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Rick G. Rosner: Giga Society, Member; Mega Society, Member & ex-Editor (1991-97); and Writer (Part Ten)

(More additions by December 22 – far more and with edits for Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, and Part Eleven,

Kind regards – SDJ)

Rick G. Rosner: Giga Society, Member; Mega Society, Member & ex-Editor (1991-97); and Writer (Part Nine)

(More additions by December 22 – far more and with edits for Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, and Part Eleven,

Kind regards – SDJ)

Rick G. Rosner: Giga Society, Member; Mega Society, Member & ex-Editor (1991-97); and Writer (Part Eight)

Mr. Rick G. Rosner

(More additions by December 22 – far more and with edits for Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, and Part Eleven,

Kind regards – SDJ)

84. We discussed free will.  We failed to consider other reasonable possibilities.  Two Professors of Philosophy at University of California, San Diego, Drs. Patricia and Paul Churchland, provide a tacit methodology of utility in this particular instance from their position of eliminative materialism.  We can work from elimination to clear the brush of the trail to honed operational definitions of “targeted thinking” and “informed will” without presumption of materialism because of issues related to eliminative materialism.  (What if universe’s basis equates to information rather than “material”?  An important distinction.) Not the focus of this question, methodology takes precedence in this limited domain.

I formulated elimination arguments of both compatibilist and non-compatibilist determinist universe free will and premises for possible arguments for non-existence of free will in indeterminate universe based on repeated, extensive, and precise evidence for the quantum mechanical model of universe according to experts, professionals, and practitioners in the field – whose opinions hold more gravitas than a mere undergraduate such as myself; unless in consideration of novel, more comprehensive, frameworks of thought on the experimentation around quantum mechanics, and these frameworks exist, but with elucidation of general “free will.”

Free will’s options exist in a set or space of choices.  A total set or space of logical possibilities for an individual or collective.  Free will means any selection in the total set or space of logical possibilities of choices.

Undoubtedly, we take into account physical and mental limitations. Less physical and mental possibilities reduces the potential magnitude of the set or space accessible to an individual or collective; more physical or mental possibilities increases the potential magnitude of the set or space  accessible to an individual or collective out of the total set or space of logical possibilities of choices.  Possible choices from the total set or space of logical possibilities of choices proportional to physical and mental possibilities. 

Consider: if an individual or collective set or space of choices equates to a subset or subspace Cn, then Cn exists in the total set or space of logical possibilities of choices, C; and if Cn exists within C, and if C exists with finite size, then Cn exists with finite size because of existence in the superset or superspace, C. This intersects with large, varied finites of informational cosmology.

If informational cosmology lacks infinities, and if informational cosmology describes universe, then universe and its contents operate in finites.  Informational cosmology lacks infinities.  Informational cosmology describes universe.  Therefore, universe and its contents operate in finites.  If individuals and collectives exist within universe, then they partake of this finite fundament, and if they partake of this finite fundament, then physical and mental possibilities exist in a finity too. and its contents intersect with the total set or space of logical possibilities of choices for individuals or collectives, then the finite fundaments of universe create finite choice within universe, and by implication finite total set or space of logical possibilities of moral choices maps onto this factual finite of universe.

Ethics dictates correct choices through negation of suboptimal choices and affirmation of optimal choices in the total space of logical possibilities for choices.  “Optimal” means “most moral choice(s).” More than one optimal choice seems possible, and even plausible – at least for all intents and purposes. “Suboptimal” means “less than most moral choice(s).”

Demarcation between “suboptimal” and “optimal” based on ethical code or algorithm inserted into the total space of logical possibilities of choices.  Insertion of ethical algorithm transforms the total set or space of logical possibilities of choices into a moral space of choices through an addition of a dimension – a moral dimension, which infuses new meaning into the phrase “moral dimension.”

If universe contains finite information, then this creates a finite space of suboptimal and optimal moral choices, which sum to total space of logical possibilities of choices in addition to a moral dimension for the space.  Informational cosmology states universe contains finite contents by lack of infinities, even though large limited quantities of information.  Therefore, suboptimal and optimal moral choices equate to total space of logical possibilities of moral choices.  

Free will and ethics implies moral choice.  Together – free will and ethics – imply correct/right/moral and incorrect/wrong/immoral choices in this total finite space of logical possibilities of moral choice.  Therefore, this means individual free will and ethics over time (over one or more selections) creates moral accountability.  

I argued for the possibility of an intrinsic free will to an armature external to universe from which all variegated forms of individual localized consciousness in universe could derive some degree of – along the range of logical possibility – free will.  What other interpretations of the phrase “freedom of the will” or “free will” could operate in our universe?  What other definitions exist here?  How do you define them?  How do they relate to the total finite space of logical possibilities of moral choices?

Protagoras said, “Man is the measure of all things,” meaning that there is no absolute truth. When it comes to existence, I disagree with this. I believe that we have an infinitestimal probability of not existing in the forms in which we seem to exist. More simply, the odds that this is the Matrix are just about zero, and even if this were the Matrix, its existence would imply the existence of a substantial material world (that contains the Matrix, or contains the fake world that contains the fake Matrix – at some point, you run into the Real).

But it’s harder to disregard a suspicion that ethics is a human construct with human-created rules and values. So let’s pin down ethics. We evolved as persistent organisms – organisms which want to continue to exist and which serve the continuing existence of life by surviving and reproducing. If we’re playing the game of persistence – and we’ve been built to (not on purpose by a goal-oriented entity, but as a consequence of purposeless-but-persistent processes) – an entire moral/ethical structure can be built from the game. To win the game is to maximize existence according to a set of existence-valuing principles. People can argue about the specific principles, but the general idea is not to wreck the world and not to wreck people and perhaps to make progress. It’s the opposite of nihilism.

Since we humans are discussing and determining what the existence-valuing principles should be, you could argue that morals and ethics are a human-built system which doesn’t reflect absolute truth. However, life that arises anywhere within the universe faces the same game, the same issues of how to protect life and civilization and its world. The universe itself is likely part of some system which has rules to preserve existence.

Given the one principle that persistent beings want themselves and/or the world in which they exist to continue to exist, moral and ethical systems will have great general similarities (involving safeguarding existence). So what we’re left with of Protagoras is specific precepts of morals and ethics being specific to humans. General ethical and moral principles and existence itself aren’t just human constructs.

85. You care more for “informed will” and “targeted thinking” than free will.  Other options exist here too.    In addition to this, you leave some definitions loose.  “Informed” in “informed will” comes easy.  “Targeted thinking” comes from basic intuition of “targeted” and “thinking” or definitions of them – no major problem there.

Canadian Oxford Dictionary (2nd Edition) defines the terms in a reliable fashion.  “Informed” means “give or supply information or knowledge”; “will” means “the faculty by which a person decides or is regarded as deciding on and initiating action”; “targeted” means “identify or single out (a person or thing) as an object of attention or attack”; and “thinking” means “using thought or rational judgment; cogitation.” What about the vague operational definition of “will”? What does “will” mean in an information-based ethics? How might this relate to personal valence (“emotional value”) of an individual consciousness?

Everything a decision-making entity does is based on information – the information which informs its decision (the data) in combination with the information which describes its decision-making apparatus (the hardware, software, and settings). You can’t defy the informational basis of decisions – you can only strive to understand the basis (though your decision to strive is itself based on information). Will can be understood as a decision (I will work on this paper until I pass out) or as a tendency in decisions (I will always go to the utmost extreme when working on something I deem to be of value). As such, will comes from a combination of hardware, settings, and data. A thinking entity can know itself but cannot escape that its decisions are rooted in information which is encoded in the material from which it is made.

