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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2007 12:28 am 
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[[Part deux]]

To Forrest et alia:

I live in a world of philosphy more different than you can imagine, where I belong to the C++ Stroustrup school and the Java-heads belong to the Java/Sun school, both of Object-Oriented design philosphy.

Unlike any other philosophy, Computer Science and its attendant Computer Engineering are the only schools of science that are wholly synthetic. That is, they are pure human invention. The Science is what we say it is and although there are competing and incompatible schools of thought, none can be proven to be wrong because it is ALL artiface! We humans built this thing, it is completely an invention and I am one of the artisans. Nature has no parallel to Computer Science and we did not discover it. Rather, we invented it. It is a human tool. Arguably, Computer Science is neither a Science nor is it Natural. Although, biology may soon enter this heady realm, once they can create a wholly synthetic organic molecule and build it into a wholly synthetic organism (they're working on a synthetic microbe).

With that in mind, physics may provide the bricks and mortar (electronics)but the concepts provide the structure. My arguments earlier applied to digital computers, a construct that has serious limits built into its fundimental base. One of those limits is the inability to provide true randomness. This alone argues for its inherently deterministic nature. One cannot construc t a f(x)=y where f(x)= rand(x) because rand(x) is only an approximation of a truely random function, rather it is a complex but predictable series.

This is where many naive attempts at encryption fail. Although, in my field, it is argued that even in an analog medium, true randomness is difficult, or even impossible, to implement. The guys working on Quantum Computers are, of course, arguing the complete opposite. :wink:

Remember what I said about Computer Science being wholly an artifact and see this for what it is, a bunch of artists using the new medium (Quantum Mechanics) to develop a new school of artiface, called Quantum Computing. The difference would be like working in Opaque Grays vs. Modern Tempras. Frankly, I'm not even sure how we could figure out a way to program this beast, but we will, eventually. This might indeed become the medium that would finally allow us to build a true neural net and pave the way towards true Artificial Intelligence. But to hear some philosophers, it might even be the first real intelligence since, humans aren't, arguably, intelligent. :wink:

Following historical precedent, it will take over a century to fully develop this technology such that we can make good use of it.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2007 2:02 am 
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On the nature of random:

A friend of mine once said "Random is not being asked to pick a number between one and a thousand ... random is being askedto pick a number between one and a thousand, and answering 'chicken'."

Now, at the time we weren't discussing math and science so much as Monty Python, but I think the principle still stands. When Pythons came out, there hadn't been much completely absurdist sketch comedy (Aside from the earliest incarnation of that Q show, which I think beat the Pythons by a few months.) Sure, there'd been some random stuff before, but nothing to the degree Pythons brought about. Some television shows were content breaking the fourth wall... Pythons sought out and demolished the fifth, sixth, and possibly seventh walls, just to prove it could be done.

And as to the Quantum Computer... Decoherence is probably the single largest hurtle they're going to have to overcome in the process of creating some sort of stable architecture. Then again, it may not be that big of a deal... just ask any Windows user. We're already used to the concept that our data may or may not exist at any given moment based entirely on random and arbitrary fluctuations in the space-time continuium. It's just now, when we get the blue screen of death, it'll be in 8 dimensions and could possibly actually kill you.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2007 11:22 pm 
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Slamlander wrote:
Gadzooks! I've uncovered a nest of closet philosophers here! :-o :wink:


I'm not exactly closeted about it... it's what I got my degree in.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 12:08 am 
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Forrest wrote:
Slamlander wrote:
Gadzooks! I've uncovered a nest of closet philosophers here! :-o :wink:


I'm not exactly closeted about it... it's what I got my degree in.


The point is, you weren't the only one. You, I already knew about. :-)

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 8:49 am 
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Wasn't there a scientific theory that all things are predictable, if only we have the ability to detect them?

IMO, in trying to create true random number generators, we may have made things that used to appear random predictable. Of course, that's just my opinion. Others may disagree. We really don't have PROOF either way, and it's pretty much impossible to get proof as to whether or not there are random things in the universe. Anyways, if you guys want to believe that there are certain things that aren't predictable, that's fine. As for me? If I'm careful, I can almost always predict what most of my friends will do in a situation I put them in.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:46 am 
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PsionicsNOTMagic wrote:
Wasn't there a scientific theory that all things are predictable, if only we have the ability to detect them?

That was more of a philosophical theory, I believe, and quantum electrodynamics seems to be blowing it out of the water. It's looking like the best we can do is predict the likelihood of a particular event (or, when the event is repeated an incredible number of times, we can predict the frequency of various outcomes).


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 1:11 pm 
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At PNM:

A problem lies in the definition of 'random'. Many things that are considered random are only just "not understood" or "unpredictable". For example the result of a die roll, the market, or the weather. They aren't truly 'random', in the sense that any value could be the result. There are rules that dictate how they will behave. But those rules require having so much knowledge to predict that the results become unpredictable, and we call unpredictability randomness.

