Which came first, the digital chicken, or the digital philosophy egg?

Many scientists, mathematicians, futurists, and philosophers are embracing the idea that our reality is digital these days. In fact, it would be perfectly understandable to wonder if digital philosophy itself is tainted due to the tendency of humans to view ideas through the lens of their times. We live in a digital age, surrounded by computers, the Internet, and smart phones, and so might we not be guilty of imagining that the world behaves just as a multi-player video game does? We probably wouldn’t have had such ideas 50 years ago, when, at a macroscopic level at least, everything with which we interacted appeared analog and continuous. Which came first, the digital chicken, or the digital philosophy egg?

Actually, the concepts of binary and digital are not at all new. The I Ching is an ancient Chinese text that dates to 1150 BCE. In it are 64 combinations of 8 trigrams (aka the Bagua), each of which clearly contain the first three bits of a binary code. 547px-Bagua-name-earlier.svg

Many other cultures, including the Mangareva in Polynesia (1450), and Indian (5th to 2nd century BCE), have used binary encodings for communication for thousands of years. Over 12,000 years ago, African tribes developed a binary divination system called Odu Ifa.

German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz is generally credited as developing the modern binary number system in 1679, based on zeros and ones. Naturally, all of these other cultures are ignored so that we can maintain the illusion that all great philosophical and mathematical thought originated in Europe. Regardless of Eurocentric biases, it is clear that binary encoding is not a new concept. But what about applying it to the fundamental construct of reality?

It turns out that while modern digital physics or digital philosophy references are replete with sources that only date to the mid-20th century, the ancient Greeks (namely Plato) believed that reality was discrete. Atoms were considered to be discrete and fundamental components of reality.

A quick clarification of the terms “discrete”, “digital”, “binary”, “analog”, and “continuous” is probably in order:

Discrete – Having distinct points of measurement in the time domain

Digital – Having properties that can be encoded into bits

Binary – Encoding that is done with only two digits, zeros and ones

Analog – Having continuously variable properties

Continuous – The time domain is continuous

So, for example, if we encode the value of some property (e.g. length or voltage) digitally using 3 values (0, 1, 2), that would be digital, but not binary (rather, ternery). If we say that between any two points in time, there is an infinitely divisible time element, but for each point, the value of the measurement being performed on some property is represented by bits, then we would have a continuous yet digital system. Conversely, if time can be broken into chunks such that at a fine enough temporal granularity there is no concept of time between two adjacent points in time, but at each of these time points, the value of the measurement being performed is continuously variable, then we would have a discrete yet analog system.

In the realm of consciousness-driven digital philosophy, it is my contention that the evidence strongly supports reality being discrete and digital; that is, time moves on in “chunks” and at each discrete point in time, every property of everything can be perfectly represented digitally. There are no infinities.

I believe that this is a logical and fundamental conclusion, regardless of the fact that we live in a digital age. There are many reasons for this, but for the purposes of this particular blog post, I shall only concentrate on a couple. Let’s break down the possibilities of our reality, in terms of origin and behavior:

  1. Type 1 – Our reality was created by some conscious entity and has been following the original rules established by that entity. Of course, we could spend a lifetime defining “conscious” or “entity” but let’s try to keep it simple. This scenario could include traditional religious origin theories (e.g. God created the heavens and the earth). It could also include the common simulation scenarios, a la Nick Bostrom’s “Simulation Argument.”
  1. Type 2 – Our reality was originally created by some conscious entity and has been evolving according to some sort of fundamental evolutionary law ever since.
  1. Type 3 – Our reality was not created by some conscious entity, and its existence sprang out of nothing and has been following primordial rules of physics ever since. To explain the fact that our universe is incredibly finely-tuned for matter and life, materialist cosmologists dreamt up the idea that we must exist in an infinite set of parallel universes, and via the anthropic principle, the one we live only appears finely-tuned because it has to in order for us to be in it. Occam would be turning over in his grave.
  1. Type 4 – Our reality was not created by some particular conscious entity, but rather has been evolving according to some sort of fundamental evolutionary law from the very beginning.

