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Description

A bold and all-embracing exploration of the nature and progress of knowledge from one of today's great thinkers. Throughout history, mankind has struggled to understand life's mysteries, from the mundane to the seemingly miraculous. In this important new book, David Deutsch, an award-winning pioneer in the field of quantum computation, argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe. They have unlimited scope and power to cause change, and the quest to improve them is the basic regulating principle not only of science but of all successful human endeavor. This stream of ever improving explanations has infinite reach, according to Deutsch: we are subject only to the laws of physics, and they impose no upper boundary to what we can eventually understand, control, and achieve. In his previous book, The Fabric of Reality, Deutsch describe the four deepest strands of existing knowledge-the theories of evolution, quantum physics, knowledge, and computation-arguing jointly they reveal a unified fabric of reality. In this new book, he applies that worldview to a wide range of issues and unsolved problems, from creativity and free will to the origin and future of the human species.

Filled with startling new conclusions about human choice, optimism, scientific explanation, and the evolution of culture, The Beginning of Infinity is a groundbreaking audio book that will become a classic of its kind.

©2011 David Deutsch (P)2011 Gildan Media Corp

Commentaires

“Provocative and persuasive…Mr. Deutsch’s previous tome, The Fabric of Reality, took a broad-ranging sweep… The Beginning of Infinity is equally bold, addressing subjects from artificial intelligence to the evolution of culture and of creativity; its conclusions are just as profound." ( The Economist)

Ce que les auditeurs disent de The Beginning of Infinity

Notations
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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

incredibly important book

I have listened to this 3 times and read It once. It will fundamentally change your worldview in a positive way if you let it. persevere

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  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Scott Feuless
  • 12/08/2019

Worthwhile if you have the patience

Listening to this book was one of those "good/bad" experiences for me. I'm going to start with the bad, so hang around if you want to hear the good. The first seven chapters were a monumental waste of my time, primarily because they are spent delivering a critique of many various schools of philosophical thought that Deutsch doesn't like. This is a clever approach, since it allows Deutsch to casually dismiss concepts with which he disagrees later in the book as instrumentalist, reductionist, empiricist, or whatever label he can most easily apply at the moment to get you to not consider counter-ideas very closely (there are lots of them). Where no such labels apply, he casually pronounces things "good" or "bad," or perhaps "parochial," which is a simple stand-in for "bad" and is dramatically overused throughout the book. He never, at least that I noticed, communicates the least uncertainty with words like "I think" or "my idea is this," even when discussing fairly controversial topics. This is a book of pronouncements from a truly gigantic ego. Though I frequently agreed with his positions on things, it was also common for me to think of objections that I would have liked to discuss, but the author had simply moved on. Things get better in chapters 8-12 and then meander around from one topic to the next with very little tying them together other than possibly the theme of evolution. That would have been fine, but some interesting topics were covered in a rather cursory way. Deutsch seems to accept, for example, the popular sci-fi saw that we will be able to upload our minds into computers, without any discussion at all of the difficulties this might pose when we don't currently understand either memory or consciousness very well. Indeed, it seems precisely like the kind of "prophesy" that the author dismisses elsewhere in the book, and yet the idea doesn't receive the same disrespect. When discussing climate change, his perspective is more or less to expect the problem to be solved, since that's what humans are good at doing - solving problems. He fails to examine the possibility that humans will invent excellent solutions, and perhaps already have, but that those solutions will never be implemented due to political and social forces that favor inaction whenever preventive, rather than reactive, measures are called for. The heart of the book is in chapters 8-11, which is where Deutsch is most in his element. He attacks the topics of quantum theory and the multiverse in a way that I found to be quite thought-provoking, and any book that provokes thought is, in my opinion, worth reading (or listening to). This should come as no surprise, since Deutsch has made his name in the field of quantum computing, but what really helps is the very clear voice that he uses throughout the book. He does have a talent for explanation, even when the subject matter is complex, so I would recommend the book for that reason alone. I think he managed to nudge my understanding of quantum theory forward a bit, and for that I'm grateful. So the book gets three stars from me, which means that I found it a valuable listen, but it's far from perfect. Skip the first 7 chapters. Really. Once you get to the end of chapter 11, keep going as long as it holds your interest, but don't be afraid you'll miss something great if you don't finish.

