Sandbox (4)

Sometimes very active discussions about peripheral issues overwhelm a thread, so this is a permanent home for those conversations.

I’ve opened a new “Sandbox” thread as a post as the new “ignore commenter” plug-in only works on threads started as posts.

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1,859 thoughts on “Sandbox (4)

  1. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/610106/chinese-satellite-uses-quantum-cryptography-for-secure-video-conference-between-continents/

    Chinese satellite uses quantum cryptography for secure videoconference between continents

    Quantum cryptography has never been possible over long distances. But the first quantum communications satellite is rewriting the record books.
    by Emerging Technology from the arXiv

    Jan 30, 2018

    Quantum cryptography allows communication that is guaranteed to be secure, thanks to the laws of physics. And it is becoming increasingly important.

    ….
    Today that changes, thanks to an extraordinary Chinese satellite launched in in 2016. The Micius satellite has racked up a number of milestones in the year or so since it started operating. Last summer, it teleported the first object from Earth to orbit—a single photon.

    Now the satellite has set up the first intercontinental quantum cryptography service. Researchers have tested the system by setting up a secure videoconference between Europe and China. For the first time, the security of this videoconference was guaranteed by the laws of physics.

    …it is always possible to tell whether a quantum particle has been previously observed.

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  2. One of the nicer plain language explanations of how to use Quantum Entanglement in secure communications:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_key_distribution

    The quantum states of two (or more) separate objects can become linked together in such a way that they must be described by a combined quantum state, not as individual objects. This is known as entanglement and means that, for example, performing a measurement on one object affects the other. If an entangled pair of objects is shared between two parties, anyone intercepting either object alters the overall system, revealing the presence of the third party (and the amount of information they have gained).

    This enables two parties to find out if a 3rd party is listening in. This can’t be done as well with classical systems. In effect, for certain limited domains, using QM, one can be sure if one is being spied on or not!

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  3. stcordova:
    One of the nicer plain language explanations of how to use Quantum Entanglement in secure communications:

    This enables two parties to find out if a 3rd party is listening in.This can’t be done as well with classical systems.In effect, for certain limited domains, using QM, one can be sure if one is being spied on or not!

    If that application of Quantum Info is new to you, you need to get out more.

    It’s covered in most popularizations of quantum info, but something tells me that this one may appeal to you since it is weird but fun and accurate to boot IAFAIK)
    https://www.amazon.com/Bananaworld-Mechanics-Primates-Jeffrey-Bub/dp/0198817843/

    Note: despite the mention of primates in the title, there is nothing in the book about biological evolution. Evolution of the quantum state via the formalism is covered, but presumably that’s OK for the GregMeister.

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  4. BruceS: Appears to be one more experiment demonstrating something “already inherent in the formalism of QM”.
    The article is correct to point out that QM requires a metaphysics which mandates spatial and apparently temporal holism — that is, we cannot reduce reality to Lewis’s Humean supervenience claim that “reality is a vast mosaic of local matters of particular fact” since there are quantum facts that belong only to the entangled system.

    ETA: Deleted some meandering about properties

    I didn’t understand anything about the article or your take on it. I’m sorry, but I’ll wait for our resident QM expert, J-Mac, to explain it in proper terms

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  5. BruceS: If that application of Quantum Info is new to you, you need to get out more.

    It’s covered in most popularizations of quantum info, but something tells me that this one may appeal to you since it is weird but fun and accurate to boot IAFAIK)
    https://www.amazon.com/Bananaworld-Mechanics-Primates-Jeffrey-Bub/dp/0198817843/

    Note:despite the mention of primates in the title, there is nothing in the book about biological evolution.Evolution of the quantum state via the formalism is covered, but presumably that’s OK for the GregMeister.

    HI, thank you so much for the suggestion.

    Actually, I also need to go back to my old textbooks and re-learn so much of what I’ve forgotten! It’s a bit sad my MS advisor, Bryan Jacobs, was a Qauntum Computing researcher, but I never studied quantum computing from him! It was due to a scheduling issue.

    Thanks again.

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  6. stcordova: HI, thank you so much for the suggestion.

    I do think this is a great book for learning about quantum information. It’s the only popularization I know that talks about the theory of correlations in quantum systems and how they differ from the correlations in classical systems.

    I see you’ve asked Gord D about quantum info in another thread. He knows much more about QM than I do, so I am also interested in what he says. From what I know, it is important to understand the nature of a quantum state and the nature of quantum information in entangled quantum systems, and in particular to understand why they differ from their counterparts in classical systems.

    If you want to re-learn QM as a DIY project, I think the Susskind/Friedman books are better than college undergrad texts:
    https://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Mechanics-Theoretical-Leonard-Susskind/dp/0465062903

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  7. dazz: I didn’t understand anything about the article or your take on it.

    I’m not sure your post was just a setup for the J-Mac punch line (since I am afraid I am guilty of posting in that style).