86. If you do consider a general moral, intellectual, spiritual, or emotional progression or development, how do you view development from the basic to most advanced levels at the individual and collective level?

Should note that I live in LA, where we’re more concerned about spotting celebrities at Rite-Aid than personal growth. On a daily basis, most of my efforts to be a better person occur behind the wheel. (In LA, your morality is revealed by your driving. Many Audi drivers will have to do a lot of explaining to St. Peter.) And I often judge other people’s moral development by their posted comments on internet stories.

I like to imagine that our increasing interconnectedness leads to increasing moral development – an ethical Flynn Effect – though internet trolling indicates otherwise.

I picture people in general as having moral characteristics – levels of niceness, truthfulness, reliability, etc. – distributed in a bell curve, with most people being close to average and some outliers in positive and negative directions. When I was checking IDs in bars, I estimated that about one person in 90 would lie to me. This seemed indicative of most human behavior – generally good, with opportunistic failures (which you shouldn’t consistently expect but should be prepared to protect yourself against – it’s like defensive driving – always be alert for terrible behavior without expecting it in every instance). When dealing with jerks in bars, the bell curve model helped me keep my temper. I’d think, “Here’s somebody who’s way beyond the mean for jerkiness. Statistically, that’s what you’d expect occasionally. Should I fly off the handle at him, or wait for someone who’s even more of an outlier?” (I’d usually keep my temper.)

Having a bell curve model of behavior means that I don’t spend much time thinking about hierarchies of individual goodness. People will be people – I just try to steer clear of the horrible ones. I spend more time thinking about societal goodness because, writing for a late-night show, I got in the habit of paying attention to politics, and America currently has a bunch of terrible people in and around politics. You have a bunch of people upset about tyranny and the end of America, and these people, when they willfully and very effectively bend the truth, seem like the biggest threat to America.

But crappy politicians probably aren’t the biggest threat to America as it is. The biggest threat and biggest opportunity is change. In 10 years, America will change as much as it did in the previous 20; in 20 years, America will change as much as it did in the previous 60; in 30 years, America (and the world) will change more than it did in the previous century. Near-future science fiction presents a range of possibilities for America. The laziest SF presents stories of apocalyptic strife, some with America split into several nations. More well-thought-out work presents a daunting assortment of negative and positive changes. But no near-future fiction presents an America that’s unchanged.

Which leads to what I think is the most pressing ethical concern of our time – managing change. The wages of ignorance have always been death, but even more so now and into the future. Politicians often talk about the world we’re leaving for our grandchildren. But they never mention that our grandchildren will be very different from us, and if we want to build a bridge to them, we can’t be dipshits about technology. More technically-educated people and nations will be in the driver’s seat. (Actually, no one will be in the driver’s seat, since cars will be driving themselves.)

Technical literacy should be viewed as an ethical responsibility. Ignorance about science and technology screws you, your family, and your friends. In America, there’s a strong correlation between states where people are more likely to have anti-scientific views and states with higher mortality rates.

87. Ethics appears more in the fore of the public conversation – for the better.  I do not know the modern state of journalism, but I do have many suspicions with regards to acquisition, collation, and reportage from popular news venues.    Most seem trivial, celebrity gossip, bad, inaccurate, or, worse yet, ignorant and callous; ignorance and a hard edge become the harvesting ground for cynical charlatans, swindlers, mountebanks, liars, and sophists. A phenomena hastened by continuous motion into a service economy.  How else for their jobs to persist? They malignantly grow on ignorance, unconcern for others, and non-production – a modicum of wellbeing from solace at times, but not much else.

Without common diversionary tactics or redirecting attention from particular groups – oft seen in public proclamations on these issues, even excuses for infliction of pain upon other human beings, terrorist activity from fundamentalist national and religious groups, killing without trial in violation of international human rights, and law, by some countries, organizations, and individuals, and variegated forms of subjection, general thralldom, or objectification of women depending on the history, nation, culture, context, people, and motivations, ethics emerges in each of these particulars and their innumerable interactions – acknowledging far more numerous other instances without explicit statement, how does an information-based perspective relate to ethics?

In addition to the long-term trend of science moving humanity away from the center of the universe, there’s a long-term social trend of admitting that an increasingly large sphere of people deserve civil rights, with an implied acknowledgment that different groups – women, minorities, LGBT people – think and feel on a par with members of the most empowered class. Informational cosmology will reinforce that process. It will lead to the mathematization of consciousness, and by 2050 or so, we’ll be able to estimate the size of thinking systems. (We’ll have a number or pair of numbers which will reflect the size of an information-space.)

Having a numerical idea of the size of thinking systems and mathematical models of such systems will inform ethical questions. Is it wrong to make a chicken, with its mind-space of size X, suffer? What about a cow? A whale? A robot companion? Is it cruel to deprive someone of his AI brain booster, reducing the size of his mind-space by two-thirds? Should a copy of a deceased person’s mind-space, downloaded with 92% accuracy while he was still alive, have legal rights? Should it continue to receive a pension? Should it be able to vote? Should it be able to own things? Should video games be allowed to incorporate AIs which think and feel? How much privacy should be given to individuals’ mind-spaces? Who should be allowed to have cyber-immortality? Should reengineering of criminals’ mental landscapes to remove criminal tendencies replace punishment?

All these and many more questions about AIs and boosted brains are familiar to anyone who’s interested in science fiction. Informational cosmology will help clarify what thinking and consciousness are and will encourage and facilitate the creation of artificial and add-on thinking systems.

Our world will have more and more embedded computing devices – people (who watch TED talks) are calling it “the internet of things,” “ubiquitous computing,” “the world waking up.” Many of these devices will be of sufficient complexity that they can be said to think, which will raise a zillion new questions of ethics and etiquette. And we won’t have time to adequately answer these questions before new stuff comes along. We’ll be playing catch-up, at least until someone develops MannersMaster, an AI specialist system brain add-on. “MannersMaster has manners, so you don’t have to! Order now, and we’ll include MannersMaster Junior, absolutely free!”

I imagine a science-fiction story in which every animal above a certain level of complexity has had its intelligence boosted. Their lives become a mix of their old ways of being and new behaviors prompted by their expanded cognition. When one animal kills another, the killer is obligated to absorb and incorporate the life experience – the mental record – of the animal it’s killing. (This is also how vampires should work. Nanobots, injected via the vampire’s bite, map the victim’s brain. The victim lives on, along with a chorus of other victims, in the vampire’s brain.) I don’t imagine this will really happen – it’s just fun to think about. However, eventually we’ll have dogs and cats that live for 40 years and have the intelligence of kindergarteners (and little articulated paws for posting their selfies on Instagram for Pets).

88. You spoke in other venues for motivating intellectuals into a force for good.  Difficulties exist in mobilization of intellectuals for the good.  Academia seems to have two dominant ideological strains: bland multiculturalism and moral relativism.   Many will disagree with them without a reason.  That seems worse to me.  Alone and together, these have crippled effective ethical calculations and implementations in the Academy.  If we wish to create a force of good from intellectuals, in and out of the ivory tower, we might need to erase these failed ideological programs based on their failure to intake large quantities of ethically relevant information and compute this into effective action to solve problems inside and outside the university system. I do not state this with demeaning any particular individual or group.  Either through tacit approval or passive negligence, all have failed to combat the morally crippling effects of these two ideological strains as singletons and in conjunction.  Intellectuals have more foundational work to complete in this light.  What can intellectuals begin to do in the immediate as a force for good?

