Einstein Would Have Loved Programmed Reality

Aren’t we all Albert Einstein fans, in one way or another?  If it isn’t because of his 20th Century revolution in physics (relativity), or his Nobel Prize that led to that other 20th Century revolution (quantum mechanics), or his endless Twainsian witticisms, it’s his underachiever-turned-genius story, or maybe even that crazy head of hair.  For me, it’s his regular-guy sense of humor:

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”

and…

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity.”

Albert Einstein on a bicycle in Niels Bohr's garden

But, the more I read about Albert and learn about his views on the nature of reality, the more affinity I have with his way of thinking.  He died in 1955, hardly deep enough into the digital age to have had a chance to consider the implications of computing, AI, consciousness, and virtual reality.  Were he alive today, I suspect that he would be a fan of digital physics, digital philosophy, simulism, programmed reality – whatever you want to call it.  Consider these quotes and see if you agree:

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

“I wished to show that space-time isn’t necessarily something to which one can ascribe a separate existence, independently of the actual objects of physical reality. Physical objects are not in space, but these object are spatially extended. In this way the concept of ’empty space’ loses its meaning.”

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are uncertain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe’ —a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

“Space does not have an independent existence.”

“Hence it is clear that the space of physics is not, in the last analysis, anything given in nature or independent of human thought.  It is a function of our conceptual scheme [mind].”

 “Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”

I can only imagine the insights that Albert would have had into the mysteries of the universe, had he lived well into the computer age.  It would have given him an entirely different perspective on that conundrum that puzzled him throughout his later life – the relationship of consciousness to reality.  And he might have even tossed out the Unified Field Theory that he was forever chasing and settled in on something that looked a little more digital.

 

The Power of Intuition in the Age of Uncertainty

Have you ever considered why it is that you decide some of the things that you do?

Like how to divide your time across the multiple projects that you have at work, when to discipline your kids, what to do on vacation, who to marry, what college to attend, which car to buy?

The ridiculously slow way to figure these things out is to do an exhaustive analysis on all of the options, potential outcomes and probabilities.  This can be extremely difficult when the parameters of the analysis are constantly changing, as is often the case.  Such analysis is making use of your conscious mind.

The other option is to use your subconscious mind and make a quick intuitive decision.

We who have been educated in the West, and especially those of us who received our training in engineering or the sciences, are conditioned to believe that “analysis” represents rigorous logical scientific thinking and “intuition” represents new age claptrap or occasional maternal wisdom.  Analysis good, intuition silly.

This view is quite inaccurate.

According to Gary Klein, ex-Marine, psychologist, and author of the book “The Power of Intuition: How to Use Your Gut Feelings to Make Better Decisions at Work,” 90% of the critical decisions that we make are made by intuition in any case.  Intuition can actually be a far more accurate and certainly faster way to make an important decision.  Here’s why…

Consider the mind to be composed of two parts – conscious and subconscious.  Admittedly, this division may be somewhat arbitrary, but it is also realistic.

The conscious mind is that part of the mind that deals with your current awareness (sensations, perceptions, memories, feelings, fantasies, etc.)  Research shows that the information processing rate of the conscious mind is actually very low.  Tor Nørretranders, author of “The User Illusion”, estimates the rate at only 16 bits per second.  Dr. Timothy Wilson from the University of Virginia estimates the conscious mind’s processing capacity to be little higher at 40 bits per second.  In terms of the number of items that can be retained at one time by the conscious mind, estimates vary from 4 – 7, with the lower number being reported in a 2008 study by the National Academy of Sciences.

Contrast that with the subconscious mind, which is responsible for all sorts of things: autonomous functions, subliminal perceptions (all of that data streaming in to your five sensory interfaces that you barely notice), implicit thought, implicit learning, automatic skills, association, implicit memory, and automatic processing.  Much of this can be combined into what we consider “intuition.”  Estimates for the information processing capacity and storage capacity of the subconscious mind vary widely, but they are all orders of magnitude larger than their conscious counterparts.  Dr. Bruce Lipton, in “The Biology of Belief,” notes that the processing rate is at least 20 Mbits/sec and maybe as high as 400 Gbits/sec.  Estimates for storage capacity is as high as 2.5 petabytes, or 2,500,000,000,000,000.