    But if not:

    A good comparison is the Twins Paradox in SR. It contradicts our intuitions. But the math of SR tells us what happens and in experiments we observe what the math says we will observe.

    Similarly, the math of QM can be used to predict many things which are counter-intuitive. But experiments are done and we get the results QM predicts. Then popularizations appear which claim or (like this article) hint at metaphysical weirdness. But that metaphysical stuff is philosophy, not science, and often it is philosophy which is based on misunderstandings of the science. J-Macs stuff on reverse causality and measuring entangled systems is one example.

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  8. BruceS: I’m not sure your post was just a setup for the J-Mac punch line (since I am afraid I am guilty of posting in that style).

    Both. 😄
    I’ll try again later today when I have more time to go through it. It looks a bit like some variant of the delayed-choice experiment, doesn’t it?

    BruceS: A good comparison is the Twins Paradox in SR. It contradicts our intuitions. But the math of SR tells us what happens and in experiments we observe what the math says we will observe.

    Similarly, the math of QM can be used to predict many things which are counter-intuitive. But experiments are done and we get the results QM predicts. Then popularizations appear which claim or (like this article) hint at metaphysical weirdness. But that metaphysical stuff is philosophy, not science, and often it is philosophy which is based on misunderstandings of the science. J-Macs stuff on reverse causality and measuring entangled systems is one example.

    I see, thanks Bruce. That seems a very important distinction that we, laymen, tend to miss far too often, especially when it comes to quantum mechanics. I didn’t even know the collapse of the wave function was part of the Copenhagen interpretation and not an established element of QM itself until not too long ago when KN pointed it out here at TSZ.

    But then again, are QM interpretations a matter of science or philosophy?

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  9. dazz: But then again, are QM interpretations a matter of science or philosophy

    I think philosophy, mainly because the interpretations do not make testably different predictions, at least no tests we can do for foreseeable future.

    To do the philosophy well, you do have to understand the physics, and by that I mean the post-grad math versions of it. And of course physicists can do good philosophy too.

    I should clarify that collapse is part of the GRW interpretation. It changes the mathematics of QM, making it non-linear, and thereby introducing collapse as part of the formalism. Changing the math to solve the measurement problem works, but not many physicists would go along with that approach.
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qm-collapse/

    I should also say that one very respected philosopher does buy into retro-causality — Huw Price. But again not many physicists or philosophers like that idea.
    https://aeon.co/essays/can-retrocausality-solve-the-puzzle-of-action-at-a-distance

    As I mentioned elsewhere, Sean C has a popularization on many worlds coming out in Sept where I suspect he will review this type of issue as well as going into the non-intuitive nature of many worlds,
    https://www.amazon.com/Something-Deeply-Hidden-Emergence-Spacetime/dp/1524743011/

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  10. BruceS,

    Awesome, Bruce. Great stuff. That should keep me busy for a few days, or last week, if retro-causality turns out to be a thing.

    LOL, sorry, I’m also very bad at joking

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  11. Many at least treat retro-causality as real, when I briefly worked in a nanomolecular group at MITRE, I was acquainted with some co-workers working on the potential effects of retrocausality on computational outputs — i.e. whether user decisions in the future affect computations in the present. It’s not as big a deal in today’s computer and nano-systems until one starts dealing with computations that may involve small time frames (less than femto seconds), individual atoms or quantum quasi particles (which are abundant in semiconductors, the most well-known quasi particle being the “electron hole”).

    Absurd as that sounds, Wheeler’s double slit delayed choice experiments show it is a phenomenon that has to be dealt with. Even the standard double-slit experiment have some hint of the problem.

    Retrocausality accords well with teleology. The famous idea proposed by Wheeler (two of his students were Nobel Prize winners) was based on retrocausality where our observations in the present supposedly affected our ancestors! The picture below shows Wheeler’s idea.

    That said, I think the question of the “right” interpretation is formally undecidable since one might have to have all knowledge of all reality to settle the issue. Like many things we can only extrapolate on our small sample size of observations, clumsy as they are, to all reality.

    I’ve said, the only thing each person knows for certain is their own pain when they feel it, beyond that, there is a certain level of extrapolation.

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  12. stcordova:

    Absurd as that sounds, Wheeler’s double slit delayed choice experiments show it is a phenomenon that has to be dealt with.Even the standard double-slit experiment have some hint of the problem.

    Do you have any references for the nanocomputation comment.

    KeithS dealt with the quantum erasure work in a separate thread; I think it involved J-Mac. The consensus view of how to understand that experiment does not involve retrocausality. I think Greene covers a popularization of that experiment and its explanation in one of his books. More recently, there is a good discussion in
    https://www.amazon.com/Through-Two-Doors-Once-Experiment-ebook/dp/B079KTT95

    If Aristotle’s teleology interests you, there are some Thomists at PS; that group includes a Phd physics candidate, Daniel, who I consider one of the most thoughtful and informed commenters in the forum (in both physics and philosophy).

    https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/a-thomistic-approach-to-chemistry/6894

    I’ve said, the only thing each person knows for certain is their own pain when they feel it, beyond that, there is a certain level of extrapolation.

