Can we invent new states of matter as different from what came before as something like consciousness is from other states of matter? What states of matter are possible, in principle?
A lot of the post is pretty heavy going if, like me, you have no background in physics, but there are lots of interesting ideas.
Most interesting for me is the meta-point that Nielsen makes: speculative thinking is often “disreputable”, even when it’s influential and even when it’s right. This perhaps suggests that it is under-supplied. As Nielsen notes:
I think it’s pretty common that two communities, A and B, will do a body of work on overlapping subjects. Community B will borrow a lot of ideas and inspiration from Community A. Yet it will feel embarrassed to be doing so, and will often deny doing so, since Community A isn’t playing by what Community B has internalized as the correct rules
I sometimes think about this in the context of the simulation hypothesis
, the idea that the whole universe may be a simulation created by a superintelligent being(s). There is a sort of pleasing symmetry in the idea of God being (re)discovered by hyper-rationalists. Perhaps there’s much more of this to come.