Isn’t it interesting that the rigorous analysis that we are so proud of is effectively done on a processing system that is excruciatingly slow and has little memory capacity?

Whereas, intuition is effectively done on a processing system that is blazingly fast and contains an unimaginable amount of data. (Note: as an aside, I might mention that there is actually significant evidence that the subconscious mind connects with powerful data and processing elements outside of the brain, which only serves to underscore the message of this post)

Kind of gives you a little more respect for intuition, doesn’t it?

In fact, that’s what intuition is – the same analysis that you might consider doing consciously, but doing it instead with access to far more data, such as your entire wealth of experience, and the entire set of knowledge to which you have ever been exposed.

Sounds great, right?  It might be a skill that could be very useful to hone, if possible.

But the importance of intuition only grows exponentially as time goes on.  Here’s why…

Eddie Obeng is the Professor at the School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, HenleyBusinessSchool, in the UK.  He gave a TED talk which nicely captured the essence of our times, in terms of information overload.  The following chart from that talk demonstrates what we all know and feel is happening to us:

Image

The horizontal axis is time, with “now” being all the way to the right.  The vertical axis depicts information rate.

The green curve represents the rate at which we humans can absorb information, aka “learn.”  It doesn’t change much over time, because our biology stays pretty much the same.

The red curve represents the rate at which information is coming at us.

Clearly, there was a time in the past, where we had the luxury of being able to take the necessary time to absorb all of the information necessary to understand the task, or project at hand.  If you are over 40, you probably remember working in such an environment.  At some point, however, the incoming data rate exceeded our capacity to absorb it.  TV news with two or three rolling tickers, tabloids, zillions of web sites to scan, Facebook posts, tweets, texts, blogs, social networks, information repositories, big data, etc.  For some of us, it happened a while ago, for others; more recently.  I’m sure there are still some folks who live  simpler lives on farms in rural areas that haven’t passed the threshold yet.  But they aren’t reading this blog.  As for the rest of us…

It is easy to see that as time goes on, the ratio of unprocessed incoming information to human learning capacity grows exponentially.  What this means is that there is increasingly more uncertainty in our world, because we just don’t have the ability to absorb the information needed to be “certain”, like we used to.  Some call it “The Age of Uncertainty.”  Some refer to the need to be “comfortable with ambiguity.”

This is a true paradigm shift.  A “megatrend.”   It demands entirely new ways of doing business, of structuring companies, of planning, of living.  In my “day job”, I help companies come to terms with these changes by implementing agile and lean processes, structures, and frameworks in order for them to be more adaptable to the constantly changing environment.  But this affects all of us, not just companies.  How do we cope?

One part to the answer is to embrace intuition.  We don’t have time to use the limited conscious mind apparatus to do rigorous analysis to solve our problems anymore.  As time goes on, that method becomes less and less effective.  But perhaps we can make better use of that powerful subconscious mind apparatus by paying more attention to our intuition.  It seems to be what some of our most successful scientists, entrepreneurs, and financial wizards are doing:

George Soros said: “My [trading] decisions are really made using a combination of theory and instinct. If you like, you may call it intuition.”

Albert Einstein said: “The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you, and you don’t know how or why.”  He also said: “The only real valuable thing is intuition.”

Steve Jobs said: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

So how do the rest of us start paying more attention to our intuition?  Here are some ideas:

  • Have positive intent and an open mind
  • Go with first thing that comes to mind
  • Notice impressions, connections, coincidences (a journal or buddy may help)
  • Put yourself in situations where you gain more experience about the desired subject(s)
  • 2-column exercises
  • Meditate / develop point-focus
  • Visualize success
  • Follow your path

I am doing much of this and finding it very valuable.

Things We Can’t See

When you think about it, there is a great deal out there that we can’t see.

Our eyes only respond to a very narrow range of electromagnetic radiation.  The following diagram demonstrates just how narrow our range of vision compared to the overall electromagnetic spectrum.

em_spectrum

So we can’t see anything that generates or reflects wavelengths equal to or longer than infrared, as the following image demonstrates.  Even the Hubble Space Telescope can’t see the distant infrared galaxy that the Spitzer Space Telescope can see with its infrared sensors.

