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

Download options

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,743

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
70 (#167,821)

6 months
1 (#387,390)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Similar books and articles