Christian Engström, Pirat

20 januari 2013

Kopimism and the Struggle Against Thermodynamics

Filed under: English,kopimism — Christian Engström @ 14:18
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Click to read the earlier parts of Kopimism: The Creation

(This is a continuation of the Kopimist Creation Myth)

After the previous Kopimist sermon on the laws of nature and the restaurant at the end of the universe, Björn Persson made some comments that I want to highlight and agree with.

Björn Persson wrote:

You make it sound like science preaches that the end is nigh. That’s not very accurate. It’s true that science tells us that everything will come to an end eventually, but it also provides an estimate of how long that will take, and it turns out that the restaurant Universe will remain open for a very very very VERY long time still. There’s lots and lots of time to kopy, kooperate and kreate kwality, and the heat death of the universe is definitely not something you need to worry about on a human time scale. I find that much more reassuring than some religion whose gods might decide to destroy the world on a whim tomorrow.

This is absolutely true, and if I accidentally scared someone into a panic by divulging how the thermodynamists envision the end world, I hope they will relax after reading this clarification. Even the most alarmist projections concede that we have billions of years before it happens, so panic is a bit premature. If you are planning to stand on a street corner with a the-end-is-nigh sign, you have ample time for a cup of coffee before you take up your post.

But this doesn’t really make the laws of thermodynamics any less depressing. Not only do they present a vision of infinite boredom, they also say that the road there will be painstakingly slow. Since when does making dullness slower and last longer make it more fun?

Thermodynamics is beginning to look more and more like the big villain that we need to do something about, if we want to have any fun in this universe.

Björn Persson continued:

It’s also not correct to say that the universe is less interesting today than last Thursday. The maximum entropy state is indeed not very interesting, but neither is the minimum entropy state. The interesting things happen between those extremes, and that’s right where we are now. If you want to claim that we have passed the peak of interest and are now going downhill, then you’ll have to prove it, because I see no indication that that would be the case.

This is a very interesting point. In the Kopimist model of the world, we have Kreativity as a Fundamental Principle to counteract the constant increase in entropy over time. Since we see Kreativity as an invisible force that flows through the universe at all times and all places, all that is needed for the universe to become more fun from one Thursday to another is that the force of Kreativity is strong enough compared to the other natural forces that are pulling the universe towards the long and boring heat death.

For a Kopimist there is hope, even without breaking the laws of thermodynamics.

But what is the standard view of mainstream physics on this point? If it is true that the complexity of the universe is in fact increasing now, or at least that the complexity increased at some point in its history, where did this increase come from? What was or is the driving force for this according to classical mainstream physics?

Myself, I don’t know enough physics to answer that question, but I hope there will be a fruitful discussion between those who understand more about thermodynamics than I do, and Kopimist theological scholars.

This appears to be a good starting point for further explorations of the role of Kreativity in the universe.

Björn Persson concluded:

Look at it this way:

Thermodynamiks shows that if kompleks things are left alone they will slowly but inevitably lose their kompleksity and their kwality, but the dekay kan be kounterakted by kopying them kontinuously.

Therefore a good kopimist should kontinue kopying and kreating interesting things of ever greater kwality, kontributing to keep dekay at bay by inkreasing the overall kompleksity faster than the dekay kan dekrease it.

To this, I can only say: Yes! This is theological konstruktivism at its very best.

We have gone straight from the Four Kopimist K’s — Creativity, Copying, Cooperation, and Quality — and the most fundamental laws of physics, to a practical rule of thumb for how to lead a good Kopimist life. And not only that, the rule of thumb built on this foundation coincides with what we had already felt in our hearts would be the right way for a Kopimist to act in the world.

We are on the right track.

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6 kommentarer

  1. I can’t tell you what causes complexity to increase, but I can tell you that you need to look beyond thermodynamics. Although the entropy of the universe as a whole increases continually, it doesn’t need to increase uniformly in all places. It’s perfectly fine for entropy to decrease locally in some places – through conscious work or natural processes – as long as the overall entropy still increases as a result. This is what allows complexity to exist. Thermodynamics thus sets the scene, but it doesn’t explain how complexity emerges.

    Scientists who try to understand complexity work in such fields as information theory, chaos theory, emergent phenomena and numerical simulation. This is very complicated stuff, and not very well understood yet. (It might not come as a big surprise that the study of complexity is complex.) Various approaches to quantifying complexity have been proposed, but no generally accepted measure exists yet as far as I know, and I haven’t heard of any attempts to measure the complexity of the whole universe or how it changes. (None the less it seems obvious that a universe with galaxies, canyons, trees and brains is more complex than the almost homogenous plasma of elementary particles that existed shortly after the Big Bang.) This is an area where creative young scientists can contribute to our understanding of ourselves and our surroundings.

