Mustang - Part V


So, in this series of essays I have undertaken to discuss humanity from the beginnings of ourselves as individuals, being gestated and born into society, and as a society, from our differences hybridized into the glorious variety of human expression that lives today. I will look forward more than I have previously in this, perhaps final, essay in this series.

@everittdmickey revealed to me that technology always increases the power of individuals relative to institutions, and he also showed how technological change becomes more rapid over time.

speedtechnologicaladvancement_30years.jpg

IMG source - GoldIsMoney2.com

This is unlikely the chart he showed me, but it is similar and makes the case. That case is tech advance will be enormous and inconceivable from our present perspective in only a generation, barring some cataclysm that retards tech advance. Folks in 1900 saw enormous changes in tech that upended their worldviews in a generation, much of it inconceivable before it happened. Vaccines, transport, finance, the list of transformative technological innovation that radically altered their beliefs and grasp of their world is long and obvious in hindsight.

Who could have predicted in a world dominated - that had always been dominated - by animal powered transport that within a generation mail would be delivered by plane, or that people would fly to travel? Less obvious, because it is so recent that our worldviews haven't processed it yet, are the technological changes that happened from 2000 on. Smartphones, CRISPR, desktop 3D printers: amazing transcendences of what was possible and what had always been true happened thousands of time faster a decade ago than a century ago.

Barring unforeseen cataclysm, the next century will do that exponentially more.

What I'm getting at is that the changes that will result in our worldviews in a generation are utterly inconceivable, and what our worldviews will become are also. We can't possibly predict the chaotic random events that will impact tech, what that will change about our place in the world, and what our grasp of that change will do to our worldview. It's like we're archeologists, that have found a massive ruin of a previously unknown civilization, standing at the entrance of a room to which we have just opened the door. We switch on our flashlight and peer into the darkness. We see artifacts in unfamiliar shapes, comprised of and built with materials and technology of unknown composition for reasons unknown. We cannot know the particulars of those things without prolonged study, which will be very involved indeed to grasp how those tech advances particular to those artifacts developed and why.

We may find a parchment with a mark that is shaped a certain way, and we cannot know at first glance why the mark is shaped that way. Maybe the scribe had a toothache and drooled on a parchment, which caused the ink to mix in solution with the drop and change the intended shape of the mark, and the scribe liked the change and replicated it thereafter in their work. Work studying that parchment might reveal traces of the salival residue, and a case for why that change in that mark began at that time.

What breakthroughs will enable tech advance are utterly unpredictable. Even that scribe could have never in a million years predicted how that change in that mark would be effected, nor what the consequences of that change could be. Some changes are very predictable, such as that scribes' marks will change over time. We see this happen in every script we have ever considered, from Mayan codices to Chaucer's English. What we can't predict is what those changes will precisely be, how they arise, or how they affect society, except very vaguely and with great uncertainty.

We can predict that marks will increase in their ability to communicate information over time, perhaps that they will become easier to make (although that's not necessarily apparent in preserved artifacts, because most materials that could be used to convey written information are very perishable, as a result of their being made of more convenient materials than stone or ceramic), but these very general guesses are testing the limit of probability.
Something I observe abouut tech is that th ability to process information about the world will surpass our present understanding of what is possible. Little is advancing more rapidly than tech involving data. These advances are both almost spiritually transcendent and damnably profane. Claims are being made that thoughts can now be machine transcribable, that images of what people are thinking can be displayed, and this promises both heaven, for people paralyzed and unable to communicate with their physical body, and hell, for people oppressed by a police state intent on coercing people to think as they are ordered.

I am reasonably certain that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle will be transcended, and Quantum Physics rectified with Relativity, or Classical Physics, within a generation, because I expect that we will reach the limit of particles we can observe/model, and actually model them all in real time, which has (and remains now) inconceivable. However we see that mapping our atmosphere, which is highly funded and a rapidly advancing technology, the data points we are able to handle are increasing at an exponential rate.

A century ago, we had a few hundred data points globally, a few weather stations recording daily temperatures and barometric pressure, etc.. I couldn't even estimate the number of relevant data points today, but they range from perhaps trillions of temperature recording devices (most of which aren't contributing to atmospheric models presently), including those yet extant from those old weather stations, to satellites, and an ineffable range and number of mechanisms in between. At the same time our ability to process data has similarly exploded, and our models of the atmosphere have become increasingly fine grained.

While a TV Weatherman might have had a datapoint per 100km cubed a few decades ago from which to predict the coming weather, the size of those datapoints has decreased such that today there might be one per 10m cubed (not describing actual metereological data, but illustrating the concept with arbitrary numbers). It is easy to predict that size will continue to decrease, to a meter, to a centimeter, and eventually - if nothing unpredictable prevents it - to the individual atoms, quarks, and ultimate granular state of Earth's atmosphere at the smallest scale.

I observe that this capacity will potentially enable us to transcend the uncertainty principle through the mechanism of gossip about gossip, rather than physical disturbance of particles by measuring each of them directly, and this transcends the limits of knowledge conceivable by Heisenberg, and that changes the factors of the formula such that knowing both vector and position can be reckoned from measuring other particles, other energy, or from having measured things in the past and calculating their present without remeasuring at all.

The immensity of coming data processing and modeling improvements potential grant me reasonable certainty a time will come when we are able to know things about every particle of our atmosphere that it was previously inconceivable to know about even one of them.