I’ll say again that people need to think about the changes the future will bring. The future will be increasingly focused on thinking, computing, and sharing information. It could be helpful to start thinking about the risks and benefits of this kind of future before it arrives.

Here’s how we might think about and prepare for the future:

If you’re in the arts, make stories set in the near-future. Picturing the near-future is hard, because it doesn’t exist yet, and it has a lot of moving parts. But people will love you for taking on the future. Look at Star Trek – it’s been around for 48 years, has spawned a bunch of series and movies, and is universally known and widely beloved, and it does a half-assed job at best of presenting the future.

Acquire scientific and technical literacy. The future’s not gonna get less filled with high-tech geegaws. Everybody should understand this stuff, so we can distinguish reasonable approximations of the truth from nonsense and don’t get fooled by bad actors – sleazy corporations, sneaky government programs – hiding behind lies. C’mon – if you can understand the math of fantasy football, you can track trends in tech.

Sharpen and systematize our predictions of the future. We do a lot of predicting of election and sports results. We don’t do much predicting of the future in general. We use Moore’s Laws to determine how small and cheap and powerful our devices will become. Futurists like Ray Kurzweil have their timelines full of predictions. But we don’t have a good overall consensus landscape of how the future might unfold. A consensus landscape would of course be wrong about a bunch of things, maybe most things, but at least it would give us practice at thinking about and getting ahead of possible issues. We’re doing a crap job of addressing global warming. Idiots and shysters are still arguing that doing anything about it is playing into some liberal, big-government scam, and those arguments seem as if they’ll continue for years to come, even as increasingly obvious effects become apparent. What will happen if that kind of paralysis-by-bullshit is allowed to play out with a faster-moving problem?

Call out cynical stupidity and anti-scientific bias in the media. News channels are full of false balance or false equivalence, with a sensible argument on one side and idiots spouting bullshit on the other, presented as equal in merit. We should be less afraid to call stupidity stupid.

If we don’t do the work of visualizing the future, it will be built for us in ways that will be less to our liking.

89. What about the long-term? How can those with particular gifts and talents contribute to society?

John Maynard Keynes said, “In the long run we are all dead.” The era of people with exceptional natural talents may be, in the not so long run, over. In some important ways, we’re living at the beginning of the end of the world. It’s premature to call this the end of human civilization and the beginning of post-human civilization, but it’s not that premature. The science fiction future is coming. It won’t be much about Mars colonies and gyrocopters. The future will be the rise of computation, with everyone being nodes in a network of stuff that thinks.

Natural talents won’t translate directly into the world of pervasive computing. The new talented might be people who figure out the most effective ways to team up or merge with technology. The most effective talents change from era to era. My friend Lance Richlin, who’s skilled in Old Masters-style painting and who painted the portrait of me which begins each part of this interview, scrambles to make a living. Four hundred years ago, his painting skill would have made him very successful. Andy Warhol was a talented illustrator, but he found great success in putting aside illustration to concentrate on the role of celebrity in pop culture. Jeff Koons is an artist-technologist, developing novel high-tech methods to create works of kitsch which acquire grace and grandeur through their sheer size and precision.

In the long run, contributions to society will come from people who find and create creative niches in the computational world. Old niches will remain for traditional artists, writers, performers, but many more new niches will open up as the world becomes more saturated with cheap computing. There will be room and need for both creators and artistic interpreters of computation-intensive technology. So, once again, my advice is to stay current on technology. And don’t be afraid to do stupid stuff. – powerful technology brings with it powerful frivolity, which often turns out to have seriously transformative effects – Twitter and other social media as tools against political repression, for instance.

90. Informed will and targeted thinking, how do these influence good and evil?

I expect informed will to generally be more good and ethical than reflexive responses. Informed will is decision-making based on thorough thinking. Often my immediate decision isn’t as brave or kind as a reconsidered decision. I’ll walk right past asking for money then be forced by my conscience to double back. Of course, doing bad can also be the result of thorough thinking. But if you consider most people, I’d guess that the average move between knee-jerk reaction and thorough thinking is towards the positive. It helps if there are societal, peer and family structures in place which support positive values. Just finished Zone of Interest, by Martin Amis, which tells about the daily lives of the people who ran Auschwitz. Everyone was highly invested in the evil they were doing and could find unlimited support for their evil from their government.

91. For everyone’s prudence, what can prevent this force for good?

I’ve yet to see self-identified clever people come together to be an effective force for positive change in general (which was the principle behind the founding of Mensa). Positive change is more likely to come from teams of people with specific skills who are motivated to solve specific problems.

92. Insofar as ethics concerns individuals’ focus on one person, this collective drain of attentional, emotional, and sometimes intellectual resources might work for good or bad, which relates to an astonishing and relatively pervasive celebrity culture devoid of a single scintilla of responsibility – even with a lack of basic knowledge about risks associated with the potential for creation of an idol without grounds.  Most people do not deserve such status because most do not earn it.   Further, most fail to heed risks and steward responsibilities implicated within increased attention, admiration, and general expenditure of collective time and resources on them.  Entrusted power means privilege; privilege implies responsibility; responsibility proportional to privilege, and therefore responsibility proportional to entrusted power.

In point of fact, you desire fame – have for decades. You spend lots of time in this pursuit.  As noted, responsibilities and risks come with it.  Based on the served quotation of Eugene Wigner from me and your return with the quote of Albert Einstein, I return the ball to you with a minor note from Ideas and Opinions (1954) by Einstein in print:

“The cult of individuals is always, in my view, unjustified.  To be sure, nature distributes her gifts unevenly among her children.  But there are plenty of well-endowed, thank God, and I am firmly convinced that most of them live quiet, unobstrusive lives.  It strikes me as unfair, and even in bad taste, to select a few of them for boundless admiration, attributing superhuman powers of mind and character to them.  This has been my fate, and the contrast between the popular estimate of my powers and achievements and the reality is simply grotesque.” (Einstein, 1954)

I observe near-universal tendencies in others and yourself.  What do people want in life?  Lots of things.  You want to be understood, liked, and respected – in no particular order.  Why the desire for fame – even glory?  Does this not appear proud or hubristic?

I agree with Einstein that the structure of fame rests on a rotten foundation, since every characteristic on which fame can be based is the result of luck, even traits that don’t seem like special gifts, such as persistence or conscientiousness. But fame being based on luck doesn’t imply a moral prohibition against trying to become famous. Many famous people who complain about fame probably secretly or not-so-secretly enjoy its benefits.

Starting when I was young, I wanted fame for at least three reasons – respect, understanding, and a girlfriend. I was nerdy at a time when nerdy wasn’t at all cute. I sometimes felt picked-on. Whenever allowed, I stayed inside at recess and read. From constant reading and looking at Mad magazine and National Lampoon and accidentally being exposed to a book of Victorian pornographic writing (and having cute third- and fourth-grade teachers), I became aware of women’s sexual desirability by age nine, which is way too young to do anything about it, especially when you’re a geek.

So I wanted to be famous. I didn’t want to be picked-on, and I wanted a girlfriend. I figured that my shot at recognition would be through figuring out the universe.

I’ve always been a little weird. Not so much eccentric-for-attention (though I do like attention) but rather, having my own ways of doing things which make sense to me but seem nuts to everyone else – taking 70 pills a day, going to the gym 5 times a day, having a OCDish preference for turning clockwise. Always figured if I were famous my quirks would be understood and perhaps accepted. Instead of “What’s up with that weirdo?” it’d be “Hey, there’s that guy who does that stuff.”