    Sounds like you hold to a version Cartesian skepticism; if so, you and KeithS have something in common.

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  13. stcordova,

    Tom Maudlin, who is a star philosopher in QM Interpretations, has a good video on many of the issues we have been discussing here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC3ckLqsL5M

    Maudlin is Bohm interpretation supporter (he calls it pilot wave). That is a popular one among philosophers since the relation to everyday ontology is easy to describe. He does not mention many worlds which he does not like at all; he discusses why in his latest book.

    He also covers Bohr and the shut up and calculate purpose Copenhagen serves in undergrad texts.

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  14. dazz:
    BruceS,

    Awesome, Bruce. Great stuff. That should keep me busy for a few days, or last week, if retro-causality turns out to be a thing.

    There is a time travel example, I think by Lewis, where in one version a famous author takes his bestseller into the past to give to his younger self, who then publishes it as his own work, which of course it is. No logical contradictions in that if I recall the work correctly,. There is the puzzle of where the book came from in the first place, of course, ….

    I think you will also enjoy the video I mentioned to Sal:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=hC3ckLqsL5M

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  15. BruceS: There is a time travel example, I think by Lewis, where in one version a famous author takes his bestseller into the past to give to his younger self, who then publishes it as his own work, which of course it is. No logical contradictions in that if I recall the work correctly,. There is the puzzle of where the book came from in the first place, of course, ….

    One answer to the puzzle is in this story:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_You_Zombies

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  16. BruceS:

    Do you have any references for the nanocomputation comment.

    I do not, and I never got around to finding what the final conclusion of the study was! At the time I wasn’t even in grad school (my undergrad was EE, not physics) and knew too little to try to figure what was going on. I naively thought this was common knowledge.

    Now that you ask, I’m realizing it wasn’t, and perhaps it was speculative, but something that was of interest enough to the Principle Investigator (James Ellenbogen, MITRE) to assign to one of his staff. This was about 11 years ago.

    http://www2.mitre.org/tech/nanotech/ourwork/staff.html

    Now that you ask, I’m embarassed to see an absence of papers on the topic. I think it was of interest to Dr. Ellenbogen because he was interested in assuring the design of the nano-systems didn’t have such undesirable effects from the future! He wasn’t trying to leverage the phenomenon, but trying to avoid the noise it might introduce into a nano system. Nano molecular systems are subject to a lot of noise — thermal and quantum tunneling. I think he wanted to design a system that was immune to retrocausal noise. The investigation proceeded on the working hypothesis that it was at least possible in principle.

    The only paper that seemed to even touch on this was here:
    https://www.spiedigitallibrary.org/conference-proceedings-of-spie/10926/109260N/A-new-perspective-on-causality-locality-and-duality-in-entangled/10.1117/12.2506801.short

    One of my former bosses was part of the SPIE which the above paper was associated with (but not that particular topic, one related to automated target recognition).

    Sorry for the rabbit trail, but your question helped acquaint me with the real state of the literature on the issue, and it is not as well visited as I would have expected.

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  17. BruceS:

    Sounds like you hold to a version Cartesian skepticism; if so, you and KeithS have something in common.

    I’ll defer to you to make the classification of my beliefs since “I think therefore I am” is about all I know of de Carte.

    There is something to say about misperceiving the world and reality. Famous mathematical Logicians George Cantor and Kurt Godell suffered horribly from mental disorders. Cantor was in an out if institutions, but amazingly, his math was ground breaking.

    Godel starved himself to death thinking someone was trying to poison him. Starving oneself to death is just as fatal as being poisoned, and rather than take the risk of being poisoned, he chose the route of not eating which is guaranteed death. It doesn’t seem he made a logical choice, and what a tragedy. I suspect like Cantor and many people of genius, he paid the price of his intelligence with some tinge of insanity (to paraphrase Seneca).

    Godel is considered one of the greatest logicians and mathematicians ever. As far as we can tell, he was running from a figment of his imagination, not something real in thinking someone was trying to poison him.

    A similar episode could be said for Nash (of Beautiful Mind fame).

    This then naturally extends to religious experiences. Is one hallucinating or is one getting a communication from God?

    I’ve had dreams where I was shot by a gun, but then of course, I never really felt pain as a result. However, something about reality will inflict real pain if one engages in activities that cause pain, and hence we deem certain things as surely not illusory but ‘real’ by way of reasonable extrapolation.

    Sooo, this lead to the ID/Creation/Religion issues. Are religious personal experiences valid evidence for an individual? Given one could be hallucinating when having a religious experience, how then might one alternatively infer there is a God or some sort of Intelligent Designer?

    My view, and borrowing from Godel, is that many ultimate questions are formally undecidable. In our brief lifetimes and limited access to direct information we can only take our best guess, and there will be certain levels of faith along the way.

