Re: Physicists War Over a Unified Theory

From: Mark Walker (
Date: Wed Dec 05 2001 - 18:54:04 MST

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> It's exciting to see a possible new paradigm being born for fundamental
> physics. Even the early work is leading to specific models for universes
> with particles and fields that have some resemblance to our own. Needless
> to say the string theorists are miffed as up til now they have been the
> only ones who could make such claims. But string theory has been around
> for quite a while now and has yet to produce our universe. Maybe this
> new approach, still in its infancy, will hit closer to the mark.
> Hal
I enjoy watching physicists search for the final theory of everything as
much as the next dilettante. However, I think it is impossible for humans to
every know that we have discovered the final theory of everything. (Just to
be clear: I am not saying that we are incapable of discovering it, although
I think this is quite likely, but that we cannot know that we have
discovered it). The following example I think make this clear:

"Suppose, for example, that next week a young physicist named 'Newteinstein'
publishes a grand unified field theory in Nature. Newteinstein completes and
unifies particle physics and cosmology. On the basis of this theory the
special sciences are completed in the next six months. A hundred thousand
generations of human physicists and other scientist are unable to improve on
Newteinsteinism, and anthropic optimism gradually becomes the entrenched
belief. Even in this hypothetical distant future the logic of justification
is the same. Those that endorse anthropic optimism would still have to bet
that creatures with larger brains (or CPUs) would not be able to improve on
the conceptualization of Newteinstein." (The full argument is at )

We need a nonhuman perspective on our cognition and its subject matter
before we would be in a position to say that we know that what we believe to
be the final theory of everything is really a final theory of everything.
Otherwise we have no reason not to suppose that what we have discovered is
only the best human attempt at discovering the final theory of everything.
The best means to access such a nonhuman perspective would be to attempt to
create posthumans. Given we believe, (1) our goal is not just to discover
the final theory of everything but to be knowledgeable about this matter,
and (2) the imminent nature of posthumans, and (3) the fact that posthumans
ought to have at least as much chance of discovering the final theory of
everything as the ugly apes; then this suggests that it might be best to
reassign human theoretical physicists to performing some of the menial tasks
around AI and genetic engineering labs so as to speed up the arrival of
posthumans. But of course, all roads lead to transhumanism.

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