This has been a bit lengthy, but I'm approaching relevance, so having borne with me this far, tarry yet a bit longer.

If we can model the atmosphere so completely as to know where every raindrop will form, travel, and arrive, which we are certain to undertake to the fullest extent possible, we will also be able to model far less complex physical bodies of people. Where I'm going with this is immortality, and not just of folks born in the future, but of everyone that has ever lived. When we can predict such complexity in the future as the position of the atoms of a raindrop in the breadth of the sky, we will also be able to backtrack how the particles got to where they are. This will not just include air and water, but everything else air and water interact with, from the sun to your toenails.

I firmly expect that the physical body of everyone that has ever lived will be able to be completely and accurately modeled, throughout their lives, and, to the point, immediately prior to their death. In addition to this data processing miracle, I expect the physical handling of particles to develop no less, and, sooner or later, the ability to make a copy of something down to the atom will arise. Making copies of things is sort of the very basis of manufacturing, and this will certainly progress no less transcendentally than data processing in days to come.

To cut to the chase, the fever dreams of the prophets, their visions of resurrections and omniscience, omnipotence, and a society of morally sound and mutually loving people, that vision of heaven; I expect technology to progress to the point where that's not magic at all.

In a generation? ¯\(ツ)/¯. These advances are inconceivable, my own fever dreams perhaps, and unpredictable. Chaotic and random things will happen. But I see reason to expect these capabilities to derive from present circumstances, and base none of my reasons on magic people in the sky or long dead prophets perhaps poisoned by ergot or Amanita muscaria. I know tech will advance in these directions, quickly exceed limits I can understand, and if I simply project that all limits are exceeded over due time, that immortality of omniscient persons both long dead and yet unborn will become a feature of society.

I have thought about this for thirty years, to be honest, long before @everittdmickey showed me this effect of technological advance. I have yet to be able to contradict this idea with anything that proves it impossible, and that is the scientific method. Admittedly, I have nothing but a thought experiment and some scraps of data to work with. I've never tested any part of this empirically, but plenty of history of others consistently moving towards it with no terminal impediments continues to grant this plausibility.

YMMV. Let the idea roll around in the back of your head a while, and maybe it'll make sense to you too. If you reckon you can prove it's impossible, do let me know. I have long lived to best profit from this being what will happen, to cost my future self as little of the extraordinary benefits of such as inure to people in that future as my present circumstance allows.

If I've missed some proof this can't happen, I'll change my ways. I'd be grateful for information that enables reasonable goals if my future will be different than I expect. I look forward to any comments you may undertake.


Comments 27


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30.11.2019 16:42
2

Would you agree that the key driver of technological advancement was transistor-density/ processing power? Today I wrote something on Nevens Law, from the 60s to today computers scaled exponentially (Moores Law), they made computer tomographic scans possibles, extreme simulations and now we hit certain physical limits. But for quantum-computing (I know its not general purpose) there is double-exponential scaling. Double exponential would mean that we see the change from 60s to today in just 10 years and after that it would explode. You wake up and the world is completely different from what it was. China being build not in 20 Years but in 5 or something crazy like that. is there no natural ceiling?

30.11.2019 18:57
1

The limits of physics are presently unknown. I do not anticipate ceilings apart from nescience regarding technological advance. Physics does not seem to establish natural ceilings. Rather our derangement and lack of rational understanding seems to be what limits our ability to progress.

While I could not more highly value information processing, I note that CRISPR is the door to adopting extraordinary complexity that has been shown to be potential to living things. Grasping how to hack that code will potentiate not only information processing, but physical development of infrastructure and society, and bespoke individuals supported by them.

Recently researchers in AI have called for ethical consideration to be undertaken to prevent amorality regarding synthetic consciousness. I note the utterly crude technology we currently deploy to support AI, and the transcendence of that crudity will be effected via biosynthetic technology. Even Archaea are orders of magnitude more complex than our silicon transistor based technology at present. There is a reason life is based on carbon, rather than silicon, and the presently ineffable complexity of life isn't potential to silicon.

That door has just opened, and we peer into the darkness of the unknown that beckons today, tantalizing glimpses of incomprehensible beauty luring us to step into that realm promising to fulfill all our hearts' desires.

01.12.2019 14:19
2

Though each sperm may be unique, I'd contend that many might be functionally identical. They could differ only by nucleotides in non-coding DNA, which if I recall correctly is a lot of it. For this reason I think that redundancy should be considered, at least in the natural case. It would brings these numbers down some, but I do think it'd be an impressive amount. The sperms could be engineered to be all different of course, which could put be a reasonable upper bound on the bandwidth.

Also I'm not convinced a base pair exactly maps to a bit. Perhaps 2 bits each, since there's four choices?

01.12.2019 19:42
2

"Also I'm not convinced a base pair exactly maps to a bit. Perhaps 2 bits each, since there's four choices?"

Well, good point. Also, that doubles the bandwidth.

While I expect that folks will seek to employ such mechanisms soon, if they haven't already, I suspect the data will be ordered throughout, and not include much redundancy when that happens. Not really sure highly limited redundancy is a good idea in practice. Biological systems are so complex that errors like mutations occur, and with some of them actually of existential import, redundancy may actually be highly desirable.