    One level of faith we take for granted is the efficacy of the scientific method itself. However, physicist Lawrence Krauss points out, our present understanding of science shows this is not necessarily justified in all circumstances:

    In 5 billion years, the expansion of the universe will have progressed to the point where all other galaxies will have receded beyond detection. Indeed, they will be receding faster than the speed of light, so detection will be impossible. Future civilizations will discover science and all its laws, and never know about other galaxies or the cosmic background radiation. They will inevitably come to the wrong conclusion about the universe……We live in a special time, the only time, where we can observationally verify that we live in a special time.

    ― Lawrence M. Krauss, A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing

    The age of the universe according to the Big Bang is 13.3 Billion or so years. So when the universe is 18.3 billlion years or so, Krauss is suggesting the scientific method for cosmology will fail to make the right inference, even though our localized understanding of physics is correct, it will not extrapolate to universal scale!

    The point of me bringing this up is that if it is possible in 5 billion years our inferences will be wrong, what else other than faith is driving our belief in the efficacy of the scientific method? Well — practical value — to the extent it is practiced correctly, it alleviates pain or in some cases can inflict pain within our own personal experience. Hence we deem it true as anything else, gives science the respect it is dues since what it claims outlines where there is good and bad for our personal lives at the most basic levels.

    But, how well we can extrapolate our data samples to all reality is probably a matter of faith as well.

    We build our models as best we can with what little we know if for no other reason, we don’t have better options.

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  18. stcordova: think therefore I am” is about all I know

    The issue with Cartesian dualism is that it begins from the assumption that we are disembodied minds whose only way of knowing the world is by contemplation of the “sense data” which are somehow produced by our senses.

    But we are actually embodied beings who act in the world and whose continued and successful existence depends on the results of those actions. Our senses are in many ways predictions of actions, not attempts to build static representations to be contemplated.

    KN has emphasized this superior approach to understanding our nature in many exchanges with Keith.

    I agree that Godel and Cantor were both brilliant and ill. You are also right, I think, that science’s success in action justifies its methods, but limiting that success to alleviating pain is not right, I think.

    On Kraus’s stuff, I don’t agree with how you are interpreting what he is saying, but there is a truth in the observation that we live in a time where there is still scientifically interesting complexity. Sean C has a couple of videos on that nature of complexity versus 2LT here (he also has a paper on it with Scott Aaronson and Jennifer Ouellette):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTFY0H4EZx4

    https://www.closertotruth.com/interviews/1934

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  19. stcordova: The only paper that seemed to even touch on this was here:

    Thanks for digging up that link. The paper is too new or obscure for Sci-Hub, but from the abstract it seems to be in the mainstream tradition of using information theory approaches and axioms to understand QM (Bub, the author of that book “Banana World” works on that research program, I believe).

    I did notice this phrase from the abstract, with scare quotes in the original

    “action at a distance”, and (b) “partial causality” that excludes entanglement as a cause and thereby introduces the perception of strange phenomena of non-locality,

    The paper appears to avoid retrocausality and instead refine the notion of causality to deal with the apparent conflict between SR and the possibility for spacelike separated measurement of entangled systems to affect each other “instantaneously”. Refining causality versus correlation is a standard approach to that apparent conflict. Another is to drop the SR postulate of no preferred reference frame, which is what Maudlin does IIRC in his book on the topic, but I think think is less popular.

    I see Gordon D has replied at length on quantum info. Lots of good stuff there. One addition would be to talk more about the quantum correlations and density matrix of entangled quantum systems.

    Also, he mentions “collapse and decoherence”. That collapse is not the same as the one in the Copenhagen or the objective collapse interpretations. It is instead a For All Practical Purposes collapse which we can get directly from the formalism without any interpretation. Decoherence addresses some aspects of the measurement problem, but not some essentials needed to solve it which still depend on one’s interpretation.

    If you want a free starter course on QM, Greg Egan has one. I’ve also included a link to his decoherence stuff, but that requires the math in the intro to understand the details.

    https://www.gregegan.net/FOUNDATIONS/04/found04.html

    https://www.gregegan.net/SCHILD/Decoherence/Decoherence.html

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  20. dazz: I did enjoy it a lot, thanks. Man, this is tough stuff, I watched a video of Sean Carroll about the Many Worlds interpretation a few weeks ago and he also seemed to make a lot of sense. My head is spinning.

    QM philosophy has been an intellectual hobby since I retired about 7 years ago. My head is still spinning, but less than in the beginning. After a while, you start to hear and read the same ideas expressed by different people. and that really helps.

    But Quantum Field Theory remains something on my To Do list. The QM that you see in serious popularizations needs “only” sophomore mathematics (linear algebra. especially vector spaces, eigenvalue/vectors, and matrix theory).

    But QFT is well beyond that, as far as I can tell.

