The ‘no free lunch’ theorem is a lot like the reason Pascal’s wager fails…

— From The Master Algorithm – How the Quest for the ultimate learning machine will remake our world by Pedro Domingos P. 63

In his Pensées, published in 1669, Pascal said we should believe in the Christian God because if he exists that gains us eternal life, and if he doesn’t we lose very little. This was a remarkably sophisticated argument for the time, but as Diderot pointed out, an imam could make the same argument for believing in Allah. And if you pick the wrong god, the price you pay is eternal hell. On balance, considering the wide variety of possible gods, you’re no better off picking a particular one to believe in than you are picking any other. For every god that says ‘do this,’ there’s another that says ‘no, do that.’

the practical consequence of the ‘no free lunch’ theorem is that there’s no such thing as learning without knowledge. Data alone is not enough. Starting from scratch will only get you to scratch. Machine learning is a kind of knowledge pump: we can use it to extract a lot of knowledge from data, but first we have to prime the pump.”

One sunny afternoon, when he wasn’t feeling well, Jobs sat in the garden behind his house and reflected on death…

From Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

One sunny afternoon, when he wasn’t feeling well, Jobs sat in the garden behind his house and reflected on death. He talked about his experiences in India almost four decades earlier, his study of Buddhism, and his views on reincarnation and spiritual transcendence.

“I’m about fifty-fifty on believing in God,” he said. “For most of my life, I’ve felt that there must be more to our existence than meets the eye.”

He admitted that, as he faced death, he might be overestimating the odds out of a desire to believe in an afterlife.

“I like to think that something survives after you die,” he said. “It’s strange to think that you accumulate all this experience, and maybe a little wisdom, and it just goes away. So I really want to believe that something survives, that maybe your consciousness endures.”

He fell silent for a very long time.

“But on the other hand, perhaps it’s like an on-off switch,” he said. “Click! And you’re gone.”

Then he paused again and smiled slightly.

“Maybe that’s why I never liked to put on-off switches on Apple devices.”