Machine Learning’s Copernican Consequences

Derived from ‘Rethinking Superdeterminism’, Sabine Hossenfelder, Tim Palmer, ‘Frontiers in Physics’, May 6 2020.

The society of physicists sometimes reminds of a wild bunch of kids singing and dancing on the same tune, each kid trying to get in the limelight. Societies, even of physicists, rise to decline eventually, typically collapsing from the inside out when the foundations are folding. Not many inside see it coming or deny it until denying no longer is an option. Most also appear to be tone deaf for anything that can be heard about it from outside. Even a recent assessment from ‘inside’ by the well-known German particle physicist, Sabine Hossenfelder, and mathematical physicist, Tim Palmer, failed to…

Total Rethink Of Physics?

Physics typically worries about ‘paths’ — our solar system travels through the Milky Way with an average speed of 828,000 km per hour. Credit: Cruz deWilde

Machine learning (ML) is about to produce a paradigm shift of biblical proportions—a crude departure from a framework of thinking that dominated physics for 2,500 years ever since the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, introduced it in his dialog, Timaeus. The use of ML is bound to magnify the anomalies in physics, such as its paradoxes and other persistent sources of confusion. It will also raise fundamental questions about the ‘trade of physics’ itself. When ML applications, that is, those that feed on data produced by the ‘naked’ process of nature, spread in numbers, a threshold will be reached. Expect a…

An Unexpected Source Of Gen Z Spirituality

Messy Art|Science coalescence — credit: Michelangelo and Barrett Lyon.

Religion is going through a silent crisis. Derived from the latin verb “re-ligare”, it means to re-connect or re-bind. The term once implied reconnecting or rebinding with God. Colored by the Christian clay, from which this interpretation arose, it is, to paraphrase Robert Proctor — an American historian of science, evidence of culturally constructed ignorance. Religare or religion, if you will, hints at the very thing that distinguishes us (Homo sapiens) from other primates: our sense of society. It helped us reconnect and rebind in ever greater numbers to shape and sustain human society. And, that’s where the problem lies…

Cracks In The Opaque Glasshouse of Physics

The choreographies of Laniakea and other superclusters, involving thousands of galaxies, are drawn toward “The Great Attractor” — credit: Nature.

Something’s cooking in the world of physics. In 2006, the American theoretical physicist, Peter Woit, publishes a best-seller, Not Even Wrong. In his book, Woit argues, rather convincingly, that string theorists have gotten carried away. Without experimental evidence for their predictions, string theorists appear to live on a hunch: their math so articulated that their claims must be true. Woit’s book must have set things in motion. Others followed with similar findings. Then, in 2018, Sabine Hossenfelder publishes her best-seller with the hit-you-in-the-face title, Lost In Math, in which she takes on ‘the lot’ — the astute physicist, Eric Weinstein…

Natural Language Processing To Visualize The State of Nations

National seasons and their success factors ©MVDE — credit for background map: Neil Kaye.

This proposal invites Google to use their natural language processing power to generate a rolling synthesis of press articles about nation states to produce simple statistics that confirm their predominant season of development and the related seasonal success factors. A platform for opinion makers, policy developers, and voters, ‘Google Nations’ would offer an unbiased and predictive view of how national conditions of success change. The underlying model hinges on a thermodynamic and socio-economic logic that drives the emergence of repeated behavior and the ensuing waxing/waning levels of the division of labor and behavioral entanglement. The seasonal success factors in this…

In The Wake of Alexei Navalny’s Arrest

Credit: Bogomolov.PL

Not something that the Russian leadership will easily accept but, as the diagram below shows, the Russian cycle of societal emergence suggests that Russia is bound to fragment internally near the end of Putin’s rein. The question is: To what extent and when, exactly?

The Probability Of The USA Breaking Up

A friend, whom I play tennis with on Tuesdays at the unearthly time of 6h15AM in the South-African summers, gave me two books to read. I had just published a heavily researched essay with a scenario about the future of humankind in the light of Artificial Intelligence or AI, its very own creation. After such endeavors, I need to read something totally different to get me out of my writer’s rathole and rise above the subject matter again.

The first book was written by the Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, winner of the 2018 Nobel prize in Literature. It came with…

Our Future In The Process Of Nature

We will pursue it, even benefit from it until the very end.

We, Homo sapiens, have been around for at least 100,000 years, a short while in Earth history (~0.002%). Some 50,000 years ago, we left rival species behind, such as Neanderthals and Denisovans, yet have since carried them with us into the future. Depending on where you live, up to about five percent of your DNA can be traced back to these formidable rivals. Human society, as we know it, emerged much more recently, some 10,000 years ago, when our nomad forebears settled down to grow food, evermore efficiently. Since that time, human society has been catalyst to the development of…

Powerfully Determined By Past Expectations

‘Time’ has become a virtual black hole, if not a rathole.

Thought I’d never be smart enough to study physics, yet I did. Growing up in a ‘textile family’, I made up my mind rather late, choosing science over trade. Armed by belief and curiosity, I picked up my life and started studying math on my own. It gave me the confidence needed to complete a prep year that gave access to the study of Applied Physics (B.Eng). Doing what I liked, I learned what I really was: a bit of a nerd who, at times, aced math-heavy exams while all of my fellow students failed. I had a knack for…

The Natural Selection of ‘Universe Species’

The idea that there are more versions of what (we believe) is ‘our’ universe is popular. Considering a new book on the subject and recent articles posted on, the idea appears to have become a fad.

I’d agree with the author of one article who reasoned that a “multiverse” is unlikely. However, somehow, the reasoning, long as it is, tends to miss out on why exactly this is so.

As I’d see it, ‘evolution’ — I mean, a general process of natural selection, not just the biological variant — stopped the various ‘universe species’ that popped up in their…

Marcus van der Erve

Futurist | Sociologist (PhD) | Physicist (B.Eng) | @Medium

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