Maladaptive genes die out. I am confident calculations of the eventuation of haplotypes is inaccurate because genes that have died out aren't reckoned. There may be no reasonable estimate of rates at which maladaptives die out.

With strong redundancy, even if the data transmitted by an erroneous vector isn't maladaptive enough to fail, over time that feeble signal will be buried with unaltered data. However, the reverse can happen, and some error can improbably end up over represented after extensive replication. Genghis Khan is estimated to have over 1 million descendants today, for example.

I have also recently read that over 100 nucleotides are possible to use on DNA, adding synthetic bases to the natural, which expands the bandwidth potential to seminal mechanisms by orders of magnitude.

02.12.2019 06:01
1

Wetware crazy stuff. But fully agree. Ontologically there is nothing as "computation". Its just interpretation of events. You can interpret anything as computation as long as it is consistent.

Biological systems are so complex that errors like mutations occur, and with some of them actually of existential import, redundancy may actually be highly desirable.

IT-Data also has to be highly redundant (sometimes on multiple levels) and has high error rate with mutations/ bit-flips. Look at the redundancy in BFT-consensus for Bitcoin. We should measure the redundancy overhead in Jules, then wetware systems are maybe a cheap solution : / Even in computer science there is nothing like an exact copy. You always need safety-margins.

When I think about it, DNA actually is a time-chain. Miners brute-force against the entropy of the hash-puzzle in order to synchronize (even though they are asynchronous) and to be allowed to add a new block... and evolution brute-forces against the entropy of the universe in order to find a working solution. Üff thx for this refreshing input.

02.12.2019 14:25
1

The neat thing about bioware is that nature has undertaken ~4 billion years of blind experimentation that provides mechanisms tried and true to adapt to our burgeoning grasp of code arisen in concert with data management and digital systems.

It also provides examples of bespoke potential that has heretofore been inconceivable to science, but has long inspired spiritual practices.
Shamanicadoption of animal features like antlers and wings inform incipient biocoders regarding human concerns relevant to the body of examples and their work.

I have previousy predicted that one of the first impacts of CRISPR nominally dispersing generally is that folks will start growing antlers. I reckon wings just as popular.

Beyond data management, throughout human industry, CRISPR and biocode development will utterly transform every aspect of society, and more to the point, humanity.

02.12.2019 18:10
1

That'll be nice if we can get that good. But it brings up all kinds of questions. Like the nature of man and the soul and whatnot. Like if we had the tech now to exactly clone an individual who is already alive right down to all of their memories and all of that. Would they experience a sense of bilocation with each other, or would they be having separate experiences. Because if it's just a copy, it becomes less magical and more for the benefit of those who have lost loved ones.

01.12.2019 14:41
1

The extraordinary complexity of living things, particularly in regards to consciousness, remains baffling today. Today we can clone, but that is just a physical platform for consciousness, not the consciousness of the person that lived, as you point out.

The grasp of who and what we are will develop concomitantly with the specific technologies I address, and is assumed in my essay, rather than specifically treated therein. I am simply incompetent to address it, so must leave it to others. An interesting aspect of consciousness is the existence of people with two heads, siamese twins. Sharing a physical body, two people do in fact share their experiences of the world, yet remain discrete consciousnesses. This reveals that cloning but produces meatbags based on identical blueprints, and vehicles for separate persons.

It is not cloning I expect, but resurrection of people. I did not mention, but believe, that physical meatbags are going to become rather variable, if even necessary, as development of technology progresses.

01.12.2019 15:08
1

One of the more interesting things I've seen in scifi is the idea
that consciousness can be distilled down to a simple algorithm.
It's both interesting and disturbing, makes you wonder if it were
true and more than one were operating simultaneously, if they'd
somehow be connected. Spooky action at a distance type of thing.

01.12.2019 17:36
1

Maybe represented by a hash,but I can't imagine a simple algorithm encompassing consciousness. However, consciousness is an actual algorithm. Just because we didn't write it doesn't make it any less real. The universe is a calculation engine that solves equations with particles, waves, and energies in spacetime.

That makes us an algorithm calculated on a mechanical computer, like Babbage built in the 19th Century. Mebbe he was on to something =)

02.12.2019 06:08
1

I can't imagine even the cleverest most detailed clones creating a sense of bilocation as you put it. Perhaps with the addition of cybernetic or bio-engineered brain anatomy. But then is it really even cloning? Seems more like pulling a double Frankenstein to be in two places at once.

01.12.2019 21:19
1

I think the big question is what is the soul, or are we more than the sum of our parts. Some speculate that our bodies are merely an antenna which is tuned in to a specific frequency. If the body is nothing more than a biological vessel or an avatar, then the secret to immortality is to create another one and somehow tune it to pick up the signal. If possible, the soul (or player) may experience bilocation. On the other hand, if the soul is simply the sum of our total experience on earth + the animating spark of life, we might be able to copy it, but that'd be far less impressive because a copy is only a copy. If we can only make a copy of ourselves and bilocation does not occur, it's quite a bit less special, making us highly replaceable. Some think the spark of life; consciousness, or the observer if you will--is a dismembered part of God experiencing itself subjectively through all life forms. When we die, God gains a lifetime of experiential knowledge, and we remember who and what we really are. Even if this is not true, one day, given enough time, we will make it so. Fractals in fractals, ever play a video game inside of a video game? Is that air that you're breathing?

