Why are We Here? Gregory Chaitin interview

Quote:David: Right, so randomness, when you talk about it, is…

GC: Lack of law, lack of structure, lack of…

David: It’s genuine randomness. It’s not something that we will figure out, we will be able to predict later. This is… You just won’t.

GC: That’s correct.

David: Well, can you tell me about that, because if I’ve understood you right, then you’re saying that this is where creativity comes from.

GC: The question of creativity… The problem of creativity is, can you have a mathematical theory of creativity? Well it can’t be a theory that will give you a mechanical procedure for being creative because then it’s not creative. So a mathematical theory of creativity has to be indirect. Creativity is by definition uncomputable. If we knew how to do it, it wouldn’t be creative.

When you have maximum creativity, it looks random because it’s totally unpredictable from what you knew before.

GC: That means that you’re really being creative. So randomness is the extreme of creativity, really. They’re…

Ard: They’re connected together.

GC: And if you can calculate… if you can calculate something, then it’s not creative because you’re working within your existing system. So there’s this paradoxical aspect. A mathematical theory of creativity is a more abstract kind of mathematics where you can prove theorems about creativity – you can describe it – maybe you can show it’s highly probable, but it won’t give you a way to mechanically produce creativity, which is the kind of thing that instrumental mathematics normally does.

Ard: You can also say what creativity is not.

GC: Yes, that’s very important too. So the more we can say what it’s not, we begin to see the complement to what it is.

Ard: It’s interesting, there’s a very famous tradition in theology which says that you can’t speak about God, you can only say about what God is not. And so there’s something interesting there with creativity. You can’t nail down creativity, but you can say what it isn’t.

GC: Well, isn’t God pure creativity?

'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