This could be the case with quantum mechanics, or it could not. There might be a lower layer that is deterministic in nature guiding the behavior of particles. Or the universe could really be random at it's most fundamental level. So far, evidence would point towards randomness. During Newton's time, evidence suggested determinism. Being dead set in a position just blinds you to new information.

Also, unless you can predict their reactions to the point that you can have entire conversations with your friends without them being present, what you can do isn't particularly noteworthy. Most people can tell what the reaction of close acquaintances will be to a given situation.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 1:31 pm 
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Kian wrote:
Also, unless you can predict their reactions to the point that you can have entire conversations with your friends without them being present, what you can do isn't particularly noteworthy. Most people can tell what the reaction of close acquaintances will be to a given situation.


Like anyone can tell you the answer to "what will happen to this 1kg hunk of lead when suspended in water?" (it will sink), but without much more information and a good understanding of both classical mechanics and fluid dynamics, few people could answer "what will be the trajectory of this 1kg hunk of lead over the next 60 seconds?". Rough prediction is easy; but getting an accurate and precise answer is pretty hard.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 9:11 pm 
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With regard to the issue of whether QM predicts that certain information is "unknowable" or "undetermined" until measured, I can now offer a link to the experiment mentioned in my earlier, and somewhat shamefully lengthier, post. I knew Einstein spearheaded it, but a brief search after I returned from vacation revealed the other contributors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPR_paradox

Particularly the bit on hidden variables and Bell's inequalities. Einstein's preferred interpretation of the problem was that in information really was there, and that we couldn't measure it. This would make it analogous to the famous momentum/position uncertainty relationship, in that measuring one thing necessarily changes the other.

However, as the article describes, it doesn't actually seem to work that way. The best indication is that, (as has been mentioned before, lacking only a citation to back it up) there is no such hidden value. It's simply valueless until the measurement is made, whereupon the system takes on one of the possible values in a manner that can only be predicted statistically.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 11:54 pm 
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I feel this is an appropriate time to mention that I truly <3 this board.

I don't know why, but for some reason the sheer range of conversations that we have around here just makes me all happy inside... like spiritual jello, or something.

^-^'

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 12:46 am 
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Slamlander wrote:
Gadzooks! I've uncovered a nest of closet philosophers here! :-o :wink:


Closet, yes, as I've just been accepted for art school.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 3:14 pm 
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Melkarion wrote:
With regard to the issue of whether QM predicts that certain information is "unknowable" or "undetermined" until measured, I can now offer a link to the experiment mentioned in my earlier, and somewhat shamefully lengthier, post. I knew Einstein spearheaded it, but a brief search after I returned from vacation revealed the other contributors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPR_paradox

Particularly the bit on hidden variables and Bell's inequalities. Einstein's preferred interpretation of the problem was that in information really was there, and that we couldn't measure it. This would make it analogous to the famous momentum/position uncertainty relationship, in that measuring one thing necessarily changes the other.

However, as the article describes, it doesn't actually seem to work that way. The best indication is that, (as has been mentioned before, lacking only a citation to back it up) there is no such hidden value. It's simply valueless until the measurement is made, whereupon the system takes on one of the possible values in a manner that can only be predicted statistically.


The idea that the measurement makes the thing, that observation shapes reality, is monumentally absurd.

The cat is dead, or the cat is alive, even if no one ever opens the box.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 3:17 pm 
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If no one ever opens the box, the cat is eventually dead anyway.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:54 pm 
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Killjoy wrote:
The idea that the measurement makes the thing, that observation shapes reality, is monumentally absurd.


If quantum mechanics teaches you anything, it is that it appears the world follows monumentally absurd rules.

More seriously though, the definition of 'measurement' matters. But there are experiments that prove it to be true. Moreover, IF you consider that unless there is an interaction at some point (the measurement, so to speak) that requires a value to exist, any given value is meaningless, THEN that it would in fact be created when measured stops being so ridiculous. (EDIT: This sentence is fugly, will see if there's another way of writing it. If it doesn't make sense, just read it until it's clear. It does make sense, honest. EDIT2: Added IF and THEN in capitals to make it easier to read.)

Take the path that a given particle follows, for instance. Assume the particle could reach some given target through two different paths. Unless there's something along one of the paths that would in some way interact with the particle, whichever path it follows is something that the universe doesn't need to know, so to speak. So there's no contradiction in assuming the particle follows both paths.

If you set up sensors along the way to track the progress of the particle, however, then your sensors interact with the particle, and the particle can no longer follow both paths, it has to be in either one or the other.

Unfortunately, you're not god, so you finding it absurd doesn't change the fact that about a hundred years worth of research into QM hasn't debunked it.

(I probably butcher concepts of QM quite liberally. My understanding of the science could be better, I know. I'd point towards the experiments that explain what I mean to say, but I dunno where to find them. Slamlander's link to quantum computers further up the thread is helpful, though. Also, look up "interference", that might give some help as well.)

