Marina Cortês

Ticks of time: on Cosmology, Everest, and Ballet

What is the difference between Art and Science?

Jaron Lanier wrote a beautiful article for the New Yorker (may require subscription).

In it he writes “If you work with virtual reality, you end up wondering what reality is in the first place. Over the years, I’ve toyed with one possible definition of reality: it’s the thing that can’t be perfectly simulated, because it can’t be measured to completion. Digital information can be perfectly measured, because that is its very definition. This makes it unreal. But reality is irrepressible.”

I was rather perplexed that Jaron would also choose to write about art to discuss AI.

My path to sanity recently has been to seek refuge in art, at the end of the day. It explains the unexplainable. 

There is an eternal fight in the brain of someone who is both an artist and a scientist. 

I believe I finally distilled why they are so different and why they do not replace each other. 

But also why they are both an unbearable need for communication. 

Art is the desperate need to put what is inside of us, outside. The unbearable need to put it out, and *communicate* to the exterior. Expression. 

Science is the desperate need to hear what the exterior is saying to us. The unbearable need to feel connected to the exterior, and have it *communicate* to us, listen to what it is saying. 

But ultimately both the scientist and the artist just want one and the same thing: to communicate. Two channels: in and out of ourselves. 

Reality indeed, as Jaron writes. Currently, I describe what I do as a student of reality. In Roger Penrose’s “Road to Reality” sense. 

The problem is that there are many physicists for whom there is more than one reality. The many-worlds, the multiverse… 

And then a wide-audience discussion involving physicists becomes very delicate. 

It used to be that a many-worlds interpretation was just a community of friends who thought otherwise. 

I worry that we might be entering times when such lines of thinking might actually carry serious consequences.  

Hopefully not. It always seems like there are less of us at night, before going to bed. 

I always tell my students: make sure you have at least one hug every day, in the real world. I don’t think there is much else I need to teach them other than this. 

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