The Digital Reality Bandwagon
I tend to think that reality is just data. That the fundamental building blocks of matter and space will ultimately be shown to be bits, nothing more. Those who have read my book, follow this blog, or my Twitter feed, realize that this has been a cornerstone of my writing since 2006.
Not that I was the first to think of any of this. Near as I can tell, Phillip K. Dick may deserve that credit, having said “We are living in a computer programmed reality” in 1977, although I am sure that someone can find some Shakespearean reference to digital physics (“O proud software, that simulates in wanton swirl”).
Still, a mere six years ago, it was a lonely space to be in. The few digital reality luminaries at that time included:
- Edward Fredkin, pioneer of digital philosophy
- University of Oxford philosopher Dr. Nick Bostrom, who had written his Simulation Argument in 1999.
- British physicist Stephen Wolfram, who published his controversial “A New Kind of Science” in 2002, which asserted that reality was built up from cellular automata, ultimately digital in nature.
But since then…
- MIT Engineering Professor Seth Lloyd published “Programming the Universe” in 2006, asserting that the universe is a massive quantum computer running a cosmic program.
- Brian Whitworth, PhD. authored a paper containing evidence that our reality is programmed: “The emergence of the physical world from information processing”, Quantum Biosystems 2010, 2 (1) 221-249 http://arxiv.org/abs/0801.0337
- University of Maryland physicist, Jim Gates, discovered error-correction codes in the laws of physics. See “Symbols of Power”, Physics World, Vol. 23, No 6, June 2010.
- Fermilab astrophysicist, Craig Hogan, speculated that space is quantized. This was based on results from GEO600 measurements in 2010. See: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/10/holometer-universe-resolution/. A holometer experiment is being constructed to test: http://holometer.fnal.gov/
- Rich Terrile, director of the Center for Evolutionary Computation and Automated Design at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, hypothesized that we are living in a simulated reality. http://www.vice.com/read/whoa-dude-are-we-inside-a-computer-right-now-0000329-v19n9
- Physicists Leonard Susskind ad Gerard t’Hooft, developed the holographic black hole physics theory (our universe is digitally encoded on the surface of a black hole).
Even mainstream media outlets are dipping a toe into the water to see what kinds of reactions they get, such as this recent article in New Scientist Magazine: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528840.800-reality-is-everything-made-of-numbers.html
So, today, I feel like I am in really great company and it is fun to watch all of the futurists, philosophers, and scientists jump on the new digital reality bandwagon. The plus side will include the infusion of new ideas and the resulting synthesis of theory, as well as pushing the boundaries of experimental validation. The down side will be all of the so-called experts jockeying for position. In any case, it promises to be a wild ride, one that should last the twenty or so years it will take to create the first full-immersion reality simulation. Can’t wait.