(http://9-4fordham.wikispaces.com/Electro+Magnetic+Spectrum+and+light)

600px-Distant_Galaxy_in_Visible_and_Infrared

And we can’t see anything that generates or reflects wavelengths equal to or shorter than ultraviolet, as the image from NASA demonstrates at left. Only instruments with special sensors that can detect ultraviolet or x-rays can see some of the objects in the sky.

Of course, we can’t see things that are smaller in size than about 40 microns, which includes germs and molecules.

 

 

We can’t see things that are camouflaged by technology, such as the Mercedes in the following picture.

invisiblemercedes

Sometimes, it isn’t our eyes that can’t sense something that is right in front of us, but rather, our brain.  We actually stare at our noses all day long but don’t notice because our brains effectively subtract it out from our perception, given that we don’t really need it.  Our brains also fill in the imagery that is missing from the blind spot that we all have due to the optic nerve in our retinas.

In addition to these limitations of static perception, there are significant limitations to how we perceive motion.  It actually does not take much in terms of speed to render something invisible to our perception.

Clearly, we can’t see something zip by as fast as a bullet, which might typically move at speeds of 700 mph or more.  And yet, a plane moving at 700 mph is easy to see from a distance.  Our limitations of motion perception are a function of the speed of the object and the size of the image that it casts upon your retina; e.g. for a given speed, the further away something is, the larger it has to be to register in our conscious perception.  This is because our perception of reality refreshes no more than 13-15 times per second, or every 77 ms. So, if something is moving so fast that it passes by our frame of perception in less than 77 ms or so, or it is so small that it doesn’t make a significant impression in our conscious perception within that time period, we simply won’t be aware of its existence.

It makes one wonder what kinds of things may be in our presence, but moving too quickly to be observed.  Some researchers have captured objects on high-speed cameras, for which there appears to be no natural explanation.  For example, there is this strange object captured on official NBC video at an NFL football game in 2011:  Whether these objects have mundane explanations or might be hints of something a little more exotic, one thing is for certain: our eye cannot capture them.  They are effectively invisible to us, yet exist in our reality.

In my next blog we will dive down the rabbit hole and explore the real possibilities that things exist around us that we can’t even touch.

Pathological Skepticism

“All great truths began as blasphemies” – George Bernard Shaw

  • In the 1800’s, the scientific community viewed reports of rocks falling from the sky as “pseudoscience” and those who reported them as “crackpots,” only because it didn’t fit in with the prevailing view of the universe. Today, of course, we recognize that these rocks could be meteorites and such reports are now properly investigated.
  • In 1827, Georg Ohm’s initial publication of what became “Ohm’s Law” met with ridicule, dismissal, and was called “a web of naked fantasies.” The German Minister of Education proclaimed that “a professor who preached such heresies was unworthy to teach science.” 20 yrs passed before scientists began to recognize its importance.
  • Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs was called “ridiculous fiction” by Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse in1872.
  • Spanish researcher Marcelino de Sautuola discovered cave art in Altamira cave (northern Spain), which he recognized as stone age and published a paper about it in 1880.  His integrity was violently attacked by the archaeological community, and he died disillusioned and broken.  Yet he was vindicated 10 years after death.
  • Lord Haldane, the Minister of War in Britain, said that “the aeroplane will never fly” in 1907.  Ironically, this was four years after the Wright Brothers made their first successful flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  After Kitty Hawk, the Wrights flew in open fields next to a busy rail line in Dayton OH for almost an entire year. US authorities refused to come to the demos, while Scientific American published stories about “The Lying Brothers.”
  • In 1964, physicist George Zweig proposed the existence of quarks.  As a result of this theory, he was rejected for position at major university and considered a “charlatan.”  Today, of course, it is an accepted part of standard nuclear model.

Note that these aren’t just passive disagreements.  The skeptics use active and angry language, with words like “charlatan,” “ridiculous,” lying,” “crackpot,” and “pseudoscience.”

