Bruno Marchal wrote:

On 17 Jan 2010, at 09:11, Brent Meeker wrote:

"The reason that there is Something rather than Nothing is that
Nothing is unstable."
   -- Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate, phyiscs 2004

So, why is Nothing unstable?
Because there are so many ways to be something and only one way to be nothing.

I suspect Frank Wilczek was alluding to the fact that the (very weird) quantum vacuum is fluctuating at low scales. Indeed in classical physics to get universality you need at least three bodies. But in quantum physics the vacuum is already Turing universal (even /quantum/ Turing universal). The quantum-nothing is already a quantum computer, although to use it is another matter, except that we are using it just by "being", most plausibly right here and now.

Nothing is more "theory" related that the notion of "nothing". In arithmetic it is the number zero. In set theory, it is the empty set. In group theory, we could say that there is no nothing, no empty group, you need at least a neutral element. Likewize with the combinators: nothing may be tackle by the forest with only one bird, etc.

Maybe you're a brain in a vat, or a computation in arithmetic. I'm happy to contemplate such hypothesis, but I don't find anything testable or useful that follows from them. So why should I accept them even provisionally?

We may accept them because it offers an explanation of the origin of mind and matter. To the arithmetical relations correspond unboundedly rich and deep histories, and we can prove (to ourselves) that arithmetic, as seen from inside leads to a sort of coupling consciousness/realities. (Eventually precisely described at the propositional by the eight hypostases, and divided precisely into the communicable and sharable, and the non communicable one).

This can please those unsatisfied by the current physicalist conception, which seems unable to solve the mind body problem, since a long time.
It took over three hundred years from the birth of Newton and the death of Gallileo to solve the problem of life. The theory of computation is less than a century old. Neurophysiology is similarly in its infancy.

Why shouldn't we ask the question "where and how does the physical realm come from?". Comp explains: from the numbers, and in this precise way. What not to take a look?
I have taken a look, and it looks very interesting. But I'm not enough of a logician and number theorist to judge whether you can really recover anything about human consciousness from the theory. My impression is that it is somewhat like other "everything" theories. Because some "everything" is assumed it is relatively easy to believe that what you want to explain is in there somewhere and the problem is to explain why all the other stuff isn't observed. I consider this a fatal flaw in Tegmark's "everything mathematical exists" theory. Not with yours though because you have limited it to a definite domain (digital computation) where I suppose definite conclusions can be reached and predictions made.

To take the physical realm for granted is the same "philosophical mistake" than to take "god" for granted. It is an abandon of the spirit of research. It is an abstraction from the spirit of inquiry.

Physicalism is really like believing that a universal machine (the quantum machine) has to be priviledged, because observation says so. I show that if "I am turing emulable", then in fine all universal machines play their role, and that the mergence of the quantum one has to be explained (the background goal being the mind body problem).

But if you follow the uda, you know (or should know, or ask question) that if we assume computationalism, then/ we have just no choice in the matter/.

Unless we assume matter is fundamental, as Peter Jones is fond of arguing, and some things happen and some don't.

The notion of matter has to be recovered by those infinite sum. If not, you are probably confusing computation (number relations) and description of computations (number describing those number relations). It is almost like confusing i and phi_i. It is the whole point of the universal dovetailer argument (uda).

To sum up, unless we continue to put the mind under the rug, like Aristotelian, we have just no choice here.

The goal is not in finding a new physics, but in deriving the (unique, by uda) physics from logic+numbers through comp. A priori, that physics could be useless in practice, like quantum physics is useless in the kitchen. The advantage is that this "solves" conceptually (as much as it show it possible) the consciousness/matter riddle.

I don't see that it has solved the problem. It has shifted it from explaining consciousness in terms of matter to explaining matter and consciousness in terms of arithmetic. That has the advantage that arithmetic is relatively well understood. But just having a well understood explanans is not enough to make a good explanation.

What testable prediction (not retrodiction) does the theory make? Can your theory elucidate the difference in consciousness between me and my dog? Can it tell me how to make a conscious computer? Can it tell me whether all of my brain is needed for consciousness? What happens to the consciousness of people with Alzheimers?


Bruno <>


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