Discussion:
Helgoland - a stepping stone forward for new ideas (in SF)?
Add Reply
Simon Laub
2021-09-05 16:54:47 UTC
Reply
Permalink
According to some physicists there is no
reality beyond what is revealed by an experiment, an observation.
And then there is the ''many-worlds'' interpretion of
quantum theory, where each outcome of an experiment
exists, somewhere in a multiverse. In some universes
the Schrödinger's cat is alive, in others the cat is dead.

With cats living in superposition of being dead and alive,
it has been difficult to find firm ground to stand on and
move forward from. Indeed, when the science sounds like fiction,
it has been difficult to move on from the science, - and explore and
play with reality in say science fiction. Surely, there must be
some firm ground somewhere in order for us to move forward?

In his new book ''Helgoland'' physicist Carlo Rovelli tell us
that he will try to make sense of the quantum revolution for us.
Indeed, badly needed. But clearly dire straits to move into...

So, what does quantum theory really tell us? That we live
in a Multiverse, where the quantum wave-function splits on observation,
and takes us to just another part of the multiverse? Or
is the wave-function really a pilot-wave that guides atomic particles,
and makes them reveal their true hidden-variables?
Or should we ''just all shut up and calculate'' instead of thinking
too much about it?

Maybe the wave function is something as simple
as calculating tool hat gives us the probabilility that an electron
is somewhere, instead of somewhere else. And the whole dead-cat live-cat
is just madness dreamed up by physicists to confuse us all?
In the simple version, we just just don't know before we measure,
and there is nothing particular weird about that.
Still, it is true that in quantum experiments, like in the double-slit
experiment, photons can be in two paths, but if you look, only on one.

So, ''should we just shut up and calculate''?
Well, according to Rovelli, science is not just about making predictions,
it also something that gives us framework for thinking
about things.
Which sounds true, just having a great calculator (quantum theory)
without really understanding anything isn't much fun.

Rovelli's way out is to tell us that nothing has any properties
at all until it interacts with something else.
In his description of quantum theory the focus is that
we no longer see the physical world as a collection of objects, but
rather as a net of relations. When something does not interact with
something else, it has no physical properties.
In that sense a property of something,
is a bridge to something else.
In the end there are only facts relative to something else. Facts are
relative to one observer, but perhaps not to another observer.
(Rather unconvincingly) Rovelli then tell us this doen't lead
to total fragmentation of points of view by saying there
are still certain rules of the Universe, grammar, that allow us to
be able to observe the same things.

In need of framework. Rovelli lead us to Ernst Mach, and his ideas
that knowledge should be based only on what is observable, facts, which
gives us knowledge, which should then be expressed in the
the simplest and most economical abstract way.
We learn to organize the facts, better and better, each time we
interact with the world.
As an aside, Rovelli tell us that, politically, this way of looking
at the world didn't go down well
with Lenin. Lenin apparently thought such a line of reasoning would
reduce reality to the content of the mind, a solipsisic world
where there is only sensations. Instead Lenin preferred a material
world, where there are objects, concrete and knowable. The world should
exist beyond our minds. Real, out there.

In Machs thinking we should not teach the world how it ought to be,
but we should instead listen to it, in order to figure out how it really is.
And echo of this is found in one of the many Bohr - Einstein
debates, where Einstein tell us that ''God does not play dice''. And
Bohr responds by saying ''Stop telling God what to do''. I.e. natue has
more imagination that we humans have, we should listen, and not make up
idealistic ideas about what ''it'' really is.
All, in all, leading us to a sort of ''non-framework'' as a famework?

In Rovellis thinking, it is the history and experience we have with
the world that give our thoughts ''intentionality'', meaning.
We are not just living in our own solipsisic world, where
we there is no right or wrong. Indeed, evolution would not have
allowed us to be here, if we didn't care about the outside world.

Still, what we can only see out there what we expect, corrected by what
we can grasp. Relevant new input is what contradicts our expectations.