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  21. BruceS

    The issue with Cartesian dualism is that it begins from the assumption that we are disembodied minds whose only way of knowing the world is by contemplation of the “sense data” which are somehow produced by our senses.

    Thank you for your comment, and this has been a delightful conversation.

    Issues about dualism or whatever are not the focus of my personal philosophy. I’m more of “what works” is probably closer to characterizing my approach to things.

    I’ve had a lot of interest in history, but at personal level, aside may from some lessons about human nature that might be gleaned from history, it doesn’t affect me much regarding some of the finer details of the great and epic battles — i.e. how many soldiers were actually involved in Alexander the Great’s battle of Gaugemela. Though, I’m still intensely curious about that detail and the other details of the battle.

    Perhaps rather than the de Carte’s “I think therefore I am” I’m more of the sort that might say, “I hurt, what can I do about it, and what can do to avoid hurting.” That sort of guides my approach to what I regard as true, or at least what questions are worth asking regarding what is true or not. The truth or falsehoods about certain claims of the battle of Gaugemela don’t affect me, and to some extent some of the finer points of ideas like Dualism, or other topics in philosophy. That said, there is a certain feeling of enoblement to ponder things greater than the mundane aspects of everyday life, and for that reason I do explore things outside of the purely practical.

    Regarding Quantum Field Theory, I remember my professor of both QM and later General Relativity saying, “Quantum Field Theory is hard.” So after the class was groveling through all this math and thinking “this stuff is hard” the professor says, “Quantum Field Thoery is Hard.” I saw how effortlessly he did all the math, and he obviously loved it, so his words about QFT made me feel quite bewildered. I thought if the classes I’m taking are hard, I can only imagine what hard is really like. YIKES!

    Thus I salute you for saying:

    But Quantum Field Theory remains something on my To Do list.

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  22. BruceS: The issue with Cartesian dualism is that it begins from the assumption that we are disembodied minds whose only way of knowing the world is by contemplation of the “sense data” which are somehow produced by our senses.

    But we are actually embodied beings who act in the world and whose continued and successful existence depends on the results of those actions. Our senses are in many ways predictions of actions, not attempts to build static representations to be contemplated.

    I think there’s something to this way of putting it, but lately I’ve been revising my understanding of the history of cognitive science and its relation to epistemology, so I’d put it somewhat differently.

    The question could be put as follows: is our cognitive grip on the world — what I call “cognitive friction” — best understood in terms of symbolic representations? Descartes, as one of the greatest mathematicians of his time, would not hesitate to say “yes!” Interestingly, this is why he denies that the deliverances of the senses can yield genuine truth of the world. On his view, the sole function of the senses is to indicate what is healthy or harmful to the body for as long as one is alive. It is the function of the intellect to determine what is true or false. (The further question of what content the intellect has to work upon is precisely where the British “empiricists” parted ways with the Continental “rationalists”, though that distinction is not the best way of understanding what was really at stake in 17th century, early modern philosophy.)

    What distinguishes pragmatists like myself from rationalists like Descartes is the idea that our basic cognitive grip with our environment does not consist in how symbolic representations match up with essential properties and objects of the world but rather in the structural coupling of bodily abilities and environmental features or affordances.

    (This still allows for representations to play an important role, but they would not be symbolic representations; I’m reading some of the relevant literature now and trying to write about it.)

    The predictive processing story is one possible account of the mechanism whereby pragmatic cognition is implemented, and the free energy principle is one possible account of describing pragmatic cognition in mathematical terms. I think the free energy principle is quite fascinating but I don’t have the math skills to assess it. The predictive processing story is also interesting but it doesn’t account for the kinds of systematic biases that can accumulate due to the ecological function of a cognitive system over millions of years of natural selection.

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  23. BruceS: The issue with Cartesian dualism is that it begins from the assumption that we are disembodied minds whose only way of knowing the world is by contemplation of the “sense data” which are somehow produced by our senses.

    I don’t think Cartesianism requires the assumption that sense data are produced by our senses.

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  24. My understanding of Alfred North Whitehead is that modern science is actually anti-rationalist which obsessed with brute fact. There have been many counter-intuitive discoveries that probably would have been hindered if rationalism took priority because a lot of scientific discoveries, even somewhat to this day, don’t make sense relative to our prior understanding of how the world works. To paraphrase a complaint I here a lot “there is an abundance of speculation, a scarcity of facts.”

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  25. walto: I don’t think Cartesianism requires the assumption that sense data are produced by our senses.

    Yes, you are right. That post was trying to draw a distinction between embodiment on the one hand and separation of the mind from the physical world on the other. No doubt there are other problem with the way I worded it.

    I also had in mind the “veil of perception” phrase, but did not even try to fit that one in. Both sense data and veil of perception are hazy memories from when I spent time on Philosophy of Perception. I’ve lost interest in that as it seems too far from sciences of perception and mind (and therefore do not bug you anymore for posts on disjunctivism, a topic which I recall you worked on at one point).

