Monday, May 05, 2008

Uncertainty - a life force?

Randomness in computation is very useful to understand some hierarchies in complexities of problems (probabilistic complexity classes, zero knowledge proofs, probabilistically checkable proofs). Randomness (or pseudo randomness) is the key in preventing adversarial attacks. It is the key in simulating physical processes of Nature. It is the key in many practical applications.

Now coming to life part. Imagine if the viruses all know how our entire body works then they can attack us without leaving us any choice of survival. But fortunately future is non-deterministic that is there are uncertainties in future, our genes mutate, the entropy of the universe keeps increasing at least until the pathways of the universe start interfering which is not supposed to happen for a long long long time. Even better: at microscopic scale even past is non-deterministic! All this can lead us to wonder if God wants to keep His power of designing Nature and life and let us just experience/measure and play around with randomness with regularities (bounds) but without complete derandomization. I think there is a good reason in doing this. First it let's us value life (because we don't know the causal reasons to replicate it) and two it keeps the "feeling of quest" alive which is the basic feeling of being alive anyways! The goal of AI as defined by Turing test is to create a machine whose responses can not be distinguished from those of a human being (of certain background). Without uncertainty such AI becomes impossible as well! Remember this is only about artificial intelligence not artificial life because it only talks about "conversations". Simulating the functions involving our intelligence itself seems very elusive. To simulate artificial life we need to simulate even more complex distributions.

About year and a half ago I posted about karma as a possible anthropic analog of evolution and hinted how hope can be argued from karma. Well analyses using theory of karma take "deterministic hidden variables route" for explaining things but even without that hidden variable (karma) we can still argue for hope just from inherent uncertainties that can be exploited to protect ourselves from being hopelessly attacked by adversaries.

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