But according to Rovelli the framework is that we observe and make
experiments, and take it from there. Logically. Rovelli tell us that
quantum theory can't help us understand the mind - and then - like most
physicists - he then goes on to tell us that the quantum still has
something to teach us about the mind... well, well...
Instead of thinking of mass and motion, we should, according
to Rovelli, think of relations. Even in a fine grain of salt.
And that would then presumably make it easier for us to see minds coming
from that?
Well, well, perhaps. Still, that line of reasoning that should take us
(easily) from theories about the very small to theories about the mind,
are of course big ''leaps of faith'' which is
sort of amusing coming from Rovelli, when he has just explained to us
that ''non-frameworks'' are better tools moving forward.
Instead he goes on to tell us that ''pan-psychism'' is absurd.
To him it is like saying that a bicycle is made of atoms,
and therefore each atom must be a proto-cyclist.
Funny, and totally absurd, no-one has ever said that.

In e.g. Integrated Information Theory it makes sense to say that
a little integration gives ''a little' experience, where much
integration gives more.
Not saying IIT is true or proven, but the idea that relations
is the right path towards minds is no improvement over saying that it
is integrated information. Yes, sure, but how?

Indeed, we are all desperately trying to come up with
a framework that will help us to understand.
Noone likes to "shut up and calculate''. And yes, sure, Schrodingers
wave function can go from being a probability calculator to a multiverse
theory in the process.

For Rovelli truths lies in the idea that everything
exists solely in the way it affects something else.
Just as relations make up the ''I'', in society, culture etc.

Which all sounds true, but we would actually like to know
how space-time emerges from ''deeper'' layers, currently beyond what we
can understand, just as we like to know how ''relations'' between
''grains of sand'' make minds. Just saying that it is better
way forward than othrr proposals isn't really all that helpful.

Indeed, there is a lot more to know out there.
And a lot more to speculate about, and write about.
Good ideas badly needed, now, more than ever.
And, even if we don't have much of a stepping stone to begin the quest
from, but well, there is something. The basic ''observation''.

Perhaps some new ideas will show up here in the
21st century... perhaps.

-Simon

More to ponder:
https://simonlaub.net/Post/downstream050102.txt

Helgoland.
by Carlo Rovelli.
Jonathan
2021-09-05 19:02:14 UTC
Reply
Permalink
  According to some physicists there is no
reality beyond what is revealed by an experiment, an observation.
The problems with objective observations for
understanding reality are many and profound.

For starters, reality is constantly and chaotically
changing. In order to turn an objective observation
into a 'fact' all can agree upon such observations
must be limited to 'snap-shots' of reality.
After all how can anything that's constantly and
chaotically changing be accurately detailed
unless it's simplified to the point a fact
can be generated?

Problem with simplifying reality to the point
it can be turned into objective facts is
that the most defining aspects of reality
are emergent in character. And emergent system
properties only exist when the system is operating.

Like a system tendency.

The truly definitive information about reality
and nature disappear the moment the system is
broken down into parts for an objective or
snap-shot observation. Those definitive
system tendencies vaporize into thin air.

Next, any objective observation suffers from
the entirely contradictory notion of removing
the subjective observer from the observations
in order to get an accurate or objective observation.
Objective observations are filtered...first
through our objective minds and senses rendering
them a contradiction in terms.

The gross contradiction is...

We observe via our subjective senses in order to remove
objective bias.

Objective observations are fine for simple systems
such as building things or extraordinarily simple
natural systems. But virtually all real world systems
are complex and require an output driven science where
the emergent effects or output becomes the primary source
of knowledge concerning reality.

To make sense out of reality we must RETURN the observer
to the observations JUST AS EINSTEIN DID with relativity
where all observations are made...relative...the observer.
Einstein returned the observer as part of the observations
and suddenly space time makes complete sense.

