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.
Even if God exists, this statement does not explain how he did it, which is what is relevant for science. 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?
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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.
The watch and a good scientific explanation share the fact that small changes made to either will break them. Bad explanations and stones can be changed significantly, and they still function as they did before.
The author explores the concept of a universal system, which means a small digital system that can be used to create new things without itself being modified. Digital systems are required because they have built in error correction. Variations are rounded to the nearest decimal digit, whereas in analog systems the errors can accumulate. An example is the alphabet, which can generate any new word using the same letters, or ten digits that can generate any possible number.
Language itself is a digital system. While we can make an infinite number of sounds, of which only a subset are used for our words.
The first universal digital system was the genetic code, which somehow evolved from the original chemicals on the Earth.
For example, for the first few billion years the DNA system only created bacteria. This makes them dynamic societies. The Beginning of Infinity Key Idea 4: Systems of knowledge develop incrementally until they jump to universality. If you were reading this book summary instead of listening to them, think about the alphabet that permits you to derive meaning from what you see on your screen. What can this writing system teach us about the creation of knowledge?
Systems of knowledge, like writing systems, develop incrementally. To understand this, consider the earliest writing system; it used stylized pictures — called pictograms — to represent words.
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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! 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. In fact, according to quantum theory, the physical world is a multiverse.
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Traditional physics imagines the universe as a singular entity. In fact, there is an infinite number of universes, which are all initially perfectly identical.
But even though the multiple universes start out identical, and are subject to the same physical laws, they can have different histories. 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. As a result, in that universe, that passenger spills a cup of intergalactic coffee on another passenger. They then have a shared experience which they do not have in the other universe, which can lead to anything — maybe a romance or a new course of history.
In fact, quantum theory states that every individual universe in the multiverse will have its own unique history. It is like the discovery of America — you only discover it once. In the late nineteenth century, the classical physical laws discovered by Newton were conceived as ultimate, fundamental truths, with little left to be discovered.
Our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals. But since the two theories operate on vastly different scales, they are radically incompatible at the moment. And we cannot know which scientific discovery will clear up this inconsistency, because future scientific discoveries are not yet imaginable.He also points out that predictions of economic consequences fail to take account of future innovation.
How We Became the Center of the Universe". Such an improvement causes a sudden increase of reach in the system and makes possible the creation of new forms of knowledge.
His key idea is that science is defined by seeking explanations for the universal laws that govern reality. Deutsch argues that a great deal of fiction is close to a fact somewhere in the multiverse. In general, the problem with relying on scientific method to solve our problems is that we humans did not evolve to think that way.
This makes them dynamic societies.
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