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Sunday, July 15, 2007


Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic


The explication of the Principle of Sufficient Reason can be found in Gottfried Leibniz’s MONADOLOGY, paragraph 32. (http://philosophy.eserver.org/leibniz-monadology.txt) which says:
"32. And that of sufficient reason, in virtue of which we hold that there can be no fact real or existing, no statement true, unless there be a sufficient reason, why it should be so and not otherwise, although these reasons usually cannot be known by us."

Chaitin’s talk answers the following question: If everything that might happen in the future has its causes in the present, how can novelty be explained? More specific: How can anything new emerge in the [(pan)computational] universe?

First: How do we recognize a radically new idea? Chaitin’s suggestion is: “The really important new ideas make people really angry.” They cause resistance- a kind of immunological reaction by which social organism is fighting against foreign ideas.
Chaitin goes on and gives number of examples, explains why an abundance of amazing new ideas was produced in ancient Greek state-countries. Compared to Egypt, huge state organizations, inert and non-susceptible for novel views, Greek states were small and autonomous. The implication is that if any novelty is to appear, the knowledge-producing society must not be stationary and stable – it must be flexible and dynamic enough to allow for adaptation.

For Chaitin it is always an individual who comes up with a revolutionary new idea. There are two strategies of survival for a person with a radically new thinking – hide in a hostile environment, or create your own ecology. As an example of the former strategy he mentions Wolfram’s New Kind of Science project. (New ecology projects presuppose building of new ecological niches which is exemplified by NKS conferences – my comment.)

Chaitin’s talk addresses undercurrents and paradigm-shift feeling which equally characterizes his own work, the work of Stephen Wolfram, contributions to his fest-schrift “Randomness & Complexity: From Leibniz to Chaitin” edited by Cristian Calude, and certainly many more of us.

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