Is there a limit to human knowledge? I would rather rephrase this question: Is there a limit to the knowledge that can be expressed in human language? While some people might think that the potential of our knowledge and wisdom is unlimited, I will demonstrate that it is.

It is well known that many aspects of human communication can be expressed in computer files – including written language, spoken language including music and songs, visual pictures, movies and books. Is there a limit to the amount of information that can be expressed in files? We all know that computer files can be represented as a sequence of binary digits (bits). Each sequence of binary digits can also be viewed as a positive integer number (a natural number). While some files might contain millions or even billions of bits – their size is always finite. A computer file cannot contain an infinite number of bits.

So it seems that any idea, any piece of knowledge or information that can be expressed in words (or any other form of communication that can be represented in files) can be represented as a sequence of binary digits, or a natural number. But the number of natural numbers is countable. Even more – the number of natural numbers which can actually be represented in reality is at least limited by the number of particles in our known universe, which is finite. We come to a conclusion that the number of ideas that can be expressed in words is finite, or at most countable (if we don’t put a limit on the number of words we use to express one idea).

Even more – since the sequence of natural numbers is already known to us, and we can produce a simple computer program or algorithm* that will express all of them (if allowed to run to infinity) – then the entire knowledge and ideas that can be expressed in words is already known as well. All the words have already been said, all the books have already been written, all the movies have already been created and seen – by a simple algorithm that counts the natural numbers to infinity. Nothing is new – everything is already known to this algorithm, and therefore to us. Just like nothing is new with any natural number – nothing is new with any sequence of binary digits, or with any computer file.

This also eliminates our concept of authors, or copyrights. Can a number have an author? Can it be copyrighted? I can prove by induction that no number has any author and no number has copyrights. Since we all know that 0 and 1 are not copyrighted, and since nobody can claim he’s the author of either of them – then if we have a sequence of bits which has no author, and is not copyrighted, and we add to it another bit (either 0 or 1) – then it’s easy to conclude that the new sequence too has no author and is not copyrighted. Can one claim to be the author of a sequence of bits in which only one bit he wrote by himself? Compare it to taking a book someone else wrote, and adding one letter. Can you claim that you wrote the entire book? Of course not. And if nobody wrote the original book, and you added one letter – then nobody wrote the new book, too. Or compare it to numbers. If you add one to a well-known natural number, can you claim that the new number is yours? Can you claim that you wrote it, and nobody has the right to write the same number for the next 50 years? Of course not.

If we were able to claim copyrights on natural numbers, then I would be able to claim that the algorithm that outputs the entire sequence of natural numbers is mine, I wrote it, and therefore the entire sequence of natural numbers is mine. Nobody is allowed to write any number for the next 50 years. Would you allow something like this? Of course not. Then we should conclude that no knowledge is new, everything is already known, no book has an author and nothing is copyrighted.

* Here’s my algorithm in the awk language, in case you’re interested:

for (i=0; 1; i++) {print i;}