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Joseph_Knecht comments on Joy in Discovery - Less Wrong

29 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 21 March 2008 01:19AM

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Comment author: Joseph_Knecht 23 March 2008 01:37:24AM 0 points [-]

Me: Physics could at some point be completely solved, which is to say that at some point, there would be no further knowledge that would ever allow us to do anything new, to make any better a prediction, to do anything more efficiently, etc.

Tobbic: It seems to me that ppl have a tendency to overstate their knowledge. What does a slug know about physics? Respectively, what does a human know about (possible) 101th dimension or travel through time or any of the stuff some posthuman might do "physics" about.

I didn't claim that it is a fact that physics could be completely solved. My point is that it is conceivable that it could be -- there is no apparent logical contradiction from believing this -- but it is absurd to say that every story could ever be told, every painting could ever be painted, or that we could run out of theorems to solve and new areas of mathematics to invent.

Reality does not constrain mathematics -- it doesn't have to have applications -- but it obviously does constrain physics, and sets an upper bound on what can be discovered.

Note: this argument says nothing about whether it is likely that we ever will completely solve it or not, as you seem to assume.