Scientific Concept 101: The World is Unpredictable
Rudy Rucker, a mathematician, Computer Scientist; CyberPunk Pioneer; Novelist; Author, Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul offers a concept of emergence consists of irreducibility and unpredictability properties that prevent scientists from concluding certain findings. These properties appeared in many areas of our everyday experience. For instance, in mathematics, physics, or even in biological behaviors. Scientists in various fields are constantly looking for better models to describe this ever-changing universe. During this endless research, new methods or findings were discovered, in many instances with the notion of the emergence emerged in nature. If scientists do not perceive this emergence existed in systems that create randomness and complexity, subsequently it does not raise much of an attention or interest to their discovery.
Correspondingly, Werner Heisenberg stated, “we only observe what we can observe, if anything that we cannot be observer, it is equally not observable.” Cellular automaton is certainly one of the most descriptive emergent computing models that help us to begin our science exploration. We can analyze some of these concepts emerged in emergent computing where irreducibility and unpredictability exist. Consequently, irreducibility and unpredictability prevented us from perceiving and analyzing models that conclude our nature.
The media cast about for the proximate causes of life’s windfalls and disasters. The public demands blocks against the bad and pipelines to the good. Legislators propose new regulations, fruitlessly dousing last year’s fires, forever betting on yesterday’s winning horses.
A little-known truth: Every aspect of the world is fundamentally unpredictable. Computer scientists have long since proved this.
How so? To predict an event is to know a shortcut for foreseeing the outcome in advance. A simple counting argument shows there aren’t enough shortcuts to go around. Therefore most processes aren’t predictable. A deeper argument plays on the fact that, if you could predict your actions, you could deliberately violate your predictions which means the predictions were wrong after all.
We often suppose that unpredictability is caused by random inputs from higher spirits or from low-down quantum foam. But chaos theory and computer science tell us that non-random systems produce surprises on their own. The unexpected tornado, the cartoon safe that lands on Uncle George, the winning pull on a slot machine odd things pop out of a computation. The world can simultaneously be deterministic and unpredictable.
In the physical world, the only way to learn tomorrow’s weather in detail is to wait twenty-four hours and see even if nothing is random at all. The universe is computing tomorrow’s weather as rapidly and as efficiently as possible any smaller model is inaccurate, and the smallest error is amplified into large effects.
At a personal level, even if the world is as deterministic as a computer program, you still can’t predict what you’re going to do. This is because your prediction method would involve a mental simulation of you that produces its results slower than you. You can’t think faster than you think. You can’t stand on your own shoulders.
It’s a waste to chase the pipedream of a magical tiny theory that allows us to make quick and detailed calculations about the future. We can’t predict and we can’t control. To accept this can be a source of liberation and inner peace. We’re part of the unfolding world, surfing the chaotic waves.