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[In Finnish] Voiko maailmankaikkeutemme sittenkin olla simulaatio?

[Briefly in English: No, recent result in quantum physics do not prove that we aren’t in a simulation]

Tänään ilmestyneessä tekniikanmaailma.fi:n artikkelissa väitettiin, että löydetty “kvantti-ilmiö todisti: Me emme elä jonkun simuloimassa Matrixissä”. Tosin tekstin puolivälissä todetaan, että “Asiaa ei voi tietenkään todistaa”… hetkinen, todistettiinko se vai ei? No itse asiassa ei. Kyseessä on ennemminkin rikkinäinen puhelin, jossa, uskallan olettaa, tekniikanmaailma muokkasi jo valmiiksi tieteelliset yksityiskohdat sivuavaa EurekaAlertin populaaria artikkelia. Ensinnäkin palautetaan mieleen, että alkuperäisen artikkelin abstratkissa lukee “The answer to the question—whether there is a fundamental obstruction to such a sign-free representation in generic quantum systems—remains unclear.”, eli kyseinen laskettavuuteen liittyvä ongelma ei ole edes kokonaan ratkaistu. Mutta vaikka olisi, ja jonkin asian simuloiminen ei onnistu meidän nykyisillä tietokoneillamme, ei se tarkoita sitä, ettei se onnistuisi (a) tulevaisuuden tietokoneilla (b) kvanttitietokoneilla (c) toisen universumin, toisenlaisen fysiikan lakeja noudattavilla, tietokoneilla. On kuviteltavissa argumentteja, joiden mukaan jopa tulevaisuuden tietokoneet – niin kauan kuin ne on Turing-tietokoneita, niin kuin kaikki meidän tietokoneemme ovat – eivät koskaan pysyisi reaaliajassa simloimaan universumimme osia. Tämä johtuu siitä, että ei-Turing-laskettavia funktioita ei pysty laskemaan Turingin koneilla. Jos taas kyse on vain eksponentiaalisesta kasvusta, niin kuin artikkelissa mainitaan (tosin siellä kuvaillaan eksponentiaalinen kasvu väärin: eksponentiaalinen kasvu on sitä, että yhden hiukkasen lisääminen tuplaa simulaation tarvitsemaa tehoa, eikä sitä että hiukkasten tuplaaminen tuplaisi simulaation tehoa, mikä olisi linaarinen kasvu), niin sen voi simuloida Turingin koneella – ei vain reaaliajassa. Mutta jos me olemme simulaation sisällä, niin meidän aikamme on sidottu simulaatioon, joten emme voi tietää kauan meidän universumimme yhden sekunnin simuloimiseksi menee siellä toisessa universumissa, jossa tätä simulaatiota ajetaan. Puhumattakaan siitä, että se mikä onnistuu eksponentiaalisessa ajassa Turingin koneilla, onnistuu usein lineaarisessa ajassa kvanttitietokoneilla, koska niillä pystyy (usein) ratkaisemaan P=NP ongelman. Mutta kun tullaan kohtaan (c), niin viimeisetkin argumentit kaatuvat. Katsotaan mitä niitä olikaan:

“Simulaation monimutkaisuus puolestaan kasvattaa muun muassa sen edellyttämän muistin ja sähkön määrää.”

Rinnakkaisuniversumin älykäs sivilisaatio käyttää tietokoneissaan…. sähköä? Ei välttämättä. Ja riippumatta siitä, mitä resursseja ne siihen käyttävät, emme voi tietää skaalaa, jossa toinen maailmankaikkeus operoi. Voi olla esimerkiksi niin, että sivilisaatiolla, joka ajaa tätä simulaatiota, on käytössään 17000:n mustan aukon energia. Tai voi olla, että yhden sekunnin simuloiminen vie 100 miljoonaa vuotta (joka on simuloivan sivilisaatiomme mielestä yhtä pitkä kuin 1 sekunti on meidän mielestämme). Voi olla että he ovat keksineet tavan matkustaa ajassa taaksepäin tai ehkä heidän universumissaan aika on kompleksista (eikä reaalista), eikä heillä ole mitään resurssipulaa kun kyseessä on informaationkäsittely. Voi myös olla että he simuloivat hiukkasia vain sitä mukaa kuin me näemme niitä ja sen takia kvanttimekaniikan mallissamme “havaitsijan” roolista on tullut niin poleeminen. Nämä ovat vain esimerkkejä siitä, että ainoastaan mielikuvitus on rajana sille, mitkä asiaintilat voivat pitää paikkansa.