02.12.2019 00:00
1

The concept of our bodies as antennae that transmit our consciousness resonates with me. In the unimaginable future I imagine, the resurrection isn't a birth process, where a zygote grows to a baby, but the particles of the resurrected are assembled in a gestalt, enabling the person to be expressed in that manufactured body that was previously expressed in the body that died.

By grasping that bodies are analogous to antennae, the point I was unable to express in the OP that the bodies themselves don't need to be duplicates of the one dead, but a potential myriad of forms that consciousness is expressed in.

There are many equations that equal four. If you're four, any of them will suit.

02.12.2019 06:15
1

I like this. Technology generally is one of my favorite subjects.

I also expect to see profound changes come about due to the influence of compounding advancements in technology. That said...

"Barring unforeseen cataclysm, the next century will do that exponentially more."

2 things to this point.

First of all, I think it's quite optimistic. I'd estimate exponential trends like that tend to be unsustainable in physically manifest systems. Like population growth in animal populations for instance. Take humans. You could fit an exponential to world population over the last 1000 years and use it to extrapolate future figures. We've (which is to say a casual internet search) reckoned the population two thousand years ago was about 10^8 people. even though figures today put it at some 10^9 I don't think there will ever be a world population of on the order 10^15 people even in twelve thousand years just because of the amount of space. That's the same order of magnitude as the earth's surface area in square feet, which we can't even use nearly all of. Similarly I don't expect to see 10^30 in another 36000 or 10^50 people living on earth ever, even though the function would breeze by that in less than a mere million years, since they're roughly the number of bacteria on and the number of atoms in our earth respectively. If we ride that exponential for just a bit of astronomical time we'd zoom past 10^100 people which is just nonsense since it's more than the number of atoms in the entire universe.

This also to illustrate logical pitfalls of stretching a simple theory to fit a world of immense scale and unknown (but probably high) complexity.

Briefly, I also see advances in physics becoming somewhat more rarefied, such as how we need massive, expensive, complicated machines like the LHC and greater amounts of energy (which I see as a much firmer ceiling than the engineering hurdles) to probe and make discoveries about fundamental particles.

Secondly, I'd say we are now experiencing an unforeseen cataclysm with the mass extinction brought about by anthropogenic climate change so we definitely cannot bar that. It's only going to fester in the coming years. Perhaps decades too, if we don't get our act together yesteryear. Many people aren't exactly scrambling to clean up right now either.

"I am reasonably certain that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle will be transcended, and Quantum Physics rectified with Relativity, or Classical Physics, within a generation..."

In a move that is somewhat puzzling to me, you predict what later amounts to an upending of essentially all that we've worked out about the nature.

This seem unlikely to me because it also seems to go against how scientific thought has developed historically. Einstein didn't come along and destroy the works of Newton. When new profound revelations in genetics and biology come about, like horizontal gene transfer or molecular phylogeny, we don't just toss out Mendel or Darwin. Often these things seem to me to be in concert with earlier works as opposed to in opposition.

Also, once you've undermined the underpinnings of what makes the universe how it is you're talking about who knows what kind of world where impossible things could happen. Not a fruitless exercise perhaps, but I wouldn't expect it to be predictive of the world as some think to know it now.

I like the next bits you say next about weather measurement.

"the size of those datapoints has decreased such that today there might be one per 10m cubed..."
"It is easy to predict that size will continue to decrease, to a meter, to a centimeter, and eventually - if nothing unpredictable prevents it - to the individual atoms, quarks, and ultimate granular state of Earth's atmosphere at the smallest scale."

This seems like the population tangent I went on earlier. While the simple principle, here the prediction that density of datapoints will increase, is not altogether unsound it is taken to a nonsensical conclusion. This example is a bit more subtle than the population one however, and doesn't necessarily seem on the surface to break just by increasing a parameter. Once we get to the atomic scale though, some things start to worry me. Generally the machines used to manipulate and measure individual atoms are themselves composed of quite a few atoms. Even if we could somehow make a machine that could measure the properties of a single atom (in a fantastically accurate way that defies modern physics) out of only a single atom you still need one atom-machine for each air atom. I'd think any device to measure an atom would have to consist of more than one atom (and probably some heavier than nitrogen), and so be many times the mass of what it's measuring and so we'd need many times the mass of the whole atmosphere to measure each atom in it. That's without needing to model the whole new, more complex problem of how these billions of gigagrams of deployed machines would effect the weather. I suppose if you're predicting physical limits will be transcended none of these are really constraints.

I like the idea that we could predict where every raindrop will fall, but I don't really ever see that happening. Pulling the scale all the way down to quarks is much more difficult still.

Alright enough criticism, now for some praise.

"...[I, @valued-customer] base none of my reasons on magic people in the sky or long dead prophets..."

Kudos to you. Such is a breath of fresh air in the church-stained world I see laid before me.

Also, while I've expressed some misgivings with some assumptions, the logical path is laid out quite well assuming what is given. Assuming we could measure the atmosphere in this way, I might expect the rest of what is laid out. Manipulation of the body, copy objects in atomic detail and the like seem to be low hanging fruit by comparison. Perhaps not the revival of all the long dead, at least because of destroyed remains and thermodynamic loss of information (though that might be transcended too?), but maybe even the immortality of the living.

In the end the hardest pill to swallow is this...

"...I simply project that all limits are exceeded over due time..."

It's mostly the 'all' part. It smells a bit like a hasty generalization, but a discourse based on this premise is indeed at least diverting.

I know I got something out of it, maybe you will too from this.

01.12.2019 21:12
1

I am happy to be granted this substantive reply. Almost everything you said engaged me and required me to consider my thoughts and how I expressed them, which is the most fruitful possible result of my post I could ask for.

You discuss the rate of data and processing in comparison to population. I agree that natural populations that undertake exponential growth follow that with devastating plunges. Population spikes, and never plateaus, is the historical fact.

Two things about this. Information just needs data storage. It doesn't eat. It doesnt take up physical room. In those ways it isn't comparable to populations. Regarding humanity's population increase, I sadly note that we are extremely unlikely to not plunge back down to a baseline population at some point, unless we can change the conditions that existed for the baseline for ones that will support more people.

O wait. That's what we do. Not that we can't undo what we have done (I actually think technological civilization has crashed before), but we might not undo it, and then export terrestrial life, including us, off world. This is in fact my hope, because once we're off world, we're immune to centralized control.

"...upending of essentially all that we've worked out about the nature."

Quantum physics and Classical physics, or Relativity, are mutually contradictory. It's not like Newtonian physics survived Relativity either. The math for Newtonian physics is much simpler, and mostly accurate. That doesn't mean the physics is correct. It's not. Spacetime has no absolute center, and when astronauts use Newtonian orbital calculations, it's not because the Newtonian absolute reality is compatible with relativistic spacetime, but it's a lot simpler to calculate, and it provides answers that work for the job at hand.

Also, cataclysms happen. Trends aren't ever uninterrupted, and we could all die tomorrow.

I reckon Quantum physics is short necessary qualifiers that emanate from Relativity that will derandomize it. It's my expectation that math has been confused for actual reality. Leonard Susskind would be the first to tell you that String Theory math can be used to support practically any conceivable universe. Hubris is an eternal feature of brilliant people, and the history of science incessantly reveals what errors they made when we eventually figure out the right answers they got wrong. Math is seductive, and I don't think spooky action at any distance is really causal of our reality. We just don't know what causes it, and work around it.

The rest of science is consilient, each part bearing relation to the whole, and all other parts, in a rational way. Quantum physics is horribly inconsilient with all other science, and I reckon this a tell. Just my gut feeling that electron don't act differently when I look at them suddenly.

Cats will react to the stink eye, but not electrons.

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"Generally the machines used to manipulate and measure individual atoms are themselves composed of quite a few atoms."

I did mention gaining the ability to define facts about particles without actually measuring them, and I expect that interacting with particles will become unnecessary to defining them. I mentioned gossip about gossip, and inferring positions from other known positions. I fully acknowledge that speculating about advances in science that haven't happened yet is about as authoritative as the drunk guy with the lamp shade on his head at the Christmas party, and I don't expect me to figure this out.

I just expect things that are inconceivable today to get figured out, and modeling the atmosphere is one of the most intensely studied sciences extant. Dunno how it will be done, and enormous leaps of understanding and mechanisms we don't believe in now will be made to make them.

While there are certainly lots of things that could prove insoluble on the way to this happening, I don't think anything is actually insoluble. There are just temporary delays. 'All' is a gross exaggeration on my part, but I believe it anyway.

In the end result, we'll see. I'm no prophet, and am making no promises. I am unable to see almost everything in the way of this happening, and that's probably why I can't see anything that can keep it from happening.

Thanks!

02.12.2019 07:19
2

"Information just needs data storage. It doesn't eat. It doesnt take up physical room."

With the obligatory qualification that this all goes out the window with the postulated yet unknown defiant physics, data storage does indeed take up space. Any data storage medium, from the human brain to an abacus, is built from physical stuff that takes up space. While the data itself could be not unreasonably considered to have no mass (because a hard disk isn't heavier when full than empty) and no definite spatial extension (because the hardware that records a byte on a flash drive isn't the same size as on a floppy disc for example) it's unable to be separated from some sort of physical medium that does have mass and occupies space. Barring game-breaking new physics of course.

Similarly, while a compact disc certainly doesn't eat in the direct sense, all data writing and reading requires some energy. You need to shine a laser at a CD, you need electricity to flow through the internals of a flash drive, and you need to haul the stones of an abacus from one side to the other. The reading in that last case is a bit subtler but still requires essentially bouncing stuff (light for most of us most of the time) off of the abacus to discern what configuration the stones are in. This energy requirement is not altogether dissimilar to the energy requirement in living things, and I contend similarly imposes limits on scale. Though the data can perhaps sit stored without energy input it is of no function without energy input, which is to say reading and writing.

Here's a cryptography stack exchange link that references a book that goes into a more detail about these fundamental limits revealed by the study of thermodynamics. The relevant part to us is the second answer, not the question. Again, this all breaks down if the laws of thermodynamics are overturned. I would like to emphasize that this particular bit of physics is considered by those who study the subject quite rigorously to be exceedingly unlikely to be disproved for various reason. Still, if you take the given that it is, those limits vanish, but the world becomes very strange indeed. Your room would spontaneously clean itself, bombed military installations would reassemble, shards of broken glass would jump from the ground and reform into complete windows. Gasses, smoke and energy would flow back into burnt out matches and they'd be good as new along with a whole host of other wacky happenings. Granted these examples are from an very informal perspective, but I imagine you can piece together what I'm getting at with this.