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  26. Kantian Naturalist: account for the kinds of systematic biases that can accumulate due to the ecological function of a cognitive system over millions of years of natural selection

    Thanks for that interesting post.

    I’m curious as to what kind of “systematic biases” you had in mind in above quote.

    On symbols: I think that the AI and computational theories of mind that Neil criticizes are those that rely solely on symbolic representations. I don’t think that limitation is a fair characterization of current work in those areas.

    ETA: Is your current work perhaps suggesting that a problem with Cartesian dualism is an that it involves inappropriate application of the symbol grounding problem?

    Does the work by Majid Davoody Beni ever come up in your discussions or research? He covers topics that interest me, like PP and Structural Realism.. But I am not sure how seriously to take him.

    Here is a link to his posts on Brains Blog:
    http://philosophyofbrains.com/author/benim

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  27. I found the quote on the net by Whitehead. I have the book it came from, but its somewhere in a pile I need to straighten out.

    Science has never shaken off the impress of its origin in the historical revolt of the later renaissance. It has remained predominantly an anti-rationalistic movement, based upon a naive faith. What reasoning it has wanted it has borrowed from mathematics which is a surviving relic of Greek rationalism, following the deductive method. Science repudiates philosophy. In other words, it has never cared to justify its faith or to explain its meanings; and has remained blandly indifferent to its refutation by Hume.

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  28. BruceS: I’m curious as to what kind of “systematic biases” you had in mind in above quote.

    Oh, just that affordances that concern the biological goals of the organism have not only motivational but also perceptual salience vs those that don’t, and I’m sure that matters to how the system even processes data. I’d be surprised if neural networks were prone to change blindness, just to pick an example.

    On symbols: I think that the AI and computational theories of mind that Neil criticizes are those that rely solely on symbolic representations. I don’t think that limitation is a fair characterization of current work in those areas.

    To some extent. It’s quite true that machine learning algorithms do not share the criticisms of GOFAI (Good Old Fashioned A.I.). Though I think that not even machine learning is best thought of as artificial intelligence per se — though it is a tool for discovering patterns, it can only discover patterns based on the data that it is given. It’s not wandering the world looking for patterns, as butterflies and bees and beavers do.

    ETA: Is your current work perhaps suggesting that a problem with Cartesian dualism is an that it involves inappropriate application of the symbol grounding problem?

    I would say that Descartes was immensely impressed with the expressive power of symbolic representation, as epitomized (for him) in his discovery that the same relational structure could be understood as an algebraic equation or as a shape. What motivated Cartesian dualism were, as I understand it, two major things: first, his inability to understand how symbols could be implemented in a machine; second, his belief that free, responsible action required contra-causal libertarianism. Thus neither of the two powers of the mind — the intellect and the will — could be explained in mechanistic terms, and thus had to be immaterial (given the Scientific Revolution conviction that everything material could be understood mechanistically).

    Whereas I would want to insist that a physical symbol system is going to fail to count as a genuine intelligence because a cognitive system is coupled to the world by virtue of the dynamics of structural representations, which are importantly different from symbolic representations (see here and here).

    Does the work by Majid Davoody Beni ever come up in your discussions or research? He covers topics that interest me, like PP and Structural Realism.. But I am not sure how seriously to take him.

    I’ll have to look at his work but generally the Brains Blog people are really good.

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  29. Kantian Naturalist: Though I think that not even machine learning is best thought of as artificial intelligence per se — though it is a tool for discovering patterns, it can only discover patterns based on the data that it is given.
    […]
    symbolic representations (see here and here).

    I agree that current Deep Learning is more about association and correlation. Pearl (the causal model guru) and Gary Marcus, among many others, have criticized that limitation if Generalized AI is the goal.

    Thanks for that second paper on symbolic representations, which I had not seen. Going by the abstract, it considers the PP/Bayesian approach as one source of structural representations. I have seen at least one other paper claiming Bayesian methods will be part of the needed extension to Deep Learning to achieve GAI.

    (Let me know if you want links).

    I look forward to seeing your paper covering these topics.

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  30. BruceS: I have seen at least one other paper claiming Bayesian methods will be part of the needed extension to Deep Learning to achieve GAI.

    That would be great. I’m much more interested in biological cognition than machine learning or any of that stuff, but I should know some basics about machine learning for my philosophy of mind course.

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  31. BruceS: If you mean the Schrodinger equation, which provides the time evolution of the wave function, it is a deterministic diffy q.

    It’s how you account for the measurement “collapse” that brings in probabilities. But that collapse is not part of the formalism, only of the interpretation (and also the shut up and calculate approach used in the teaching shortcut to physics problem solving).

    We should probably go back to sandbox to continue….

    Of course, I remember now you mentioned a while back that Schrodinger’s equation was in fact deterministic. Thanks.

    Apparently I’m constantly getting core QM theory mixed up with the different interpretations.

