By Ion Soteropoulos
1. Science’s fundamental goal is to comprehend the working mechanism of the physical world and, therefore, to increase the power of life, of human life, throughout spacetime. A deeper understanding of the physical world means enhancing our knowledge or information about the physical universe.
The universe (uni, “one,” and versus, to turn), defined as the synthesis of one and its inverse, the infinitely many, is a self-contained complex being, which is both a containing infinite whole of infinite radius and a contained finite part that we identify with the observable Hubble universe of finite radius roughly equal to 14 billion light-years. We define the finite observable universe as the sum of a finite number of parts, whereas the infinite whole as the sum total of an infinite number of parts. The infinite universe is also the origin of a universal principle of proportionality (synthetic logos) among different things that transforms their infinite multiplicity into an infinite unified whole, a universe governed by universal principles.
Knowledge or information about the universe has therefore a measurable part that computes the finite observable part of the infinite universe and ii) an infinite immeasurable part that reveals the universe as an infinite whole having both unity and infinite multiplicity.
2. The fourth Information Universe conference, organized under the inspiring direction of Edwin Valentijn https://www.astro.rug.nl/~valentyn/, was an excellent manifestation of human effort to comprehend our complex universe by extending our finite perception through tools such as the telescope and by discovering new bonds and universal principles that unify apparently isolated parts. These unifying bonds and universal principles assign meaning, order, and necessity to our otherwise meaningless, disordered, and capricious world and enable us to communicate energy and information among different and distant things.
3. Leon Koopmans https://leonkoopmans.com and Tamara Davis https://people.smp.uq.edu.au/TamaraDavis/ discussed the problem of the cosmological conflict between different measurements assigning simultaneously different values to the current Hubble constant H0, which measures the expansion rate of the universe, and whether we can resolve this conflict through measurements or theory. However, as thinking philosophers, we ask cosmologists to ponder over this question: “What is the nature of physical quantity?” Is the physical quantity of a given kind a simple point (an individual) having at any given time a unique value—for example, either the value a or the value b, which necessitates the categorical choice between the alternatives—or a complex line (a whole) having at the same time both values a and b and thus transcends the need for a choice?
4. According to the Church-Turing thesis, every finitely realizable physical system can be simulated accurately and efficiently on a quantum computer. Grounded in this conclusion, Seth Lloyd http://meche.mit.edu/people/faculty/SLloyd@MIT.EDU defended the idea that we can simulate our Hubble universe on a quantum computer and that the universe is a quantum computer. However, can we simulate the physical universe, which infinitely expands beyond our finite Hubble universe, on a quantum computer? For example, if Cantor computed the incomputable infinite through the transfinite number aleph, can we compute the incomputable infinite physical universe by analogy? Is it possible to have a quantum computer that is infinite? Lloyd ended his talk with these important questions: Are you afraid of artificial general intelligence? Should computers be in chains? He creatively answered: Teach them, free them, and free yourself! However, we ask Lloyd, can a quantum computer be a free-living being?
5. Charles Lineweaver https://www.mso.anu.edu.au/~charley/ convincingly exposed the difference between physics and biology and demonstrated how information as computation is biologically dependent. Evolutionary biology is a time-conditioned science. It studies the time-dependent properties of life as a finite biological being possessing both biological matter and information. Because finite biological life evolves, evolutionary biology is not governed by permanent universal principles. The opposite is the case with physics, which is, in essence, a time-independent science searching for fundamental quantities such as mass and energy and fundamental principles such as the mass-energy equivalence principle, which are universal and constant, that is, the same everywhere, at all times. Ancient Greek philosophy has taught us that science is knowledge according to universal principles, which are permanent or timeless. Based on this canonical definition of science, we ask Lineweaver if evolutionary biology is true science. Going deeper into our philosophical inquiry, we ask whether we can have biology free of evolution and governed by permanent universal principles. In the same vein, we ask whether time-dependent biological life programmed to die or irreversibly change by evolution is true life. To put it another way, we ask the physicists, “Is it possible to have biological life that is continuous, universal, permanent, or timeless — that is, biological life without chronological origin or end?”
6. Then Herbert Kruitbosch http://herbertkruitbosch.com/ who talked about disinformation, argued that fake-news diffuses at a higher rate than true news throughout a population of individuals. If the majority of people are fascinated by falsity rather than truth—that is, prefer the shadows of the cave rather than the bright light of the sun, as in Plato’s famous allegory—our fragile democracies based on the votes of the majority are indeed in peril.
During the three days of this conference, there were other talks rich in critical thought and powerful in imagination that stretched the boundaries of our biological neuronal brain. We were mesmerized by such variety. The only problem left, and it is a major problem, was how to compose these individual melodies into a cosmic symphony that helps us comprehend the universe as a physical whole.
Paris, 15 July 2022