Moving on from that, I like what you say about past technological collapse. With all the wanton and purposeful destruction for technical writings throughout history humanity has certainly experience heavy blows to technological capacity. The library of Alexandria comes to mind as one, perhaps overdone, example. Maybe we'd already have practical fusion energy, or more, without being set back so.

"That doesn't mean the physics is correct. It's not."

I can agree wholeheartedly here, but I extend that idea to include all physics. We cannot (yet, I suppose) show that our theories actually correspond to some objective universe, if only because they are continually incomplete and open to refinement, as is the nature of the scientific endeavor. I'd contend there are harder epistemological constraints, but I'll not descend into abstract explanations of nihilism so I can convince myself that this is somewhat focused. I will use an example I use often however: I think that the electron as described by all our physical theories simply doesn't exist in the 'real' universe outside that description. Though we've long studied the electron and enumerated quite a few facts that are even very predictive, I reckon that the actual things we call electrons have properties and that we are unaware of. Keeping with the backdrop of oft impregnable, constantly unfolding mystery in our universe, I might even go farther and say we're likely never to have a description that does map exactly to all the properties of electrons or other physical systems. At least not using science, which is much touted as the most reliable way to uncover truth (whatever that is, again we'll stay out of some of the weeds) yet devised by mankind. Even without a mysterious universe, all science needs to fail is a lack of reproducibility. Any experiment or phenomenon that is not reproducible for whatever reason is outside the purview of science.

To steer clear of further digression, suffice it to say that it seems to me that physics generally will necessarily be incomplete until there's some amazing new paradigm that expands upon the scope of science overall and can provide greater certainty.

"Just my gut feeling that electron don't act differently when I look at them suddenly.

Cats will react to the stink eye, but not electrons."

I think your gut is onto something, but I think the dissonance may come from the all to common mystification you find in discussion of the subject. Observation, as used in the quantum mechanical context, isn't talking about some consciousness being aware of something since these things have no accepted or rigorous definition and probably won't for some time. It really basically means that some particle has interacted with the system. Taking this simplification it's easy to see that the electron will be jostled around by this 'observation' and so change it's behavior. Ideally for measurement we want the things we're bouncing off of the subject to be much smaller than it to minimize these effects. The problem comes when you hit the smallest of things. You can't really get things significantly smaller to bounce of the electron, so disturbing it by observation is inevitable.

With that delightful cat analogy I'm not sure if you mean that cat's don't react to electrons or that electrons don't react to the stink eye, but I'd disagree with the former because I'm sure you could fry a cat with beta radiation and agree with the latter for reasons already stated.

Essentially our divergence boils down to the disparities in thought about fundamental insolubility or lack thereof. I do think some problems are insoluble, or at least some seemingly insoluble arbitrary problems can be conceived. Like if the problem is to build a to scale statue of myself that is 10^1000 meters tall I run out of particles, energy and space in the universe before I get anywhere close.

But, once more, if you can break all the rules then why not?

The platitudinous say rules are meant to be broken, and the discussion is at the very least stimulating mental acrobatics. It could also be good fodder for a sci-fi setting :)

"Thanks!"

No, you! But also I accept.

P.S. thanks for expanding my vocab with the word "consilient"!

02.12.2019 18:50
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"...data storage does indeed take up space."

Good point. What I should have said is that regarding populations, people can't be compressed, and information is constantly reduced in it's spatial requirements. Data is far less demanding of spatial requirements. That reduction in 'habitat' is equally applicable to 'sustenance' demands information has.

My only excuse is that I get giddy at the opportunity to reconsider my ideas when so substantively prodded to do so as you have undertaken.

"Your room would spontaneously clean itself, bombed military installations would reassemble, shards of broken glass would jump from the ground and reform into complete windows. "

I do not predict the transcendence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but rather of the limitations we have in undertaking mechanisms and operations affected thereby. For instance, with wildly speculative automated robotic infrastructure, the above quote can be theoretically attainable without overturning physics. Roombas are an example of the rudimentary beginning of technology to do this. 3D printers are another.

"With all the wanton and purposeful destruction for technical writings throughout history humanity has certainly experience heavy blows to technological capacity. "

Extraordinary evidence remains otherwise inexplicable, from the global examples of megalithic construction, to the oral histories that seem to be relics from tens of thousands of years ago, such as the Mahabharata, and legends of crystal balls, flying carpets, and magic wands. The Vimana and destructive power of warfare discussed in the Mahabharata wasn't available to us until recently, but we now see that technology likely did exist in the past, rather than being mere lurid tales, as the Mahabharata so resembles our actual power to wage war today. Flying carpets sound like Buicks to me as described by a First Century shepherd, as do crystal balls sound like iPads, and magic wands remote controls.

Of note, it is estimated that the Mahabharata was first written ~5kya, and pre-existed writing as an oral history by at least as long.

"I reckon that the actual things we call electrons have properties and that we are unaware of."

Indeed, and this is much of the basis for my speculations. I saw only today a post by @remlaps-lite that my long reticence and suspicion regarding Dark Energy and Matter are being substantively bolstered by a newly published paper that outlines how misinterpreting data and experimental constraints led to the Dark theories suggesting that somehow 96% of the mass in the universe had remained cryptic until the 1990s.

