Registered: Sep 2011
NKS and the communication of science
Suppose for the moment that science finds a multitude of new discoveries by looking for the algorithms that produce phenomena using computers, perhaps a completely digital physics which unifies the large and the small.
My question is this: If a phenomenon is discovered and understood as an algorithm, does that likely make it easier or harder to communicate to a wider audience?
Greg Chaitin says "we only truly understand something if we can program it", so I suppose his answer would be "it's the same, since we have to learn the algorithm anyway". Though I think this view is a bit extreme, I not really talking in this thread about "truly understanding", but only the sort of understanding that the public now has of evolution, say, or energy. Enough understanding to make some useful choices.
I don't know the answer, but I suspect it is "yes and no", in different ways. Yes, because code can be experienced, we can play with software and discover how it behaves, even if we don't understand it.
No, because will not be able to use our wonderful sense of continuous change, which has been highly cultivated over 500 years of (continuous) continuous physics, and it also probably innate. If you've ever had to program "every bit of mass has gravity, which gets stronger as things get closer", you know what I mean. Some things just make more sense in the continuous setting. Also, Computer code is hard to read and understand. It can look very "random" because it is non-redundant (if written by a good programmer). In a technical sense, really good code really is quite random. If misinterpreted even slightly, the result can be totally different.
The answer for any algorithm of course depends on how long the algorithm is. Too long, and the learner will either give up, or get to the point that they are forgetting as fast as they are learning. It may be that, in the end, The grand unified algorithm is beyond any of us to fully comprehend. Though, if we live for a long enough time, we may achieve a state where humanity as a whole, together with our storage and computation devices, "knows" the algorithm, (albeit in the same way that the philosopher Searle's Chinese room "knows" how to speak Chinese).
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