I would argue that in the first two cases, reality would have to be digital. For, if a conscious entity is going to create a world for us to live in and experience, that conscious entity is clearly highly evolved compared to us. And, being so evolved, it would certainly make use of the most efficient means to create a reality. A continuous reality is not only inefficient, it is theoretically impossible to create because it involves infinities in the temporal domain as well as any spatial domain or property.

pixelated200I would also argue that in the fourth case, reality would have to be digital for similar reasons. Even without a conscious entity as a creator, the fundamental evolutionary law would certainly favor a perfectly functional reality that doesn’t require infinite resources.

Only in the third case above, would there be any possibility of a continuous analog reality. Even then, it is not required. As MIT cosmologist and mathematician Max Tegmark succinctly put it, “We’ve never measured anything in physics to more than about sixteen significant digits, and no experiment has been carried out whose outcome depends on the hypothesis that a true continuum exists, or hinges on nature computing something uncomputable.” Hence there is no reason to assume, a priori, that the world is continuous. In fact, the evidence points to the contrary:

  • Infinite resolution would imply that matter implodes into black holes at sub-Planck scales and we don’t observe that.
  • Infinite resolution implies that relativity and quantum mechanics can’t coexist, at least with the best physics that we have today. Our favorite contenders for rationalizing relativity and quantum mechanics are string theory and loop quantum gravity. And they only work with minimal length (aka discrete) scales.
  • We actually observe discrete behavior in quantum mechanics. For example, a particle’s spin value is always quantized; there are no intermediate states. This is anomalous in continuous space-time.

For many other reasons, as are probably clear from the evidence compiled on this site, I tend to favor reality Type 4. No other type of reality structure and origin can be shown to be anywhere near as consistent with all of the evidence (philosophical, cosmological, mathematical, metaphysical, and experimental). And it has nothing to do with MMORPGs or the smart phone in my pocket.

The Asset-Light Generation – A Sign of Humanity Evolution?

We are moving from an era where it was important to possess everything to an era where it is considered cumbersome.  From racks of CDs and DVDs to music (Spotify) and movies (Netflix) in the cloud, accessible by subscription from a small handheld device.  From bookcases full of books to reading on demand from an iPad.  From stores full of products to eCommerce sites full of data.  From workplaces with cubes and desks to telecommuting and Workforce as a Service (WaaS).  From owning cars to sharing cars (Uber).  From a physical wallet full of cash and credit cards, to digital wallet transactions with just enough bitcoin in the account to satisfy “just in time” needs.

This new era is called the Shared Economy or Collaborative Economy and the individuals who thrive in it are becoming known as the Asset-Light Generation (fka Millennials, or Gen Y).

It strikes me that in many philosophies and spiritual teachings, the suppression of material desires is a crucial step on the road to evolving the spirit.

“All suffering is caused by desire.”
– Buddha

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
– Jesus Christ

“It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.”
– Bertrand Russell

“When we share – that is poetry in the prose of life.”
– Sigmund Freud

“It ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none.”
– Snoop Dogg

So I wonder – if each generation of humanity is becoming less interested in ownership and increasingly more comfortable with the idea of sharing resources, is that another indication that humanity is evolving spiritually?

Or is it just cool tech?

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Quantum Zeno Effect Solved

Lurking amidst the mass chaos of information that exists in our reality is a little gem of a concept called the Quantum Zeno Effect.  It is partially named after ancient Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea, who dreamed up a number of paradoxes about the fluidity of motion and change.  For example, the “Arrow Paradox” explores the idea that if you break down time into “instants” of zero duration, motion cannot be observed.  Thus, since time is composed of a set of instants, motion doesn’t truly exist.  We might consider Zeno to have been far ahead of his time as he appeared to be thinking about discrete systems and challenging the continuity of space and time a couple thousand years before Alan Turing resurrected the idea in relation to quantum mechanics: “It is easy to show using standard theory that if a system starts in an eigenstate of some observable, and measurements are made of that observable N times a second, then, even if the state is not a stationary one, the probability that the system will be in the same state after, say, one second, tends to one as N tends to infinity; that is, that continual observations will prevent motion …”.  The term “Quantum Zeno Effect” was first used by physicists George Sudarshan and Baidyanath Misra in 1977 to describe just such a system – one that does not change state because it is continuously observed.