So it is with generally observing nature.
The observer must be included first, all observations
relative the observer, or subjective in character.
This is accomplished by the observer defining in advance
whether the observed is to be treated as a part or a whole.

Of course I'm a whole, but I'm also a part
to a greater whole called society. The problem
is a part and a whole have two entirely different
behavioral characteristics. So by including
the observer, and making the arbitrary decision
whether the observer is one-or-the-other we
can then limit the boundaries of the observed
and apply the correct scientific axioms and tools
depending on whether we are observing a part or
a whole.

This eliminates the intractable objective
problem of infinite regressions. After all
every part is also a whole in it's own right.

So when do you stop reducing from the whole
to the parts? From a universe to a cell to to a quark?

In objective reductionism we would have to quantify
the entirety of reality and all at the same time to
get an accurate view. Or for nature observe both the
life and it's environment all at the same time.
Made even more intractable since all is in motion
and often chaotically changing.

So in frustration we reduce and reduce and reduce
until all is so simple and easy to quantify.
But we've simplified away what we're looking for
as the secrets to nature and reality are emergent.
Not to be seen in the parts, only the output of
the whole.

Switching to a complexity, or a 'subjective' frame
for observing eliminates all of those issues and
gives us a simple and accurate view as the output
includes the effects of ALL the parts, chaotic or not.

The new way is to observe the system output first
and use that information as the basis of understanding
nature.

Not the part details.
And then there is the ''many-worlds'' interpretion of
quantum theory, where each outcome of an experiment
exists, somewhere in a multiverse. In some universes
the Schrödinger's cat is alive, in others the cat is dead.
  With cats living in superposition of being dead and alive,
it has been difficult to find firm ground to stand on and
move forward from. Indeed, when the science sounds like fiction,
That analogy of Schrodinger's cat only shows how little
we understand nature then and now. And in no way explains
reality. Let me explain.

Is a cloud water or vapor?

A cloud is a complex system that stands poised at
the phase transition or threshold...between it's
possible opposing states of matter, water and vapor.

When we take a snap-shot of a cloud we will see
EITHER water or vapor exactly 50% of the time.
But /in reality/ it's a complex system constantly
and chaotically transitioning back and forth
between water and vapor. Our objective observation
gives the appearance of a mystery, when in fact
the only confusion comes from the attempt to
make the objective observation.

The very same effect occurs with light, it's constantly
and chaotically transitioning between a particle and
a wave, the two opposing states of matter possible
for that system. And when we objectively observe
or take a snap-shot we will see one-or-the-other
exactly 50% of the time given enough observations.

Nothing mysterious about it, no more than a pedestrian
cloud passing overhead.

But this effect shows that reality is best seen
in the analogy of a cloud, or a sea shore.
NOT in the ultra-micro or ultra-macro such
as light or galaxies, or quarks to quasars
so to speak.

But reality is best seen in everyday and very approachable
analogues like clouds, sea shores or ideas.
it has been difficult to move on from the science, - and explore and
play with reality in say science fiction. Surely, there must be
some firm ground somewhere in order for us to move forward?
There is an entirely new scientific world view where
all these contradictions melt away and reality
begins to not only make sense, but is seen as
being utterly simple.

Almost too simple to believe.

And the answer is to take the Darwinian evolution
we all know and love, but place it entirely in
abstract mathematical form. Which allows us
to see what ALL THINGS HAVE IN COMMON wrt
to their creation and evolution.

And doing that something astonishing happens.

For the first time we can see what is common
to all visible order in the universe whether
life, the universe itself or even the mind.

And what is common to all is as simple as that
passing cloud.

All visible order is created and evolves when
standing poised at the critical threshold
between it's opposites in possibility space.

Creation and evolution spontaneously emerge when
at the threshold or transition point between
...order and disorder.


Whether a cloud standing between it's opposites.

...water (order) and vapor (disorder)


Or a universe standing between it's opposites.

...gravity (order) and cosmic expansion (disorder)


Or light standing between it's opposites.

