All power to the imagination: thought experiments 8

For some scientific experiments do not need neither a lab nor volunteers are important research can be conducted in your own imagination. Quantum suicideas well as all known problem with languishing in a box cat, this experiment addresses problems of quantum mechanics — only with the point of view of the observer and the participant. In place of schrödinger's cat — a conventional hero who shoots himself in the head with a gun with a mechanism that is dependent on the decay of radioactive atom. The chance of misfires — 50%. At the moment of pressing the trigger face two of the quantum theory — the so-called "Copenhagen" and many-worlds. The first is that the observed character can not be in two States, parallel or he definitely was alive or dead.

But the second version is much more romantic — each new attempt a shot splits the universe into two alternative versions: one party remains alive and the other dies. But the survivors of the alter-ego of the hero never learns of his own death in a parallel world. The author of the experiment, MIT Professor Max Tegmark, firmly adheres to the concept of the multiverse, but check it out for yourself not in a hurry. "With me, everything will be fine, but my wife Angelica will remain a widow" — he explained in one interview. And it's hard to argue.

But, no matter how seductive the theory of alternate universes, most experts in quantum mechanics, interviewed by Tegmark in 1997, agreed with the Copenhagen concept. And more recent surveys of scientists in the "zero" repeated the same result.

The lottery for survivalof the British philosopher John Harris came up with a cruel ethical puzzle. Imagine a world where organ transplants are carried out perfectly, and ethical rules are those that give the person to die and killing him the same thing. As a result, all mankind agrees to participate in "the survival lottery" — as soon as any person is dying, a random draw indicates who should sacrifice their lives for his sake. And since one donor can save several dying, his sacrifice is justified statistically. It seems to be true, but to live in such a world you do not want. But there is an occasion to reflect on the justification of self-sacrifice and the edge between non-interference and killing.

The philosopher in this story cared about another important issue. "In many cases, it will be excruciatingly difficult to decide whether to blame people for your unhappiness. There are many ways in which it can drive itself into this trap, and the task is to determine to what extent man is responsible for his fate and how his actions were willful. And how can we be sure that the person is not to blame for the misfortune that has befallen them, and can we rely on that to save him?" In other words, even if we assume that "the survival lottery" ethically impeccable, whether to save a smoker from lung cancer? Importantly, this question does not think real doctors.

Philosophical zombiesThis hypothetical zombie, unlike the characters of "resident evil", doesn't eat people, he is quite harmless creature, outwardly indistinguishable from ordinary humans. The only difference is that philosophical zombies are not able to feel anything and has no conscious experience, but can mimic any human reactions and actions. For example, if you prick it with a needle, he quite convincingly portray the pain.

The possibility of the existence of zombies refutes the concept of physicalism, according to which human perception is conditioned by physical processes. Philosophical zombies are struggling with the ideas of behaviorism. Because the behavior of such a dead man indistinguishable from a real person, and according to this theory, consciousness, desires, and other mental manifestations boil down to behavioral patterns.

This experiment also indirectly address the problem of artificial intelligence — the place the zombies can equally well represent the top, copy all the human habits. This Android probably would have passed the Turing test — while not aware of itself. And it makes to revise the criteria of reasonableness.

Room MaryAs philosophical zombies, this experiment makes us think about the difference between real experience and knowledge about what needs to be learned. Imagine a black-and-white room, where the black-and-white monitor sits Mary specializes in the neurophysiology of vision. She has never seen color, but has full information about the human reaction to it: she knows exactly how we feel when we see a blue sky or red rose. The question is whether Mary learns something new, if you see a color herself?

This is another stone in the garden of physicalists who believe that all knowledge is knowledge only about physical facts. However, some reputable philosophers (including the famous American cognitivist Daniel Dennett) are of the opinion that personal experience colors is hardly surprising omniscient scientist. Even if you try to play a trick on Mary and give her a blue banana instead of the normal, theoretical knowledge about the color of all existing things would help her to adequately respond. However, for reasons of clarity, perhaps it would be worthwhile to replace the banana with something more spectacular such as Matisse.