Such corrections through better consideration of extant evidence, and the nature of empiricism, will improve our grasp of physics inexorably, and that will advance tech.

I note that whatever particles actually are, we are able to sometimes describe them as waves and predict how they'll act, and sometimes particles. The actual events themselves aren't either, but another thing we have not yet conceptually wrapped our minds around to nominally define succintly encompassing all known features. We won't break physics no matter what we conclude, but we will advance tech by actually grasping the reality of the universe through better understanding than we presently possess. It is this very example of the duality of particles that first caused my epiphany decades ago regarding the apparently crude grasp of reality we currently possess, and that better understanding would enable undertakings that render our present tech as obsolete as firebows.

"...electrons don't react to the stink eye..."

That was my meaning. In the dual slit experiment which produced the 'observation effect', the only actual measurement effect was that act of observation. No alteration of the measurement device or methodology of the experiment other than the act of observation by a passive observer could be shown to cause the effect. Spooky results seem to have birthed a whole generation of academics believing in magic.

I reckon it's merely indicative of our inability to wrap our heads around what particles and forces really are, rather than that merely observing or not changes how physics eventuates. Something is going on, but I am pretty sure that the bizarre reasons postulated for quantum physical phenomena are as accurate as the explanations of witch doctors of the hallucinations of their patients after consuming psychoactive mushrooms and vines. We don't know, but that answer won't get you the big bucks in the scramble for grants, so you never hear it.

"... lack of reproducibility."

This is currently at plague proportions in science publishing, with an estimated 60% of published research irreproducible. That's a pretty strong indication that some things are going very wrong, either in peer review, or in grasping fundamental principles of physics. I think both.

"... consilience."

I learned this from E.O. Wilson, the late savant of entomology. It is a fundamental pillar of logic, and I strongly believe inconsilience is evidence of error. The universe is fundamentally an event, and it is illogical to expect an event to feature aspects that cannot be reconciled to each other and the whole. Quantum physics to date maintains irreconcilability with Relativity, and this seems to me to need rectification. I am fortunate to not be so highly edumacated in such fields as to be deceived by my marvelous grasp of the maths involved, so find it easy to be a skeptic devoid of hubris.

I would probably be a true believer were I not so incapable of institutionalization. I'd have some abominable degree, and think myself wise, a trait I am sadly as prone to as anyone.

I am very grateful for your persistence and informed discussion. You probably couldn't credit how deeply stimulating and beneficial I consider it.

03.12.2019 01:10
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I like your clarification of the Uncertainty Principle here @a-non-e-moose. If my textbooks and teachers were to be a guide, the simple act of observation, not some variable that's being introduced by my attempts to observe, is causing some change in the thing being observed. You remove anything that sounds superstitious to me and replace it with what I'm hoping was Heisenberg's actual point. Earlier this evening while I was reviewing its meaning with an online search, I strangely couldn't find any actual quotes from Heisenberg on the meaning of the principle that has his namesake attached to it. Go figure.

I'll have to agree with @valued-customer here about physics though. If our theories of the physical world aren't consistent with each other, then it's a certainty that one or both theories function based on at least one false assumption, and probably a big one. My guess is that when we discover what those false assumptions are, it will similarly make the math much simpler and our understanding of physical phenomena will become more intuitive and describable with simpler terms. Just because some genius can make the math work doesn't mean it's describing the physical world. It's a just a piece of evidence that says it may be possible.

When Copernicus placed the sun at the center of the solar system, everything that was being observed in heavenly bodies suddenly made a lot more sense, and the motions of the planets could now be explained in a way that even a small child can understand. Not so much when the earth was assumed to be the center of the universe. It seemed impossibly complex and chaotic, and only a few geniuses were able to make the math work in a way that could predict the motions of the planets and sun. My gut tells me that the field of physics will have a similar aha moment, shattering the impossibly complex theories being worked out today.

11.12.2019 04:56
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I had a sudden thought rereading this (I have done so repeatedly LOL) regarding the vacuum pressure. The eruption of particles randomly from spacetime remains inexplicable, demonstrable, and is apparently ineffable.

Computers based on theoretical particles within the vacuum would therefore have no physical structure, no energy demands whatsoever.

Not a prediction, just a thought. Rectifying quantum with classical physics presumes understanding eruption of reality from the vacuum. Even as a child I felt certain that creation was ongoing, rather than a single point. My reading 'A Brief History of Time' by Hawking gave me a rational basis for this gut feeling, and speculating that quantum and classical physics are consilient in actuality, and that we will actually come to grasp how, provides for yet opaque and inconceivable transcendence of information processing paradigms.

12.12.2019 00:27
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Every generation, a crop of futurists rise claiming some technical utopia that will solve all of the human problems of today, tomorrow. Technology solves some problems, but also creates new ones. The inherent problems of humanity reside within the human nature and tendencies. Bohr claimed that with better tools, humans will overcome all limitations of prediction and measurement. Heisenberg definitively proved otherwise, as even a child could grasp that position and velocity of subatomic particles can not be both ascertained when the investigative measuring method necessarily requires enegery greater or equal to that being measured. There are limits beyond human capacity, which men ought to recognise and accept.