I’ve been pretty successful without being famous. Been married for nearly 24 years. Am a parent of a lovely daughter. Have been a TV writer for more than 25 years, contributing to 2,500 hours of network television and being nominated for six Writers Guild Awards and an Emmy. Am generally thought of by people who know me as not especially a prick or a douche.

I’m past the point of wanting celebrity in order to get a girlfriend. But I still want to be famous. Have had brushes with fame – was in an Errol Morris documentary, have been in three TV pilots which, like most pilots, didn’t go anywhere, occasionally get to be in a news article. None of these has caused me to reach a self-sustaining level of fame, where you get to stay famous by virtue of being famous.

But now, I kind of really want/need to be famous. I lost my longest-lasting, best TV-writing job a few months ago and am screwed when it comes to (easily) getting more TV work (even though I’m a proven writer). Met with an agent at a big agency. He said that he can’t represent me unless I have a spec sitcom pilot. But if I take a couple months and write a spec pilot, all that would do, if the agent indeed would rep me, would be to get my stuff into a stack of 200 or so submissions, out of which 1 or 2 percent of the submitters might be hired. I want to stand out from the hundreds of other submitters, and to do that, it would be helpful to have fame. (If I did write a spec pilot, it’d be about a weird genius dad with a normal family who thinks he’s half-an-idiot. Write what you know.)

Genius is very popular on TV right now – two flavors of Sherlock Holmes, The Big Bang Theory, the team of super-geniuses on Scorpion, the genius forensic techs and profilers on every murder show. CBS alone must have more than a dozen actors playing geniuses. So I want to yell, “Yo! Over here, CBS – a real person who’s gotten dozens of highest-ever scores on IQ tests, who has a theory of the universe that might not suck, who knows all the issues and behaviors associated with being a weird-ass brainiac, and who’s written more TV than all but 60 or 80 people in the city of Los Angeles.”

It’s not unreasonable for me to want recognition. You may have noticed that reality TV has made dozens and dozens and dozens of horrible people famous. At least my story is interesting. I’m not some Botox addict getting in a slap-fight at a wine-tasting. (But give me a chance – I’ll do that.) Marilyn Savant has had a nice 30-year career based on having the world’s highest IQ. My scores are higher than hers.

And let’s say my theory of the universe is at least partially correct. It could lead to big steps forward in our understanding of the world and our place in it. It could help us figure out how to make our brains work better. If some fame draws some attention to the theory, then good.

If you’ve slogged through all of the interview up to this point, you should be able to tell I’m not a BSer. I’ve spent decades trying to figure out how the universe works (when I haven’t been writing Kardashian jokes), and I’ve come up with some stuff that I think merits some attention. Yeah, there’s some “Hey – looka me!” in my fame-seeking. But, after working on a theory for 33 ½ years and having had a bunch of ridiculous misadventures, it doesn’t make me a douche to want people to check out my stuff.

93. Do you ever think you’d have made your way into this kind of theorizing without the colorful background?

The background definitely helps. Can imagine many different destinies – resentful math teacher, divorced unsuccessful novelist…. But think those versions would do some theorizing, too. Maybe not as much as this version. And they certainly wouldn’t have had this forum.


In-Sight by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-Sight, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Rick G. Rosner: Giga Society, Member; Mega Society, Member & ex-Editor (1991-97); and Writer (Part Seven)

Mr. Rick G. Rosner


Part seven of eight, comprehensive interview with Rick G. Rosner.  Giga Society member, ex-editor for Mega Society (1990-96), and writer.  He discusses the following subject-matter: The United States of America leading the world in science, technology, and innovation, strange situation for the 21st century, possible continued decline of America, example from Britain in the 1930s, news sources and liberal leaning, and possible contexts for the continued flourishing of the United States; descriptive capacity of the principles of existence, functional truth of principles of existence, and speculation on their inhering in reality; philosophers’ idea of logical possibility mirroring self-consistency, extrapolations of nested universes, the possible limit to minds/mind-spaces and their respective armatures, universe’s ability to handle contradiction, correlation establishment between two particles through close proximity and emission of energy, widespread contradiction would appear as loss of information, “spooky action at a distance” of Einstein, consideration of an infinity of mind-spaces, assumption of no maximum-possible size for an information space, constrained perspective akin to Plato’s Cave, possibility of universe finding way to communicate with “its minions,” thoughts on writing a “big ol’ space opera-ish SF novel,” 10^80 particles in active center of universe (with possible multiplication by 10^3 for all collapsed matter at T = 0), a hypothetical 10^10 step down each rung of the mind-space ladder making our universe 8 rungs from the bottom of an infinite ladder, possibility of blackish holes being the visible outputs of larger processors, and considerations of the universe containing itself acting as its own armature; Frank Drake, Drake Equation, extensions of the Drake Equation, contents of The Milky Way galaxy, Matrioshka brain out of a Dyson Sphere thought, Fermi Paradox; thoughts on Goldilocks Zone for universes existing with caveat of Occam’s Razor; infinities in informational cosmology, metric of minds, and metric of universe, lack of infinities in information cosmology, and list of possible metrics; modern cosmology, common sense, and informational cosmology on ‘empty space’; formulations of modern cosmology and informational cosmology in relation to bidirectional time and the arrow of time, and a scenario for a time-asymmetric process; other scenarios of a time-asymmetric process; summarization of discussion on informational cosmology with respect to equivalence of minds and universe, and complementary fields of informational cosmogony and eschatology; informational cosmology in relation to particles, dark matter and dark energy, gravitation and collapsed matter, and additional elements; blackish holes equal universe’s memory with thoughts on possible functions of other astronomical objects such as solar systems, gas giants, galaxies (e.g., Barred spiral galaxies, Elliptical galaxies, Irregular galaxies, Lenticular galaxies, Ring galaxies, Spiral galaxies, and so on), galaxy filiments, galaxy clusters, galaxy groups, galactic superclusters, quasars, blazars, seyfert galaxies, stars (e.g.A-type, B-types, F-type, G-type, K-type, L-type, M-type, O-type, T-type, peculiar, barium, neutron,  hypergiants, and so on), stellar groupings, variable stars (e.g., cataclysmic, eclipsing binaries, eruptive, pulsating, rotating, and so on), circumstellar matter, accretion discs, star systems, meteoroids, interstellar medium, comets, satellites, stellar streams, asteroids, planets, intergalactic space, dwarf planets, cosmic microwave background radiation, proplyds, open/globular clusters, nebulae, and voids; discussion on derivative fields of information-based cosmology including chemistry, biology, psychology, economics, and other fields amenable to the information-based program of research, and influence on education and entertainment; and everything related to informational cosmology in context.

Keywords: arrow of time, bidirectional time, blackish hole, dark energy, dark matter, Einstein, empty space, Giga Society, gravitation, infinity, informational cosmogony, informational cosmology, informational eschatology, innovation, isomorphism, logical possibility, Mega Society, mind-space, Occam’s Razor, Plato’s Cave, Rick G. Rosner, science, technology, The United States of America, universe, writer.

70. The United States of America continues to lead the world in technology, science, and innovation. America persists in its descent relative to other nations on the world stage with respect to these three domains too.  In part due to the disjunction between the level of scientific literacy of the general populace and scientists, not limited to any particular area, this trend persists across scientific disciplines with representative statistics and data collected, collated, and presented by organizations such as the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian magazine.  Moreover, this pattern appears to have continued at about the same rate for many, many years. 

We have a strange situation.  In the 21st century, nations with the desire to thrive need their populace capable of critical thought without restriction to particular domains.  Some countries will not warm to this prospect.  Information does have easy access.  Some countries’ leaders work towards active suppression of this activity – to deprive the populace of basic  information.  Others will have increased probability of flourishing with allowance of free-flow of information and education.  No doubt expedited by internet and computers.