A theorem about infinite monkeysFavorite thought experiment physicist Seth Lloyd and fans of the book "the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy" States that the abstract monkey, randomly hitting keys on typewriters for eternity, sooner or later will print any pre-set text (the most popular version of Shakespeare's "hamlet").

Enthusiasts have tried to implement this experiment: in 2003, students and teachers at the Plymouth University has spent $2 000 on research, computer giving six monkeys at the local zoo. But for the month of beginning writers Elmo, Gum, Heather, Rowan, Holly and Mistletoe are not particularly successful — their artistic heritage was only five pages, mostly containing only the letter "S", and the computer by the end of the project represented more than a pitiable sight. However, the University claimed to have extracted from the experiment a lot of useful information.

But the interest in question is not quenched: perhaps because this theorem is as old as the world. Experts on the theory of probability became interested in her in the beginning of XX century, but the ability to randomly generate meaningful text and more thought of the ancient philosophers. For example, in Cicero the role of the monkeys was playing an abstract man, throwing to the ground metal letters, instead of "hamlet" was "the Annals" Annie. "Hardly by accident so can get even one line," the verdict of the philosopher.

But mathematicians do not agree — likely sooner or later to print a full book, randomly poking at the keyboard, though negligible (approximately 1/10183 800), but still exists. A recognized expert on quantum mechanics Seth Lloyd claims that that is what got everything. Unless, of course, make for computer the Universe itself, and for monkeys — random quantum fluctuations. Thus, fantasy has become the basis for a new branch of science — quantum information theory.

Poison and rewardAnother inhuman fantasy: a millionaire confronts the hero a vial of poison. The poison is not fatal, but its use is terrible torments during the day. The rich man makes an offer impossible to refuse: if the hero agrees to drink the poison tomorrow afternoon, then tomorrow morning he will get a million dollars. That is, take the poison, in principle, not necessarily a brave man will receive the prize before the time comes to grass. Common sense dictates that it is more logical to agree to remuneration and not to drink the toxin. But here a paradox arises: how can we get together to do something (and in fact the money is issued for the intention), not intending to do so? It turns out, to faithfully fulfill the agreement, not drunk poison, all the same it is impossible.

An experiment on the theme of social justice, invented by the American philosopher John Rolson. For example, all decisions on the organization of the future society is entrusted to a certain group of people. In order that they invented the concept as objective as possible, they were deprived of knowledge about their own social status, class, IQ and other personal qualities, is able to provide a competitive advantage (so-called "veil of ignorance"). It turns out, the solution they can not consider their own interests. What kind of concept they choose?

I must say that Sam Rawls was a liberal, and his political views implicitly affect the purity of the experiment: the case with the curtain originally based on the fact that justice means equality of opportunity. But in democratic politics it could be a good litmus test for any lawmaker.

The Chinese room isa Person who knows Chinese, sitting in a room with baskets full of characters. He has a detailed tutorial in the native language, explaining the rules of combinations. It uses only styles of characters — don't necessarily understand their meaning. But as a result of such manipulation, you can create a text that is no different from writing an ordinary Chinese. Behind the door are the people who pass the recluse signs with questions in Chinese. Hero, guided by the tutorial sends the answers is meaningless for him, but quite logical for the readers.

In fact, the hero symbolically passes the Turing test: it plays the role of the computer tutorial is the database and the message — the questions of the human machine and its answers. The experiment shows the limits of the machine and its failure to learn human thinking, just reacting to specified conditions learned manner. And warns against a mechanical approach to learning: developed the skill of solving specific problems does not mean that the person really understands what he's doing. So the drafters of the tasks for the exam should keep in mind this experiment.published


P. S. And remember, only by changing their consumption — together we change the world! ©



See also

New and interesting