Mind Out of Time: Arrival, Ted Chiang, and Sapir-Whorf

Written by: Stephen Hsu

Primary Source:  Information Processing

Arrival is based on a short story by Ted ChiangStory of Your Life.

Despite what some have said, the main plot idea (as I remember from the story; I have yet to see the film) goes well beyond the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis — it also requires that human consciousness (potentially) extend beyond the confines of the usual time span we perceive. This is a modification of fundamental physics, not just of cognitive linguistics.

See also A Modern Borges? and Beyond Human Science.

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Stephen Hsu
Stephen Hsu is vice president for Research and Graduate Studies at Michigan State University. He also serves as scientific adviser to BGI (formerly Beijing Genomics Institute) and as a member of its Cognitive Genomics Lab. Hsu’s primary work has been in applications of quantum field theory, particularly to problems in quantum chromodynamics, dark energy, black holes, entropy bounds, and particle physics beyond the standard model. He has also made contributions to genomics and bioinformatics, the theory of modern finance, and in encryption and information security. Founder of two Silicon Valley companies—SafeWeb, a pioneer in SSL VPN (Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Networks) appliances, which was acquired by Symantec in 2003, and Robot Genius Inc., which developed anti-malware technologies—Hsu has given invited research seminars and colloquia at leading research universities and laboratories around the world.