[ 15/4/20 Reply to Dirk’s comment to Mark’s post on Foundations of Logic – to George Monbiot’s quote “If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise then every woman in Africa would be a millionaire”]
Yes, and it is also complicated by the increasing levels of replicating systems that require energy and matter to continue their existence; with each level of system having multiple intersecting influences on every other level. By the time you get to our technological society you are looking at a minimum of 15 levels of embodied systems (and sometimes 20+).
Each level has very real sets of requirements, in terms of frequencies and quantities of various forms of energy and matter, and some in terms of various levels of information.
Trying to express those in a single metric of value is akin to trying to paint a rainbow with black paint on white paper.
So yeah – highly dimensional space that demands minimum levels of complexity for survivable outcomes.
Our tendency to demand simple explanations is now one of the greatest threats to our continued existence. Reality does in fact seem to be complex beyond the ability of any computational entity to deal with it in detail, so by definition we are all dealing with simplifications (unconscious and conscious), whether we know it or not. Acknowledging that much at least is a good first step on an infinite journey.
[followed by – Mark responded – what about a simple definition of hard]
That’s just the issue – there is no simple definition of hard.
If you have only human power and a stone adze, then cutting and carrying 80lb of wood for 10 miles is a hard day’s work. If you have a chainsaw and a ute it is easy.
If you have a truck and an excavator fitted with automated cutting and felling systems then a single person can move 80 tons a day.
Access to tools and resources make a huge difference.
Some of us have access to physical and conceptual tools that others do not.
For many, it doesn’t matter how hard they work, without access to technology they are essentially going nowhere.
If you only have access to food enough for 2,000 calories of exertion, then what seems hard will be very different from what seems hard if you have 7,000 calories of food.
Now that systems like Alpha Go Zero can exceed any human performance at any definable “game space” (like any “trading” system), then there are very deep questions indeed about what is hard, and what is sufficiently unlikely to be outright impossible for all practical purposes.
[followed by Mark wrote – every word has a meaning – at least in a dictionary]
I just gave a bunch of them – just like the dictionary does.
What a dictionary does is record examples of definitions in use – it doesn’t set a standard. And it is a useful tool. I first read the shorter oxford in 1972. I have a digital copy of the full Oxford 2.0 open in my laptop at present (as always), and have the 20 volume physical copy downstairs. It is a great resource – I use often. It gives me clues as to what others might mean by the arrangements of symbols they send to me.
And every word is just a pointer to a potentially infinite stack of possible meanings, depending on context and level of abstraction employed in any particular use.
Rarely is it a simple matter to try and determine exactly what someone else meant in using any set of symbols or terms.
[followed by Mark wrote – … after we create scientific definitions the dictionary had better get it right … ]
Having had a reasonably deep interest in science for over 50 years, I see plenty of room in the complexity that seems to actually exist in reality for our simplistic models and catergories to fall short of what is required.
Sure we can define things like a second in terms of ticks of a cesium atom but then we define the cesium atom ticks in terms of a large collection of fundamentally uncertain Planck time units – such that the uncertainty in the large collection is very small (but not absent).
Some classes of complexity are amenable to such treatments, some are not.