Some interesting emergent ideals in society with increased information.  Information for self-education turned into superficial knowledge – not by necessity deep knowledge-based networks of comprehension.  Although, the possibility for such self-education might develop more general algorithms for critical thought – more important than base knowledge.  With many countries inundated with information such as the United States, I suspect some resentment from the scientific community on this matter of the general populations’ scientific ignorance with public outreach partaking of the more positive side of concern in this statistical phenomena. 

Not an easy task for a whole populace to develop sufficient skills, faculties, and knowledge, it might lead to a modified form of anarchy with implied continuous dismantling of unjustified authority.   Some might welcome the prospect; some others might not welcome it.  Insofar as the trajectories of collected information might predict the future with increasing accuracy based on the nearness to the present, these do not, and especially in further, and further, extrapolations, mean fate or destiny of a nation.  If aware and proactive, positive itineraries for society can continue with many negatives avoided or circumnavigated.

Flash back to the 1930s, one could argue for Britain’s decline due to the great minds entering into disciplines of finance rather than sciences.  Rather than generating new wealth through innovations in technology and science, smart people funneled into finance.  They dealt with existing money rather than generating wealth through innovations in technology and science.  America’s decline appears to reflect this in some ways. 

If innovation grinds to a sufficiently slow pace, America seems geared to become a technical nation with technology – plenty of technical support work – while lacking innovation into new frontiers through scientific machinery, methodology, discovery, and subsequent application for new machinery and methodological refinement – at least in prime leadership status with regards to these aspects of nation building and wellbeing.  How best to stop this possible historical pattern of societal innovatory decay connected to dissolution of the US?

Fixing society isn’t really my field. Plus, you should know I watch a lot of MSNBC (balanced a little by CNBC) and read HuffPo, Salon, and Slate and only occasionally Drudge. I lean liberal. At the same time, I’m not stupid. (Though maybe not as smart as I’d like to think.)

A great strength and a great vulnerability of the United States is our population of nearly a third of a billion. Only China and India have larger populations (much larger). Our population, our standard of living and our level of education give us the resources to innovate. But on the other hand, a large population means we have tens of millions of yahoos. And for the past 30 or 40 years, cynical conservative think tanks have studied and learned how to mobilize low-information voters. There’s always been a strain of angry dumbness in American politics, but the size of our population, the persuasive power of the internet and TV, and the amount of money devoted to persuasion have made dumbness in politics a more potent force than ever before.

Plus, the pace of change is genuinely weird and scary. If you’re conservative or if you’re old or even if you’re not, you find the world an increasingly strange place. The world hasn’t gotten so crazy so fast since the run-up to World War II. But WWII ended – the current acceleration of change won’t.

Here are some things that could happen which would help the US continue to lead in innovation:

Science-denying conservatives lose political power. This could happen as a result of demographics and/or growing disgust. Roger Ailes, who runs Fox News, is 74 and fat. What, if anything, happens when he’s no longer able to run it?

Competition with China and India heats up. During the Cold War, competition with Russia drove science education and quite a bit of publicly funded scientific innovation. Or we could productively partner with China or India.

The means of innovation continues to decouple from governmental support. The more people can innovate on their own, the more it doesn’t matter if government continues to suck.

There’s a biotech revolution. As biotech becomes more effective, providing people with extra decades of (healthy) life will become the biggest industry on earth. And the US has the largest group of consumers able to afford it.

Damage to the planet becomes an urgent concern.

So what can people do to help the US remain competitive?

Stay current – understand and embrace technology and change. The world’s gonna change with or without you. Be part of it, even if it’s scary. Because even scarier is living in some change-denying backwater and dragging down the rest of the country with you. Make reading about new technology part of your daily routine.

Sell the positive. Conservatives sell fear to people who are intimidated by change. Win people’s hearts and minds with cool, fun tech.

Be healthy and don’t die. Change-avoiders and the ignorant have unhealthy lifestyles, don’t educate themselves about healthy change, and die off sooner. Don’t be them.

71. We discussed the descriptive capacity of the principles of existence (“laws”). All describe an aspect or function of universe.  Functional truth provides confidence for operational utility.  What about deeper?  Principles of existence describe universe.  They must inhere in it too.  Why “must” they inhere in universe?  Plain and simple: principles of existence describe universe’s operation.  They map reality.  They must map onto it because of operating in it.  Correspondence warrants containment.  Otherwise, an inaccurate map.  How do principles of existence inhere in reality?  

I suppose, without knowing the math of the quantum mechanics behind it, worlds that can’t exist – that are self-contradictory – decohere – expand into nothing. I’m guessing that in a quantum computer, only the consistent solutions are coherent – they exist. Universe probably works the same way. Things that can exist, do, thorough consistency (and only get blurry to the point of non-existence at the edges). Which I guess is the same way of saying that universes are pockets of deep consistency.

But it’s not as if rules were set up at the beginning and the universe was built like a Lego set. It’s more like what turns out to be consistent gets to exist and enjoy an increased likelihood of continued existence. And it turns out these consistent worlds embody consistent systems, which don’t exactly pre-exist the universe but which are highly consistent across universes. The universe defines, reveals and refines the principles of existence as it goes along. These principles are mostly the same across universes. But they’re not used to build universes. It’s just that universes that don’t have them can’t exist. It’s bootstrappy and at the same time reflective of some unavoidable principles.

72. Philosophers have an idea of utility here: logical possibility.  “Logical possibility” parallels “self-consistency.” Logical possibility comes from philosophy; self-consistency from pure mathematics and derivative fields – as preliminarily discussed in Part Three and Part Five.

Conceptual or generalized self-consistency entitled logical possibility.  Opposed by self-inconsistency and logical impossibility. Banal examples of logical impossibility include a “married bachelor” or “square circle.”  Either a bachelor or married, but not both; either a square or a circle, but not both.  You see the point – generalized consistency.

Universe contains self-consistency, and therefore pertains to logical possibilities.  It exists.  Translation: universe does not net self-contradict.  Net self-consistency equates to logical possibility meaning allowance for universe to exist.  A circuitous path to hyphenated terms “self-consistent” or “self-consistency” once more. 

It sharpens the construct of “universe’s armature.”  Universe’s framework must have logical possibility.  Same for universe, minds’ material frameworks (brains), and minds in universe.  All require self-consistency in an information-based perspective.

Self-consistent structures derive from logical possibility because of logical possibility applied internal to them.  “Logical possibility applied internal to them” means “intrinsic components and interrelationships remain logical.” Part Five’s definition of “system without self-contradiction” – broadened in Part Seven to “system without net self-contradiction” – harnessed technical and concrete definitions. 

Far from blunting the definitional lapidary tools of this gem. We further refined as proper artisans.  “Logical possibility” equates to maximal generalized definition of “self-consistency.”  It applies the most general system of reason: logic.  Logic consolidates dominance of one discipline: philosophy.  To the consternation of some, it reigns here.  All else derives from it.

Additional issues pertain to brains and minds with self-consistency and self-consistent relationships – likewise for armature and its universe.  Furthermore, the self-consistent nature of the four major conceptualizations in informational cosmology at present – armature, universe, minds, and brains – converge to less and imply more.

Convergence of four major conceptualizations.  Brains necessitate minds; armature necessitates universe.  No brain, no mind; no armature, no universe, minds emerge from brains and universe emerges from armature.  Each reflects the other.  Brain means armature; mind means universe.  

