Can random, unguided processes produce a rational brain?

In summary: So does anyone know whether it is so unlikely as to be absurd to suppose that random unguided processes could produce a rational brain in man in as little as 3 billion years?It is possible, but I don't think it is very likely.
  • #36
And yet the LLN and so many other precise mathematical truths are far more tangible than imprecise speculation. Perhaps, a better explanation does exist and it'll take time to arrive at one. We could also extend similar questions to any field, where research is central and everybody is constantly looking for an improved picture of their theory.

Also, where does it say that the monkey type writer thought experiment is the peak of our mathematical discovery or the 'best' explanation so far?

The monkey argument is one of many examples of what happens when something with a very precise formulation 'gets interpreted'.
 
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  • #37
rasp said:
I agree with Sean Carrol that it is vastly more likely that a Boltzmann brain fluctuated into existence complete with memory and sensation, then for our brains to have been created from a series of random fluctuations of particles to make a galaxy, star, earth, the biosphere and humans.
What is your justification for this belief? My observations are inconsistent with existence as a Boltzmann brain. I'd wager yours are also. Sure, the probability of humans given the universe is low, but I don't think that it is lower than the probability of Boltzmann brain humans given the universe. And I would say that the probability of Boltzmann brain humans given the universe is certainly lower than the probability of humans given the earth, let alone the the probability of humans given Earth's biosphere.

rasp said:
What I find really interesting about the discussion of Boltzmann brains is that it shows our evolution to be that much more unlikely an event.
The only way I can figure you mean this is that it offers another explanation, consuming some probability otherwise reserved for the prevailing theory. Is that what you meant? I would think its probability is negligible, and have a negligible impact.

rasp said:
Do you not agree with me that our existence is surprising and worth a better explanation then simply the law of large numbers, that says given enough chances every event, even the most unlikely will happen?
Isn't that exactly what Boltzmann brains leverage, though?

On the whole, it sounds like you're dissatisfied with established, mainstream answers to very old questions. What better explanation could you hope for than the truth? What better tool for finding that truth more and more precisely than science?
 
  • #38
jackwhirl said:
... My observations are inconsistent with existence as a Boltzmann brain. ...

How so? You do exist, you definitely may make observations, it is inevitable property of Boltzmann brain. How you may be sure that you are not a Boltzmann brain?
 
  • #39
stefanbanev said:
How so? You do exist, you definitely may make observations, it is inevitable property of Boltzmann brain. How you may be sure that you are not a Boltzmann brain?
I would say continuity of thought. I was given to believe that impermanence was also a property of Boltzmann brains. If so, this very conversation is evidence against our existence as Boltzmann brains.
 
  • #40
jackwhirl said:
I would say continuity of thought. I was given to believe that impermanence was also a property of Boltzmann brains. If so, this very conversation is evidence against our existence as Boltzmann brains.

JW>"I would say continuity of thought."

The particular orders on some subsets of snapshots of Boltzmann brains provides such continuity. In fact it may provide not only one plot but all variations of it for different orders.

JW>"impermanence was also a property of Boltzmann"

Sure it can be so for a single snapshot; however, for an assembly of Boltzmann brains there are plenty subsets with different orders to have many timelines/evolution(s) for many versions of Boltzmann brains.
 
  • #41
rasp said:
What I find really interesting about the discussion of Boltzmann brains is that it shows our evolution to be that much more unlikely an event.
This has nothing to do with biological evolution and you seem to have no understanding of how biological evolution proceeds.
Things don't arise in evolution in a single massive (and highly improbable) step, but in many smaller, simpler, and much more likely steps that build on each other. Similar to how stars and planets arose in the history of the universe.
Try reading up on how people think these things have happened!

rasp said:
Do you not agree with me that our existence is surprising and worth a better explanation then simply the law of large numbers, that says given enough chances every event, even the most unlikely will happen?
No. See alternative explanation above.
 
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  • #42
rasp said:
Do you not agree with me that our existence is surprising and worth a better explanation then simply the law of large numbers, that says given enough chances every event, even the most unlikely will happen?

