Re: poly: Infinite calculations in an open universe?

From: Perry E. Metzger <>
Date: Tue Dec 09 1997 - 13:27:44 PST

Anders Sandberg writes:
> "Perry E. Metzger" <> writes:
> > Am I the only person around here who feels like they aren't at all
> > sure they believe the "infinite amounts of computation lets you
> > simulate everything" notion? The reasoning feels as specious as Zeno's
> > paradox in a lot of ways to me.
> This depends on if you believe in the Church-Turing thesis (everything
> calculable can be calculated on a Turing machine) and the
> calculability of the universe. If you accept them, then everything can
> be simulated (and even better, emulated). If you don't, then things
> get trickier.

I don't believe that is correct. Allow me to posit one problem.

Lets say there is an ever expanding set of problems that we want to
calculate, and the set of problems we wish to calculate expands faster
than the amount of computation we have available per unit time.

As someone with a mathematical background and a background in C.S.,
I find a lot of the arguments unconvincing because of just such
difficulties. The problem is never having unlimited computation. In
theory, if the universe lasts infinitely and we have enough
electricity my laptop will perform an infinite amount of
computation -- but it can't do enough per unit time to be of interest.

Received on Tue Dec 9 21:19:57 1997

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