Re: The Next Century's Great Discovery

Anders Sandberg (
Mon, 28 Jul 1997 17:48:05 +0200 (MET DST)

On Mon, 28 Jul 1997, Perry E. Metzger wrote:

> I have a weird hunch that it is *not* possible to make solid
> predictions about chaotic systems without prohibitive amounts of
> computation power in the general case. It may be possible to prove
> this assertion (or may not -- "does P=NP" has held for a very long
> time without a proof.) The related question of "is it possible to make
> solid predictions in interesting specialized cases" may be more
> tractable.

And it might be possible to make solid prediction about general
behaviors even when the parts of the system are chaotic or
unpredictable; the smoke from a lit cigar rises in a very typical
manner, but is actually very chaotic. There might be general "laws of
form" we could discover that holds in many (important) cases.

> However, I can easily name something on my "most wanted" list of
> information.

Yes, this is more useful.

On top of my "most wanted" list is of course "How does the brain
produce intelligence and qualia?".

> For years now, we have built up this large coherent body of equations
> and constants that give us answers to physics questions. What I want
> to know is -- why *these* equations? Why *these* constants?

A good question. I like Smolin's (partial) answer - they have evolved
to support us, but it should be taken with a large amount of salt.
Another fun (but unlikely) answer is suggested by Greg Egan in

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y