...particle (order) or wave (disorder)


Or Darwinian evolution between it's opposites

...genetics (order) or natural selection (disorder)


Or our society standing between it's opposites

...laws (order) and freedom (disorder)
[Constitution and Bill of Rights]


Or even ideas standing between it's opposites

...facts (order) or imagination (disorder)


Or even a sea shore standing between it's opposites
of solid (order) and liquid (disorder)

It's ALL THAT SIMPLE. Simple enough for a child.
Maybe too simple you might object? But isn't
simplicity and elegance the ultimate test of Truth?



Thanks for reading



Jonathan



It's all here, even Emily intuitively knew all this 150 years ago
the new scientific world-view now called complexity theory.


Growth of Man—like Growth of Nature—
Gravitates within—
Atmosphere, and Sun endorse it—
Bit it stir—alone—

Each—its difficult Ideal
Must achieve—Itself—
Through the solitary prowess
Of a Silent Life—

Effort—is the sole condition—
Patience of Itself—
Patience of opposing forces—
And intact Belief—

Looking on—is the Department
Of its Audience—
But Transaction—is assisted
By no Countenance—




~ E Dickinson



Types and Forms of Emergence
Jochen Fromm
Distributed Systems Group,
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science,
Universität Kassel, Germany

"The process of emergence deals with the fundamental question:
“how does an entity come into existence?”
https://arxiv.org/ftp/nlin/papers/0506/0506028.pdf


Natural Order - Self-Organizing Systems FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions

1.3 Definition of Complexity Theory

The main current scientific theory related to self-organization
is Complexity Theory, which states:

"Critically interacting components self-organize to form
potentially evolving structures exhibiting a hierarchy
of emergent system properties."
https://arxiv.org/ftp/nlin/papers/0506/0506028.pdf



