[LINK] Numbers limit how accurately digital computers model chaos
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Wed Sep 25 10:35:44 AEST 2019
On 25/9/19 9:29 am, Bernard Robertson-Dunn wrote:
> Scientists and engineers hate non-linearity. Unfortunately the world is
> essentially non-linear.
A quibble about language. (I'm enjoying the conversation).
All mathematics involves intellectual models / mind-stuff.
Mathematics is not, and not of, the real world.
Statements like "the world is essentially non-linear" blend words that
apply in the two distinct spaces of the mind and the real-world.
Some scientists and engineers 'know all that'.
But the media, and the public, are very prone to confusion, because
they've never heard Einstein's dictum 'God doesn't play dice with the
Worse still, many scientists and engineers fall into the habit of loose
language, and trap their own thinking into the assumption that model =
Here's an (inevitably flawed) attempt to avoid loose language:
Various kinds of mathematical models can be used to represent various
real-world systems, and can achieve varying levels of approximations of
real-world behaviour and outcomes.
We (all) believe that a wide array of physical phenomena are being
approximated with workable error-factors (e.g. tides, and met forecasts
in relatively stable conditions). In some circumstances, physical
phenomena are being approximated with incredibly small error-factors
(e.g. solar system mechanics, as indicated by moon and Mars landings).
Models of real-world systems of large scale (many entities) and high
complexity (many inter-relationships among many entities) have
notoriously large error-factors, and have error-factors that vary
enormously depending on the circumstances and that defy attempts at
A new round of AI enthusiasm is prancing its nonsense around the world.
And this one has associated with it a wave of artefact-autonomy.
Unless we use our language very carefully, we're inviting:
(a) simplistic scientists and engineers, and feeble-minded marketers,
to over-believe and over-sell, and deliver horrible outcomes
(of which Robodebt is merely a harbinger)
(b) the media and the public will put up with the nonsense for a
period of time, but public backlash will in due course wash away
the hubris, and with it not just the badly-conceived and harmful
models and artefacts, but also some that are of value to humankind
Roger Clarke mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
T: +61 2 6288 6916 http://www.xamax.com.au http://www.rogerclarke.com
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Law University of N.S.W.
Visiting Professor in Computer Science Australian National University
More information about the Link