The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch


This book is actually recommended to me in a Deepmind Internal debate on what is the right path to AGI (artificial general intelligence). It talks about the following aspects: 

  • what constitutes a good explanation?
    • when it contains a way to experimentally refute itself.
    • when a good explanation is refuted, one cannot apply simple patches to the idea to make it work. One has to change some fundamental assumptions, which results in completely different predictions about the future.
    • When sometimes the explanations are able “to solve problems beyond those that they were created to solve”
  • What is knowledge? Can it be derived mechanically from experience? Can it be created via randomness?
  • What is the range of a piece of knowledge?
  • What is wrong with Reductionism/Holism/etc.?
  • How does the Infinity Hotel operate? And what does that tell us about infinity?
  • What does Kenneth Arrow’s theorem tell is about majority vote?

The book holds quite radical views on a broad range of topics, and for that reason it is enlightening. My summary cannot do justice to it. I’d recommend a read if you are interested in AI, knowledge, math, evolution, poli-sci, or meme.