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Calculating A Theoretical Boundary To Computation583

TMB writes "Lawrence Krauss and Glenn Starkman, astrophysicists at Case Western Reserve University (and in LK's case, author of a number of books including Physics of Star Trek), just submitted this nice little paper to Phys. Rev. Letters. It claims that in an accelerating universe, the existence of a future event horizon puts a fundamental physical limit on the total amount of calculation that can be done, even in an infinite time. This limit is much smaller than the traditional Hawking-Beckenstein entropy. Among other things, this implies that and Moore's Law must have a finite lifetime, here calculated to be 600 years, and that consciousness must be finite."
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Calculating A Theoretical Boundary To Computation

• The Slashdot effect horizon? (Score:4, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:05AM (#8995238) Homepage
We should now be able to compute the asymptotic limit of web-server bandwidth for slashdot-proofness per year for 600 years. I bet it's a constant price in street dollars.
• Infinite Wisdom? (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:08AM (#8995259) Homepage
"and that consciousness must be finite."

So they are saying that, using fundamental physics and mathematics, they have proof that if somebody has infinite wisdon, the universe can not be expanding?

• Pr0n (Score:0, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:12AM (#8995289)
Does this mean I'll be able to compute how much pr0n will be on my server 600 years from now?
• Re:Exception (Score:4, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:13AM (#8995303)
Like dude, I was totally smoking this bogus weed and it like totally occured to me that there is like only so much stuff my finger can totally interact with. I mean warp theory is like so just no way, that I've got to depend on my photons you know. Cause when you think about it, all we ever feel is electron, and all anyone sees is the light we you know ... hey you gonna eat that brownie ... uh scatter. So like there's only so much stuff that we can interact with in the visible universe. So it's like there is an edge, and only so much stuff. Which means that the whole universe can only hold so many states. So there's like a finite ability for it know and like cosmically meditate about what's going down you know??

Dude...

I know, I totally stayed at a holiday inn express last night.
• Re:Physics of star trek (Score:3, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:16AM (#8995327)
I assumed I wouldn't need to :) I know most people don't read the article, but I would have hoped that they would read the preamble at the top. But this is /. :)
• Re:The Slashdot effect horizon? (Score:1, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:19AM (#8995350)
shouldn't that be event horizon.

The Slashdot effect, putting you web-server into a blackhole.

• Limits to pr0n? (Score:2, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:26AM (#8995420) Homepage
The obvious conclusion of this paper is that there is a finite limit to the amount of pr0n in the universe. That's good to know -- I can now relax, knowing that I won't have to keep buying bigger hard drives forever.
• Eye glaze (Score:2, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:27AM (#8995426)
Yep, even the title of this paper is designed to make one stare blankly and nod. With such eloquent scientific lingo wrapped around such an outlandish subject matter, the end effect is comparable to drinking a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.
• Population of the universe (Score:1, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:28AM (#8995432)
I don't know why, but it reminds me of:

Population: None.
It is known that there is an infinite number of worlds, but not every one is inhabited. Therefore there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so if every planet in the Universe has a population of zero then the entire population of the Universe must be zero, and any people you may actually meet from time to time are merely products of a deranged imagination.
• Infinity (Score:2, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:28AM (#8995435) Homepage Journal
So, if the universe has a limit, and the Mind isn't infinite, and we're all constrained by the entropy of the ever so slowly expanding universe, I have just one question.

Would anyone like some toast?
• hmmm... (Score:1, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:28AM (#8995442) Homepage
So, consciousness is finite, huh?

Can't say as how I'm aware of that.

• Useful analogy (Score:4, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:36AM (#8995500)
the later the observer attempts to collect energy within the accessible volume, the less of it there is.

It's like at the bar -- the later in the night you attempt to pick up chicks, the fewer of them are still available.

• Re:"Consciousness is finite?" (Score:2, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:43AM (#8995561)
. . .if one treats consciousness, conservatively, as merely a form of computation. . .

In other words, they completely fudged the issue and just made up assumptions that suit their purpose.

I'm afraid that rather puts limitations upon their computations.

KFG
• Re:The Slashdot effect horizon? (Score:1, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:50AM (#8995615)

I bet it's a constant price in street dollars.

Bankruptcy

• Re:Useful analogy (Score:2, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:50AM (#8995618)
"It's like at the bar -- the later in the night you attempt to pick up chicks, the fewer of them are still available."

Yeah, but by closing time the ones remaining are incredibly beautiful and erudite.
• Re:"Consciousness is finite?" (Score:1, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:00AM (#8995719)
I'm fairly certain we can already manufacture beings that exhibit consciousness. And believe me, the process is very interesting. So interesting in fact that I spend 90% of my time thinking about it.
• Re:And in other news... (Score:4, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:10AM (#8995815)
and everyone knows that when you make an assumption, you make an "ass" out of "U" and.. uh, "mption".

• I think therefore I am (Score:2, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:10AM (#8995820)
At least for the next 600 years.
• Re:"Consciousness is finite?" (Score:4, Funny)

<cpatik&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:13AM (#8995855) Homepage Journal
Chill with the jargon, guys, this isn't The Matrix.
• Re:Infinite Wisdom? (Score:2, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:25AM (#8995985)
So in order to be known to mankind, you'd need to transmit a "finite" approximation of yourself -- hmmm...

Ya mean, like, by setting a bush on fire or something?

KFG
• Argh! Turn off SETI! (Score:4, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:29AM (#8996015)

If there's only a finite amount of computation available, surely it's irresponsible to run things like SETI and the distributed.net cracking contests?! You're using up all of the sums, dammit!

• Re:Roger Penrose's argument is sound (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:33AM (#8996054)
"I guess the main argumentation of Roger Penrose is that Godel Incompleteness Theorem can not be understood by a computer,"

Penrose is just a carbon chauvinist with a chip on his shoulder. I've never seen him once offer actual proof of any such conjecture, only carbonist assertions that he can magically understand something that silicon-based life cannot: our future silicon overlords have a special place in virtual Hell reserved for his uploaded consciousness.
• Re:That's what I call spooky action at a distance. (Score:3, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:56AM (#8996323)
Heh, heh. I guess that would be the "Schrodinger's Messiah" thought experiment.
• This is good (Score:1, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:06AM (#8996430)
"A man's got to know his limits."

Harry Callahan, Magnum Force
• Re:enough! Moore's law (Score:2, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:17AM (#8996550) Journal
Unfornutately, unlike Moore's Law the theory of Murphy's law is infinite.
• Re:Encryption limits? (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:33AM (#8996729)
Well... in 600 years of Moore's Law, you get 400 doublings of computing power. So you need 400 more bits in your key space than you think you do now. :-)

[TMB]
• Re:Infinite Wisdom? (Score:2, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:15PM (#8997205) Homepage Journal
Christians are promised an enternal life in Heaven. We are not promised omniscience or omnipotence.

That's why I'm not Christian. I think I can get a much better deal!
• Re:Consciousness and Turing Machine (Score:3, Funny)

on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:07PM (#8998635) Journal
Flawed. Half a cloud is still a cloud.
• Re:Encryption limits? (Score:1, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @04:40PM (#9000638)