On Monday, December 30, 2002, at 11:57 AM, Jesse Mazer wrote:

As I understood it, the basic idea here was to use the fact that history must work out consistently to get a machine that could solve problems much faster than a Turing machine. For example, for any problem that requires exponential time to reach a solution but for which possible solutions can be checked in polynomial time, you could have the machine pick a possible solution at random, then check to see if the solution actually works, then if it *doesn't* work it sends back a sort of override command that changes the original guess, which would create an inconsistency.Or just kills you and/or your world.

This idea predates Max Tegmark by quite a while...I give Moravec the credit.

My own version of an oracle was done for an article I sent out in 1994. Included below.

RSA Broken By The Russians?

Kolmogorov Cryptography System Possibly Cracked

1 Apr 1994

MOSCOW (AP) -- At a press conference held minutes ago in a crowded hall,

Russian mathematicians announced that a breakthrough had been made

nearly a decade ago in the arcane branch of mathematics known as

"cryptography," the science of making messages that are unreadable to

others.

Leonid Vladwylski, Director of the prestigious Moscow Academy of

Sciences, called the press conference yesterday, after rumors began

circulating that noted Russian-American reporter John Markoff was in

Russia to interview academicians at the previously secret city of

Soviet cryptographers, Kryptogorodok. The existence of Kryptogorodok,

sister city to Akademogorodok, Magnetogorsk, and to the rocket cities

of Kazhakstan, had been shrouded in secrecy since its establishment in

1954 by Chief of Secret Police L. Beria. Its first scientific

director, A. Kolmogorov, developed in 1960 what is called in the West

"public key cryptography." The existence of Kryptogorodok was unknown

to the West until 1991, when Stephen Wolfram disclosed its existence.

American cryptographers initially scoffed at the rumors that the

Russians had developed public-key cryptography as early as 1960, some

15 years prior to the first American discovery. After interviews last

year at Kryptogorodok, noted American cryptographers Professor D.

Denning and D. Bowdark admitted that it did seem to be confirmed.

Professor Denning was quoted at the time saying that she did not think

this meant the Russians could actually break the Kolmogorov system,

known in the West as RSA, because she had spent more than a full weekend

trying to do this and had not succeeded. "Believe me, RSA is still

unbreakable," she said in her evaluation report.

Russia's top mathematicians set out to break Kolmogorov's new coding

system. This required them to determine that "P = NP" (see accompanying

article). Details are to be published next month in the journal

"Doklady.Krypto," but a few details are emerging.

The Kolmogorov system is broken by computing the prime numbers which

form what is called the modulus. This is done by randomly guessing the

constituent primes and then detonating all of the stockpiled nuclear

weapons in the former Soviet Union for each "wrong guess." In the Many

Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics, invented in 1949 by Lev

Landau (and later, independently by Everett and Wheeler in the U.S.),

all possible outcomes of a quantum experiment are realized.

As Academician Leonid Vladwylski explained, "In all the universes in

which we guessed the wrong factors, we were destroyed completely. But

since we are obviously here, talking to you at this press conference, in

this universe we have an unbroken record of successfully factoring even

the largest of imaginable numbers. Since we are so optimistic about

this method, we say the computation runs in 'Nondeterministic Pollyanna

Time.' Allow me to demonstrate..."

[Press Conference will be continued if the experiment is a success.]

MOSCOW (AP), ITAR-Tass, 1 April 1994

Appendix

--------

First, it was Stephen Wolfram's actual suggestion, a couple of years ago

after the USSR imploded, that we try to recruit mathematicians and

programmers from what he surmised must exist: a secret city of Soviet

cryptographers. It probably exists. We did it at Los Alamos, they did it

with their rocket scientists and others (Akademogorodok exists), so why not

put their version of NSA a bit off the beaten track? Note that our own NSA

is within a stone's throw of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. I wouldn't

be surprised to learn that their experts were ensconced somewhere in the

Urals.

I tried to acknowledge Steve with my comments. By the way, so far as I

know, no word has come out on whether he was right in this speculation.

(Maybe some of the Russians he does in fact have working at Wolfram are

these folks? Naw...)

Second, Kolmogorov did basic work on information theory, probability, and

statistics. One has to assume he had ties to the Soviet cryptography

effort (about which little has been written about, so far). If anyone in

Russia could have seen public key methods coming, he is a candidate. No

evidence that he or any other Russian did, though.

Third, my references to Denning and Sternlight were perhaps not riotously

funny (though I didn't aim for a riotously funny tone). Especially in

light of David Sternlight's excellent follow-up here... never let it be

said that David lacks a sense of humor. The Denning reference was to her

own comments about spending a weekend or so trying (and failing, not

surprisingly) to crack the Skipjack algorithm. (Real ciphers often take

years to break, as with the knapsack algorithm, recent crunching of DES,

etc.).

Fourth, the "Many Worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics does exist,

and leads to approaches such as I described. It's also a hypothetical way

to ensure one's wealth: simply bet everything you own at 1000-to-1 odds and

then commit suicide in all universes in which you lose. Not very

convincing, I agree. Hans Moravec writes about this in his "Mind

Children," 1987.

Finally, I used the headers and format of a real article in the ClariNet

system, then made modifications. Given that the Supreme Court has recently

ruled in favor of "fair use" for satire, I hope my version of "2 Live Crew

meets RSA" does not get my sued. (I could just kill myself in all

realities in which Brad sues me.)