Brett: The difference with The Beginning of Infinity is you’re getting a worldview. You’re not getting the standard take from physicists about how to understand quantum theory. You’re not getting the standard take of how to understand knowledge from philosophers. And you’re certainly not getting the standard take of how to understand mathematics from mathematicians.
Deutsch is an expert in all these areas.
Naval: What’s at the core of the worldview?
Brett: Deutsch’s worldview is that reality is comprehensible. Problems are solvable, or “soluble,” as he writes. It’s a deeply rationally optimistic worldview that believes in good scientific explanations and progress.
Progress is inevitable as long as we have these good explanations. Good explanations have tremendous reach. They are acts of creativity.
Humans are problem solvers and can solve all problems. All sins and evil are due to a lack of knowledge. One can be optimistic about constant progress. That’s what the title refers to: We’re at the beginning of an infinite series of progress.
It’s a very optimistic take. It states that we are at home in the universe and the universe is ours as a resource to learn about and exploit; that material wealth is a set of physical transformations that we can affect; that everything that is not forbidden by the laws of physics is eventually possible through knowledge and knowledge creation.
He also writes about how humans are universal explainers, that anything that can be known and understood can be known and understood by human beings in the computation power of a human system.
Everything is knowable by humans. We’re at the beginning of an infinity of knowledge.
We understand things using good explanations and constantly replace old theories with better ones. There’s no endpoint in sight. There’s no perfection. Every theory can be falsified eventually and improved.
We are on our way to being able to do everything that is not forbidden by the laws of physics.