[extropy-chat] Anthropic Principle

Lee Corbin lcorbin at tsoft.com
Fri Mar 3 07:54:58 UTC 2006

Russell writes

> On 3/3/06, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at tsoft.com> wrote:
> > And we would all be delighted if it turned out
> > that there was an Occam-simple theory (like
> > string theory) that led to a unique answer.
> I'd be somewhere between disconcerted and disgusted.
> Why would that mathematically unique answer happen
> to support the evolution of intelligent life?

Sounds like a value we share  :-)

I had not looked into the implications for "intelligent-
life density" in the universe. But one could argue either
way (typically of metaverse/Tegmarkish discussions). For
example, if we take as given the existence of Everything
That Is, then one could be disconcerted (in the way you are)
because there are so few Tegmark islands. (See below.)

> Consider an analogy: Suppose the first few thousand 
> decimal digits of pi after the first couple of dozen, 
> turned out to be just 0 and 1, and the length of the 
> sequence turned out to be a product of two primes, 
> and if you did the obvious raster display, the 1s 
> spelled out the name "Lee Corbin". Wouldn't you feel 
> just a bit disconcerted and/or disgusted?

Yes, indeed!  Back in my last incarnation on this list
I used to go on and on about certain large integers
which must exist that when decoded eloquently convince
us that that they're conscious (so loaded with indexes
and self-references and so on).

Maybe Carl Sagan was the first to talk about the message
in pi in his awful SF book? (Sorry, Sagan fans.) 

> I was delighted when the Landscape started looking 
> like it had 10^500 solutions rather than the paltry 
> trillion or whatever before. 10^500 solutions is 
> big enough that we should naturally expect there
> to be at least a few that support the evolution of 
> intelligent life, without needing special explanations.

If we *don't* start with the size of entirety as given (as
I did above), then yes, more is better. I see your point.
But remember, back when Earth was the only solid body under
God, intelligent life enjoyed a near one-hundred percent
penetration of mundane creation.

> The prediction [that the future duration of complex 
> life on Earth in the absence of tech intervention] 
> has been verified in the sense that further data, 
> more realistic models and more detailed calculations 
> have shown that in the absence of technological 
> intervention, complex life on Earth will cease 
> to exist in a few hundred million years (or at 
> least diminish sufficiently to preclude the 
> evolution of intelligence); this result was not 
> known when the prediction was made, but was 
> established afterwards.

I'll have to look that up; meanwhile, Susskind is
claiming that Weinberg used the AP to predict something;
maybe your example will be more persuasive. Meanwhile,
I'm still keeping a skeptical eye out for the WPA being
good for anything except very weak explanations.


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