Nick Maley

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Is Science Slowing Down?

Maybe it's not a law of straight lines, its a law of exponentially diminishing returns, and maybe it applies to any scientific endeavour. What we are doing in science is developing mathematical representations of reality. The reality doesn't change, but our representations of it become ever more accurate, in an asymptotic fashion. What about Physics? In 2500 years we go from naive folk physics to Democritus, to Ptolemy, Galileo and Copernicus, to Newton, then Clerk Maxwell, Einstein, Schrodinger, Feynman and then the Standard Model, at every stage getting more and more accurate and complete. We now have a physics that is (as Sean Carroll points out) to all intents and purposes perfectly accurate in all it's predictions for ALL physical phenomena happening at Terrestrial and Solar neighborhood scale. We can even measure accurately the collisions between black holes over a distance of a billion light years. Order of magnitude improvements in the scope and accuracy of a such a physics might just be logically impossible. So enormous effort is invested by some very bright people to make relatively small improvements in theory. So this is a long hanging fruit argument, but predicated on the assumption that theories in a mature science will progressively approach an asymptote of possible accuracy and completeness.

Embedded Agency (full-text version)

Very surprised that Emmy is not treated as an agent driven by a (predictive) model of causal relationships. How else could an embodied agent possibly function? Also surprised that Pearl's seminal work on Causality (incl. Counterfactuals) is not cited.