    Kommentar av Björn Persson — 20 januari 2013 @ 17:25

  2. Being an economist I would have to disagree with Björn Persson at one point: proofs might not be so true after all. What I mean is that, in our world, to believe that something holds we need to see a mathematical proof on the subject. Then all the hand-clapping and praise begins for the ”clever” person who proved it. Yet, although this might seem counter-intuitive it is the norm. At the turn of the 20th century we believed that Newtonian physics was the norm, because the powerful mind of Isaac Newton had proved it. Yet, as Einstein emerged we saw that another point of view might as well be true. Obviously, some problems with the existing theory had to occur before someone would ponder about a new one. Yet, proofs might actually mean nothing.

    In economics, I believe that a person with good mathematical skills can prove right about anything. People are bad? God is bad? Economists are bad? (not so unsure about that but you get the point). Unfortunately, I cannot propose an alternative to proving things, as just empirical justification will not hold, given our statistical power. Maybe it’s the combination of both empirics and proofs. Yet, there has to be some alternative and I do hope that someone will at least find it.

    As for kopying and kreating I would agree that these are the things which drive us forward. If you come to think about it even teaching is a form of kopying. Yet no-one would ever dare to say to make schools illegal right?

    Kommentar av Euronomist — 21 januari 2013 @ 9:32

  3. I’m not sure what I wrote that Euronomist disagrees with, but I’ll try to explain some things about proofs and science to see if that clears things up.

    Ignorant laymen may believe that this or that scientific theory has been proven once and for all and is the absolute and final truth, but scientists know better. A true scientist is always aware that no theory is final and that the currently dominating theory in some field is only the best approximation that has been found so far. The general theory of relativity has been tested time and again and has always passed the tests, and yet scientists keep thinking of new ways to put it to test, just to see if something unexpected shows up.

    Absolute proofs exist only in mathematics. Theories about the physical world can’t be proven like mathematical statements, through mathematical reasoning. They are tested through experiments and observations. If the observations don’t match the predictions that a theory makes, then that theory is disproven and a better theory is needed. The theory that explains the observations best prevails and becomes the dominating theory – until new observations reveal its shortcomings and a revision is needed.

    I don’t know about economics but in science it’s definitely not true that proofs mean nothing or that anything can be proven. Although theories can’t be definitively proven they can be quite conclusively disproven, and a theory won’t be widely accepted until it has been shown to agree with the observations with a high statistical certainty.

    Kommentar av Björn Persson — 21 januari 2013 @ 18:50

  4. @Björn Persson

    My remarks were exactly what you have explained. And my point was that absolute proofs and universal truths cannot exist in the real world; not even in logic thank Gödel! I am disappointed to state that economics faces the issue I have stated above. That is, consider something an absolute truth if it is proven mathematically… Yet when another ”proof” comes they embrace it as well, thus not having a coherent theory structure. I am glad to find out that scientists do not believe that there are absolute truths, yet there are some scientists I have met which might disagree with you (due to their ego that is)…

    My greatest hope is that in physics, as well in economics, young people are less prone to follow blindly into the same area that their predecessors were before…

    Nice talking to you

    Kommentar av Euronomist — 22 januari 2013 @ 9:25

  5. Actually universal truth can be proven using logic. Gödels findings is only relevant for higher logic. First order logic for instance works perfectly fine for constructing absolute and universal proofs.

    Another remark that I want to make is to really stress the fact that theories are approximations. Usually a new theory just is a better approximation. What happened when the theory of relativity gained popularity was not that Newton’s laws started to be considered to be totally false. They just give an answer that is less accurate. For this to actually give a real effect on calculations speed has to be somewhere around 90% of the speed of light. So the laws of Newton still provides a much better ”answer” to the vast set of phenomena that happens around us on Earth. Better because it’s simpler. I’ve never met scientist involved in the field that seriously suggest that one should employ the concepts of relativity when for instance doing calculations on an apple falling.

    Anyway, to me maximum disorder sounds like a rather interesting state!

    Kommentar av Johannes Westlund — 23 januari 2013 @ 3:47

  6. […] (This is a continuation of the Kopimist Creation Myth) After the previous Kopimist sermon on the laws of nature and the restaurant at the end of the universe, Björn Persson made some comments that …  […]

    Pingback av Kopimism and the Struggle Against Thermodynamics | Pirate world | — 25 januari 2013 @ 8:32

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