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 6:06 pm 
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Kian wrote:
At PNM:

A problem lies in the definition of 'random'. Many things that are considered random are only just "not understood" or "unpredictable". For example the result of a die roll, the market, or the weather. They aren't truly 'random', in the sense that any value could be the result. There are rules that dictate how they will behave. But those rules require having so much knowledge to predict that the results become unpredictable, and we call unpredictability randomness.

This could be the case with quantum mechanics, or it could not. There might be a lower layer that is deterministic in nature guiding the behavior of particles. Or the universe could really be random at it's most fundamental level. So far, evidence would point towards randomness. During Newton's time, evidence suggested determinism. Being dead set in a position just blinds you to new information.

Also, unless you can predict their reactions to the point that you can have entire conversations with your friends without them being present, what you can do isn't particularly noteworthy. Most people can tell what the reaction of close acquaintances will be to a given situation.


Ah, but the point is that, if it were possible for you to know all of that (forces pulling and pushing on the die, strength and attitude of the roller, hardness of the surface, starting position of the die, and what have you), then you could predict it. The question is not whether WE can predict it, as humans. The question is whether it would be possible to predict it if we could know all the variables.

If you believe this with all things (including people), then the universe is deterministic.

Edit:

Killjoy wrote:
Melkarion wrote:
With regard to the issue of whether QM predicts that certain information is "unknowable" or "undetermined" until measured, I can now offer a link to the experiment mentioned in my earlier, and somewhat shamefully lengthier, post. I knew Einstein spearheaded it, but a brief search after I returned from vacation revealed the other contributors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPR_paradox

Particularly the bit on hidden variables and Bell's inequalities. Einstein's preferred interpretation of the problem was that in information really was there, and that we couldn't measure it. This would make it analogous to the famous momentum/position uncertainty relationship, in that measuring one thing necessarily changes the other.

However, as the article describes, it doesn't actually seem to work that way. The best indication is that, (as has been mentioned before, lacking only a citation to back it up) there is no such hidden value. It's simply valueless until the measurement is made, whereupon the system takes on one of the possible values in a manner that can only be predicted statistically.


The idea that the measurement makes the thing, that observation shapes reality, is monumentally absurd.

The cat is dead, or the cat is alive, even if no one ever opens the box.


Schrödinger > pwn

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 9:05 pm 
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Kian wrote:
Killjoy wrote:
The idea that the measurement makes the thing, that observation shapes reality, is monumentally absurd.


If quantum mechanics teaches you anything, it is that it appears the world follows monumentally absurd rules.

More seriously though, the definition of 'measurement' matters. But there are experiments that prove it to be true. Moreover, IF you consider that unless there is an interaction at some point (the measurement, so to speak) that requires a value to exist, any given value is meaningless, THEN that it would in fact be created when measured stops being so ridiculous. (EDIT: This sentence is fugly, will see if there's another way of writing it. If it doesn't make sense, just read it until it's clear. It does make sense, honest. EDIT2: Added IF and THEN in capitals to make it easier to read.)

Take the path that a given particle follows, for instance. Assume the particle could reach some given target through two different paths. Unless there's something along one of the paths that would in some way interact with the particle, whichever path it follows is something that the universe doesn't need to know, so to speak. So there's no contradiction in assuming the particle follows both paths.

If you set up sensors along the way to track the progress of the particle, however, then your sensors interact with the particle, and the particle can no longer follow both paths, it has to be in either one or the other.

Unfortunately, you're not god, so you finding it absurd doesn't change the fact that about a hundred years worth of research into QM hasn't debunked it.

(I probably butcher concepts of QM quite liberally. My understanding of the science could be better, I know. I'd point towards the experiments that explain what I mean to say, but I dunno where to find them. Slamlander's link to quantum computers further up the thread is helpful, though. Also, look up "interference", that might give some help as well.)


IMO, it only followed one of the paths, even if no one bothered to check.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 9:27 pm 
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Killjoy wrote:
IMO, it only followed one of the paths, even if no one bothered to check.


Well, according to these guys your opinion is wrong. You can, of course, keep it.[/url]

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Kian wrote:
Killjoy wrote:
IMO, it only followed one of the paths, even if no one bothered to check.


Well, according to these guys your opinion is wrong. You can, of course, keep it.


The experiment cited doesn't indicate that the photon takes both paths unless you observe which path it took, it indicates that it always takes both paths, and it's because of the splitter, not because of some strange uncertainty. It's not detected at B because of interference, not because of the observation.

Which, while it makes my statement less than true ( :wink: ), it doesn't invalidate the motivation behind that statement, which is the rejection of the idea that things don't actually happen until they're observed, an idea which is complete and utter bollucks.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2007 8:55 am 
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Two things: keep in mind that the particles are intefering with themselves, odd at that is, and that they stop going down both paths when one is blocked. In that case, half the particles go down one path and the other half goes down the other (and is blocked).

As I said before though, you might want to specify what you mean by 'observed'. I don't think anyone here claimed exactly what you're saying.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 12:55 am 
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Hi, This post is very informative, however I would like some specific information. If someone can help me then please send me a private message. Best Regards,

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