No, not at all. I see no reason to throw away a perfectly good explanation that is well supported by known physical laws in favor of some unknown mechanism(s) simply because "our existence is surprising and worth a better explanation".

rasp said:
I agree with Sean Carrol that it is vastly more likely that a Boltzmann brain fluctuated into existence complete with memory and sensation, then for our brains to have been created from a series of random fluctuations of particles to make a galaxy, star, earth, the biosphere and humans.

That's unfortunate since the latter is vastly more likely than the former since it doesn't rely on a single incredibly unlikely event, but a large series of common and probable outcomes of different processes, combined with a small number of somewhat less likely events thrown in.

rasp said:
What I find really interesting about the discussion of Boltzmann brains is that it shows our evolution to be that much more unlikely an event.

I don't believe this at all.
 
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  • #43
I believe there is a solid argument against Boltzmann Brains, even accepting they are cheaper, I. E. More easier/likely to be created than human brains as we understand their heritage. The idea that Boltzmann brains are easier to create is well established in the literature. An interesting false analogy was given by Carl Sagan, in which he said the first step in making an apple pie was to create the universe, then the galaxy, earth, an apple orchard etc. Boltzmann I think with Poincaire showed that a single fluctuation in the QM field ( which he didn’t know about then) would be more likely to produce an apple pie then Sagan’s explanation. The solid argument against Boltzmann brains are that they are delusionary. The arguments against are similar to those in which we are in a simulated environment.
 
  • #44
rasp said:
The idea that Boltzmann brains are easier to create is well established in the literature.

Reference please. The little I've read has stated that it's so unlikely that a Boltzmann brain could arise that the average time it would take is far beyond the current age of the universe. On the other hand, the production of complicated molecules that life could arise from takes perhaps a few hundred million years to a few billion.
 
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  • #45
rasp said:
Thank you all for the dialogue. I’m thinking that the current scientific paradigm can be expressed roughly as: We live in a multiverse, in which there are a myriad of universes, each with its own set of properties. Most of those universes are not stable enough to exist for enough time to allow humans and their rational self aware brain to evolve.
I'm not sure any of that is correct.
The anthropic principle states we shouldn’t be surprised that we live in a comprehensible universe because we couldn’t live any where else. If I have the broad outlines correct, then IMHO I find this explanation intellectually unsatisfying and probably unscientific.
It's not surprising that you find it unsatisfying, but finding it unsatisfying (or, the reason why...) is what is unscientific :wink:
 
  • #46
Drakkith said:
That's unfortunate since the latter is vastly more likely than the former since it doesn't rely on a single incredibly unlikely event, but a large series of common and probable outcomes of different processes, combined with a small number of somewhat less likely events thrown in.
Agreed!

I'm not really that familiar with the idea of a Boltzmann Brain, but to me the idea seems obviously illogical and the product of too much of the wrong kind of drugs!
 
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  • #47
Drakkith said:
... it's so unlikely that a Boltzmann brain could arise that the average time it would take is far beyond the current age of the universe.
How can this be a valid argument nowadays, with QM existing? The universal wavefunction contains some (amplitude for) Boltzmann brains absolutely certainly.
(:smile:)
More, it's experimentally proved that the Born rule is biased when a conscious interest is involved.
 
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  • #48
russ_watters said:
I'm not sure any of that is correct.

It's not surprising that you find it unsatisfying, but finding it unsatisfying (or, the reason why...) is what is unscientific :wink:
Please help me understand. I view the Anthropic principe as true but trivial. IMO It states the obvious and doesn’t add anything to the discussion. Where do you see it’s worth?
 
  • #49
Drakkith said:
Reference please. The little I've read has stated that it's so unlikely that a Boltzmann brain could arise that the average time it would take is far beyond the current age of the universe. On the other hand, the production of complicated molecules that life could arise from takes perhaps a few hundred million years to a few billion.
See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain as to the ratio of Boltzmann brains to normal brains according to different cosmological scenarios.
 
  • #50
rasp said:
Please help me understand. I view the Anthropic principe as true but trivial. IMO It states the obvious and doesn’t add anything to the discussion. Where do you see it’s worth?
Its worth is in stating the simple and obvious thing that is often overlooked. And it is unsatisfying because the obvious thing it states is so simple and therefore seemingly not very meaningful. You want The Answer to be more meaningful and complex than that - but it doesn't have to be.
 
