Could Mind Forge the Universe?

by Sophie Hebden

by Sophie Hebden

Quote:"Mathematically when you ask, ’What if there are no laws of nature?’ that’s like asking ’What if all you have is mathematics itself? Can that give you something that allows you to predict what you’ll see—that is, some probabilities of observations, without assuming anything else?’," says Mueller. "That was my starting point."...

Quote:... Future observations that don’t fit in with what we’ve seen in the past—perhaps worlds with five or six dimensions—are thrown out because their likelihood is so much smaller than us continuing to observe a world with three spatial dimensions. Observations consistent with what we’ve seen in the past, those that fit into a description of the world in the usual sense, with regular laws—these are the most likely. Hence we get an ’emergent world’ from our observations.

"It turns out that algorithmic probability is a very useful notion," says Mueller. Physical laws and regularities emerge in the same way that robots eventually learn to give the right answers. "Laws tend to stabilise and you see regularities around you and this world with these laws of nature," Mueller explains. "It’s the same kind of mathematical origin of both."

Renato Renner, a theoretical physicist based at ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, notes that there is a long history in physics of trying to formulate theories from a first-person perspective. But unlike most attempts, Mueller has succeeded in developing "a well-defined theory within which non-trivial results can be derived," says Renner. "This is very remarkable!" In a rough sense, Renner says, Mueller has provided a quantitative version of Occam’s razor: it assigns high probabilities to possible future events that have a simple explanation...

'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell

- Bertrand Russell