“[I]hmiseltä [on] hyvin itsekeskeistä olettaa, että jokin korkeampi sivilisaatio tekisi simulaation juuri ihmisten kaltaisista olennoista. Ei ole hänen mukaansa kovin todennäköistä, jokin korkeampi sivilisaatio näkisi nimenomaan ihmiset simuloinnin arvoisina.”

Jos jokin sivilisaatio simuloi koko universumia, ei ole mitään syytä olettaa, että se tekee sen simuloidaakseen ihmisiä. Planeetamme on vain yksi heidän simulaationsa osa, eivätkä he ole välttämättä edes huomanneet, että yhdelle planeetalle sattui syntymään elämää tai ihmisiä. Paitsi että saatamme olla simulaatiossa, saatamme itse asiassa olla simulaation tahaton sivutuote.

Käytännössä tutkimus viittaa siihen, että on mahdotonta mallintaa nykyfysiikkaa edes tehokkaimmalla tunnetulla tietokoneella, mikä puolestaan tarkoittaa, että todellisuus ei voi olla simulaatiota.

Oleellisesti jo vastasinkin tähän, mutta siis haloo. Jos jotain ei voi mallintaa tehokkaimilla tunnetuilla tietokoneilla, mitä tekemistä sillä on sen kanssa voiko sen simuloida superälykkään intergalaktisen sivilisaation tietokoneilla? Meidän tietokoneillamme ei pysty edes luotettavasti simuloimaan Newtonin mekaniikan kolmen kappaleen ongelmaa saati viiden tai kuuden kappaleen ongelmaa, joten se ei ole mikään uutinen, että nykyfysiikkaa ei pysty simuloimaan (meidän) tietokoneillamme.

 

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How would I re-write tobacco warning messages


The sole purpose of texts and warnings on cigarette packages is to reduce the number people who buy cigarettes, or in other words the number of smokers. We all know these warnings: “Smoking kills”, “smoking causes cancer”, “smoking can damage your fetus” and I recently even saw “smoking increases the risk of becoming blind”. What is wrong with all these warnings? I am surprised if they work at all! Have people ever lit up a cigarette and thought “I believe this will make Read more

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Needy Researchers Put Academy on a Pedestal

Here is what male seduction masters teach their students: don’t be needy and don’t put the woman on a pedestal. And yes, I am comparing researcher applying for grants to men hitting on women.

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What stops you from applying for research grants?

Bats and Seahorses is a project dedicated to art and science and success in such creative disciplines. As artists and scientists, understanding the world around us, describing it and sharing ideas about it is the top priority, but who is going to pay for that? Young artists are often discouraged from pursuing their passion, because it is not seen as a secure and profitable career choice. Same problems persist in science. What is the solution to this dilemma? One way to get out of it is to find out how your craft or skills can be useful. Would companies need consultancy on their marketing design? Would they need help with a mathematical analysis of their data? An artist or a scientist can exploit these needs to get reasonable income on the side. Another way which is built-in our society are research grants offered by governments and foundations. There are more grants available for all sorts of different things than is possible to handle by a single researcher – or is there?

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Solving (my) Sleeping Problems

(picture: CC BY-SA 2.0)

Disclaimer: In this post I am not indending to solve most of the sleeping problems, nor am I qualified to do so. I merely describe what worked for me to solve some of my, very particular, problem.

I have never had sleeping problems in the classical sense:  I fall asleep when I lie down in the bed and I don’t wake up until I have slept enough. But for a long time I couldn’t make myself wake up when I wanted:

  • I would almost never wake up earlier than an hour after I had decided to wake up,
  • If I had to be somewhere in the morning I would never wake up before it is too late: I would come late and never have time for breakfast, let alone do anything else that I would plan.
  • I couldn’t predict when I am going to wake up even if I didn’t have to wake up at any particular time.