Insofar as definitions and isomorphism permit, the four primary objects of informational cosmology converge brain into armature and mind into universe with differences in capacity.  Four objects reduced to two. Correspondence to such an extent to permit the convergence of two pairs of ideas with implication of an emergent or necessary construct.  One structure-pair, brain and armature into armature alone; another function-pair, mind and universe into universe alone; necessary construct of mind-space from armature/universe.

Ergo, informational cosmology contains two major conceptualizations: armatures and universes.  Four reduced to two major conceptualizations with emergent respective mind-spaces from armatures and universes.  All net self-consistent – without net self-contradiction – and information processing. 

Implication of nested relationships with the possibility of an infinite vertical regress of mind-spaces.  A simple nested system of self-consistency with armature and universe connected by information processing.  An informational cosmological nested system with primacy of structure from armature, primacy of function from universe, and primacy of construction from mind-space.  Armature produces universe; universe derives from armature; and mind-space constructed from respective armature and universe.  All connects to argument for universe as consciousness endowed system or mind because of net self-consistency and information processing.

In conditionals: if isomorphic geometry between brains/minds and armature/universe, and if brains imply minds, and if armature implies universe, then these equate in definition and differ in magnitude.  Implication of universe as mind bound by armature further extrapolating into another armature and universe, or brain and mind.  These mean nested systems and interrelationships among these systems.  

Insofar as our universe operates (and other universes of logical possibility operate) within principles of existence equating to mathematical descriptors (symbol systems) and respective evidential bulwarks (symbol systems mapped to scientific evidence), armature for universe external to universe equates to nested universes within respective armatures, within further universes within respective armatures und so weiter.  Armature and universe contain self-consistency and information processing.

If I may, this recapitulates earlier arguments with important extrapolations and subsequent adjunctions.  Minds within universe and universe have identities with one another based on isomorphic geometry.  By implication, universe contains operation and traits analogous to individual localized minds within itself, and therefore – and further – universe equates to a mind in philosophic and scientific terms (as an aside). 

Evidence from cognitive neuroscience would bequeath reasonable grounds for extrapolation about universe. This defines the new disciplines.  Informational cosmogony, informational cosmology, and informational eschatology describe the beginning, development, and conclusion of universe and other universes of logical possibility.   Study of every logically possible armature/universe relationship, interrelationship of all armatures/universes, and their respective mind-spaces for each.

Furthermore, universe represents operation of an armature; all minds (consciousness endowed subsystems within universe) have containment within universe.  If localized minds and universe have isomorphic operations (through time) and traits (self-consistency and information processing), and if localized minds (consciousness endowed subsystems within universe) have armatures (brains), then universe must have an armature (unknown equivalent of “brain”). 

Moreover, this validates contemplation on armature for universe too. You know the likely apocryphal yarn of the woman stating, “Turtles all the way down.”  Nested universes and respective armatures mean the prior argument extended into an indefinite number of iterations without grounds for reasonable cessation. 

In more formal terms, if brain/derivative armature equals A1, its mind equals M1, armature for universe equals A2, universe equals M2, and if these have isomorphic operation – through time – and traits – self-consistency and information processing, and if A1 and M1 have containment in A2 and M2, then A2 and M2 should have containment in an unknown A3 and M3, and these in A4 and M4, and so on.  Each An and Mn constructing their respective mind spaces, Sn.  Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) would smile. 

What does this mean for an indefinite iteration of minds/mind-spaces?  What else do you argue for informational cosmogony, cosmology, and eschatology?  How far does the regress of minds continue?  In other words, how far does the proverbial ‘rabbit hole’ persist with respect to minds/mind-spaces and their armatures?

First, about contradiction – the universe can handle quite a bit of it. Processes in the active center – fusion, the creation of life – involve the creation of information and order, the emission of energy and the settling down of protons, neutrons and electrons into lower-energy states. The active center is reshuffling and compactifying itself by finding relationships among particles.

When two particles establish a relationship/correlation by coming into proximity and emitting energy, the emitted energy serves as a contradiction check with the rest of the universe. Say an electron is captured by a proton, or an electron already in orbit around a proton falls to a lower orbit. A photon is emitted. As the photon traverses space, it’s announcing, “There’s been a status change,” and asking, “Does this necessitate a change in the status of other particles?” If the photon is absorbed by another particle, that says the initial change in status required a change elsewhere. If the photon isn’t absorbed locally, it travels farther and farther, losing energy to the curvature of space, which means it’s losing the ability to create change elsewhere. As it travels across billions of light years to the edge of the active center, it’s lost almost all ability to cause a status change in another particle or set of particles. It’s as if it’s performed a universe-wide contradiction check. Its energy has been lost to space, slightly increasing the precision with which space is defined. 1. Status change between particles with the emission of a photon, asking, “Everybody cool with this, or is it gonna cause a blip?” 2. Photon crosses space – blip of absorption if this necessitates a status change elsewhere – a mini-contradiction – no absorption if no problem. 3. After traveling for billions of years, photon has lost almost all energy to space, and a little bit of additional order has been created.

Widespread contradiction would look like the loss of information. Blasting a part of the universe with a bunch of energy would destroy its order and information. Information lost in a leaky blackish hole would be lost to heat energy – matter would collapse, heat up as in a Big Bang run backwards, and relationships among particles would be cooked away. An entire universe that’s losing information is doing so by heating up. It shrinks, the Cosmic Background Radiation increases in temperature, making it more disruptive. Information and order are lost.

We could also look at “spooky action at a distance,” as Einstein called quantum correlations which apparently travel faster than light. A photon emission and capture is a handshake between the present and the future, (Except for the photon itself – photons, traveling at the speed of light, never see any time pass. They exist in an eternal present of zero duration.) (The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiment – a thought experiment prompted by Einstein’s loathing of “spooky action” is a linked pair of handshakes between present and future.) The history of the active center of the universe is, in part, the systematic arrangement of these handshakes to minimize their duration (a minimization in time and space). Cause-and-effect, non-contradiction, space itself and time itself might be consequences of or at least accompaniments to this systematic arrangement. Every handshake is a contradiction and a link in a mesh of cause-and-effect, a mesh that tries to maximize the handshakes’ localization and predictability.

Now for the infinite stack of mind-spaces. If every mind-space requires an outside armature that is itself located in another mind-space, then this implies an infinite chain of mind-spaces and armatures. (The chain can terminate at the small end – you can have a mind-space that’s so small that it doesn’t include the armatures for any smaller mind-spaces.) Infinities are troubling, but at least the infinities associated with mind-spaces are aleph-null, the lowest degree of infinity – the infinity of the counting numbers. This assumes that each mind-space can be described finitely – that it doesn’t have unavoidably infinite gradations of anything.

I’m assuming that there’s no maximum-possible size for an information space and that everything that exists does so as part of (or all of) an information space. These are big assumptions, but fine for a short discussion. If there’s no limit on size, then there’s no immediately apparent insurmountable problem with an infinite chain of mind-spaces within mind-spaces.

It’s not like we’ll ever see all the way up the stack of mind-spaces. (Our constrained perspective make’s Plato’s Cave look like a view of a 100-inch high-def flat-screen slice of raw, unmediated reality itself.) But it’s not unreasonable to imagine that the universe might figure out a way to communicate with its minions in its mind-space and tell them what’s what. It’d be nice to know what the universe is the mind of, and it might be helpful for the universe. Most likely to know are the ancient civs possibly hanging out at the centers of galaxies. They might officially be working for the universe, helping it do its mental business (with greater precision).

If I were going to write a big ol’ space opera-ish SF novel, it would concern humanity’s attempt to travel to the center of the Milky Way, to find out what’s going on, but stealthily, so we don’t get swatted down by the big, old civs.