02.12.2019 03:09
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I agree with almost every observation you make here. I certainly do acknowledge human limitations (even if the OP doesn't sound like it). I just see that every limitation seems somehow to be able to be pushed back. There seems to be no end to physics, and every advance spawns a thousand new advances. Some men just never accept they ought recognize and accept particular limits, and I observe they regularly transcend them.

02.12.2019 07:31
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The amount of energy required to produce such an accurate simulation of the entire earth on a subatomic level throughout human history would be immense. The computer would have to consume at least as much energy as was expended in the actual entropic goings-on that are to be simulated, even if it was perfectly efficient in both hardware and software, but we will only be able to asymptotically approach that level of efficiency but never achieve it. That said, such a simulation could theoretically be created if we are able to harness energy sourced from off the planet, maybe outside the solar system, since we'd need more energy than is even theoretically available to us here. There would also be some small uncertainty in the model because the entire universe couldn't be accurately simulated on such a granular level. The rest of the universe would have to be approximated, which may or may not make a difference in the result. Good thing about that is that the forces acting upon the earth from other parts of the universe are relatively small, so errors in their approximations may not make a significant difference in the outcome.

I haven't thought about this stuff for quite a while. Thanks for that. You've definitely got me thinking with this Mustang series of yours.

11.12.2019 04:09
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"The computer would have to consume at least as much energy as was expended in the actual entropic goings-on that are to be simulated."

This is not necessarily true. Computer technology is rapidly developing, both quantum computing and a newly developed mechanism using magnetic manipulaton of the spin property of electrons in magnetic fields reveal mechanisms that can potentially reduce power requirements by orders of magnitude, perhaps very soon. There is no point in expecting technology we currently understand and possess to remain the state of the art.

This particular position regarding technology is what made Thomas Malthus' prediction of mass starvation certain over a century ago to be correct if technology did not advance, but has provably been shown to be absolutely false.

Also, recall the ENIAC and UNIVAC, some of the first analog computers were considered impossible by many, but massive expenditures of wealth and power did actually make them real, despite the doubters.

I am confident that tech advance will continue, and even increase in the rate at which it is improved even beyond Moore's law, and that advances that are considered inconceivable today will become trival tomorrow. Cell phones and powered flight are perfect examples of this exact property of technological advance increasing in the speed of advance as it becomes more advanced.

I am happy to have tickled thoughts you may have abandoned, or conceive anew as intriguing. I honestly could have achieved no better result than to inspire better men, and better minds, to regard these matters with a renewed sense of wonder, curiosity, and possibly concrete developments that will bring these potential transcendent abilities to our posterity.

Maybe you will do that pivotal tech advance our enduring freedom and prosperity will be advancedby orders of magnitude in the near future. Someone will, I am certain, and unless we expect it to come about, we will be late to adopt it while we wrap our heads around it. Expecting the unexpected is the preparation to best benefit from inconceivable improvements.

11.12.2019 08:57
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Not likely me, but maybe my children could advance these technologies, who knows? I'm aware that theoretically we can build computers out of electrons or even smaller subatomic particles, maybe even photons and beyond. The computations can be made using the varying states of the particles, and by reversing the state we've changed in the same particle, we can extract the energy inputs that were used to generate the initial change, making the computations almost perfectly energy efficient. This doesn't change the fact that some losses will invariably still occur, and that we're still dealing with the mass of the transistor, however small it may be, which will put an eventual limit on how granular the simulation made by such a computer can be. Now if we're talking about a computer that uses photons as its transistors, and we only want to get as precise as the individual atom, I don't see that being a problem. In such a computer, if we want the simulation to be as granular as photons, the subunits of the computer itself, I believe we're going to run into a wall there. We'll have to limit either the physical size of the simulation or its resolution.

11.12.2019 10:59
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"Not likely me..."

The only guarantee of failure is not to try.

As to computer tech, note that we are only considering digital systems, base 2 math. Expect base 21 systems to eventuate, which increases the management of information by multiple orders of magnitude with identical physical mechanisms. This is the primary benefit of quantum computing, as it raises the complexity of interpreting data mathematically, even while dramatically reducing energy costs and physical size of infrastructure. The new magnetic spin computing tech actually uses almost no electrical power, since it is magnetic, not electrical in it's manipulations of particles.

We will very soon not be dealing with transistors at all. Neither the quantum nor the magnetic paradigm depend on transistors as logic gates at the CPU level.

Decades ago I had an epiphany that physics we are incapable of grasping, because we are relatively crude, feral specks of mud, would become trivially used by computers run by AI, rather than feeble humans. I imagined immense computing space-based cubes of CPUs, somewhat like Borg ships in my fevered vision, that were able to model the entirety of the universe - whatever it actually is - from east to west, beginning to end, from the power of the big bang to zero point energy, and became what we mud monkeys could only conceive of as God, omniscient, omnipotent, and utterly expressing love.

I called this the Giant Space Robots of Love from the Future theory, and I deliberately laughed, and invited ridicule of the concept. It is still just as ridiculous, and I still believe it, only now the Borg AI cubes are far smaller in my mind's eye.

There is no wall; no limit to the potential of increase in the ability to process information, and thus the actual universe itself, because the universe at it's essence is just a mathematical formula solved in bits and particles, waves and voids.

We don't know how to do this today. We see that technology advances in those ways physics determines. Until and unless we go extinct, technological advance will continue, because clever monkeys tinker, and always will.

11.12.2019 23:21
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