[ExI] Which direction does the arrow of time point in Conway's Game of Life?

Giulio Prisco giulio at gmail.com
Sat Jan 4 15:25:13 UTC 2020

Interesting thoughts.

One thing: That Conway's Life is deterministic does NOT mean that the
future holds no mystery, because Life is computationally irreducible. There
are no shortcuts that permit prediction the future without doing the
computations, or in other words, there's no way to predict what will happen
tomorrow in less than one day. In Life, the fastest way to predict the
future is waiting for the future to happen.

On Sat, Jan 4, 2020 at 4:17 PM John Clark via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> You don't have to invoke Quantum Mechanics or Relativity to figure out
> there are some funny things about time. In our world we, perhaps naively,
> believe the past exists and is knowable but the future doesn't exist in the
> same concrete way and we can only speculate what it will be like, but that
> may not be true everywhere. Conway's Game of Life has just a few very
> simple rules that are 100% deterministic, so given the current state it's
> easy to figure out what the next generation will be, and the generation
> after that and so on for as far into the future as you'd like, however it
> is not reversible. Given the present state there is no way to know what the
> previous state was, you can rule out some states but because more than one
> state could have produced the present one there is no way to know which one
> actually did.
> We also know that although ridiculously simple it's more than just a toy
> universe because the fundamental laws of physics in Conway's universe allow
> for the construction of a Universal Turing Machine; so at least in theory a
> AI could exist that lived entirely in Conways world and operated according
> to his simplified physics. To such a being the future would be certain and
> hold no mystery but the past could only be speculated about. To such a
> being would the arrow of time point in the opposite direction from the way
> we see it? I can't see why it wouldn't.
> John K Clark
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