Predicting the future

  • Thread starter Blenton
  • Start date
906
2
OK, that's more or less what I figured, and in your saying a prediction has to be probabilistic I would say, then, it is no longer really a prediction, merely an estimate of probability, which is a lot softer. A semantic quibble.
In some sense, in MWI there's no such thing as prediction, because anything is possible as long as it does not violate some conservation law.

But the nice thing about quantum mechanics is that, even though anything is possible, the vast majority of outcomes are incredibly improbable. The probable outcomes are the ones that appear classical on the face of it (an egg falling down on the floor and breaking - classical & likely, an egg falling through the floor - possible but very unlikely).

Sometimes quantum events can lead to macroscopic bifurcations of paths and then you get multiple likely outcomes. There's even an iphone app for that:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/universe-splitter/id329233299?mt=8
 
6,171
1,275
MWI = Multi-World something, right?
 
6,171
1,275
Could it be that the unpredictability of the quantum world occur to negate any possibility of accurate future prediction? I'm under the assumption that there is something fundamentally wrong with the notion of predicting ones future since the process itself would destroy itself.
I just reread this and realized I hadn't read it properly the first time.

You are proposing that quantum unpredictability is a built in security measure of sorts (The Firewall of the Universe?) designed to prevent accurate prediction since ( you assume) accurate prediction would automatically change the future. Quanta, with gremlin-like berzerker tactics, refuse to behave deterministically, but they do so in the service of an ultimately deterministic cause.

In other words, you are proposing that the future is, in fact, written in stone and quantum unpredictability protects the stone's scenario from being read before it happens.

You are proposing the madness of electrons is like the madness of Hamlet: there's method in it.

It smacks of Intelligent Design (it's specifically aimed at foiling human curiosity), but it might make a good springboard for the plot of a Science Fiction novel, say, The Blenton Code.
 
194
0
Haha, well thats pretty much what I was suggesting. I don't think its any 'intelligent' deliberate action but rather some physical law that exists in order to prevent the chaos that would ensue without it. There has to be a reason for the madness of electrons, and i've not read anything explaining why it occurs, just how.

I still firmly believe that seeing ones future would change it. You propose that you seeing your future is merely part of your future to begin with but that 'future' you vision would not be real at all since it could never be achieved with you knowing the variables.



I'd very much like to see a The Blenton Code :D
 
6,171
1,275
Haha, well thats pretty much what I was suggesting.
OK. Sorry I gave that a sloppy reading first time around and missed your point.
I don't think its any 'intelligent' deliberate action but rather some physical law that exists in order to prevent the chaos that would ensue without it. There has to be a reason for the madness of electrons, and i've not read anything explaining why it occurs, just how.
If you're not proposing an Intelligent Design argument it becomes hard to account for any proposed "protective physical law. (Not even conservation laws are "protective"; they're just neutral book keeping.) We don't find things behaving protectively until we get into biology, which is where we also start getting into the possibility of things predicting their future, but that's very late in the game. Quanta must have been behaving non-deterministically since, at least, the big bang. They wouldn't have suddenly adopted that behavior at the dawn of human consciousness (or wherever you want to place a bio-ability to predict the future.)

I still firmly believe that seeing ones future would change it. You propose that you seeing your future is merely part of your future to begin with but that 'future' you vision would not be real at all since it could never be achieved with you knowing the variables.
You've seen a movie, right? The second time you watch that DVD you know that movie is going to play out exactly as it did the first time you watched it. The fact you know the plot ahead of time does not change the future and turn it into a different movie.
 
410
1
Since time flows at different rate for different observers, it is in principle possible to predict the future with great certainty. It strongly suggests that the future is set in stone and, as somebody suggested earlier, even the peering into the future was always part of the 'script'. The question is where did the script(initial conditions) come from?

If SR is right, which is the case with all the evidence we have, it is not possible to escape one's fate and we are doomed in a fairly major way(i.e. we are mere by-standers in the great cosmic play). There is only one possible future, the one that is 'accessible' only through a different frame of reference.
 
Last edited:
194
0
If you're not proposing an Intelligent Design argument it becomes hard to account for any proposed "protective physical law. (Not even conservation laws are "protective"; they're just neutral book keeping.) We don't find things behaving protectively until we get into biology, which is where we also start getting into the possibility of things predicting their future, but that's very late in the game. Quanta must have been behaving non-deterministically since, at least, the big bang. They wouldn't have suddenly adopted that behavior at the dawn of human consciousness (or wherever you want to place a bio-ability to predict the future.)
I don't think I used the word 'protective' to describe it. Its like the laws that prevent perpetual motion, they exist so the universe doesn't infinitely explode :)

So the uncertainty of the electron possibly is there to prevent open ended universe (rather than the closed loop it has been theorized to be). But again this is under the assumption that accurate prediction is a nono.

