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Theoretical computer scientist Scott Aronson on Tegmark multiverse concept

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Specifically, Max Tegmark’s “Mathematical Universe Hypothesis” (cf the book Our Mathematical Universe), that “physical and mathematical existence are the same thing, and that what we call “the physical world” is simply one more mathematical structure, alongside the dodecahedron and so forth.” His analysis is worth the read; he says,

Briefly, I think it’s a superb piece of popular science writing—stuffed to the gills with thought-provoking arguments, entertaining anecdotes, and fascinating facts. I think everyone interested in math, science, or philosophy should buy the book and read it. And I still think the MUH is basically devoid of content, as it stands.

His observation captures the spirit of the current drive to make the multiverse exist in our minds, if not in reality. It is to be believed without content because, well, it’s just so beautiful, it makes so much sense, all the right people believe it …

In short, for every reason except evidence. The multiverse is a war against the idea that evidence rules in science, and it will be most interesting to see who lines up on which side and why.

See also: Science-Fictions-square.gif The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology) for a brief explanation of how multiverse thinking took hold, also:

Nature offers a feature on a mediaeval concept of the multiverse (Actually, the evidence presented, that Grosseteste thought that way, is pretty weak)

Gravitational waves strengthen case for multiverse, Nature article claims (Critics say the idea “would be untestable”? But so what? And what wouldn’t strengthen the case for a multiverse, for its believers?)

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One Reply to “Theoretical computer scientist Scott Aronson on Tegmark multiverse concept

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Scott Aaronson doesn’t have much good to say about ‘the universe is a computer simulation’ argument either:

    Quantum Computing Promises New Insights, Not Just Supermachines – Scott Aaronson – December 2011
    Excerpt: And yet, even though useful quantum computers might still be decades away, many of their payoffs are already arriving. For example, the mere possibility of quantum computers has all but overthrown a conception of the universe that scientists like Stephen Wolfram have championed. That conception holds that, as in the “Matrix” movies, the universe itself is basically a giant computer, twiddling an array of 1’s and 0’s in essentially the same way any desktop PC does.
    Quantum computing has challenged that vision by showing that if “the universe is a computer,” then even at a hard-nosed theoretical level, it’s a vastly more powerful kind of computer than any yet constructed by humankind. Indeed, the only ways to evade that conclusion seem even crazier than quantum computing itself: One would have to overturn quantum mechanics, or else find a fast way to simulate quantum mechanics using today’s computers.

    Along that line:

    Is God No Better Than A Special Computer? – William Lane Craig – video

    Digital Physics Argument for God’s Existence – video

    Digital Physics Argument
    Premise 1: Simulations can only exist is a computer or a mind.
    Premise 2: The universe is a simulation.
    Premise 3: A simulation on a computer still must be simulated in a mind.
    Premise 4: Therefore, the universe is a simulation in a mind (2,3).
    Premise 5: This mind is what we call God.
    Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.

    A few more notes of interest from Scott Aaronson

    Lecture 11: Decoherence and Hidden Variables – Scott Aaronson
    Excerpt: “Look, we all have fun ridiculing the creationists who think the world sprang into existence on October 23, 4004 BC at 9AM (presumably Babylonian time), with the fossils already in the ground, light from distant stars heading toward us, etc. But if we accept the usual picture of quantum mechanics, then in a certain sense the situation is far worse: the world (as you experience it) might as well not have existed 10^-43 seconds ago!”

    The Limits of Quantum Computers – Scott Aaronson – 2007
    Excerpt: In the popular imagination, quantum computers would be almost magical devices, able to “solve impossible problems in an instant” by trying exponentially many solutions in parallel. In this talk, I’ll describe four results in quantum computing theory that directly challenge this view.,,, Second I’ll show that in the “black box” or “oracle” model that we know how to analyze, quantum computers could not solve NP-complete problems in polynomial time, even with the help of nonuniform “quantum advice states”,,,

    Here is Scott Aaronson’s blog in which refutes recent claims that P=NP (Of note: if P were found to equal NP, then a million dollar prize would be awarded to the mathematician who provided the proof that NP problems could be solved in polynomial time):

    Excerpt: Quantum computers are not known to be able to solve NP-complete problems in polynomial time.

    Protein folding is found to be a ‘intractable NP-complete problem’ by several different methods. Thus protein folding will not be able to take advantage of any advances in speed that quantum computation may offer to any other problems of computation that may be solved in polynomial time:

    Combinatorial Algorithms for Protein Folding in Lattice
    Models: A Survey of Mathematical Results – 2009
    Excerpt: Protein Folding: Computational Complexity
    NP-completeness: from 10^300 to 2 Amino Acid Types
    NP-completeness: Protein Folding in Ad-Hoc Models
    NP-completeness: Protein Folding in the HP-Model

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