Certain Uncertainty

Uncertainty is the only certainty there is,
and knowing how to live with insecurity
is the only security.

... from the Siobhan Roberts essay "The Lasting Lessons of John Conway's Game of Life" in the 28 Dec 2020 New York Times, quoting Melanie Mitchell quoting John Allen Paulos:

Given that Conway's proof that the Game of Life can be made to simulate a Universal Computer – that is, it could be "programmed" to carry out any computation that a traditional computer can do – the extremely simple rules can give rise to the most complex and most unpredictable behavior possible. This means that there are certain properties of the Game of Life that can never be predicted, even in principle!

In this moment in time, it's important to emphasize that inherent unpredictability – so well illustrated in even the simple Game of Life – is a feature of life in the real world as well as in the Game of Life. We have to figure out ways to flourish in spite of the inherent unpredictability and uncertainty we constantly live with. As the mathematician John Allen Paulos so eloquently said, "Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security." This is, I think, Life's most important lesson.

(cf Dead Beginnings (2002-09-28), Mind Children (2003-04-17), Pyramid Building (2004-02-21), Genius at Play (2018-11-04), ...) - ^z - 2021-03-16