energy of that universe would BE that universe, and not a simulation.

At the current level of knowledge it is difficult to give a satisfactory reply to counter these objections without recourse to some metaphysics or `Teleology`  …(your views on `teleology/entelechy`..interesting and insightful..ref 6:01am 1/13/2013)

But then the current level of knowledge is indeed insignificant compared to what it would be a few thousand years from now.

In about some hundred thousand years we have become Men from is reasonable to assume that after a similar time gap… or even less…we would become `Super minds`…and then these problems of understanding `simulation` would not be insurmountable… and what looks like teleology could be nicely explained by Science then.

I have discussed many such possible scenarios…of `Physical simulations` in response to many earlier blogs…A large scale ( full universe level) `simulation` carried out by the ultimate `superconsciousness` is a possibility that in no case can be ruled out. Erwin Schrodinger`s (And Charles Sherrington`s) concept of the `Oneness of mind` together with a distinct possibility of the intelligent mind`s omnipresence …can lead towards the hypothesis of a Superconscious designer doing the `simulation`….Perhaps it may not be `nonsense` to consider `Intelligence` to be a compound…How can we  – with our limited knowledge – deny this.

Perhaps the `Omni present  `mind` or `something` could also explain `quantum entanglement`….not to mention `collapse of the wave function`

Or perhaps…..I am out of my mind

(25) DiogenesOfAlaska:

re: objections to physical simulations

Let me admit that I don’t believe at all in physical simulations of universes – and I don’t think I ever claimed something else.

Also I don’t believe in extrapolating future knowledge, or possible future knowledge.

The use of the thought experiment is that it elucidates aspects of our own evolution of understanding. I don’t think it can help us find out something new about the world.

Sometimes it can be ok to violate “truths already established by Science”. But usually this requires the use of means that are extremely difficult to keep under control. To wit: the reason why some “truths already established by Science” may turn out to be false is because those who established them were already in the same situation and didn’t control enough of the consequences of their new approach, but nobody found out so far.

It’s been like that for quite a while now. And to get beyond that dance (which is probably impossible) may require teleology or entelechy. But it’s also possible that humans cannot include that mode of thought within a scientific worldview.

Which means that pragmatism may always remain one step ahead of theory. Why sacrifice the open-ness of the scientific process for the sake of the appearance of more comprehensive theory? The price is that the scientific worldview remains incomplete. But that’s not a problem, as long as we don’t expect from a scientific worldview what religion and philosophy promised but couldn’t deliver.

As I said, we cannot rule out these scenarios (or some version of them).  But that doesn’t mean we can support them with evidence.  It still means something that they can be made with some consistency: it means it’s not surprising that people have come up with the notion and concept of a transcendent mind. There’s nothing in these thoughts that violates science, or at least there is a way of rendering these thoughts that doesn’t violate science.

(26) SKSagar:

And in conclusion….

Perhaps Intelligence `is` a compound…Its in the air……its omni present….

Correlate this with the double slit experiment….the electron too is intelligent….it is aware when it is under observation or not …and does what it is expected to do.

This has been an unforgettable experience..Thanks to you Di…and Cf…Wish ML had joined the discussion…maybe he did`nt do so as we deviated somewhat from the main track of the blog.

Looking forward to future interactions.

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