You've seen a movie, right? The second time you watch that DVD you know that movie is going to play out exactly as it did the first time you watched it. The fact you know the plot ahead of time does not change the future and turn it into a different movie.
Its entirely different, you're proposing something thats metaphysical. A movie is like a concept, you can't really view its 'future'. Its like saying you know addition, so you know what 1+1 is equal to ahead of time but watching that movie on the other hand would be valid. Who knows what could happen, the dvd player screws up, someone interrupts you etc.
 
6,171
1,275
I don't think I used the word 'protective' to describe it. Its like the laws that prevent perpetual motion, they exist so the universe doesn't infinitely explode :)
They don't exist to prevent anything. Calling them "laws" is a human turn of speech. No one, or entity, enacted these "laws" to cause or prevent anything. If someone says something like "Conservation laws exist so the universe doesn't infinitely explode," or whatever, it's just a sloppy and sensationalistic manner of speaking. One could claim 1 + 1 = 2 in order that 1 + 1 never equals 1010000000 because that would cause chaos and overload. That's really not why 1 + 1 = 2. 1 + 1 = 2 simply because 2 is a synonym for 1 + 1. By the same logic energy is conserved simply because 2 joules is synonymous with 1 joule + 1 joule.

Its entirely different, you're proposing something thats metaphysical. A movie is like a concept, you can't really view its 'future'. Its like saying you know addition, so you know what 1+1 is equal to ahead of time but watching that movie on the other hand would be valid. Who knows what could happen, the dvd player screws up, someone interrupts you etc.
OK. Explain how the possibility that humans might accurately predict the future caused quanta to start behaving non-deterministically to prevent that. It seems like you're putting human consciousness at the center of the universe, and all quanta everywhere, including galaxies zillions of light years away began behaving non-deterministically from the dawn of time to just prevent us little humans from predicting the future and changing it. That's not Intelligent Design?
 
6,171
1,275
Since time flows at different rate for different observers, it is in principle possible to predict the future with great certainty.
I don't believe SR makes this claim at all.
 
211
1
Technically we always have free will. I can go outside right now and will myself to fly through the air like superman. It won't work, but I can will it.
That's not what he meant by free will. He meant the ability to make decisions or have thoughts that aren't determined by anything.

I wasn't sure quite how to phrase it, knowing your own future would change that future and you'll end up dividing by zero...
That's actually an incorrect statement, as it assumes you have free will, which you don't know yet. Why is this an incorrect statement? Well if what you said is correct you've either:
(A) Predicted a FAKE physical future, your consciousness is determined and you and the environment has actually evolved according to the laws of physics
(B) Predicted a REAL physical future, your consciousness isn't determined and you've changed the predicted extrapolation of future physical events using your conscoiusness(therefore free will).

If (A) is true then you never actually knew your own future. If (B) is true ... well, we don't know if our perceived free will is illusory or not yet!


Our ability to predict the future depends largely on how little detail is involved. Predicting what you'll actually have for breakfast is easy compaired to predicting where every ship in the harbor will be. I suppose that future prediction is a skill and like any skill you can probably get better at it with practice. So that means that by the time im 90 I will already know what my life is going to be like when im 115.
We're talking about this from the absolute, physicists perspective. Knowing what you're going to eat for dinner and then eating it isn't a prediction, your brain has just analysed the most likely scenario. What we're discussing is of a different nature; whether predictability is possible in theory/in reality.

It is possible to predict future but that is time intensive task
According to modern physics, this is 100% wrong. You're just referring to your modern day experiences where your personal computer (your brain) has analysed the variables available to it and come up with an outcome that turned out to be true.




QM states that it's impossible to predict the future in the deterministic sense. QM states that it's possible to predict the % chance of different future QM extrapolations. That's the best we can do. You cannot even predict for macro objects, as it has a finite number of particles and thus the probability that it'll do something weird by our macro sense of things is > 0.
 
194
0
I don't follow what you mean by 'your consciousness is/isnt determined'.
 
211
1
I don't follow what you mean by 'your consciousness is/isnt determined'.
(A) If your consciousness is caused by your brain, and it is subsequently shown that your consciousness cannot have a backwards causal influence on the brain, so that the only causal relationship is brain --> consciousness, then your consciousness is said to be determined, in that future brain states can be predicted based on previous brain states with knowledge of all the laws of physics (also considering the particle state of the environment and how it impacts upon the brain between now & prediction). As for QM, while this may make predictabvility impossible even in principle, all that comes into the picture is Random-Will, you still don't have free-will, and your consciousness can still said to be determined by the laws of physics - just not in the materialistic/classical sense.

