A Critical Point for Science?

(audio plus slides)

Classical Physics failed to deal adequately with the phenomena of the microscopic domain, and was superseded by Quantum Mechanics. Now, as high energy theorists struggle to arrive at a proper theory that can encompass quantum gravity, it seems that quantum mechanics is running into its own limitations. This lecture offers both a diagnosis, viz. that the idea that all phenomena can be fitted to a unique formula is an oversimplification of the complexities of the real world, and a cure: start afresh from the idea that reality has the kind of waywardness normally associated with the biological world, but is able organise itself, in accord with very specific principles, in such a way as to be able to manifest the more regular kind of order found in the world of physics. Following on from the ideas of Kauffman ("Origins of Order"), the idea of 'Smart Systems' is introduced, and the question raised: what makes smart systems smart?

That question can, it is argued, be placed in a mathematical context: we cannot have a mathematical account of the whole (the standard assumption), but we can discuss in mathematical terms what pieces do, and how they work together in functional ways, manufacturing universes friendly to life being just one of those functions. Among other ramifications of these ideas, it is argued that creativity involves making connections with primitive units of mind, and that space-time can best be viewed as an enabling utility.

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Link to lecture

Brian Josephson

March 9th., 2008