25 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • kevmoo
  • 19/01/2014

A Perspective Shifter

This book has flaws. Dr. Deutsch makes a few generalizations that I found a bit unfair -- related to physiological research and sustainability as it relates to environmentalism.

BUT!

It's a perspective shifter.
I think about progress and humanity and our place in the universe differently.
I think about science and the scientific method differently.
It gave me glue to connect concepts I've found and liked from other books.

It's deep. It's complex. It's not "easy".

But certainly valuable.

Kudos.

30 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nigel
  • 30/06/2015

Breathtaking

If you could sum up The Beginning of Infinity in three words, what would they be?

Formidable
Intellectual
Virtuosity

Any additional comments?

The Beginning of Infinity delivers a wonderfully dizzying display of intellectual virtuosity. I find it hard to conceive of the depth of preparation that must have gone into preparing the amazing synthesis that is provided by Deutsch in this light hearted, weightily significant masterpiece. At many points in the book, its depth of insight, its level of surprise, its ability to reach for the important in phenomena from sub-sub-sub-microscopic through to ultra-cold of deep space, from the soul-crushing impact of static societies through to the freewheeling exploration of world-views and universes had me exclaiming (sometimes to the surprise of others as I lived the book between my ear buds over several days). Deutsch tackles giants (Dawkins, Hofstadter and Dennet and many many more) without perceptible fear of authority - addressing the magic of their insights and the folly of their oversights with candid and calculated precision. I loved his portrayal of people as universal explainers / makers of meaning. I loved the picture he creates of the acceleration of possibility now that evolution is released from the constraints of the biological. I loved his firm hold on the possibility for repeatedly stepping beyond gloom that is available only to participants in dynamic society. I loved the brightly lit lobby of Infinity Hotel and its implications for metaphor in learning. And I was frustrated to all hell that Deutsch still failed to convince me on multiverses despite clearly thinking in the spaces where I always find objections (over the blithe extrapolations over orders of magnitude between observed phenomena in the quantum world to make proclamations about implications in the world of emergent phenomena we inhabit in our macroscopic lives) - perhaps I just need to listen to that section three more times ....

Dixon's consistently fresh presentation throughout this gargantuan task is a credit to him - a really great read.

My strong impression is that this is an audiobook that no English-speaking person anywhere should fail to listen to and luxuriate in - in this case, "life changing" is for real. Thank you both for slipping its explosive reality into my unsuspecting June 2015.

27 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • S. Rasch
  • 15/11/2016

Perhaps the most important book written so far.

Accessible language, a joy to listen to across the multitude of fascinating subjects. A complete software upgrade for your brain.

8 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gary
  • 22/05/2012

Covers nothing to everything

One of my favorite books and provided me with many insights into our place in the universe and how we know the things we know. Deutsch explains the very small to the very large. He provides a reasonable explanation of the measurement problem in physics and a consistent theory on multiple universes. His survey of different schools of philosophies is one of the best I've read. He even has a detailed chapter on developing the most efficient election process which doesn't fully fit the theme of the book, but he explains it so well it becomes an intriguing chapter.

After reading the book, you will have an appreciation for the infinity and understand what is meant by 'everything possible will happen with certainty".

26 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Zachary Crockett
  • 15/02/2017

Momentous content, unfortunate tone

I had high hopes, as Deutsch's work came recommended by a thoughtful physicist friend I respect, but for the first several chapters I was turned off by the tone of the writing. However, as I continued listening, I gradually became convinced of the precision and truth of the knowledge Deutsch was sharing.

This book is philosophy, with dashes of physics. It is important. I wish more people believed as the author does. He is careful with his definitions and rigorous with his logic. I need to get some distance from this book and then read it again, probably in writing instead of audio. That said, the memes in The Beginning of Infinity would be better replicators if the author's tone were less aloof, snotty, and dismissive of, well, most people ever.

If you are the type who can listen past the veneer of an unfortunately off-putting tone to some deep ideas about the nature of knowledge, the nature of progress (in a true, not superficial sense), and a mindset of fundamental optimism through recognizing one's fallibility then please, please give this book a try. With that caveat, I do strongly recommend it.

If we hold these ideas, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

9 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • carl801
  • 24/09/2012

This book is a wild ride!

