Real prediction is not possible

Another interesting piece from the answers to the Edge question (here) is Rudy Rucker’s. She is author of Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul. Her piece of useful wisdom:

A little-known truth: Every aspect of the world is fundamentally unpredictable. Computer scientists have long since proved this. How so? To predict an event is to know a shortcut for foreseeing the outcome in advance….The world can simultaneously be deterministic and unpredictable. In the physical world, the only way to learn tomorrow’s weather in detail is to wait twenty-four hours and see even if nothing is random at all. The universe is computing tomorrow’s weather as rapidly and as efficiently as possible any smaller model is inaccurate, and the smallest error is amplified into large effects.

At a personal level, even if the world is as deterministic as a computer program, you still can’t predict what you’re going to do. This is because your prediction method would involve a mental simulation of you that produces its results slower than you. You can’t think faster than you think. You can’t stand on your own shoulders.

It’s a waste to chase the pipedream of a magical tiny theory that allows us to make quick and detailed calculations about the future. We can’t predict and we can’t control. To accept this can be a source of liberation and inner peace. We’re part of the unfolding world, surfing the chaotic waves.

The only way a decision is deterministic is that it is made by the brain. The only way it is free is that it cannot be predicted. The freewill vs determinism is a dead end (like nature vs nurture). We should be concerned with how decisions are actually made in neuro-scientific terms and how to make better ones in psychological terms.

5 thoughts on “Real prediction is not possible

  1. You are so cool! I don’t suppose I’ve read through something like that before.

    So good to find someone with genuine thoughts on this
    issue. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up.
    This web site is something that is needed on
    the internet, someone with a little originality!

  2. Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it
    was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
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    • I’m sorry that your comment was lost. I don’t see myself as a seasoned blogger. I just comment on papers and the like that have to do with neuroscience. I try to be simple - no pictures unless they are really needed. I use WordPress at SiteGround and I am pleased with that. I try to post every 3 days. Within that time there is usually some paper that I have something to say about. I use ScienceSeekers and ResearchBlogging. I put notifications in Facebook, Twitter, Google, Tumblr. It is all a bit old fashioned but then I quite old myself.

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