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Review of “The Fabric of Reality” by David Deutsch (2001) [pdf] (web.mit.edu)
55 points by Kaibeezy 25 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 19 comments

Seeing that the author of this review was an undergrad at the time, I tried googling for him to see what he is up to now. It seems he has died after a short but outstanding career.


Wow, what a shock today. I happened to read some of the comments before the top level post and clicked this link. Andy was a grad student in the small lab (just a handful of people) I joined as a freshman in college. He was helpful, thoughtful, and kinder than he needed to be to a not very productive frosh.

We hadn't talked since he graduated, and I had no idea he'd passed. Thank you for sharing this.

I've been getting into his later work with Chiara Carletto: Constructor theory of information. It's an interesting way of looking at the world. Rather than using dynamical equations to describe the world, in constructor theory it is about looking at what things are possible and impossible with respect to information exchange. A constructor is something that can apply a transformation to something without itself changing (kinda like a catalyst in chemistry).

Here is the home page if you want to learn more:

[paper] https://www.constructortheory.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03...

[homepage] https://www.constructortheory.org/

I read one of his books a few years ago (might not have been this one), and it was awesome. While not for the faint hearted, some of the ideas were truly mind bending. Edit: I just checked again and I think the one I read was the beginning of infinity. Would be really interested to hear other people's thoughts on it - I've never met anyone else who has read it! For those who don't know David Deutsch, he is one of the biggest names in the field of quantum computing. The beginning of infinity is not just about physics though, it also takes in topics in philosophy, literature etc, and tries to put them in a unified framework.

If you accept the Many Worlds Interpretation of QM, then Deutsch's book will indeed seem "amazing". If you don't, though, then much of what Deutsch says is simply wrong, since it depends on that particular interpretation.

If you don't accept an idea doesn't mean it's wrong, e.g. Aristotle didn't accept heliocentrism, said it's not supported by observation, indeed observation suggests sun goes around earth, he wasn't even wrong.

It's been a while since I read it, and I am not a physicist, so I can't remember the details of his arguments to be honest. But it would be interesting yo reread it with your comment in mind, thanks.

The key points I see that imply the Many Worlds interpretation are Deutsch's clear position that no "collapse of the wave function" takes place, and his use of terms like "parallel universes".

The Beginning of Infinity is one of my favourite books of all time! Highly recommend for anyone interested in the philosophy of science.

I never got through the beginning of infinity, but I did read the first few sections of the book. The argument about removing ourselves from observation in order to achieve better observation was a pretty astounding revelation for me; I'd never thought about science in that way. He's a brilliant dude.

Maybe only because of when I read it (when it came out), this first book was a lot more interesting to me than his second. Has anyone here read them both in quick succession?

It's an amazing book. Best popular science book next to his other book, The Beginning of Infinity.

Naval's, Ravikant Capital's Technical Advisor Brett Hall does an amazing unpacking of the book on his youtube/podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_2C21gIgzY&list=PLsE51P_yPQ...

I haven't read "The Fabric of Reality" but "Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime" by Sean Carroll is 22 years newer and presents a good overview of the Many World Theory for laymen.

> Playstation 9... capable of perfectly simulating physical reality

> A possible headline of the future? David Deutsch thinks so

I would pretty annoyed if someone extrapolated that judgement to me

BoI was a bit off the deep end, but FoR is absolutely one of the most important science books of the 20th century. Up there with Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach. It fully converted me to a MWI adherent, as well as being beautifully crafted.

As the reviewer says - it's not an unbiased review. 'This book was amazing'.

While I have no view on the book itself... What on earth would an unbiased review be? "This book has 471 pages, A5, 80g/sqm paper. The word 'vole' appears eight times. Its ISBN is 12345678. 0/0 stars, as stars would indicate bias"

Like, the reviewer is expected to read the book and give a subjective opinion on it; that is what book reviews are.

Well, I have to say the same: "It was amazing". This book changed my understanding of things when I read it.

It was a good, thought provoking read. (It did not change my understanding of things.)

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