Needless to say this greatly reduced my productivity and control over my timeRead more

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From Mathematics to Art: an interview with Tuomas Tuomiranta

Mathematicians know that mathematics is beautiful, but they have hard time explaining to others why is it so. In fact, most of the time they give up on this task. My friend Tuomas Tuomiranta hasn’t. I met Tuomas at the University of Helsinki when we both studied mathematics around 10 years ago. Several years later it came to me as a surprise to find out that he became a visual artist! In 2010 Tuomas had created simulations of liquid dynamics based on the Navier-Stoke’s and turned them into artistic animations. Another one was based on the theory of conformal mappings in the complex plane – a common topic at the University of Helsinki. Some links:

Tuomas Tuomiranta was Read more

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What is artificial intelligence today?

I was invited to give a presentation to a group of politicians, some of which are members of Finnish Parliament, today, at the Finnish Parliament Annex building (Pikkuparlamentti). Here is my visitor’s batch:

Visitor’s batch to the Finnish Parliament

My job was to inform them about what artificial intelligence Read more

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Mathemat-ART-ical Fract-ART Augumented with Deep Learning

I am fascinated by the combinations of mathematics and art for several reasons; one reason is that it is so difficult to show the beauty of mathematics to non-experts. As a mathematician I am often frustrated that my work cannot be understood by many people that are important to me. Using mathematics to create Read more

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Not enough time? Use these 9 tips today to generate hours of extra time.

What would you do, if you had 20 to 30 extra hours a week? What would you do if you could save an extra 30 hours this week? Time is often like money. We wish to have a lot of it, but once we do, we don’t know what to do with it, get bored and […]

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On the Freedom to Do What We (Truly) Want [Guest-post]

A guest post by Dom from Mindcoolness

When I studied cognitive science in Vienna I met Dom. A bodybuilder, power lifter, fighter, philosopher, a blogger and now a cognitive scientist (a cool combination, huh?) he has been an inspiration for me ever since. I am truly happy we became friends. In his blog and podcast at www.mindcoolness.com he explores discipline and will power. Ever had troubles keeping a routine? Losing weight? Can’t control impulsive behaviour? Or don’t know what you truly want? Then Dom’s blog is definitely worth checking out. I also sincerely recommend reading his book Will Power Condenced which I had the honour to proof read before publishing. If you like his stuff, also follow him on twitter (@mindcoolnessTHIS is a guest post by Dom. I asked him to explain the paradox: Why does freedom sometimes involve doing things we do not want to do? Read more

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On Fractal Music, Fourier Analysis and Fat Cantor Sets.

Two weeks ago Adam Neely published a mind blowing video where he introduces fractal music. This is a perfect topic for my blog as well, because it is a mixture between science and art, and this is what Bats and Seahorses is mainly after (apart from the related topic of how to lead a creative life whether in science or art). Before jumping into mathematcs, first of all, here is the video:

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Knot ornaments out of Penrose tiling

Knots generated out of the Penrose tiling

(Scroll down for more pics!)

I played around a little bit with generating the Penrose tiling and especially how to get knot ornaments out of it. I used algorithm explained at preshing.com as a basis. It generates the Penrose tiling by subdividing triangles. It has two types of triangles which are labeled red and blue and they are subdivided like this:

Image from preshing.com

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The Easiest Way to Increase Your Reading Speed

What gets measured gets managed. Tim Ferriss tells in his book 4-hour-body about a guy who lost a significant part of weight by only measuring his weight. If there is a single thing in which our brains are notoriously outstanding, it is optimisation. Namely finding ways to increase (or decrease) a given parameter. Instead of trying to consciously make lists of things that may or may not help you read faster (posture?, light?, elimination of distractions?, Googling unknown words – yes or no?, door – closed or open?, tea?, how do I put my PDF-reader into full-screen mode?…)…. instead just measure the parameter you want to optimise: time. When I need to read an article fast, I take time with a stopwatch how much time it takes to read each page. The more I do it, the faster and more focused I read. I use my phone’s Read more