The challenge with this theory has been in devising experiments that can verify or falsify it.  However, technology has caught up to philosophy and, over the last 25 years, a number of experiments have been performed which seem to validate the effect.  In 2001, for example, physicist Mark Raizen and a team at the University of Texas showed that the effect is indeed real and the transition of states in a system can be either slowed down or sped up simply by taking measurements of the system.

I have enjoyed making a hobby of fully explaining quantum mechanics anomalies with the programmed reality theory.   Admittedly, I don’t always fully grasp some of the deep complexities and nuances of the issues that I am tackling, due partly to the fact that I have a full time job that has naught to do with this stuff, and partly to the fact that my math skills are a bit rusty, but thus far, it doesn’t seem to make a difference.  The more I dig in to each issue, the more I find things that simply support the idea that we live in a digital (and programmed) reality.

The quantum Zeno effect might not be observed in every case.  It only works for non-memoryless processes.  Exponential decay, for instance, is an example of a memoryless system.  Frequent observation of a particle undergoing radioactive decay would not affect the result.  [As an aside, I find it very interesting that a “memoryless system” invokes the idea of a programmatic construct.  Perhaps with good reason…]

A system with memory, or “state”, however, is, in theory, subject to the quantum Zeno effect.  It will manifest itself by appearing to reset the experiment clock every time an observation is made of the state of the system.  The system under test will have a characteristic set of changes that vary over time.  In the case of the University of Texas experiment, trapped ions tended to remain in their initial state for a brief interval or so before beginning to change state via quantum tunneling, according to some probability function.  For the sake of developing a clear illustration, let’s imagine a process whereby a particle remains in its initial quantum state (let’s call it State A) for 2 seconds before probabilistically decaying to its final state (B) according to a linear function over the next second.  Figure A shows the probability of finding the particle in State A as a function of time.  For the first 2 seconds, of course, it has a 0% probability of changing state, and between 2 and 3 seconds it has an equal probability of moving to state B at any point in time.  A system with this behavior, left on its own and measured at any point after 3 seconds, will be in State B.

probability

What happens, however, when you make a measurement of that system, to check and see if it changed state, at t=1 second?  Per the quantum Zeno effect, the experiment clock will effectively be reset and now the system will stay in State A from t=1 to t=3 and then move to state B at some point between t=3 and t=4.  If you make another measurement of the system at t=1, the clock will again reset, delaying the behavior by another second.  In fact, if you continue to measure the state of the system every second, it will never change state.  Note that this has absolutely nothing to do with the physical impact of the measurement itself; a 100% non-intrusive observation will have exactly the same result.

Also note that, it isn’t that the clock doesn’t reset for a memoryless system, but rather, that it doesn’t matter because you cannot observe any difference.  One may argue that if you make observations at the Planck frequency (one per jiffy), even a memoryless sytem might never change state.  This actually approaches the true nature of Zeno’s arguments, but that is a topic for another essay, one that is much more philosophical than falsifiable.  In fact, “Quantum Zeno Effect” is a misnomer.  The non-memoryless system described above really has little to do with the ad infinitum inspection of Zeno’s paradoxes, but we are stuck with the name.  And I digress.

So why would this happen?

It appears to be related in some way to the observer effect and to entanglement:

  • Observer Effect – Once observed, the state of a system changes.
  • Entanglement – Once observed, the states of multiple particles (or, rather, the state of a system of multiple particles) are forever connected.
  • Quantum Zeno – Once observed, the state of a system is reset.

What is common to all three of these apparent quantum anomalies is the coupling of the act of observation with the concept of a state.  For the purposes of this discussion, it will be useful to invoke the computational concept of a finite state machine, which is a system that changes state according to a set of logic rules and some input criteria.

I have explained the Observer effect and Entanglement as logical necessities of an efficient programmed reality system.  What about Quantum Zeno?  Why would it not be just as efficient to start the clock on a process and let it run, independent of observation?

A clue to the answer is that the act of observation appears to create something.

