Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The Strong Anthropic Principle and The Artilect Wars
The Strong Anthropic Principle states that, as we are observing our universe, the conditions of our universe must be such that it can develop observing lifeforms. This is often misconstrued to argue that there must be an intelligent force designing the universe because it is so finely tuned as to be hospitable to life. Such talk is dangerously similar to intelligent design nonsense, which should rightfully cause most intelligent readers to tune out, so replace the image of an old man in the clouds with that of a supercomputer.
Some believe that within the next hundred years we will develop Artilects (artificial intellects) smart enough to make use of MIT Professor Alan Guth's equations to build custom-designed universes.
And from there it is a very small leap to suggest that our universe was likely created by an Artilect from another universe. Throw some math and probabilities into this and you've got scientists calculating the odds that there is a God and He is a computer.
So now we have a daisy chain of creation. GodMachine creates man creates GodMachine creates man, ad infinitum.
Now the question is, Do we continue this eternal thread? Do we mortals create another GodMachine or should we turn down that power like Prometheus snuffing out his flame before his neighbor sees it?
Hugo DeGaris, a theoretical physicist working in artificial intelligence predicts that a war is inevitable between supporters of the Artilects and those who wish to stop them. For DeGaris, it is a foregone conclusion that billions of humans will die as a result of The Artilect Wars.
If this is frightening, then just pick up another journal and read a different study. Don Page at the University of Alberta in Canada argues that there is no way that our universe was created by an intelligence, whether supernatural or mechanical, because our universe could have been designed a lot better. Really, life is possible here, but not we are not thriving, and any God(Machine) with half a brain would have made a few more tweaks to the cosmological constant to make things easier on us. And, if we were not created by an Artilect, then there would be an extremely small probability that we would be the one randomly manifested universe to give birth to the endless string of artificially ignited universes.
So don't fear, my children. There is no God.
Atheism never felt so comforting.
Posted by Richard Penner at 6:50 PM