I haven't provided the 100% complete picture, going to bed now.

(B) If your consciousness isn't caused by your brain, then there is room for it to be not-determined. (Some think that there's room for your consciousness to be not-determined even if your consciousness is byproduct of the brain, yet I heavily disagree with this so I won't discuss it, but you can search it).

Google determinism & free will, there's loads on this.
 
enjoying the above views on 'future prediction' and 'predictability' very insightfull :}

im currently re-reading James Gleick's Chaos, which is hopefully a non-mover on all foward thinkers bookshelfs
It begins with Edward Lorenz's weather simulator.
he hoped to predict weather pattern and forumlar useing a computorised weather machine
haveing mundanely watched its repetion for to long, he decided to take a short cut, instead of re-starting a simulation run from the start, he recorded the data from the previous simulation, and re-entered it, begining the run half way through.
the 'program' remained the same....but the pattern began to differ
this caused him to pen the therom of 'the butterfly effect'

'only a computor could cash in the newtonian promise that the world unfolded along a deterministic path, rule-bound like the planets, predictable like eclipses and tides. in theory a computor could let meteorologists do what astronomers had been able to do with a pencil and slide rule: rekon the future of their universe from its inital conditions and the physical laws that guide its evolution. the equations describing the motion of air and water were as well known as those describing the motion of the planets.

Astronomers did not achieve perfection and never would, not in a solar system tugged by the gravitys of nine planets, scores of moons and thousands of asteroids,
but caculations of planetary motion were so accurate people forgot they were FORECASTS'

obviously takeing nine planets into account was a mistake :p
my point of posting this quote.....
is we must know ALL of the elements that create the basis of our present before we can predict a future, which is based around the predictability of are surounding elements

and predictability can only be messured bye observing a change in those condition
 
410
1
Since there is no such thing as "Universal Now", there exists only one future, regardless if we are able to make a precise prediction on pairs of conjugate variables or not. Our inability to know quantum outcomes does not indicate that there is a 'tree' of options how the future may play out. It only indicates our inability to make thouroughly meaningful predictions.
 
194
0
OK. Explain how the possibility that humans might accurately predict the future caused quanta to start behaving non-deterministically to prevent that. It seems like you're putting human consciousness at the center of the universe, and all quanta everywhere, including galaxies zillions of light years away began behaving non-deterministically from the dawn of time to just prevent us little humans from predicting the future and changing it. That's not Intelligent Design?
Now that I think about it you do make sense. I can't think of any reason why it would exist if there were no consciousness since as far as i know planets don't plan their futures. BUT Is it not possible that the universe makes allowances for any possibility? Should consciousness arise in a certain universe then perhaps it would be best to define laws to safeguard it should they exist at all.
 
211
1
^^ I think you'll have to clarify what you mean.
 
410
1
Not all interpretations support this

SR shows that time passes at different rates for observers moving in different frames of reference. If you are unsure, just ask the team that built the GPS system and incorporated Einstein's SR in the clocks that measure time differently here on Earth and on the satellites. Since time moves at different rate, you could always find a frame of reference where your present is somebody's past. Put simply, the present day March 18th 2010 has already happened in a another frame of reference, i.e. there is just one possible future line. In a sense, what is in store for you and you are unaware of it, has already happened. The only interpretation i'm aware of that posits this is dbb(that there is no inherent uncertainty in the quantum realm, but only our ignorance and the impossibility to know both position and momentum, etc.). So even if all interpretations are wrong, there is at least one whose aspects match some of those of Einstein's relativity. The philosophical implications of this single future line are endless and could potentially prove all of our assumptions wrong - that there exists an objectively existing world, that we have free-will and are in charge of what takes place, that the human mind and science can discover truths, etc. Perhaps, even "I think therefore I am" is wrong, since it appears we are not really in charge of anything that happens in reality. This line of thinking isn't very healthy though, as it means the end of science as a tool for dicovering truths. On the other hand, bleak as it seems to be this kind of knowledge, i haven't seen an argument that provides evidence that could lead me to believe that what appears to us as "the future" is not carved in stone for all time.
 
Last edited:

apeiron

Gold Member
1,971
1
A way out of the paradoxes here is to recognise a distinction between the crisp and the vague.

So the future may a) crisply exist (being crisply determined by its past events).

Or it may b) only be vaguely determined by what has gone before. Which would mean, much like our vision towards the horizon, near term, everything seems crisply predictable. Further away, it all becomes blurred and hazy. And far enough away, it is pretty much undetermined.

Prigogine's book, The End of Certainty, is a good reference for this line of argument.