The universe has about 10^80 particles (in the active center – maybe multiply that by 10^3 to include all the collapsed matter around T = 0). The million-stellar-mass black(ish) hole at the center of the Milky Way might have about 10^64 particles, which might be the armature for a mind-space of 10^60 particles, a step-down by a factor of 10^20 between the mind-space of the universe and the biggest mind-space in the universe, unless the central black hole has more information on the inside than is apparent from the outside. So just for fun, figure there’s an average step-down of only 10^10. Even with that fairly small step-down, our universe is only about eight rungs from the bottom of an infinite ladder. Unless…

…blackish holes could be just the visible outputs of possibly much bigger processors. Could be – quite likely is – that information-spaces can contain information outputs from information-spaces much bigger than themselves. I guess that doesn’t really affect the laddered hierarchy – the armature of the complicated processor is probably part of the same external universe as the armature of the mind-space it’s feeding information into. Anyhow, our universe, big as it is, is very close to the bottom of the ladder of universes within universes. Things get really big if there’s no governor on the size of things that can exist.

Not that such hugeness is visible to us – we’re thoroughly a part of our fairly small universe, and furthermore, we’re a product of a single long moment of the universe. We’ll need luck and great leaps forward in complexity and understanding to survive as a civilization beyond this moment.

Can a universe contain itself – be its own armature and thus avoid the infinite ladder of universes? I don’t see how. (But of course I know almost nothing.) The mind-space would be minding just itself, self-referentially shielded from any reason for existence. Even if you could have an information-space that’s equivalent to its armature, wouldn’t that armature need to be a material presence in an external space?

73. Frank Drake proposed an equation mapping onto the probability of extraterrestrial/alien life with active radio communication technology. A widely-accepted probabilistic metric of advanced civilizations.  Moreover, one can remove the additional specifications of the theory for estimations of lesser, and lesser, degrees of advanced life.  He proposed a single equation to distill the probabilities:

(N=R*fpneflfi fcL

Each in brief:

  • “N” means “The Milky Way galaxy civilizations with detectable electromagnetic emissions.”
  • R*” means “rate of star formation acceptable for intelligent life’s development.”
  • fp” means “fraction of stars with planetary systems.”
  • ne” means “planets per solar system with acceptable habitat for life.”
  • “fl” means “fraction of acceptable planets with certain emergence of life.”
  • “fi” means “fraction of acceptable planets with certain emergence of intelligent life.”
  • “fc” means “fraction of civilizations with technology capable producing detectable signs in space.”
  • “L” means “span of fc in intelligent life and their civilizations.”

Most expert critiques consider the last four variables hard to measure.  It may seem complicated, but each new variable builds, i.e. specifies, on prior variables.  You simply follow the steps.  If one removes “fi“, the equation produces probabilities for emergence of life rather than intelligent life.  Duly note, if you remove one variable, you effectively remove subsequent numbers of higher specification.  Latter variables build on former variables in specification. 

In universe with ultra-deep cosmic time and multiple unfoldings through tremendous numbers of “little bangs” rather than one “big bang” based in neutron cycling, how does the Drake Equation operate? 

In my humble consideration of Drake’s venerable work, not an expert, but he did not seem to extrapolate far enough – do not know of others.  I consider two additional variables of substance.  He limited “N” to The Milky Way galaxy.  Another variable needs inclusion based on best estimates of galaxies with habitable life.  Galaxies might have a “Goldilocks Zone” akin to range of planetary orbits suitable for the development of known kinds of life.  Rate of life-permitting galaxies labelled “G*” in a Drake-Jacobsen Equation for our universe.  New formulation becomes the following:

(N=G*R*fpneflfi fcL

One might include an additional variable on life-permitting universes too.  “U*” for the rate of life-permitting universes in the total set of logical possibilities of universes.  With the first addition of “G*” in the modified equation, we produce a modified “N” meaning “galaxies containing civilizations with detectable electromagnetic emissions.”  In the second addition, we produce a further modified “N” meaning “set of logically possible universes containing civilizations with detectable electromagnetic emissions.”  The second extrapolation of the formulation becomes:

(N=U*G*R*fp⋅neflfi fcL

Moreover, the non-arbitrary definition of “detectable electromagnetic emissions” – as an adaptation of Drake’s definitions – does narrow the range; however, we do not know the precise forms of life, if indeed beyond the DNA-based, and the expression of intelligibility including those outside of the use of technologies with detectable electromagnetic emissions.  One need merely redefine the former variables appropriately – in a self-consistent way – to extrapolate on a more specified or less specified definition of extraterrestrial intelligent life with detectable activity.  If Drake can string assumptions together and name a formula after himself, then I can string assumptions together off Drake’s and adapt various forms of a Drake-Jacobsen Equation.

How might the Drake Equation work in an informational cosmology view?

The Milky Way contains at least 100 billion planets. There’s nothing so untypical about our solar system that we can’t imagine similar conditions existing on many millions of other planets in our galaxy, not to mention the more than 100 billion other galaxies in the universe. Informational cosmology suggests that it’s pretty hard to avoid the creation of life and, eventually, thinking organisms.

Thought isn’t this magical thing the creation of which requires the touch of a wand from on-high. Thought is flexible information processing which can bestow evolutionary advantages. In the random spread of organisms to occupy evolutionary niches, the niche of thought has likely been occupied on a multitude of different planets.

And once occupied, the niche probably doesn’t get unoccupied. Yes, we’re fucking up our planet. But we’re not fucking it up so terribly that we won’t be able to fix it. We’re about to enter the era of smart everything. I remember when, in 1974, my family’s first computer chip entered our house in a primitive four-function calculator. Now, our home contains at least a dozen computers or computer-like devices with trillions of times the computing power of that first chip. And that’s nothing – we’re far from the limit of Moore’s law. In the past 50 years, the cost-per-calculation has dropped by something like a billion-fold, and it will keep dropping. We’re about to be surrounded by computation, and we’ll increasingly merge with our computing devices.

This has probably happened on some crazy number of planets. Recent science fiction has it playing out like this – an advanced civilization devotes increasing amounts of resources to computing, eventually dismantling entire planets to build a shell around its sun – a Dyson sphere – or multiple shells – a Matrioshka brain – to capture more energy for computing.

Computing might be the answer to the Fermi Paradox. (With regard to space aliens, Fermi asked, “Where is everybody?”) If it’s more profitable in terms of knowledge to stay home for the most part and devote resources to computation and simulation, civilizations will stay home. It’s not computationally efficient to have a far-flung galactic empire because the speed of light puts a speed limit on communication. Better to build your empire around a single star, where the exchange of messages will take hours at most rather than years. And once you outgrow your Matrioshka brain, maybe you set up shop around or in a blackish hole, which gives you a bunch of matter in a much smaller space for faster communication and computation.

There’s no non-weird answer to the question of aliens. No aliens anywhere? Weird. Aliens? Weird! Aliens colonizing space? Weird. Aliens not colonizing space? Weird. But everything is weird. We’re on a ball of rock orbited by a smaller ball of rock which both orbit a huge ball of hydrogen atoms undergoing fusion? Weird. Weirdness is a less-than-reliable guide to the validity of a theory.

In a Big Bang universe, it’s unlikely that there aren’t a bunch of civilizations a million years old and more. Unless something consistently wipes out civilizations, which would be weird. Or civilizations link up or are colonized into super-civilizations extending across swaths of the galaxy. So the question becomes, what does a civilization do for a million years or ten million or a billion? I’d guess that there’s some principle that the number of interesting things to do increases along with the computational power of your brain (or your brain plus your super-computing add-ons). Otherwise, you and your civilization would go nuts from boredom.