In the Observer effect, it creates the collapse of the probability wave functions and the establishment of definitive properties of certain aspects of the system under observation (e.g. position).  This is not so much a matter of efficiency as it is of necessity, because without probability, free will doesn’t exist and without free will, we can’t learn, and if the purpose of our system is to grow and evolve, then by necessity, observation must collapse probability.

In Entanglement, the act of observation may create the initiation of a state machine, which subsequently determines the behavior of the particles under test.  Those particles are just data, as I have shown, and the data elements are part of the same variable space of the state machine.  They both get updated simultaneously, regardless of the “virtual” distance between them.

So, in Quantum Zeno, the system under test is in probability space.  The act of observation “collapses” this initial probability function and kicks off the mathematical process by which futures states are determined based on the programmed probability function.  But that is now a second level of probability function; call it probability function 2.  Observing this system a second time now must collapse the probability wave function 2.  But to do so means that the system would now have to calculate a modified probability function 3 going forward – one that takes into account the fact that some aspect of the state machine has already been determined (e.g. the system has or hasn’t started its decay).  For non-memoryless systems, this could be an arbitrarily complex function (3) since it may take a different shape for every time at which the observation occurs.  A third measurement complicates the function even further because even more states are ruled out.

On the other hand, it would be more efficient to simply reset the probability function each time an observation is made, due to the efficiency of the reality system.

The only drawback to this algorithm is the fact that smart scientists are starting to notice these little anomalies, although the assumption here is that the reality system “cares.”  It may not.  Or perhaps that is why most natural processes are exponential, or memoryless – it is a further efficiency of the system.  Man-made experiments, however, don’t follow the natural process and may be designed to be arbitrarily complex, which ironically serves to give us this tiny little glimpse into the true nature of reality.

What we are doing here is inferring deep truths about our reality that are in fundamental conflict with the standard materialist view.  This will be happening more and more as time goes forward and physicists and philosophers will soon have no choice but to consider programmed reality as their ToE.

matrix-stoppingreality

The Consensus Reality Spectrum

I have recently been on a quest to learn more about the greater “landscape” of realities and have actually had some rewarding successes.  I call them all realities, because the definition of the word “real” is entirely arbitrary and subjective; hence, everything may be considered a reality.  During a recent lucid dream, I had a revelation.  In retrospect, it doesn’t seem as substantial of an idea now as it did then, but here is the gist of it:

The only significant difference between a dream state and what we think of as our “normal physical reality” is the level of consensus that is applied to it.

When we dream or fantasize, our minds are fully in control of creating the reality that we take part in.  In our physical world, however, this is clearly not the case.  We can’t just make the sky red, fly, or defy the laws of physics.  However, there is incontrovertible evidence that we can mold our reality, as demonstrated by:

And, as if to put the final nail in the materialistic determinism coffin, scientists at the prestigious IQOQI institute in Vienna, demonstrated to a certainty of 1 part in 1E80 that objective reality does not exist.

So why does physical reality seem so real?  It is because it is designed that way.  We are much more likely to learn when we believe in well-grounded cause and effect.  Seriously, when was the last time you actually consciously learned something from a dream? (Subconsciously, that is a different story.)  In order for us to get something useful out of this physical-matter-reality learning lab, we must believe it is somehow more real than what we can conjure up in our minds.  But, again, all that means is that our experience is relatively consistent with that of our free-willed friends and colleagues.  She sees a blue car, you see a blue car, you both describe it the same way, it therefore seems real and objective.  Others have referred to this as a consensus reality, a descriptor that fits well.

It is not unlike a large-scale computer game.  In a FPS (first person shooter), only you are experiencing the sim.  In an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game), everyone experiences the same sim.  However, if you think about it, there is no reason why the game can’t present different aspects of the sim to different players based on their attributes or skills.  In fact, this is exactly what some games do.

So, one can imagine a spectrum of “consensus influence”, with various realities placed somewhere on that spectrum.  At the far left, is solipsism – realities that belong to a singular conscious entity.  We may give this a consensus factor of 0, since there is none.  At the other end of the spectrum is our physical matter reality, what most of us call “the real world.”  We can’t give it a consensus factor of 100, because of the observer effect.  100 would have to be reserved for the concept of a fully deterministic reality, a concept which, like the concept of infinity, only exists in theory.  So our physical matter reality (PMR) is 99.99-something.

