Noesis 58 - February 1991

EDITOR'S COMMENTS

I believe in matter and space as information held in some vast awareness, which doesn't seem so far from CTMU. I also think that the increasing prevalence of such belief is part of the Zeitgeist of the near future. I agree with Langan that quantum nonlocality is consistent with such belief, and I think that Langan makes a strong, often clear presentation of his position. (I'd rather read scatological material than arguments about CTMU, but I am a slimeball.)

I don't believe in Langan's solution of the marble thing or in anyone's solution to Newcomb's paradox. (Newcomb's paradox is not only an imaginary situation, but an insufficiently-imaginable situation of the irresistible force/immovable object variety. It demands a short-story writer, not a game theorist.) With regard to the marble thing, here are two similar problems of my own:

1. Ten numbers are chosen. The average of nine of the numbers is 75. What is the probability that the average of all ten numbers is less than 1007
2. An urn is filled with ten marbles, nine of which are white. The remaining marble has been randomly selected from a box containing x marbles, only one of which is white. After ten random samples with replacement from the urn, all of which turned up while marbles, what is the probability that all marbles in the urn are white?

Answers:

Problem 1- Pi squared divided by 17

Problem 2- Standard Monty Hall/Marilyn Savant/Chris Cole/Marshall Fox/Bayesian probability theory says that the probability of all white marbles in an urn is 1/{(n-1/n)sx + [1-(n-1/n)]s}, where n is the number of marbles in the urn (and n-1 is the number of definitely-white marbles), s is the number of samples, and x is the number of marbles in the box. For a ten-marble urn sampled ten times, the probability of all white marbles is approximately l/(.34868x + .65132). Unfortunately, the problem doesn't specify what x equals, so we're basically screwed, even though in this problem we know that nine of the urn's marbles are for sure white! For white marble fans, this is a more favorable situation than in the original, troublesome marble problem, where we only know with certainly that at least one marble is white. Our buddy Bayes can give us only so much assistance.

CTMU inspired me to do some sloppy mathematical speculation. If the universe is a vast information-manipulating array, can a number be assigned to its level of complexity? How about assigning the cosmos the number 80, as in 10 to the 80th, which, I think, is Eddington's estimate of the number of elementary particles in the universe. Given the outrageous assumption that the universe is an info array of complexity 80, what number can be assigned to the info array in a typical human head? My guess is 14, plus or minus 3 (a compromise between the number of neurons and the number of molecules in Joe Bob's brain). I further flailingly speculate that, given an average complexity level of 14, people can still adequately function with levels of 11 or 12. and that catastrophic brain damage aside, complexity level and IQ are virtually uncorrelated. (That is, people perceive and feel with about the same intensity regardless of any manifestations of apparent intelligence or even sanity.)

Given a human complexity level of 14, I'd guess that analogues of what we consider emotions can be seen in animals down to levels 8 or 9, that what we consider thought can be seen down to levels of 3. I can't imagine our universe containing any local intelligence larger than planet-sized, with a complexity level of around 40.

What do y'all think?

Langan suggests problems in verifying perceptual frameworks in his discussion of Newcomb's paradox. (Are we real, or are we disembodied simulations in some information system, and is there even any difference?) I'd like to recommend the novels of science fiction author Philip K. Dick, whose characters often must confront the breakdown of simulated reality, and who frequently find that there is no paradox-free perceptual frame. Dick's novel Ubik is my favorite.

The Mega Society


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