This is partly due to a natural psychological effect, known as “fear of the unknown” or “fear of change.”  Psychologists who have studied human behavior have more academic sounding names for it, such as the “Mere Exposure Effect”, “Familiarity Principle”, or Neophobia (something that might have served Agent Smith well).  Ultimately, this may be an artifact of evolution.  Hunter-gatherers did not pass on their genes if they had a habit of eating weird berries, venturing too close to the saber-toothed cats, or other unconventional activities.  But we are no longer hunter-gatherers.  For the most part, we shouldn’t fear the unknown.  We should feel empowered to challenge assumptions.  The scientific method can weed out any undesirable ideas naturally.

But, have you also noticed how the agitation ratchets up the more you enter the realm of the “expert?”

“The expert knows more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing.” – Mahatma Gandhi

This is because the expert may have a lot to lose if they stray too far from the status quo.  Their research funding, tenure, jobs, reputations are all at stake.  This is unfortunate, because it feeds this unhealthy behavior.

So I thought I would do my part to remind experts and non-experts alike that breakthroughs only occur when we challenge conventional thinking, and we shouldn’t be afraid of them.

The world is full of scared “experts”, but nobody will ever hear of them.  But they will hear about the brave ones, who didn’t fear to challenge the status quo.  People like Copernicus, Einstein, Georg Ohm, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk.

And it isn’t like we are so enlightened today that such pathological skepticism no longer occurs.

Remember Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann?  Respected electrochemists, ridiculed out of their jobs and their country by skeptics.  Even “experts” violently contradicted each other:

  • “It’s pathological science,” said physicist Douglas Morrison, formerly of CERN. “The results are impossible.”
  • “There’s very strong evidence that low-energy nuclear reactions do occur” said George Miley (who received Edward Teller medal for research in hot fusion.). “Numerous experiments have shown definitive results – as do my own.”

Some long-held assumptions are being overturned as we speak.  Like LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions; the new, less provocative name for cold fusion.

And maybe the speed of light as an ultimate speed limit.

These are exciting times for science and technology.  Let’s stay open minded enough to keep them moving.

Explaining Daryl Bem’s Precognition

Dr. Daryl Bem, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Cornell University recently published an astounding paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology called “Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences on Cognition and Affect.”  In plain English, he draws on the results of eight years of scientific research to prove that precognition exists.  His research techniques utilized proven scientific methods, such as double blind studies.  According to New Scientist magazine, in each case, he reversed the sequence of well-studied psychological phenomena, so that “the event generally interpreted as the cause happened after the tested behaviour rather than before it.”  Across all of the studies, the probability of these results occurring by chance and not due to a real precognitive effect was calculated to be about 1 in 100 billion.

This little scientific tidbit went viral quickly with the Twitterverse and Reddit communities posting and blogging prolifically about it.  We have to commend the courage that Dr. Bem had in submitting such an article and that the APA (American Psychological Association) had in accepting it for publication.  Tenures, grants, and jobs have been lost for far less of an offense to the often closed-minded scientific/academic community.  Hopefully, this will open doors to a greater acceptance of Dean Radin’s work on other so-called “paranormal” effects as well as Pim van Lommel’s research on Near Death Experiences.

More to the point, though, this has many scientists scratching their heads.  What could it mean about our reality?  Quantum physicists say that reality doesn’t really exist anyway, but most scientists from other fields have compartmentalized such ideas to a tiny corner of their awareness labelled “quantum effects that do not apply to the macroscopic world.”  Guess what?  There isn’t a line demarking quantum and macroscopic, so we need to face the facts.  The world isn’t as it seems and Daryl Bern’s research is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

OK, what could explain this?

Conventional wisdom would have to conclude that we do not have free will.  Let’s take a particular experiment to see why:

“In one experiment, students were shown a list of words and then asked to recall words from it, after which they were told to type words that were randomly selected from the same list. Spookily, the students were better at recalling words that they would later type.”

Therefore, if students could recall words better before the causative event even happened, then that seems to imply that they are not really in control of their choices, and hence have no free will.

However, our old friend Programmed Reality, again comes to the rescue and offers not one, not two, but three different explanations for these results.  Imagine that our reality is generated by a computational mechanism, as shown in the figure below.

programmedreality

Part of what constitutes our reality would also be our bodies and our brain stuff – neurons, etc.  In addition, assume that that “Computer” reads our consciousness as its input and makes decisions based both on the current state of reality, as well as the state of our consciousnesses.  In such case, consider these three possible explanations:

1. Evidence is rewritten after the fact.  In other words, after the students are told the words to type, the Program goes back and rewrites all records of the student’s guesses, so as to create the precognitive anomaly.  Those records consist of the students and the experimenters memories, as well as any written or recorded artifacts.  Since the Program is in control of all of these items, the complete record of the past can be changed, and no one would ever know.