    I’m getting Quantum Mechanics for Primates, let’s see if I can learn something

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  32. Kantian Naturalist: but I should know some basics about machine learning for my philosophy of mind course.

    We are learn about mind from learning to emulate it.

    It is one thing to do logic and math very fast. Quite another level of accomplishment when you can defeat humans in “real games”.

    Now, if we can turn this to our benefit…

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  33. As one who played a lot in the casinos, one game I would never play is real Poker against another human being. The only “poker” I played was video poker because for a season it was the one game that was beatable (though not without substantial difficulty). A few became millionaires playing it until the blasted casinos reporgrammed their machines.

    This was in inspiring account, but unfortunately for Advantage Players, this sort of poker is dying out:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Dancer

    Bob Dancer is a video poker expert[1] and gambling author best known for his book Million Dollar Video Poker, which recounts six years of video poker experiences. The book details a six-month period, Sept 2000 to March 2001, when Dancer and his wife parlayed a six thousand dollar bankroll into over one million dollars playing video poker. The cover of the book was a photo taken to replicate the $400,000 winning hand that Dancer’s wife Shirley hit, the largest of their 6-month winning period.[2]

    I probably liked casino math a lot because of its simplicity, but great power. I miss playing. I’d still be playing if had not been kicked out of casinos and my photo had not been circulated to half the casinos in the USA. Bummer.

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  34. Dazz:

    Apparently I’m constantly getting core QM theory mixed up with the different interpretations.

    To my knowledge, all the interpretation give the same experimental results except maybe for a few cases. The Transactional Interpretation claims to have experimental evidence falsifying many worlds.

    So when we make measurements one interpretation might say (in the ultimate sense) “God did it” and another “many worlds did it”, etc. but we measure the same values in the lab. As far as I know, we have not had a conclusive experiment that shows one interpretation wrong over another, and I don’t know if such an experiment is actually possible — especially if the question is formally undecidable. And (ala Godel), if something is formally undecidable we can’t actually know if actually is undecidable!

    A list of interpretations (yikes!):
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretations_of_quantum_mechanics#Comparison

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  35. stcordova,

    Nice try, Sal, but I don’t think “God-did-it” is an interpretation of quantum mechanics, and I don’t think it’s equivalent to the MW interpretation.

    Even if none make testable predictions, it seems to me goddidit makes no predictions at all, testable or not

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  36. Watching another video of Sean Carroll now. I think I finally get why QM’s core theory is deterministic: it’s not that the wave function (squared) tells us where the particle might be with certain probabilities (which would be non-deterministic), instead, the wave function IS the state of a particle, and then the differential Schrodinger equation tells us how this state evolves with time (as Bruce pointed out)

    So the issues about determinism and locality depend on the interpretation of the measurement problem.

    Hopefully that’s a little better

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  37. dazz:
    stcordova,

    Nice try, Sal, but I don’t think “God-did-it” is an interpretation of quantum mechanics, and I don’t think it’s equivalent to the MW interpretation.

    Even if none make testable predictions, it seems to me goddidit makes no predictions at all, testable or not

    I said in the ultimate sense, in fact that is what Tipler, Barrow, Richard Conn Henry, FJ Belinfante, etc. derived essentially form the Copenhagen family or related of interpretations.

    Tipler and Barrow accept both MWI and Copenhagen and still arrive at the “God did it” conclusion.

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  38. stcordova: I said in the ultimate sense, in fact that is what Tipler, Barrow, Richard Conn Henry, FJ Belinfante, etc. derived essentially form the Copenhagen family or related of interpretations.

    Tipler and Barrow accept both MWI and Copenhagen and still arrive at the “God did it” conclusion.

    Sorry then, I read too much into that. Thought you implied that MW was invented to get rid of the observer’s roll in QM as many theists do.

    According to Sean Carroll, the MWI is the most parsimonious one

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpEvv349Pyk

    How do you get from QM and their different interpretations, to God? I’m guessing with tons of ad-hoc assumptions and a bunch of question begging.

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  39. dazz:

    How do you get from QM and their different interpretations, to God?

    It’s kind of the Kalaam Cosmological principle re-stated with QM:

    The Kalām cosmological argument is a modern formulation of the cosmological argument for the existence of God; named for the kalam (medieval Islamic scholasticism), it was popularized by William Lane Craig in his The Kalām Cosmological Argument (1979).

    The argument is similar to the unmoved mover in Aristotelianism due to its basis in the nature of causality and argument against the possibility of an infinite regress

    To make something exist in the Copenhagen interpretation, it has to be measured or observed. So then how do we exist to make measurements, well something had to measure us, and hence this regresses to God in the future.

    That’s why retro-causality is of interest to some regarding the God debates. In the original Kalaam argument God is the FIRST cause, in the QM version of “God did it”, through retrocausality, God is the FINAL cause. But in both senses God is the ULTIMATE cause.

