Thursday, April 23, 2020

Aaronson's world is crashing

I am afraid Scott Aaronson is losing it:
But I didn’t bash Devs. I watched a show that doesn’t merely get a few details wrong, but that’s entirely about taking a steaming dump on everything that I’ve spent my entire life trying to get through people’s heads—e.g., that quantum computers are not magic oracles, that they’re interesting because the stock sci-fi plots that you already knew don’t map onto them, because they illustrate how the actual world is more imaginative than our tropes, and also, that the people who work on these topics are something like the characters on “The Big Bang Theory” but nothing whatsoever like the characters on spooky dramas — and I described the show on my blog as “not that bad” (because it wasn’t). Do you have any idea what an effort of will that took? 🙂

Look, I’m going through a deep depression right now. Indeed, I’m finding it hard to understand anyone who isn’t depressed, given the terrifying state of the world, the morgues running out of room for more corpses, the collapse of people’s plans for their lives, the food deliveries that ominously no longer show up as the machinery of the world starts groaning to a halt, the clowns running wild in the control room, how easily this all could’ve been prevented but wasn’t, one’s own personal failure to foresee it. Why were we fated to be alive right now, to try to raise children now, right when the music of civilization finally stopped?
He is referring to Devs, a fictional TV show on Hulu. The clowns are Donald Trump and his associates in the White House. The collapse is the Wuhan virus lockdown.

Aaronson is a respected computer complexity theory professor, and it known to the wider public for his stereotypical nerdiness, and his futile attempts to both hype quantum computing as the greatest advance in the history of civilization, along debunking nearly everyone else's explanation of how it might possibly do something useful.

I watched a few episodes of Devs, and I am not sure why it is any more aggravating than The Big Bang Theory. In one scene, a professor explains the von Neumann Wigner interpretation of quantum mechanics, while the know-it-all student shouts obscenities in favor of Everett many-worlds. Okay, it is a caricature, but it is TV fiction, and the real-life physicists are as ridiculous as some of the TV explanations.

Update: Aaronson posted again, with weird paranoid beliefs. He also said the leader of Google's quantum computing effort has quit, apparently over disagreements over what can be done. My guess is that management was pressuring him to get results, and he saw that the hype could not be continued indefinitely. Some careers could go south when the project fizzles.