
Don't forget randomness is still just a hypothesis
Anton Zeilinger's bold essay "The message of the quantum" (Nature
438, 743; 2005 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/438743a)) claims "the
discovery that individual events are irreducibly random is probably
one of the most significant findings of the twentieth century." But
we should not forget that the claim of true randomness has not yet
been backed by evidence. Neither Heisenberg's uncertainty principle
nor Bell's inequality exclude the possibility, however small, that
the Universe, including all observers inhabiting it, is in principle
computable by a completely deterministic computer program, as first
suggested by computer pioneer
Konrad Zuse
in 1967 (Elektron.
Datenverarb. 8, 336344; 1967).
The principle of Occam's razor, which
is fundamental to theorybuilding, favours simple explanations
(describable by few bits of information) over complex ones. But if
the Universe's history really included many truly random events,
an enormous amount of information would be necessary to describe
all the random observations inexplicable by the known, simple,
elegant, compactly describable laws of physics.
A few previous
attempts at discovering a pseudorandom generator behind seemingly
random physical events have failed (see T. Erber and S. Putterman
Nature 318, 4143; 1985 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/318041a0)). But
as long as the randomness hypothesis has not been verified, physicists
should keep trying to falsify it and search not only for statistical
laws but also for deterministic rules explaining any type of hitherto
unexplained apparent randomness.
 
The correspondence to the left appeared in
Nature 439, 392 (26 January 2006);
doi:10.1038/439392d; copyright © Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
Jürgen Schmidhuber
IDSIA, Galleria 2, 6928 MannoLugano, Switzerland &
Robotics and Embedded Systems,
Tech. Univ. München,
Computer Science,
Boltzmannstr. 3, 85748 Garching, Germany
Related links:
1.
Algorithmic theory of everything
2. Zuse's hypothesis and Zuse himself
3.
Occam's razor and generalized algorithmic information
4. Speed Prior.
On the fastest way of computing any computable universe,
plus optimal predictions of the future
5.
Universal learning algorithms
plus consequences for optimal inference
of laws of computable universes
 
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