The other key ingredient in the time story I believe is Cramer's transactional interpretation of QM - or simply just taking quantum eraser and other such cases seriously.

This would argue that the future does exist in a quite concrete sense - for micro-events. The other end of an interaction has to be established for an event to "coalesce" into classical existence. So for your eye to absorb a photon from a distant star, this involves a nonlocal (or rather global I would say) interaction across both space and time.

This crisp micro-events level story actually fits neatly into the global "it all goes vague with distance" view of the overall flow of time. It is all about scale.

On the smallest scale, there is really "no time" as the start and end of an energy exchange "happen together" so far as we are concerned from our middleground, classical, observational scale. After all, photons travel at the speed of light and their experience of time would be "frozen".

Then on the largest scale, a global one-way or irrevesible flow of time is being created. This is not a dimension as classically imagined (crisply linear to infinity) but instead this kind of moving cloud of certaintly/uncertainty. Close to the "now" things look fairly crisp and densely woven (either looking back to the past or forward to the future). Then further away, again in both directions, the crisp determinism gives way to vague uncertainty (and hence also, creative possibility).

The denser the weaving of a pattern of events, the more restricted, constrained or "determined" the near future becomes. The history has been locked in in a way that "anticipates" very accurately the next immediate state of things.

But further out, you only have the first outliers of future events being laid down and so there is more room for undetermined surprises. The far future is sparsely populated so can only weakly constrain or anticipate its next immediate state.

This is like chaos theory as Prigogine argues. Errors of prediction compound exponentially so that they soon overwhelm all prediction.

The block time model of classical/relativity assumes perfect measureability of initial conditions. Yet QM says there is already a planck grain when it comes to the universe measuring its own state. It is not a noise-less system. So like the weather, you can only predict accurately a short way ahead, the longterm forecast becomes vague.
 
410
1
The block time model of classical/relativity assumes perfect measureability of initial conditions. Yet QM says there is already a planck grain when it comes to the universe measuring its own state. It is not a noise-less system. So like the weather, you can only predict accurately a short way ahead, the longterm forecast becomes vague.

This line of thinking assumes a preferred moment called "Now" or "Present". I don't think there has been any such thing for at least a century. Why would you think your measured rate of time flow is special? I believe the multitude of evidence and experimental results show conclusively that SR is correct beyond any doubt.
 

apeiron

Gold Member
1,971
1
This line of thinking assumes a preferred moment called "Now" or "Present". I don't think there has been any such thing for at least a century. Why would you think your measured rate of time flow is special? I believe the multitude of evidence and experimental results show conclusively that SR is correct beyond any doubt.
I'm not sure which thing you are attacking here.

The block universe is based on extrapolating SR so there is no single preferred now. The block can be sliced many ways because it is something that statically exists for eternity.

But I prefer to take the thermodynamic view as basic. So time - as in a degree of freedom to define a system's potential for meaningful change - can be measured in terms of a global entropic gradient.

The universe was a hot point that cools/expands. The "current" temperature of the CMB can thus serve as a clock. Observers at rest will see the same temperature and know they share the same "now".

Accelerated observers may start to see thermodynamic effects like the Unruh radiation. I haven't checked, but would there be a proportionate relationship with relativitistic time dilation?

SR is certainly correct, but also incomplete. It is not a unified theory incorporating thermodynamics. It is a highly symmetric theory and yet the facts of reality are that the universe has a broken symmetry - a thermal or entropic gradient. And it is that gradient which creates what we mean by time passing - meaningful potential for change.
 

baywax

Gold Member
1,919
1
This is a bit speculative and without sources, so thats why ill chuck it here for some 'light debate'.



Could it be that the unpredictability of the quantum world occur to negate any possibility of accurate future prediction? I'm under the assumption that there is something fundamentally wrong with the notion of predicting ones future since the process itself would destroy itself.












Yeah don't kill me for crackpottery ;/
Since the Qworld has no aware/consciousness or inclination to deny us the ability to predict the future I doubt that there is a purpose of any kind involved with QM.

However, we predict the future everyday. We just don't know about it because our own conscious/awareness can't keep up with the billions of calculations going on in our highly complex neuro-net. We know exactly what will take place at anytime in the future... but we don't know it. The information never reaches our conscious state... unless you count DeJeVu and some of the incidents that take place where you have answered the phone before it rang etc.......
 

Related Threads for: Predicting the future

Replies
3
Views
3K
  • Posted
Replies
3
Views
2K
  • Posted
Replies
6
Views
2K
Replies
26
Views
12K
Replies
40
Views
12K
  • Posted
3 4 5
Replies
118
Views
23K
Replies
64
Views
30K
Replies
2
Views
410

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving

Hot Threads

Top