s
--
BIG LIE From Wiki - "The German expression was coined by Adolf Hitler
when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, to describe the use of a lie
so *colossal* that no one would believe that someone "could have the
impudence to distort the truth so infamously."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_lie
Andrew McDowell
2021-09-06 05:54:03 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Simon Laub
According to some physicists there is no
reality beyond what is revealed by an experiment, an observation.
And then there is the ''many-worlds'' interpretion of
quantum theory, where each outcome of an experiment
exists, somewhere in a multiverse. In some universes
the Schrödinger's cat is alive, in others the cat is dead.
With cats living in superposition of being dead and alive,
it has been difficult to find firm ground to stand on and
move forward from. Indeed, when the science sounds like fiction,
it has been difficult to move on from the science, - and explore and
play with reality in say science fiction. Surely, there must be
some firm ground somewhere in order for us to move forward?
In his new book ''Helgoland'' physicist Carlo Rovelli tell us
that he will try to make sense of the quantum revolution for us.
Indeed, badly needed. But clearly dire straits to move into...
So, what does quantum theory really tell us? That we live
in a Multiverse, where the quantum wave-function splits on observation,
and takes us to just another part of the multiverse? Or
is the wave-function really a pilot-wave that guides atomic particles,
and makes them reveal their true hidden-variables?
Or should we ''just all shut up and calculate'' instead of thinking
too much about it?
Maybe the wave function is something as simple
as calculating tool hat gives us the probabilility that an electron
is somewhere, instead of somewhere else. And the whole dead-cat live-cat
is just madness dreamed up by physicists to confuse us all?
In the simple version, we just just don't know before we measure,
and there is nothing particular weird about that.
Still, it is true that in quantum experiments, like in the double-slit
experiment, photons can be in two paths, but if you look, only on one.
So, ''should we just shut up and calculate''?
Well, according to Rovelli, science is not just about making predictions,
it also something that gives us framework for thinking
about things.
Which sounds true, just having a great calculator (quantum theory)
without really understanding anything isn't much fun.
Rovelli's way out is to tell us that nothing has any properties
at all until it interacts with something else.
In his description of quantum theory the focus is that
we no longer see the physical world as a collection of objects, but
rather as a net of relations. When something does not interact with
something else, it has no physical properties.
In that sense a property of something,
is a bridge to something else.
In the end there are only facts relative to something else. Facts are
relative to one observer, but perhaps not to another observer.
(Rather unconvincingly) Rovelli then tell us this doen't lead
to total fragmentation of points of view by saying there
are still certain rules of the Universe, grammar, that allow us to
be able to observe the same things.
In need of framework. Rovelli lead us to Ernst Mach, and his ideas
that knowledge should be based only on what is observable, facts, which
gives us knowledge, which should then be expressed in the
the simplest and most economical abstract way.
We learn to organize the facts, better and better, each time we
interact with the world.
As an aside, Rovelli tell us that, politically, this way of looking
at the world didn't go down well
with Lenin. Lenin apparently thought such a line of reasoning would
reduce reality to the content of the mind, a solipsisic world
where there is only sensations. Instead Lenin preferred a material
world, where there are objects, concrete and knowable. The world should
exist beyond our minds. Real, out there.
In Machs thinking we should not teach the world how it ought to be,
but we should instead listen to it, in order to figure out how it really is.
And echo of this is found in one of the many Bohr - Einstein
debates, where Einstein tell us that ''God does not play dice''. And
Bohr responds by saying ''Stop telling God what to do''. I.e. natue has
more imagination that we humans have, we should listen, and not make up
idealistic ideas about what ''it'' really is.
All, in all, leading us to a sort of ''non-framework'' as a famework?
In Rovellis thinking, it is the history and experience we have with
the world that give our thoughts ''intentionality'', meaning.
We are not just living in our own solipsisic world, where
we there is no right or wrong. Indeed, evolution would not have
allowed us to be here, if we didn't care about the outside world.
Still, what we can only see out there what we expect, corrected by what
we can grasp. Relevant new input is what contradicts our expectations.
But according to Rovelli the framework is that we observe and make
experiments, and take it from there. Logically. Rovelli tell us that
quantum theory can't help us understand the mind - and then - like most
physicists - he then goes on to tell us that the quantum still has
something to teach us about the mind... well, well...
Instead of thinking of mass and motion, we should, according
to Rovelli, think of relations. Even in a fine grain of salt.
And that would then presumably make it easier for us to see minds coming
from that?
Well, well, perhaps. Still, that line of reasoning that should take us
(easily) from theories about the very small to theories about the mind,
are of course big ''leaps of faith'' which is
sort of amusing coming from Rovelli, when he has just explained to us
that ''non-frameworks'' are better tools moving forward.
Instead he goes on to tell us that ''pan-psychism'' is absurd.
To him it is like saying that a bicycle is made of atoms,
and therefore each atom must be a proto-cyclist.
Funny, and totally absurd, no-one has ever said that.
In e.g. Integrated Information Theory it makes sense to say that
a little integration gives ''a little' experience, where much
integration gives more.
Not saying IIT is true or proven, but the idea that relations
is the right path towards minds is no improvement over saying that it
is integrated information. Yes, sure, but how?
Indeed, we are all desperately trying to come up with
a framework that will help us to understand.
Noone likes to "shut up and calculate''. And yes, sure, Schrodingers
wave function can go from being a probability calculator to a multiverse
theory in the process.
For Rovelli truths lies in the idea that everything
exists solely in the way it affects something else.
Just as relations make up the ''I'', in society, culture etc.
Which all sounds true, but we would actually like to know
how space-time emerges from ''deeper'' layers, currently beyond what we
can understand, just as we like to know how ''relations'' between
''grains of sand'' make minds. Just saying that it is better
way forward than othrr proposals isn't really all that helpful.
Indeed, there is a lot more to know out there.
And a lot more to speculate about, and write about.
Good ideas badly needed, now, more than ever.
And, even if we don't have much of a stepping stone to begin the quest
from, but well, there is something. The basic ''observation''.
Perhaps some new ideas will show up here in the
21st century... perhaps.
-Simon
https://simonlaub.net/Post/downstream050102.txt
Helgoland.
by Carlo Rovelli.
Pure physics reasearch does seem to have stalled, as in Blish's "They Shall Hava Stars". It has been observed that work on hard problems is inherently unpredictable, because the situation when you have somebody yelling "cold, cold, warm, warm, cold, warm, hot..." is called an easy problem. Trying to guess the next step based on a philosophical or heuristic underpinning to quantum theory is just one possible way forward. For hard problems where the next step is not obvious, perhaps we should be trying as many aproaches as possible, as efficiently as possible - the budget index investor's research strategy, not the stock-picker's research strategy.

