Re: TECH: Fractal Tardis Brains

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Fri, 11 Jun 1999 17:55:50 -0500 wrote:
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky, <>, writes:
> > I
> > keep telling you guys, if even human intelligence can bump up the
> > apparent limits of physics by a few orders of magnitude every couple of
> > years, do you really think They are ever going to hit the ceiling? I
> > don't think there *is* a ceiling.)
> This is far from clear. You can argue that as our scientific knowledge
> has increased, we have found more limits, rather than fewer. Who would
> have suspected a speed of light limitation prior to this century?
> Who would have suspected the uncertainty principle prior to this century?

I entirely disagree. These things aren't limits. Laws, maybe, but not limits. This century's history has been the history of people realizing that so-called "limits" had been obviously bankrupt from the beginning. 100 years CRNS (current-rate no-Singularity) from now, everyone will be laughing at us for believing in the lightspeed limit when there was General Relativity, wormholes, Warp-Tardis Drive...

As for the uncertainty principle, despite the name, it isn't a limit on knowledge. Not at all. It describes a very specific process known as state-vector reduction which randomizes certain quantities at a certain point in time. This process, in turn, has all kinds of interesting potential - including an apparent FTL propagation, come to think of it. Calling it a "limit" is abusing the term, if you ask me. I say it's a tool.

> Everyone seems to be ignoring Anders' post of a proof that wormholes can't
> exist. The current state of play is that there ain't no such animals.
> You can't use the discovery of the wormhole concept as evidence for
> breaking through limitations, if wormholes are impossible.

What, the circular temporal loop of virtual particles? That's only if you have a closed timelike line, isn't it? My understanding is that you *can* build those with wormholes but you don't *have* to. Besides, I don't think the Tardis drive used wormholes.

> All the universe guarantees us is that life and intelligence is possible.
> That must be true or we would not be here. There are no guarantees
> beyond that. The universe may be friendly or unfriendly, malleable or
> difficult to manipulate. We only know what we have learned, and there
> is no basis for guessing that future discoveries will fall into one
> category or the other.

Actually, my position that all laws are malleable isn't based on an Extropian morality; it's based on my ontological belief that "laws" are actually "stuff". Anything real can be modified; if laws are real, they can be modified. A rigid, Turing-like distinction between "program" and "content", or "rules" and "cells", starts getting you into the same paradoxes that made me a noncomputationalist in the first place.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way