Humans Are Exceptional
Naval: Three out of these four theories have an interesting pattern to them. With good explanations in epistemology, we’re saying conjectures and their refutations and error correction is how we improve knowledge. With genetic evolution, genetic mutations, variation and natural selection weed out the ones that didn’t work. Then there’s memetic evolution on top of that, where we have ideas and then criticism weeds out the ideas that don’t work.
Related to that, in invention there’s trial and error. In capitalism, startups get created and the ones that have bad ideas fail. We see this pattern recurring over and over.
What’s interesting, though, is there’s another metapattern here, that humans are exceptional. In epistemology, humans are the only non-Bayesian reasoners. In evolution, humans are the only memetic creatures that we know of. In the theory of computation, humans are the only universal explainers that we know of other than, of course, the computers that we’ve invented.
Science took us from this view of humans being at the center of the universe to, “Actually, humans are nothing special. You’re just one little planet out of an almost infinite number of Kepler planets that could be bearing life out there.” But the three of these four theories that we’re talking about are pointing us in this direction of humans are exceptional. Humans are capable of maximal knowledge.
One interesting realization for me was that even if you were God, even if you had infinite knowledge and power, even if you controlled the entire universe, you still wouldn’t know that you’re not in a simulation. You still could never prove that you’re not in the simulation. And even as God, there is no concept that you could hold in your head that a human being couldn’t hold.
Unless, of course, the laws of physics are different. If the laws of physics are different, then all bets are off and who knows? But working within the current laws of physics, humans are capable of maximal knowledge and maximal awareness. That points to a world where humans are exceptional and not just another form of bacteria that got out of control and overran this planet.
A lot of these fundamental theories lead to a viewpoint that humans are special, knowledge is infinite, and as long as we don’t destroy the means of error correction and we’re always creating new knowledge, then there’s good reason to be optimistic.