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Caledonian2 comments on Reductionism - Less Wrong

40 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 16 March 2008 06:26AM

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Comment author: Caledonian2 16 March 2008 02:36:47PM 0 points [-]

At present, we cannot generate accurate quantum mechanical descriptions of atoms more complex than hydrogen (and, if we fudge a bit, helium). Any attempt to do so, because of the complexity and intractability of the equations evolved, produces results that are less accurate than our empirically-derived understanding.

Even if we ignore the massive computational problems with trying to create a QM model of an airplane, such a model is guaranteed to be less accurate than the existing higher-order models of aerodynamics and material science.

We presume that our models, if we knew how to generate and evaluate them, would accurately describe things on an atomic level, and this is not unreasonable to claim. But Eliezer's claim goes far, far, far beyond what can be justified at present.