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The Power of Isolation

Last week I was sick. I had stomach pain so that I couldn’t eat or move much, but I was not prevented from thinking or writing. This meant that I isolated myself for several days from my day-to-day work: seminars, lectures and research-related meetings and was able to concentrate on a handful of thought-requiring projects. I believe this is how Stephen Hawking feels at the best of his times. What happened is that one of the projects that I have long considered to be one of my main ones progressed more than for a long time. It is paradoxical, because I have engaged in the project once in a while, even engaging other people with it. But it required a thorough thinking session on my side in order to get momentum. That’s not surprising given that I am a mathematician and this project is partly a mathematical one (partly cognitive science), but I believe that most big projects require a period of isolation. When you isolate yourself in order to work on a particular project, you go deep into the state of mind in which you think only about it. You get into a state of flow which is ‘flowing’ within the context of that project. If you do it once, say for a week, then it will be easier later to get back to the same state whenever you want and you will be able to focus even for short periods of time on the same thing.  In the modern world, taking such breaks is a dozen times more important, because we live in the state of an informational overflow. Another benefit is that you are not allowed to do anything else. Professor Wolf Singer told me, that he has Read more

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An Interactive Animation Visualising a Group Isomorphism

An interactive animation programmed in JavaScript illustrating the isomorphism from the quotient of the additive groups of reals by intergers Latex formula to the unit circle on the complex plane Latex formula defined by the formula:

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How to Tackle the Difficulty to Start

The difficulty to start may be one of the biggest setbacks in achieving almost anything in life. You sit down to write the first chapter of your book. You are bothered by some items on your desk, so you clean that first. Then you put some music on. No, but you can’t concentrate with this music, so you change the music. You adjust the brightness of your screen and then you check social media just in case. Then you think that maybe you should do something else instead, because writing a book may not pay off. You decide to stick to your plan, however, and write, but then you check how much time has passed and realise that you are actually thirsty….

Does this sound familiar? In my case it sometimes gets even worse. I used to start feeling guilt about Read more

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Ozora lecture submission

I submitted a proposal for a lecture to the Ozora festival. The lecture is supposed to cover the ways in which the contemporary cognitive science is able to tackle age old questions in the philosophy of mind. The exact content of the lecture is not yet fixed, but the range of topics includes:

  • What does cognitive science have to say about the Platonism/non-Platonism debate, i.e. do abstract concepts, such as mathematical ones, posses existence independent of humans or cognitive systems in general?
  • What can neuroscience tell us about the nature of experience, meaning and consciousness? Is having a powerful enough fMRI brain scanning techniques enough to understand the relationship between the mind and the body? Even if not, how can it help?
  • What is the enactivist-representationalist debate in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, and how is it related to meditation, embodiment, even Buddhism and spirituality?
  • How can artificial intelligence, in particular artificial neural networks illuminate our understanding of meaning, emergence and consciousness? What are the limitations and the possibilities of the present day AI systems? What is the moral and ethical side of developing thinking (and feeling?) machines?

An inspirational animation with text from Rosch, E., Varela, F., & Thompson, E. (1991). The embodied mind. Cognitive Science and Human Experience:

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More on my Algebra teaching

What tricks do you use in your teaching or have found useful while studying? Comment below!

A couple of months ago I wrote about my eccentric first algebra lecture. I am lecturing Algebra I in this semester which is in fact split into two parts. The teaching methodology this course is being taught in (and has been taught a couple years before me) is already of interest to people outside of our department. I have additionally experimented with some extra stuff such as magic tricks and YouTube videos and below I summarise all that.

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Cognitive Science of Philosophy of Mathematics – workshop

Short motivation

What is mathematics? How is mathematics produced, understood and learned by the human brain? Do infinities exist or are they a product of our minds? Whether or not they exist, mathematicians’ minds can conceptualise infinity. What does this mean and how is this possible? Is mathematics limited and shaped by human brain and body or is it completely independent of the agent doing it? Would extraterrestrial aliens have the same mathematics as we do?

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The Forthcoming Movie Beauty and the Beast Sucks

UPDATE AFTER I SAW THE MOVIE: Are you kidding me? The beast has a six-pack and stuff. He is a hot macho who can jump from a roof-top to roof-top. In fact, when he transforms to the prince, he becomes less attractive. Even the beauty says: “you could grow a beard”! She says it to the prince after the transformation!!!!!! She misses the way the BEAST looked.  And that’s natural! Because he was cool and handsome. OKAY, his mouth was kind of ugly. I give them that. But hey… ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

The translation of the original story by  Madame de Villeneuve does not contain precise description of the Beast, but it tells so much that the beauty  “made a great effort to hide her horror” upon saluting him. The Russian version of the story Аленький цветочек contains the following description:

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