Does a Computer Have an Arrow of Time?

Foundations of Physics 40 (2):205-238 (2010)

Abstract
Schulman (Entropy 7(4):221–233, 2005) has argued that Boltzmann’s intuition, that the psychological arrow of time is necessarily aligned with the thermodynamic arrow, is correct. Schulman gives an explicit physical mechanism for this connection, based on the brain being representable as a computer, together with certain thermodynamic properties of computational processes. Hawking (Physical Origins of Time Asymmetry, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994) presents similar, if briefer, arguments. The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the support for the link between thermodynamics and an arrow of time for computers. The principal arguments put forward by Schulman and Hawking will be shown to fail. It will be shown that any computational process that can take place in an entropy increasing universe, can equally take place in an entropy decreasing universe. This conclusion does not automatically imply a psychological arrow can run counter to the thermodynamic arrow. Some alternative possible explanations for the alignment of the two arrows will be briefly discussed
Keywords Landauer’s principle  Arrow of time  Causality  Computers
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2010
DOI 10.1007/s10701-009-9386-6
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 43,694
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Time and Chance.David Z. Albert - 2000 - Harvard University Press.
The “Past Hypothesis”: Not Even False.John Earman - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 37 (3):399-430.
The Direction of Time.HANS REICHENBACH - 1956 - Dover Publications.

View all 25 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Time Reversal.Bryan W. Roberts - forthcoming - In Eleanor Knox & Alistair Wilson (eds.), Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Physics.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
57 ( #144,323 of 2,264,646 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #610,433 of 2,264,646 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature