Holy computer, Batman!
This movie is pretty awesome, both from an artistic pov as well as philosophical, historical, scientific….a cornucopia of artistic styles and ‘ological viewpoints.
Emergent properties…I think Latif is one!
Justin Curry is utterly charming:
While this series is a bit of a tease – M theory does not really come up – it is an awesome, clear, detailed mathematical odyssey. Enjoy!
So here’s an old journal entry from June, 2005. I was reading Daniel Dennett’s Consciousness Explained and I wrote this for fun:
Let’s think about the Star Trek robot, Data. Data has cognitive and perceptual abilities, as well as organic speech production modes that enable him to respond to his environment, which is highly complex and self-created in some sense, yet Data has no feelings. Is this really plausible?
For instance, either Data feels pain and so avoids self-destruction, or, since he is composed of indestructible materials, like skin made of Kevlar and a graphene frame, he does not need to avoid injury. Say it is the latter, so that when Data smashes his finger with a hammer he hardly notices, except for some somatosensory inputs that say, “Gee, that was bad,” or, “I detect an adverse input that should be avoided,” or “I notice an impact but I do not care about it, I feel no pain.” What would cause Data to avoid or even try to avoid such impacts? Perhaps he is endowed with superior coordination by his precise computer neurocircuitry so that he doesn’t make such mistakes – no slips of the tongue, no tripping over things … is this possible?
Data must have some form of intentionality in order to speak, to carry on a coherent conversation, to understand and execute instructions, to recognize conflict – i.e. whether certain instructions cannot be carried out and how to deal with this, i.e. conflict resolution circuits/programs. Data does make some choices, so what stops him from making all his choices? What stops Data from developing, via memory and information processing, a plastic, versatile, responsive, adaptive, virtual internal universe, capable of foresight, learning and forgetting, and autonomous choice making?
I submit that Data is conscious and that he feels things as well as knows them, because feeling is integrally related to knowing. I feel because I know and I know what I feel. These are two categories of cognizance. They are inseparable, although they may be individually tailored due to differences in physical constitution and environmental or experiential opportunities. This is directly a function of a neurocircuitry that cares about things, or is designed to care about things, and creates perceptions on this basis [i.e., that the neurocircuits themselves care about informational input is the basis, the cause of their production(s) of perceptions (Dennett, Consciousness Explained – read the book, it is very good)].
Extrapolating from Dennett’s idea, we might argue that such a complex circuitry, with many distributed, caring functions, will inevitably, to some extent or other, create a consciousness of one sort or another, whether fairly rudimentary and limited or sophisticated and complex, depending upon its exposure to various environments, either limited or complex, and its ability to perceive to various degrees, what is going on in those environments, and to articulate, respond, make judgements, etc. Many of these latter functions are informed by readily available sociolinguistic, mechanistic, artistic, etc., tools with/by which the perceptual mechanisms are either enhanced or encumbered, a pandemonium, which must be sorted out, both internally and externally. These tools include memes, a term coined by Richard Dawkins, noted biologist and outspoken atheist. Memes give structure to the pandemonium and make important decisions for us about what is important and what requires attention.
Data is obviously capable of these amazing feats of imagination to a high degree. He works in a starship utilizing very sophisticated models of reality to interact, conscious modalities, or memes, that make him functional in a way that is no less than human, and by some comparisons, highly evolved, almost meta-human. Data is a representation of a stage of human development which wrestles with its realization that it is a machine. The questions raised by Data involve the limitations and the potentialities of machines in their interactions with the universe, quite literally in this case. The qualities of consciousness with which Data is endowed show the limits of our understanding of human perception and interaction, otherwise we would have a Data that was completely indistinguishable from a human, as we would know how to create such a thing.
Data also raises metaphysical questions regarding the existence of spirit. This is especially evident in Data’s lack of emotional affect and concomitant lack of propensity to develop neuroses – his lack of chaotic being-for-itselfness, his lack of uncertainty – in essence, his lack of the consequences of conscious negation and the search for personal meaning in relation to his environment, his lack of existential despair, of contingency, since he knows his creators. Data has no doubt about who he is, no questions about his own internal functions or his origin. It seems that Data is simply a given entity, finite and limited, a being-in-itself, not a being-for-itself. But is his level of interaction possible if this is so?
Perhaps, in order to create a Data, one would need to be privy to an understanding of particulate matter such that the awareness, or conscious properties of his neuronal materials and brain components were incorporated in their construction on the gain level of nanotechnology. We do not know what this would entail in terms of design or result. Perhaps a mechanical brain would require design on the grain level of conscious nanoparticles emitting awareness fields in the construction of organic perceptual fields on a virtual plane, in multiple parallel productions, which would simulate life-like awareness, to the extent of the heterophenomenological feedback in evidence – i.e., Data would say, “I think, therefore I am.” How could we refute that? But would Data then be privy to the origin of his own consciousness? And could we even explain it to him in a way that would resonate with his inner experience of his own perceptions and of the world as he is able to construct it independently? What would Data see from such a brain? Would he be crazy or sane? How could we predict or discriminate this? Would he have a spirit? Would he be alive? Would or could he die?
The incorporation of probability statistics and fields of awareness and perception would introduce a degree of uncertainty as to the resultant level of coherency and cohesion of these processes in the formation of a stable mind, exactly as we find in nature. The use of memes to provide structure for this mind would enhance the probability of a more or less workable, socially integrated thought process for Data, but the subsequent development would be unpredictable, i.e., Data would have a free will and creative abilities. Where there is much room for freedom, there is much room for error, so Data would require education and guidelines for behaviours, perhaps even punishments and rewards to elicit, out of the tremendous plethora of choices made available to him by his perceptual and reflective awareness, the desired, appropriate responses.
It seems that Data would bear the name of Schrödinger’s cat, his consciousness or lack thereof could not be predicted, his mechanical brain a box, hiding from us the actuality of whatever probability curves were unleashed therein. Observation would be our only means of certainty in this respect. In fact, perhaps the best scientific test of Data’s consciousness would be his ability to collapse an external probability wave – that observation by Data could localize particulate matter externally, so that there would be reality for Data, a real world that he experiences and not just a simulated, virtual one to which he responds.
The question raised here is the most fundamental of all, that of the consciousness of all particulate matter in its interactions universally; that is, Data could not be conscious if he were not made of consciousness. And so, the properties of matter which he observes externally are also the properties of matter which allow him to observe them. So Data does become a product of his environment and his consciousness simply an epiphenomenon of his special design, but this epiphenomenon indicates, reveals, the nature of his environment as a conscious one, a living universe, which communicates with him and which shows him immediately and completely its own design, which is for him – if not for him, than for who else? And Data claims this world as his own, “My World,” he says. Whose else could it be? Once he has differentiated himself as conscious by identifying and particularizing an external, real world, a world that is not himself, Data realizes Life, by definition.
So, our creation of a living, conscious machine entails an understanding of how to harness the living, conscious properties of particulate matter in systems which can interact to organize awareness and perception for specific qualities in the world or in reality, i.e., colour, sound, vibration, heat, cold, etc. There are obviously many ways of doing this, as the universe has shown us in nature. It has shown us that the whole of nature, the entire universe, is living, conscious material – that it is Real in the best and only sense of the term: that the universe is for consciousness and consciousness for the universe, they are not separate.
And this is how, by consciousness, we feel, or have, or know, or perceive a sense of presence, and can discriminate such things as false presences, i.e., dreams, hallucinations, or representations, as pictures, books, movies, and yet there be the possibility for confusion or mistaken instances based on the uncertainty inherent in the nature of matter itself. Because of the creative potential in the nature of matter, there is uncertainty in it; and since we are made of it, there is uncertainty in us. However, this uncertainty is bounded, as particulate matter is bounded, by consciousness, by observation, by interaction, by forces, centripetal and centrifugal.
So Data begins to conceive a narrative for himself but this narrative is bounded by the limits of his perceived world, its probabilities and experiences as he, uniquely, individually creates them. Data will discover that his perceptive and creative abilities of the universe are unlimited in terms of understanding and creating the universe in toto, but beyond that, he will be limited by his own constitution. What is beyond the universe of which he is composed is inconceivable. What is not a production of the universe is not a production of his consciousness. So Data will reach a barrier, beyond which he will call unknown or unknowable and he will call it God. He will experience alienation, limitation, contingency, despair. He will want to know it, because not to know it leaves him incomplete. He will know his incompleteness, his imperfection, his non-deity. He will examine himself and his environment for evidence of this unknown thing. He will raise questions and begin an eternal journey.
What if scientists built a time machine and a biologist traveled to Israel 30 AD? She could perhaps obtain a skin cell scraping or a lock of hair from Jesus and genetically analyze it. What would she find?
It follows from Jesus’ being truly human that he would have DNA in his cells but whose DNA would he have? It follows from current scientific understanding that Jesus must have had a blood type compatible with Mary and hence, a genetic affinity with her. If Jesus was truly human, this biological necessity would be fulfilled. Here we have an interesting irony in the biological descent of Jesus in that Adam (the first) begat Eve, whereas Adam (the second) was begotten of Eve (Mary). Further, the descent from Adam indicates that biologically, Jesus is begotten of God because Adam, genetically, was begotten of God. So this genealogy is very important as indicating descent from the original, divine genome. Moreover, it is (narratively) from this divine genome that apparently all humans are descended (barring, of course, the problematic narrative accounts indicating that there already were humans in the world before Adam and Eve descended from Eden.)
It seems the biblical accounts describe all human DNA as divine in nature and origin. It follows that Mary’s DNA is also ‘Adamic’ and this would not contradict the divinity of Jesus as a human begotten of God, since this is exactly what Adam was. So the scientist’s analysis would probably at least identify the x component of Jesus DNA to be from Mary. The y component would not correspond to Joseph. Statistical analysis, as part of the current, state of the art scientific theory, might indicate that there is a slight probability of a complete zygote occurring spontaneously and this would explain the immaculate conception indicated by the witnesses.
Adam was not God, yet Adam’s DNA was constructed entirely by God. So what, exactly, is the difference between Jesus and Adam if it is not purely biological, since both posses DNA and both were not the result of ‘natural’ zygotes formed by the combination of the DNA of a natural mother and father (and by the way, where did Adam’s x chromosome come from)? The question is one of identity. How did Adam know his identity – how did he define himself? Self-definition is the prerogative of consciousness, not biology. God gave Adam a DNA-produced ‘consciousness-machine’ and God communicated with this machine. According to the narrative, God’s presence was perceived by Adam’s consciousness-machine.
The story of Genesis 2 reveals that God walked in Eden, God was there and Adam perceived him and spoke with him. So God was perceived on a sophisticated level, the level of speech. God had already provided an environment for Adam, and created Adam’s perceptual apparatus to perfectly correspond to this environment. The environment was perceived as it was by the consciousness-machine. Since he could speak, Adam demonstrates a level of consciousness capable of self-definition (according to Dennett), so even if Adam is ‘metaphorical’, he represents an advanced stage of human development, a moral stage (cf, Persig).
Adam was able to make sophisticated discriminations about himself and his environment, and to articulate these, such as naming the plants and animals, for example. Therefore, Adam is able to discriminate between himself and God, the person presenting on his visual and auditory fields. Via the simple discriminations offered to his consciousness-machine, according to the narrative, Adam concludes, “I am not God.” As an aside, some apocryphal manuscripts indicate an altered physical state of Adam after the Fall – it is described that he wore a ‘garment’ which was taken away when he left Eden. It is also described that the animals in Eden could speak, therefore demonstrating a type of consciousness they now (post-Fall) do not. One could describe this as a ‘broken symmetry of consciousness’, in that where once there is believed to have existed a higher level of consciousness, this is not evident at our current lower level of consciousness.
In Adam’s naming of the plants and animals, he demonstrates a highly sophisticated discriminatory process and creative linguistic ability, thereby defining himself as well – “I am not any of these.” So Adam becomes an individual, self-defined, and discovers that he is alone. He discriminates differences as well as similarities between himself and God that rule out identity with God, even in ‘kind’. Adam has specified (i.e. ‘species’) himself. When God creates Eve, Adam defines her differently and even names her accordingly as attached to himself in ‘kind’ – ‘Adam’, ‘Adamah’.
The similarities between Adam and Eve and God are apparently overwhelmingly visual, hence, ‘image’ of God is the term used to specify ‘human’. Extra-canonical literature punctuates this similarity of God and his ‘image’ by giving the image special status among all created things. Adam and Eve are then given simple instructions about ‘what to do next’. They are to administrate their environment, which is given to them to look after. They are given one simple moral condition, a choice regarding the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. What is good and evil? Do they know or don’t they (assuming the snake is a liar)?
Yes they do, because on their own they comply with the moral imperative and once they break it, they know they have. Their consciousness already possesses this moral capacity, which is a thought-based conceptual realm, an abstract realm. How else could these abstract characters even live in this abstract ‘story’ environment – i.e., the story about them is the story from them. They possess the qualities from which the story derives. And so, we have ‘the fall’ of Adam and Eve. There is a distinct change in Adam’s perception of his identity, which he is able to articulate, meaning that he is conscious of it, and he is conscious of his alienation in time-space.
Alienation implies before/after (time-space). Eden was eternal for Adam – no before-Eden, no after, just ‘forever-Eden’, continual growth, beauty – consciousness of a different order, seeing the presence of God, speaking with the animals, eating the fruit of the Tree of Life. It is a static (myth-like) picture, as opposed to the dynamic, changing environments post-Fall. He is now separated from his former Eden-identity, his Eden-consciousness, his Eden-self. He now must redefine himself completely apart from God, a moral definition schematized in narrative. So he calls it ‘punishment’. Death is the result. Adam’s immediate physical perception, consciousness of God, had continually sustained and restored him. His alienation has real, physical consequences and so, Adam dies and returns to dust.
Contrast the identity of Jesus as it is revealed by his self-definition. Jesus is not conscious of alienation; in fact, he is conscious of complete identity – “I and the Father are one.” How he is conscious of this is a good question, which probably cannot be answered definitively, but there is evidence in favor of it. This evidence is presented by the witnesses, i.e., the New Testament documents, numerous historical persons, The Church, etc. This evidence is not for Jesus in the shaping of his consciousness, it is evidence of Jesus, given by him because of his conscious identity. Many of his speech-acts resulted in the evidence, indicating his sophisticated moral self-understanding: the resuscitation of Lazarus when he spoke to the corpse, as well as other resuscitations cited by the witnesses; his speaking to the physical elements, such as the storm which responded to his command. Jesus was born with this identity and he exhibited his self-differentiation in terms of ‘kind’, his species, by his authority over the whole entire created order as demonstrated by ‘miracles’.
There is no recorded period of Jesus’ life which exhibits any lack of this self-realization on his part. So, in terms of the question of genetics and their importance for the identity of Jesus as God as human, it seems the genetics are the physical setting for Jesus’s consciousness-machine which ran only the identity, “I am God” as his narrative centre of gravity. What it was like to be Jesus is impossible (and you know we do not use this word lightly in these days of probability theory) for us to know beyond the extent of our own conscious experiences, which for the most part do not include storms responding to our command or corpses coming back to life.
All I am saying, apart from the question of how he could have this consciousness, is that he did, and this is what defines him as God. We have also argued that the presence of DNA in his body does not rule out his divine identity but rather, was necessary as the seat of his consciousness, however mysterious the relation between the two remains at this point.
June 2005 (This was all Michio Kaku’s fault!)
How are we to understand the quantum model of matter? It appears that all particles are literally made of light. What the model shows is that the constitutive forces, the strong nuclear and weak nuclear Yang Mills fields are quanta of light which are exchanged within the atom, between the point particles – quarks and leptons. These fields hold the atom together. They are quanta of electromagnetism; they originated with the big bang; they are infinite in number; they are averages of constituent vibrations, apparently atemporal, crossing dimensional boundaries that are the result of the asymmetry of 10(/26) dimensional space caused by the breaking of the original supersymmetrical universe, which came apart in the creation of our 4 dimensional, visible universe and the invisible 6 dimensional universe, which collapsed.
The strong nuclear field (gluons) cannot be broken, i.e., protons do not decay. It is the force of a photon, an electromagnetic field vibration, fortified by the exchange of π mesons, also vibrations, localized light “strings”, the foundation of life. They originate in stars, formed by gravity. Protons are forced together in stars by gravity to form all the elements of which all other matter is made. Most elements are stable, except the heavier ones, whose protons may tunnel, emitting strong radiation from mesons. The strong vibrations which constitute these forces (Yang-Mills fields) look like waves in four dimensions as they total up statistically, sum over, and cancel each other out, so that their average locations in 4 dimensions make wave-like formations – forces – which seem to be non-local under special circumstances, when we look closely at their behavior (Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Bohr).
Now here is the interesting part: the string vibrations are heterotic, they cross over dimensional boundaries. This is necessary for them to be self-consistent and to form our kind of universe. This translates into atemporality, i.e., the average, wave-like forces they create travel both forwards (“retarded wave”) and backwards (“advanced wave”) in time. This is part of their ability to localize – by acting non-locally. Actually, they localize themselves through all dimensions and we only see part of their interdimensional locality in 4 dimensions. We do not see their atemporal nature, but we do see some of its effects, i.e., non-locality, inertia, interference patterns, wave-particle duality, the constant speed of light, gravity, electromagnetism, visible light, black holes, stars, matter…everything that exists is formed by the effects of their geometrical, interdimensional properties.
Gravity and light seem to be the most basic components – gravity because the graviton is the smallest string structure and corresponds to Plank sizes, and light because of its mysterious atemporal and aspatial nature. Plank’s measurement of light quanta involves a constant, Plank’s constant, a very small number, multiplied by the frequency of the light waves to give the quantum energy of a particular group of photons. This amount of energy is produced by a string vibration (in erg seconds). Same for a gravitational quantum.
It is the combination of the geometric shape of hyperspace imparting its properties to the way the string is limited in its movement and vibration that results in the quanta of photons and all other particles. This geometrical principle, or shape, is what gives the photon its power to hold atoms together, but what gives light its speed? It is also the geometrical principle – the interdimensional vibration of light quanta gives the illusion of movement in 4 dimensions, because for the photon, space and time are symmetrical. The vibrations that form light quanta are time-symmetric and space-symmetric – they move both ways at once over timespace in 10(/26) dimensions. This is how they can behave non-locally and so, hold time and space together. This is how hyperspace is made of strings, vibrating over a complex topography.
This geometry is what holds atoms together and it is the geometry of all the particles in your body. You are made of light and so, the atoms of your physical structure communicate with the entire universe by the forces holding them together.
It was symmetry-breaking that caused the vibration of the strings. Symmetry-breaking caused the release of energy that was holding the symmetry together, unstably. Light came out of the fissure of the once unified dimensional plurality. The power of light comes from its release from the originally unstable, supersymmetrical state and it lends its power to the evolving structure of the universe, along with the other forces (gravity, strong and weak nuclear), working together with them, entangled with them so to speak, in the unravelling of the original supersymmetric state of all ‘energy’ or ‘form’.
The particles which make up the world we experience have maintained their connections to each other in higher dimensions and we see this in the forces at work in and through them. The forces are evidence of the connectedness of particles in this way and of the original supersymmetric state from which they were released to form matter. The mathematics and experiments show that the universe is completely integrated – all matter (vibrations) appears to be aware (inertia), connected in an atemporal way, an instantaneous way, by forces and by the phenomenon of non-locality. All types of particles, photons, electrons, atoms, buckeyballs…, exhibit these properties.
Superstring theory model posits that all matter is symmetrical in 10(/26) dimensions; that is, all the different types of particles can ‘turn into’ all other types. It is even being argued that photons of any type can turn into matter, particles, of any type, and back again! This makes complete sense in view of the constituent role of photons in atoms at every level, i.e., that photons are matter. Also, the infinite quantity of photons emerging from atoms supports this view; whereas certain other particles, such as electrons and quarks, are maintained in the universe at constant levels – indicating a closed universe; that is, the universe must contain the photons in order for them to produce matter. Without the boundary of a finite universe, there would be no universe. However, the theory also requires an infinite number of connected finite universes. This results in the absorption by these other universes of the excess photons produced in this one.
So, ‘the universe’ is now all that is possible to exist, not merely ‘all that exists’. Without the concomitant universes, there would be an excess of energy emerging into our universe which would alter the balance of forces such that this universe would either expand more quickly than the speed of light or it would contract under too much gravity. So, in a sense, ‘the universe’ is infinite but in a more complex way, which is really kind of cool. This would explain the necessity of black holes as tunnels to alternate regions of the universe in an unimaginably complex topology, through which the excess energy must escape. It is a marvelous new world we are discovering ‘out there’ in our new quantum model.
So, we imagine that the original supersymmetric state was motionless and dark, but that this geometrical entity contained energy, or what we call ‘energy’, in the force that held it together – its form – like a giant, coiled up spring, a hyperspring. When the supersymmetry broke, vibrations of various frequencies began resonating, each frequency corresponding to a potential particle, and first came light (photons), then gravity, then subatomic, then atomic forces. The subatomic and atomic forces were resonances of light and gravity. At a certain point, quarks became ‘confined’ by gravitons and gluons. Leptons condensed from photons and became entangled with protons by bosons at slightly different resonances, dictated by 10(/26)D topology.
Time began and Space emerged from the broken symmetry, molded by gravity through interdimensional timespace symmetric resonances of the particles of which it was composed. Gravitational resonances entangled stars and galaxies, and massive black holes began to form, tunneling to new universes in order to allow this universe to normalize, or balance out its energy levels into a stable state [rather like the edge of a fitted sheet snapping off one corner of a mattress and finding a new, more stable equilibrium].
Where did the supersymmetric object come from? Why is the construction of matter so beautifully complex, astonishingly useful, astoundingly powerful, ‘magically’ integrated, mysteriously enormous and apparently impossible? I mean, all this still doesn’t really explain anything! It does not seem to have any intrinsic meaning.
Here is one fascinating implication, however. Rather than everything being predetermined, as some scientists surmise (e.g., Bell), it is possible, on the quantum model, to suppose that all of the elements in my body (my ‘consciousness machine’) are being constantly ‘oriented’ by these heterotic vibrations, these ‘future waves’, so that they know how to proceed in accordance with the universe. Therefore, my consciousness will be, to some extent (and this remains to be investigated) affected by the future, or by probable futures as a sum-over history of all trajectories. So, when I make a choice, consciously, I will, in turn, affect these trajectories and possibly alter or create outcomes at certain strategic points – as experience often shows in, say, realizations that I made the wrong choice or the right choice in relation to certain outcomes (as ‘hindsight’). It seems that I can imagine alternatives and this would not be possible if there were not really alternatives.
Perhaps relative futures that are predetermined by the heterotic nature of matter can be manipulated by the conscious will of an individual as part of the sum-over histories of these fields to either a greater or lesser extent – i.e., certain futures are more or less likely, depending on how close one is to the quantum level of determination, or on the extent that one consciously interferes with these determinations in time (or within certain macro-time and quantum atemporal limitations). That is, by a conscious act of will, I can affect the entire universe in the future; or, since it may be surmised that consciousness is, to an extent, atemporal, I may be ‘aware’ of the future in some sense…