The beginning of infinity: explanations that transform the world / David Deutsch. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Explanation. 2. Infinite. “The exercise content and evaluations in this book are outstanding. Liz “Fitness For Dummies is a real rarity: a f Beginning English Conversation. The Beginning of Infinity and millions of other books are available for instant access. This item:The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch Paperback $ The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its.
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The Beginning of Infinity is a book, by David Deutsch, broadly about explaining reality, thinking rationally, and the beginning of infinite human progress. of explanation. A previous book by the physicist. David Deutsch  touched on all these themes. His new work, The Beginning of Infinity, is even more ambitious. In this important new book, David Deutsch, an award-winning pioneer in the field of quantum computation, argues that explanations have a fundamental place in.
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To understand this, consider the earliest writing system; it used stylized pictures — called pictograms — to represent words. For example, they added rules such as, if a word sounds like two words in a row, it can be represented by the pictograms of those two words.
Adding such a rule improves the writing system because more words can be expressed without the need for more pictograms. But one particular improvement in a system of knowledge can lead to a sudden increase of explanatory power: the jump to universality. Pictograms can only represent words by combining symbols that are limited to specific meanings.
But one day someone invented a way of combining symbols into any meaning. The alphabet. The genius of the alphabet is that it can cover not only every word but every possible word in its language. Such an improvement causes a sudden increase of reach in the system and makes possible the creation of new forms of knowledge. The Beginning of Infinity Key Idea 5: Rational and democratic decision-making in groups has been proven impossible. In , the economist Kenneth Arrow did something radical.
He proved a theorem that appears to deny the very possibility of representative democracy.
His argument was that joint decision-making, the process of multiple people agreeing on something for a group, is necessarily irrational. It says that the preference of one individual cannot be taken as the preference of the group. Another principle is that if the members of the group have identical preferences, then the group must have those preferences too.
This finding actually won him a Nobel Prize!
The Beginning of Infinity
Common sense says that when we make a decision, we weigh the evidence that each option presents. But there is something fundamentally wrong with this perception of decision-making: it conceives of decision-making as a process of selecting from existing options.
However, at the heart of decision-making is the creation of new options and the abandonment or modification of existing ones.
The Beginning of Infinity Key Idea 6: Because we cannot know what we will discover in the future, optimists believe anything is possible. In , the economist Thomas Malthus argued that humanity would stop progressing once and for all in the nineteenth century.
The horse might die. The king might die. I might die. Or I might get the horse to talk! In the end, he may or may not discover how to teach the horse to talk.
But he may discover something else instead. The Beginning of Infinity Key Idea 7: Knowledge makes humanity significant in the cosmic scheme of things.
But what about the way humans transformed the Earth by means of their knowledge? We are accustomed to thinking of the Earth as hospitable.
But by using our ability to create knowledge, humans invented science and technology, and converted the Earth into a hospitable place. When you look at cosmic phenomena, such as immense stellar explosions, our knowledge seems quite insignificant.
But think about the long run: one day human knowledge might help us colonize other solar systems, and even learn how to control powerful physical processes such as stellar explosions — one day we might even choose to prevent a stellar explosion if it threatens a planet colonized by humans.
This would very concretely mean exerting our influence on a cosmic level. The Beginning of Infinity Key Idea 8: According to quantum theory, the physical world comprises multiple universes with differing histories.
Instrumentalism is this view that theories are useful for explaining and predicting phenomena, rather than that they necessarly describe the world. In fact, quantum theory in its instrumental form has provided the most successful explanation of all time, by being the most powerful of all scientific theories.
But Deutsch wants a realist quantum theory.
The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
Any realist explanation of the physical world at the submolecular, quantum scale, must involve some physical manifestation of infinity. Deutsch tackles this need head on by using the concept of a real multiverse. According to him we live in one out of an unfathomable number of parallel universes, which interact at the quantum level.
In this multiverse, the idea of individual photon and electron interactions are replaced by an infinite number of interacting instances which collectively can account for all possible forms of behaviour. What many will find very hard to accept is that this idea of an infinite number of alternatives for any given quantum event may provide both the simplest explanation of quantum phenomena, and a first glimpse of a new vision of reality.
Most attempts to make quantum ideas accessible seek ways of making unrealistic instrumental approaches graspable by using exotic metaphors.
There is none of that here — no zillions of little clocks whizzing about, or ghostly superpositions of alive and dead cats — just simple, clear arguments demanding a philosophical consideration, and a philosophical response. Computing Infinity In quantum computation, the key concept is parallelism — the simultaneous execution on one device of many different computations using the alternative possible states of quanta which quantum mechanics relies upon.
This prevents anyone from challenging the philosophy. The source of our theories is conjecture, which are then subjected to criticism. All theories are wrong, or at least incomplete. Criticism permits better explanations to emerge. This kind of error correction is critical to making any system work.
Deutsch states that the prime moral imperative is to never suppress the means of criticism and error correction. He shows this argument is profound, limited only what was not known at the time. What is the difference between a stone and a watch?
Paley may have thought the stone was created as is, while today we know that it has been through a complex process driven by the formation of the earth and plate tectonics. But that makes no difference. The watch was clearly not assembled by plate tectonics or any other natural process. If any small change is made to it, it ceases to function as before, while if the stone is broken in pieces, you have more stones.
The design process for the watch involves stepwise refinement with the correction of errors that result in a functioning watch.
The stone also went through a refinement process, but the fundamental difference is there was no error correction feedback. The watch cannot be properly understood without knowing its purpose.
And if there is purpose, there must be intent, and therefore a designer. A mouse has all the same attributes as a watch, so it was quite reasonable to conclude that it must be designed as well, therefore has a designer. And he is right.
However, we now know the purpose of the mouse: to replicate its genes. The designer of the mouse is not a person; it is the stepwise process known as natural selection, with a system of error correction that removes mouse designs that fail to reproduce their genes.
These ideas are clearly central to the book, as can be seen by the watch the author is examining on the front cover.Some chapters are clearly written, while others were beyond my comprehension.
This open-mindedness itself leads to new ways of creating knowledge, so if you want to make progress, start looking at the bright side of life! From this increased creative ability, the ability to create new memes emerged and humans thus became universal constructors and technological development accelerated. Now, when one of the transporters malfunctions, there could be a small voltage surge in the transported objects, and this could occur in one of the universes and not the other.
Brain the size of Birmingham, ego bigger still".