    It’s not exactly clear to me how Barrow and Tipler joined the idea of MWI and Copenhagen, but they did. They postulate many worlds will eventually converge onto God at the end of time. Someone quipped,Tipler and Barrow’s conception of God would be a God even an atheist would love.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic_principle

    Strong anthropic principle (SAP) (Barrow and Tipler): “The Universe must have those properties which allow life to develop within it at some stage in its history.”

    This looks very similar to Carter’s SAP, but unlike the case with Carter’s SAP, the “must” is an imperative, as shown by the following three possible elaborations of the SAP, each proposed by Barrow and Tipler:[25]

    “There exists one possible Universe ‘designed’ with the goal of generating and sustaining ‘observers’.”

    This can be seen as simply the classic design argument restated in the garb of contemporary cosmology. It implies that the purpose of the universe is to give rise to intelligent life, with the laws of nature and their fundamental physical constants set to ensure that life as we know it will emerge and evolve.
    “Observers are necessary to bring the Universe into being.”

    Barrow and Tipler believe that this is a valid conclusion from quantum mechanics, as John Archibald Wheeler has suggested, especially via his idea that information is the fundamental reality (see It from bit) and his Participatory anthropic principle (PAP) which is an interpretation of quantum mechanics associated with the ideas of John von Neumann and Eugene Wigner.

    “An ensemble of other different universes is necessary for the existence of our Universe.”

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  40. stcordova,

    Thanks for the explanation Sal.

    TBH, I find the Kalam incredibly uninteresting. Yeah, I mean, if there’s a sequence of events, causes or whatever, it either started at some point, or has been going on forever. I think WLC clearly begs the question to reject actual infinities, and seems to me Einstein’s relativity obliterates the A-theory of time on which his argument relies.

    But even if we knew there was a first cause, that’s sill a long ways from showing there is a God. I dunno, I just find it silly.

    I doubt anybody has ever been converted through arguments like the Kalam, and I’m willing to bet that the vast majority who find it convincing were theists to boot

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  41. dazz: I’m getting Quantum Mechanics for Primates, let’s see if I can learn something

    That one is a bit off beat, as it concentrates on Quantum Information rather than the measurement problem. And the whole banana analogy is strange and overplayed, at least according to my tastes (although I do like eating bananas).

    But it does cover all the QM formalism and includes as well an approach to SR that was new to me. And Bell is in there.

    But not that much on interpretations. Becker has more on them as does Lewis, but he is more philosophical — links to books above in post to Sal.

    I hope you enjoy the book

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  42. I’ve a bit of a question: when people claim to ‘detect which slit the photon went through’, how are they doing that? It’s not like you can shine a light on it … even with electrons, the destruction of the interference pattern does not seem overly surprising – if the detection process retards progress even slightly, the coherence of the split wave would seem inevitably compromised.

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  43. stcordova: That’s why retro-causality is of interest to some regarding the God debates. In the original Kalaam argument God is the FIRST cause, in the QM version of “God did it”, through retrocausality, God is the FINAL cause. But in both senses God is the ULTIMATE cause

    I don’t see how retrocausality as a solution to the behavior of entangled QM systems gets you the teleological argument for God, which I thought had more to do with the apparent design of the universe and its components.

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  44. Allan Miller: if the detection process retards progress even slightly, the coherence of the split wave would seem inevitably compromised.

    Not sure who this question is for or why you are asking it,

    With QM, only a single photon is needed to see the usual puzzles. So you have to be careful comparing it to macro behavior of light.

    If you say “the single photon interferes with itself if both slits are open” that gets the intuition closer to what is observed. But better is to forget about photons as particles, and think about the nature of the wave function in the various cases. If you insist on bringing photons into it, then you can use the Bohm interpretation but realize that the photon’s path is fully determined by the wave function.

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  45. Kantian Naturalist: That would be great.

    The original Deep Learning critque from Marcus
    https://arxiv.org/abs/1801.00631

    His reply to critics which clarifies some of the original paper
    https://medium.com/@GaryMarcus/in-defense-of-skepticism-about-deep-learning-6e8bfd5ae0f1

    Pearl non-technical on Why Correlation/Deep Learning is not Enough (only if you want to learn more about Pearl’s ideas on causal modelling)
    https://www.amazon.com/Book-Why-Science-Cause-Effect/dp/046509760X

    I owe you one more about Bayesian modelling for conceptual learning. I need to do more digging to find it.

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  46. BruceS: Not sure who this question is for or why you are asking it,

    For anyone with an interest in QM interpretations. The reason is because one of the behaviours commonly cited is that the pattern disappears when it is ‘known’ which slit is passed through. I’m wondering how that knowledge is gained without interfering with the interference.

    With QM,only a single photon is needed to see the usual puzzles.

    No – single points are seen on a detection device. That does not necessarily mean that each scintillation represents the traversal of a single photon. I could produce a replica of apparent single-particle Young’s slit behaviour using water waves alone, for example, with no passage of actual particles. That’s a ‘hidden variable’ model, I know.

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