Greetings to Wei Dai and many old friends. I'll post a
JOIN letter soon.

Meanwhile---as is no doubt usual on the Everything list
---much ado is being made of much ado!  :-)

CMR ([EMAIL PROTECTED]) wrote

> I wonder if Davies is not on to something when he posits
> that "strong emergent" phenomena that congeal at various
> levels of complexity - like consciousness? -  may be
> inexplicable via existing physical "laws".; 

Well, it's of course always *possible* that what we see
cannot really be explained by current knowledge. Even
Galileo must have wondered if yet further laws were
really governing his falling objects, laws beyond
d = (1/2)t^2 and g = at.  (He would have been right to
wonder, of course, since in 1905 and 1915 we learned that
there was a bit more to it.)

But I would have had to side with a believer at the time:
"You've done it, Galileo! So far as we can tell, you have
nailed it, to the greatest extent that we can measure it!"
Yes, I too would have "wondered", but not for long: "Absence
of evidence is not evidence of absence", I'd say.

> this because, like Wolfram's "strong digitalist" pseudo-random 
> generators, such phenomena are effectively algorithmically 
> "incompressible" given time and resource constraints.

Still nothing, though, that says quantum mechanics and GR
aren't perfect in their respective arenas? (Not, of course,
that the reconciliation isn't a big problem itself.)

> Davies cites Lloyd's "softer digitalism" in his estimate
> of the Landauer-Lloyd limit on the computational capacity
> of "this" universe given light's speed limit and concludes
> that, although such phenomena may not be purely random,
> there's not enough functionally available computing capacity 
> exploitable by Laplace's demon to unravel them.

I'm probably not following. Is it or isn't it the case that
in the laboratory we have phenomena which there is serious
reason to believe cannot be explained by QM? Can a skeptic
really point to any 3rd person phenomenon and say, "clearly
QM can't explain that!"?

As for 1st person phenomena, a number of people, I among them,
don't believe that there is really a "problem". Just as sitting
next to Galileo I would not have believed that there was any
problem.

(Now, granted, 1st person experiences for me have an incredible
consequence: it means that causality must exist, and that there
must be *time*! As to why I believe that such strong conclusions
can be drawn, I'm sure that you all have been talking about the
data already, and probably others have already explicated this
viewpoint.)

> Therefore Davies suggests a new set of principles may well
> need to be coined regarding such strong emergent processes.
> The "mechanics" of consciousness may indeed be a case in
> point and the attempt to "crack" it's code with existing
> physical principles the wrong tools for the right job.

If consciousness is the strongest card that can be played
to support the idea that we need new laws of physics, then
I'll join those who think that it's not much. It wouldn't
make sense on evolutionary grounds for typical mammals
such as ourselves to be unable to report internal
impressions, plans, feelings, and anticipations. 

Lee Corbin

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