Aesthetics of Foundations

lol okay maybe not that deep

Stephen Wolfram figured it all out and it’s not a gigantic mess at all.

It’s beautiful” 😂

I mean… from the description of it, his approach sounds almost category-theoretic (even though it’s not).

I’m not against “digital physics” as a general approach, and I don’t doubt that there could be classes of solutions within his graph rewriting scheme that roughly correspond to the general rules of physics within our domain of reality. But I’m kinda skeptical that this approach is gonna help you find them.

You’re going to be swamped by infinities on all sides, looking for a needle in a recursive tower of embedded haystacks. And as of right now, no one can guarantee that the needle you’re looking for is even in there.

Plus, side-stepping consensus generally doesn’t work unless you’ve really got the goods, especially when you’ve already got a bad reputation. Communities don’t like being overlooked.

From the Atlantic:

“It’s hard to expect physicists to comb through hundreds of pages of a new theory out of the blue, with no buildup in the form of papers, seminars and conference presentations,” says Sean Carroll, a physicist at Caltech. “Personally, I feel it would be more effective to write short papers addressing specific problems with this kind of approach rather than proclaiming a breakthrough without much vetting.” (…)

So what are Wolfram’s goals? He says he wants the attention and feedback of the physics community. But his unconventional approach—soliciting public comments on an exceedingly long paper—almost ensures it shall remain obscure.

Update: Ethan Siegel is similarly unimpressed.

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