  • #51
rasp said:
See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain as to the ratio of Boltzmann brains to normal brains according to different cosmological scenarios.

That doesn't appear to support your claim that Boltzmann brains are easier to create than real brains. The fact that all of the scenarios require absurdly long time frames on average means the exact opposite in my opinion. Boltzmann brains appear to be monumentally more difficult to create (assuming you mean that less probable outcomes are more 'difficult').

AlexCaledin said:
How can this be a valid argument nowadays, with QM existing? The universal wavefunction contains some (amplitude for) Boltzmann brains absolutely certainly.

I'm not arguing that a Boltzmann brain does or doesn't exist, I'm only saying that the formation of each one is an exceedingly improbable event.

AlexCaledin said:
More, it's experimentally proved that the Born rule is biased when a conscious interest is involved.

I'm sorry but I don't know what you mean by this. What is the Born rule?
 
  • #52
The accumulation of supposed 'Einstein quotes' in furtherance of the incomprehensible reminds one of the numerous pieces of the 'true cross' that if collected would "cover 100 Calvarys in forests of trees"*. I am satisfied with reading and understanding translations of Einstein's science papers.

[*paraphrasing a quote attributed to some anti-simony Reformation philosopher, possibly Martin Luther?]
 
  • #53
Drakkith said:
That doesn't appear to support your claim that Boltzmann brains are easier to create than real brains. The fact that all of the scenarios require absurdly long time frames on average means the exact opposite in my opinion. Boltzmann brains appear to be monumentally more difficult to create (assuming you mean that less probable outcomes are more 'difficult').

I'm not arguing that a Boltzmann brain does or doesn't exist, I'm only saying that the formation of each one is an exceedingly improbable event.

I'm sorry but I don't know what you mean by this. What is the Born rule?

>"absurdly long time frames"

May you tell how long you sleep once all watches sleep with you?

>"exceedingly improbable event."

If it is not an exact zero then it is doomed to be in huge quantity. From point view of Boltzmann brain the time/space (or any other metrics) distances between its snapshots are totally irrelevant, as soon as snapshots are not identical and not too different then some its sequences/orders may manifest what you perceive as your existence. My apology for explaining such trivialities...
 
  • #54
stefanbanev said:
>"absurdly long time frames"

May you tell how long you sleep once all watches sleep with you?

>"exceedingly improbable event."

If it is not an exact zero then it is doomed to be in huge quantity. From point view of Boltzmann brain the time/space (or any other metrics) distances between its snapshots are totally irrelevant, as soon as snapshots are not identical and not too different then some its sequences/orders may manifest what you perceive as your existence. My apology for explaining such trivialities...

I'm sorry, but I have no idea what you're getting at. This thread started as a topic on something related to evolution, which I at least know the basics of, and has evolved into a discussion on Boltzmann brains, which I know very little about. Which has undoubtedly shown in my posts. Perhaps it's best if I bow out of the discussion here.
 
  • #55
Here is a good layman explanation of a Boltzman brain:

 
  • #56
Motore said:
Here is a good layman explanation of a Boltzman brain:
Thanks. That explanation was Shiny!*
I knew what Boltzman Brains were, but didn't understand the significance until he walked through it.

If the Big Bang and the resultant universe is a consequence of a vastly unlikely decrease in entropy, then much smaller, simpler unlikelihoods should be vastly more common (A thousand monkeys should churn out vastly more Shakespearean sonnets than plays).

So, for every entire universe created, there should be a vast number of far, far simpler things - such as human brains - created by chance.

*obligatory Firefly reference
 
  • #57
DaveC426913 said:
... there should be a vast number of far, far simpler things - such as human brains - created by chance.

It's correct; furthermore, every subset/assembly of B-Brains (BB) which are nearly ~identical may be considered as a superposition of Everett observer; it's clear that any distances (in any time/space metrics) between such BB are totally irrelevant to have such assembly. Apparently, there is no need for Universe as such since Universe is defined by BB-state of such observer. It's also clear that the overwhelming majority of BB are insane and it is irrelevant how low likelihood of sane BB is, it just should not be a total zero to have them in huge quantity... (another reincarnation of natural selection where selecting factor is literally an existence itself ;o)
 

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