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Graihagh Jackson

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Will science ever tell us everything there is to know?

Every day on the news, you read of break throughs, discoveries and new findings in science. But I wonder whether one day mankind will ever be able to know everything there is to know - why the universe (or indeed multiverse) exists; why laws themselves exist; and so forth.

As science moves onwards and upwards, are there any barriers that could stop us in having a theory of everything?

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Closing Statement from Graihagh Jackson

I think some of the really central points made here is that to be able to know everything, means we have to be able to measure everything. Will we ever be able to measure everything? It seems unlikely. Besides, how would we ever know we knew everything? Absolute truth is unattainable and at any rate, the nature of human curiousity will inevitably mean we will continue to search for 'truths.' It seems that the majority post and comments on this debate was no - science won't tell us everything we need to know.

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    Jan 15 2014: If one assumes the following:

    A. Per Moore’s law, or similar, computing / processing capacity will continue to improve exponentially, leading at some point in the future, to artificial intelligence (or intelligences) capable of “learning,” and surpassing the capabilities of the human brain.

    B. The “rule” of “infinite divisibility,” when applied to our understanding of the universe, would suggest that, while we may continually add to our knowledge and appear to be reducing the amount of “unknowns,” there will always be “the remaining half” of facts to be learned.

    Then:

    Aided, if not administered, by the vast resources and problem solving capacity of artificial intelligence, our knowledge of the universe will, in the not too distant future, expand logarithmically, leading to a “more nearly complete” understanding of the universe, approximating, but never fully reaching “everything there is to know.” We may someday arrive at a point when it may “feel” as though we, in a very practical sense, know “all there is,” but there is always one more decimal point or exponent. The universe is, it seems to me, in a very real sense, boundless—the horizon continues to “move in advance” of our understanding.
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      Jan 15 2014: Great post. As a computer science major with a background in philosophy, I've always been fascinated with Moore's law and Zeno's paradox of infinite divisibility (Achilles and the Tortoise). What I have been wondering recently is if there will come a point in time where Moore's law no longer applies. In other words, will there come a point in time where we can no longer exponentially improve computing/processing capacity?

      While I believe that a "technological singularity" is inevitable if Moore's law continues to hold true, to what extent will this "singularity" impact our lives? Will humanity become obsolete?
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        Jan 16 2014: Thanks for the reply Michael … I've read Asimov and Kurzweill and a singularity is what I was implying. So when our machines will eventually surpass us in intelligence, will we become obsolete? Not unless playing second fiddle is your definition for it … we may no longer be top dog in terms of brain power, but still the top of the organic world.

        Another likely scenario involves cybernetic (Borg-like) integration, which has already begun with limbs, hearts and other implants. As a computer science guy, you may agree with me in saying that we really need to have airtight rules (Asimov's laws) in place before the singularity arrives

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