February 8, 2003
Passage of the Moment
As the German biologist Bernd-Olaf Küppers puts it"...in the framework of algorithmic information theory, there is a strict mathematical proof for the assertion that we can never know whether we are in possession of the minimum formula by means of which all the phenomena of the real world can be predicted. The completeness of a scientific theory can in principle never be proved."
We can take pleasure in such concise, elegant expressions as Maxwell's formulae for electromagnetism. But we can never know whether we could express them even more concisely. Not until the day we do so.
Life will forever be open to us. We will never know that it cannot be expressed more beautifully.
The beauty in the world is growing.
--Tor Nørretranders, "The User Illusion." He seems to be taking his time getting to his central points about the illusionary nature of consciousness, starting with Maxwell's Demon and moving into Complexity Theory.
Complexity Theory is great, and it's been too long since I've thought about it. See, total randomness is boring as is total order. Order is boring because it's too easy to describe, like molecules in a crystal. Since you can't describe truly random data in a more compact way, it contains a maximum amount of "information", but that still doesn't interest us. Complexity gets to the idea that what's interesting is how much work was done to get to the final result, and it's where all the interesting stuff in the world happens. It ties into evolution--an organism's genome is valuable because of all the stuff its ancestoral tree has experienced and how the DNA has been weeded out. (On the basis of DNA length, a Lilly would seem to be more complex than a human...)
To me, it also ties into the hacker's idea of "elegance", especially when he describes the work that complexity describes is spent in throwing the extra junk out...
Yeesh it feels good to be reading! I barely cracked a book in January.
In case anyone was wondering, today's title is a Beastie Boys' lyric.