Everything else falls in between.

consensusrealities

Many researchers have experienced realities at various points on this spectrum.  Individual OBEs that have closely locked into PMR are at the high-consensus end of the scale.  OBEs that are more fluid are somewhere in the middle.  Mutual lucid dreaming can be considered a consensus of two and is therefore somewhere toward the low-consensus side of the spectrum.

I believe that this may be a useful model for those psychonauts, astral travelers, and quantum physicists among us.

Flexi Matter

Earlier this year, a team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, led by Randolf Pohl, made a highly accurate calculation of the diameter of a proton and, at .841 fm, it turned out to be 4% less than previously determined (.877 fm).  Trouble is, the previous measurements were also highly accurate.  The significant difference between the two types of measurement was the choice of interaction particle: in the traditional case, electrons, and in Pohl’s case, muons.

Figures have been checked and rechecked and both types of measurements are solid.  All sorts of crazy explanations have been offered up for the discrepancy, but one thing seems certain: we they don’t really understand matter.

Ancient Greeks thought that atoms were indivisible (hence, the name), at least until Rutherford showed otherwise in the early 1900s.  Ancient 20th-century scientists thought that protons were indivisible, at least until Gell-Mann showed otherwise in the 1960s.

So why would it be such a surprise that the diameter of a proton varies with the type of lepton cloud that surrounds and passes through it?  Maybe the proton is flexible, like a sponge, and a muon, at 200 times the weight of an electron, exerts a much higher contractive force on it – gravity, strong nuclear, Jedi, or what have you.  Just make the measurements and modify your theory, guys.  You’ll be .000001% closer to the truth, enough to warrant an even bigger publicly funded particle accelerator.

If particle sizes and masses aren’t invariant, who is to say that they don’t change over time.  Cosmologist Christof Wetterich of the University of Heidelberg thinks this might be possible.  In fact, says Wetterich, if particles are slowly increasing in size, the universe may not be expanding after all.  His recent paper suggests that spectral red shift, Hubble’s famous discovery at Mount Wilson, that led the most widely accepted theory of the universe – the big bang, may actually be due to changing particle sizes over time.  So far, no one has been able to shoot a hole in his theory.

Oops.  “Remember what we said about the big bang being a FACT?  Never mind.”

Flexi-particles.  Now there is both evidence and major philosophical repercussions.

And still, The Universe – Solved! predicts there is no stuff.

The ultimate in flexibility is pure data.

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Signs of Real Humanity Evolution

We humans spend a lot of time talking about and worrying about and doing stuff that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.  And I’m not just talking about the obvious things, like Real Housewives of New Jersey.  I mean stuff that the media and schools tell us is important.  Including stuff that I used to think was important – like politics, GMOs, how “big chemical” is poisoning us, the revolving door between government, finance and business, widespread corruption, and how the financial elite continues to fleece us peons.  I still think these things are important, because they impact those whom we care about.

But, from a broader, larger, and historical perspective, which party wins the election, what the stock market does, which countries rise or fall, or who wins the war, are, to quote Dr. Evil, “quite inconsequential.”  It’s like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.  Everyone dies and new humans take their place.  Every civilization declines and new ones rise.

Where is the evolution of humanity?

Evolution Devolution

It is a mistake to think it is found in science or technology.  As much as I love gadgets and the bleeding edge of high tech, products do not equate to the evolution of a species.  Cloning, nuclear power, nanotech, and 3D printing are not signs of human evolution.  They are merely examples of our ability to control matter.

Nor are medical advances that extend our life expectancy.  Does it really make sense that living longer evolves our species in some way?  On the contrary, it only causes more problems.  Humans now have to compete with an ever-increasing number of humans for limited resources.  Instead of dying of quickly of natural causes, we live past our natural life expectancy and instead die slowly and miserably, often without dignity.  And the increasing human population rapidly takes away and destroys habitats for countless species of other conscious life forms, as well as using them for cruel experimental medical research, which continues the cycle and only serves to make big pharmaceutical companies even bigger.  It is all based on the mistaken assumption that we live in a cold materialistic objective reality.  Hardly evolved thinking.