2. The Program selects the randomly typed words to match the results, so as to generate the precognitive anomaly.

3. We live in an Observer-created reality and the entire sequence of events is either planned out or influenced by intent, and then just played out by the experimenter and students.

Mystery solved, Programmed Reality style.

 

billmurray185

There is no “Now.” But there will be.

One of our long time Forum Members posted an excellent question: “Is there really a ‘now'”?  The mystics tell us that there is only NOW.  But I suspect they are referring to a state of reality or a state of consciousness that one only reaches when they die or if they sit on top of a mountain contemplating their naval for a dozen or so years and get really lucky.

Back in the reality that we all know and love, I got to thinking about the reality that we all know and love.  And came to the conclusion that there is no NOW.  Here’s why:

Our interpretation of the present is really based on our short term memory, which lasts some 30 seconds or so. If we had no short term memory, we would not be able to think, plan, procreate, remember to eat, etc. In short, we would perish.

However, what is in short term memory is not NOW, it is the past. Now can only be defined as an instant. Or, in mathematical terms, it is t=0, or the limit as “delta t” approaches zero at t=0. As an absolute, or an infinite concept, it could only exist in an infinite universe, which also must be continuous. As I “tend” to believe that our universe is not infinite and is bound by the attributes of the Program (see “The Universe – Solved!”), the smallest unit of time around the concept of NOW would be a clock cycle of the Program. If it is the Planck time, then it is 10E-43 seconds (although it could be other resolutions). In any case, it has a duration, so it can’t be instantaneous or absolute. Therefore, there is no NOW, only our PERCEPTION of now, which is our very short term memory.

That said, in the other realm, where consciousness “probably” goes after death, everything is NOW, as the mystics say. That is because there is no physical stuff, no brain, no short term memory, and therefore no need for time as a dimension. Hence, everything could only be NOW.

If so, no need to even fear the “five-point-palm-exploding-heart technique.”

kill-bill-guy185

Wacky Ideas from my Past – #2 The Nuke Core Neutralizer

This one felt really important during the height of the cold war.

All H-Bombs have an A-Bomb at their core.  The A-Bomb is needed to generated the million of degree temperature to begin the fusion reaction in the H-Bomb fuel.  So, all nukes, therefore, have at their core, a hunk of fissionable material, generally Uranium-235 or Plutonium-239.  U-235, for example, works well as a nuclear fission fuel because when the nucleus absorbs a neutron, it becomes unstable and splits into two smaller nuclei (e.g. Barium and Krypton), releasing more neutrons which then generate more reactions.  A critical mass of fissionable material will explode because the number of neutrons needed to maintain the reaction is exceeded by the number generated.  But, U-235 can also safely absorb a neutron and not undergo fission, transmuting in non-fissionable U-236 before further decay.  But if some process (for example, creating the perfect neutron energy) were to be discovered that caused absorption rather than fission, the core of the nuke could be neutralized.

So, my thought was to blanket the earth with a “rain” of the right particles to neutralize all nuke cores, regardless of where they are buried or hidden, thereby ending all fear of nuclear strikes.

My naivete may have been to think that we could generate enough particles at high enough density to neutralize a nuke core at any given point on the earth without having that particle beam have an adverse effect on plant and animal life.

So where are we today?  Actually, there are a number of nuclear remediation technologies (for example see Gary Vesperman’s “Comparison of My List of 27 Methods of Neutralizing or Disposing of Radioactive Waste with PACE’s 9 Methods“) that can clean up cores of nukes or fissionable material in general.  None can be accomplished on the “earth blanketing” scale that I envisioned.  However, maybe nanotech can come to the rescue.  Imagine a healthy swarm of nanobots, all carrying the materials needed for a nuclear remediation technique, such as RIPPLE Fission, and instructed to seek out all U-235 and P-239 and unleash the neutralization technique.

Time frame?  I’m thinking…

2040