Wow. I do not pretend to understand even the 20th part of the ideas in this book. Who would have thought that a physicist and mathematician could express himself so eloquently on so many disparate subjects? This book is all over the map; it's a wild romp through an amazing mind. David Deutsch's ego must be at least the size of the Milky Way Galaxy--no, wait, that's too "parochial", too provincial by N orders of magnitude! Well, I guess it does take some bravado to take on evolution, quantum mechanics, history, universality, even knowledge itself, and still find time for politics, philosophy, artificial intelligence, and a conversation with Socrates. Along the way, as Deutsch manages to drop an amazing idea you never heard before into just about every paragraph, his major theses boils down to two things: first, good explanations lead to an infinity of knowledge, while bad explanations have only the power to fool us; and secondly, there will always be problems, but they can be solved if we can separate the good explanations from the bad ones.

Doing that in the real world we live in every day is hard, way harder than I think Deutsch realizes. We are fallible human beings who more often than not ignore even the most elegant of explanations with impunity. That said, being inside his head for the last couple of days was a privilege indeed.

By the way, the reader did a great job of not being in the way!

14 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nancy
  • 28/12/2012

Brilliant but difficult to understand

Would you listen to The Beginning of Infinity again? Why?

I'd HAVE to listen to it again if I want to understand some of the many highly abstract intellectual concepts introduced by Deutsch. I think this is a compelling read anyway. I will listen again.

Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

No. I wouldn't say they were too technical, just above my intellectual and cognitive "pay grade" in some areas. I suspect most listeners will feel the same way. Though I personally have a PhD in an admittedly unrelated-to-physics but nonetheless a very analytical and technical field, I simply could not follow certain discussions, such as the one relating to Quantum Mechanics.

What does Walter Dixon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He was competent and a clear enunciator. However, I think actually READING a physical book would be better in this case: It would enable one to go back to prior sentences or pages to reread them. The nature of his book is such that if you didn't understand the initial paragraphs of a topic he introduces, the odds are good that you won't understand the rest of the discussion. His arguments are like building blocks.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes, "Infinity Hotel" was one. Another was a discussion of his views, which I share, on how mankind should deal with the prospects of global warming.

Any additional comments?

Deutsch is absolutely a genius. I am not convinced he is necessarily right when he tries to extend his scientific reasoning to completely unrelated fields, but he definitely makes you think in a completely new light. I'd say "Bravo". This is a very important book.

16 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Zach Mclean
  • 02/12/2016

Infinitely interesting

Not what I'd call an easy read, but some very compelling ideas and new ways of thinking about not only scientific inquiry, but inquiry in general. I must say I've come away from this book having a fundamentally different concept of the universe and the knowledge within it.

3 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

  • Global
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • M. R. Mosall
  • 13/09/2020

Boring and Repetitive

Author uses many words to come to obvious conclusions. Not at all interesting. Difficult to remain awake while listening.

2 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

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  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • K. Azhytskyi
  • 17/05/2020

An attempt to sell "good explanation" as science

When a founder of the field of quantum computing writes a book, the world pays attention. After the initial chapters my impression was that the book's purpose is to convey the author's perspective on the nature of human understanding. Two things alerted me early on that this may not be the case. The first was the obsessive use of the word "parochial" without any attempt to substitute it with a synonym, such as "tribal". The second was the use of term "good explanation", where the adjective passes on a value judgment. The author does not need to invent anything new, and this is not the goal of the book. David Deutsch has already invented something that remains controversial: the multiverse interpretation of the quantum mechanics. This book is his attempt to change the essence of scientific discourse by shifting the perception of a theory's validity from their falsifiability to how "good explanation" it is. David Deutsch wants to succeed in his scientific method subversion attempt, so as to open the doors for the community's acceptance of his multiverse interpretation as a "good explanation". And while I personally have no doubt that the multiverse interpretation is one of rather good explanations of quantum mechanics foundations, I would like to label David Deutsch as a "corrupter of youth" for his attempts in subverting the golden standards of the scientific discourse.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ney Moreira
  • 14/10/2019

simply mind-blowing

This book is certainly one of the most exciting collection of ideas I've ever seen.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Henrik
  • 10/04/2018

Problems are solvable

I came to this book, while Steven Pinker referred to it several times in his latest book, Enlightenment Now. I’m seduced by the upbeat, the optimistic take on our universe, that runs like a red threat through the book. I hope that phrases like “Problems are inevitable. Problems are solvable” will become memes in our culture. I also like the emphasis on knowledge, and that if the laws of physics does not prohibit it, then with the necessary knowledge any problem is solvable.