All is not lost however.  Despite the war profiteers and religious nuts that contribute to the devolution of humanity, we slowly progress in the right direction.  From the Magna Carta in 1215 to the United States Bill of Rights in 1789 to broader recognition of gender and racial equality in the 20th Century, to the fact that homicide rates have dropped by a factor of 30 in Europe over the past 500 years, it can be said that this trend represents positive evolution.

Another good sign is the general trend away from religious dogma and toward spiritual growth.  The percentage of Americans who don’t identify with a particular religious preference has grown steadily from 2% in 1950 to 16% in 2010.  At the same time, the desire for “spiritual growth” has increased from 58 percent in 1994 to 82% five years later, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll.  Why is this a sign of evolution?  Because religious dogma teaches you that you are right and they are wrong, while unaffiliated spiritual discovery almost always results in the recognition that love is what really matters.

And finally, my favorite sign of human evolution is exemplified by what India did a few months ago in declaring dolphins to be “non-human persons” with similar rights including the right not to be held captive.  Three other countries have similar laws and more are sure to follow.  I believe that this, along with a significant trend away from cruel animal practices (think free range chickens, more vegetarians, and the growth of no-kill shelters) is a sure sign that more and more humans are recognizing that they aren’t the only ones with rights on this planet.  Truly evolved thinking.

So maybe there’s hope for us yet.

You Are Not Your Body

The debate rages on, but those of us who have done the research know which side is true.

We are NOT our bodies.

I am posting this as a reference to all of the excellent scientific research that has been done around this topic so that I can easily refer to it during future blog posts.  For example…

Gary Schwartz, HaConsciousness185rvard-educated professor of psychology, medicine, neurology, psychiatry, and surgery at the University of Arizona, has done extensive research in peer-reviewed journals and several books, such as “The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death”, where he states: “consciousness exists independently of the brain. It does not depend upon the brain for its survival. Mind is first, the brain is second. The brain is not the creator of mind; it is a powerful tool of the mind. The brain is an antenna/receiver for the mind, like a sophisticated television or cell phone.”

– Here are 290 Scientific papers on NDEs, such as: K. Ring and M. Lawrence, Further evidence for veridical perception during near-death experiences, Journal of Near-Death Studies, 11 (1993), pp. 223-229, which provide evidence and support for the theory that consciousness is separate from the brain.

– Research by the University of Virginia School of Medicine Division of Perceptual Studies includes a compilation of 12 books on reincarnation, 39 articles and research papers, 3 books on NDEs, and 71 articles and research papers, all supporting the evidence that we are not our bodies.

– “Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century” was written by six interdisciplinary scientists who present years of evidence and thought that lead to the conclusion that “the mind as an entity independent of the brain or body.”

– Cardiologist Pim van Lommel’s presents 20 years of research and supporting scientific data on Near Death Experiences in his book “Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience.” “Ultimately, we cannot avoid the conclusion that endless consciousness has always been and always will be, independent of the body.”

– Harvard-educated neurosurgeon Eben Alexander explains in this article about his new book that “the brain itself doesn’t produce consciousness.” “it is, instead, a kind of reducing valve or filter, shifting the larger, nonphysical consciousness that we possess in the nonphysical worlds down into a more limited capacity for the duration of our mortal lives.”

– Kenneth Ring is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Connecticut.  In his new book, “Mindsight: Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in the Blind”, he documents 31 cases of blind people who had OBEs and NDEs who not only gained “knowledge of facts they could only have learned through a faculty like vision”, but there were also relevant eyewitnesses who corroborate their testimonies.

There is much more – this barely scratches the surface.  Don’t take my word for it, do your own research.  If you maintain an open mind, you will find that there is a boatload of supporting evidence for a separate brain and consciousness.  And pretty much no evidence to the contrary.

And yet, the idea is heretical in scientific circles.  Because it is not understood, it is scary to the closed-minded.