At least for dramatic possibilities, we might see some hope in the fact that we are training unprecedented numbers of scientists and, even (or especially) if they don't work as scientists, buying a PC and an internet connection gives them computing facilities and access to research papers better than any nation state a few decades ago, just out of throw-away money (especially if they took their Physics PhD and went into investment banking). Perhaps the successor to research by patent clerk is research by early retired ex-financier.
Doc O'Leary
2021-09-10 17:19:18 UTC
Reply
Permalink
For your reference, records indicate that
Simon Laub <***@FILTER.mail.tele.dk> wrote:

Since you’re posting to an AI group rather than a physics group, I’m going
to assume you care more about *thinking* about these things from a SF
perspective rather than coming to the solution that exactly matches our
reality.
Post by Simon Laub
According to some physicists there is no
reality beyond what is revealed by an experiment, an observation.
Only physicists of low intelligence would say that. The reason scientific
progress has been so monumental to the human species is just the opposite:
underlying reality has time and time again used “observation” to hide its
true nature. We advance when we discover our observations are
fundamentally *wrong*.
Post by Simon Laub
Indeed, when the science sounds like fiction,
it has been difficult to move on from the science, - and explore and
play with reality in say science fiction. Surely, there must be
some firm ground somewhere in order for us to move forward?
Speculative fiction can start from anywhere, as long as the story is
internally consistent. Hard science has its place, but a lot can be said
about the human condition in worlds built from complete fantasy. For
example, I have stories where time travel and quantum superpositioning
are intertwined. I don’t know if *this* reality works anything like
that, but it’s fun to explore *a* reality that works that way.

And, really, that’s how all scientific theories function. They model the
rules of *a* reality that matches observation. But all observations are
inherently imperfect, and our thinking itself may be mistaken. The classic
problem of AI is the question of whether or not the human mind can possibly
be complex enough to understand itself. The nature of the Universe
presents that same paradox.
Post by Simon Laub
Rovelli's way out is to tell us that nothing has any properties
at all until it interacts with something else.
Then what is doing the interacting? What governs the rules of that
interaction? This is why limiting yourself to what you can observe is not
the way to understand the Universe. Underneath it all is the question of
how there can be something instead of nothing.

I laugh every time I’m watching a movie or TV show and there’s a scene
where a person (e.g, a detective) goes to another person’s house and
knocks on their door, and the person is *right there* to answer it in a
second or two. What can be said of the “properties” of that sort of
universe? World building is *hard*, and you don’t do yourself any favors
if you approach it with the assumption that nothing is happening in that
world unless your observer is involved.
Post by Simon Laub
For Rovelli truths lies in the idea that everything
exists solely in the way it affects something else.
Just as relations make up the ''I'', in society, culture etc.
I don’t see how that is insightful. In computer and other networks, there
are nodes and the edges that connect them. Neither *is* the network, so
it’s a mistake to try and reduce it to either one. Likewise, in physics
it is almost certainly a mistake to try to say anything is *just* a
particle or wave or field or interaction. A far more fruitful approach is
to poke around for answers to how the network of reality is actually built.
--
"Also . . . I can kill you with my brain."
River Tam, Trash, Firefly
Loading...