In an informational cosmology universe, civilizations could survive for longer than the apparent age of the universe. You could have civilizations tens or hundreds of billions of years old or more. I’m guessing that if this is the case, then such civilizations are very involved in the business of the universe. They have a good idea of the universe’s objectives, and they help with its operations. A big, old, highly organized universe might include highly developed technicians. Kinda doesn’t make sense that it wouldn’t.

I imagine that, among other things, long-lasting civilizations might be able to manipulate quasars to hose down dormant galaxies with neutrinos, awakening those galaxies. (Can also imagine this might be wrong and dumb.) Can’t imagine how a civilization or entity could persist for 100 billion years without going stir-crazy, but it has 100 billion years to figure out fun things to do. (A hundred billion years is the ultimate endless Sunday afternoon.)

74. What about the Goldilocks Zone for universes existing?

I don’t think there’s any optimum size for a universe, except that really tiny, fuzzy ones are on the borderline of existence. And to have creatures inside it that can speculate about the universe, you need a universe of a certain hugeness, though such creatures aren’t essential – they don’t grant the universe existence by observing it. The universe observes itself. (That is, the matter in the universe defines itself through its interactions.)

If every universe is an information-space supported by an armature in a universe external to that information-space, that implies an endless chain of universes, each with an external armature supporting it. This is disquieting – we live in a huge universe, which is supported by an even larger external universe, etc. Seems like Occam’s Razor might scoff – “Your concept implies an infinity of universes, each one more gigantic than the one before? That’s simple – not.”

75. What role do infinities play in informational cosmology? How about metric of minds?  How about metric of universe?

I don’t think there are infinities in informational cosmology. I think everything’s the result of a finite number (though often fantastically huge) of interactions in finite though tremendous time and space. Fuzziness and the finite nature of information save us from infinities. For instance, you can’t get two particles close enough together to have infinite gravitational force between them – their fuzziness means they can never have zero distance between them – it’s impossible to specify distance with infinite precision.

To indicate the size of an information-space, there could be various metrics – total number of particles, apparent age, apparent size, scale – the DeBroglie wavelength of a proton compared to the average distance between protons, maybe even the proton-electron mass ratio or the number of levels in the hierarchy of clustering (solar system, galaxy, galactic cluster, supercluster).

76. Modern cosmology found ‘empty space’ weighs something. Common sense might think empty space weighs nothing.  In informational cosmology, does apparent empty space weigh something or nothing? Does empty space contain something or nothing in informational cosmology?  Does ‘empty space’ suffice for a proper title?

Common sense believes that nothingness is the natural, default state, and that anything else requires an explanation. In actuality, everything including nothingness requires an explanation, and nothingness is a very unlikely state.

I don’t know if space weighs anything. In informational cosmology, space has to be specified – given shape and scale and size by the relationships among the matter it contains. Don’t know if this implies that it has weight. Apparently empty space does have a lot of stuff in it – zillions of photons and neutrinos crossing every cubic centimeter of space all the time. And space is bubbling with virtual particles which are probably part of the universe’s bookkeeping, in that virtual particles reflect relationships among actual particles. So empty space isn’t empty.

Two of my ideas in particular need to be mathematicized and put into an overall system of how the universe defines itself – that protons’ and neutrons’ relatively heavy masses have to do with the amount of collapsed matter in the universe, and that space in the active center is further defined by interactions among charged particles.

The exchange of distance-traversing particles – photons and neutrinos – defines and organizes space via Hubble sorting – giving clusters of matter their own unique apparent velocity vectors.

When I was working at Anthony’s Gardens, at the time America’s biggest outdoor bar, in the 80s, one of the other bouncers, Larry Reimers, a tough, competent Vietnam vet, would break up fights using spatial sorting. Instead of grabbing people who were brawling, he’d walk into the middle of the tussle and shove everyone in different directions. The brawlers would stumble several steps backwards. Continuing to shove drunk idiots as they tried to get at each other allowed Larry to handle fights that otherwise would’ve required more bouncers. (Not being as competent or as brave as Larry, I’d come up behind a single brawler and try to put him in a sleeper hold, which I didn’t know how to administer – nobody ever went to sleep. I’d grab the guy around the neck. Customers would scream that I was choking him, so I’d let go, and then he’d turn around and hit me, so I’d put him in an incorrect sleeper hold again.)

The universe sorts itself out by exchanging particles. Over billions of years, particles’ kinetic energy is translated into Hubble sorting – large-scale structuring (and, I suppose, indexing – with the structure allowing for retrieval of information when needed). A photon traversing the universe loses its energy to the curvature of space (the universe being one huge gravitational well). But the loss of this energy helps define space, so the lost energy is turned into order. (Hence, no entropy on a universe-wide scale.)

The collapsed matter hanging out in collapsed space close to T = 0 is Hubble sorted – relativistically segregated. It doesn’t all coalesce into one big blob. Every collapsed galaxy or cluster has its own unique Hubble vector, with all the vectors separated by what must be, in that neighborhood, a pretty severe (equivalent of a) cosmological constant.

77. You provided extensive discussion of informational cosmology. I formulated modern cosmological and informational cosmological conceptualizations rooted in information theory from Shannon and Weaver (1949) in one question for each:

  • In modern cosmology, we ask, “What if the contents of the universe equals input, process equals laws plus time, and output equals transformations of the contents (e.g., particles, fields, forces, and so on) of the universe?” 
  • In informational cosmology, we ask, “What if bit units of universe equal input, process equals principles of existence plus time, and output equals transformations of bit units of universe?”  

How does the former relate to bidirectional time?  How about the latter?

The arrow of time should point into the future whether we picture the universe as a thinking entity or only as a set of physical processes. The arrow of time should make sense when thought of from both points of view. For the physics to have a time arrow, you might need to have time-asymmetric processes. On a large scale, we have these. Physical processes are only reversible across small distances. Traversing millions of light years, neutrinos and photons lose energy to the curvature of space, energy they wouldn’t get back if you bounced them off of a mirror and sent them back to where they came.

This is true for a uniform Big Bang universe (everything’s the same everywhere) and even more so for an information-based universe, which isn’t spatially uniform, with most of its collapsed matter hanging out in its smallish outskirts, making the collapsed outskirts much less transparent to neutrinos than the active center. Neutrinos are created through fusion in the active center and travel largely unimpeded to the outskirts. It’s a large-scale, one-way process. It doesn’t work in reverse.

Are large-scale one-way processes sufficient to propel the arrow of time? Does the arrow of time need to be propelled, or is the entire idea of the potential reversibility of time a misconception based on thinking of physics as a set of small-scale reversible processes? I don’t know.

Though small-scale individual physical events can be run in reverse without violating the rules of physics, events don’t happen in isolation. Events are part of moments. In our minds, moments are what we’re currently aware of. This might also apply to the universe itself, but even if not, a moment can be seen as what’s currently happening in the universe (from a particular vantage point or in the universe as a whole). Each moment contains information about the present, which includes information about the past (which contextualizes the present) and predictive constraints on the future. Each moment predicts its immediate future. An arrow is built in.

78. What about other scenarios with the possibility of a time-asymmetric process?

With regard to time, I think the biggest question is, if the universe is vastly, wildly ancient, with its Big Bang age only an apparent age, why does the universe look so precisely as if it had a Big Bang? The answer must have to do with the nature of information. (Or with me being wrong. But I’m not.) The active center of the universe is where new information is being formed. Protons entering the active center are new – either they’ve been created from neutrons in collapsed matter, or they’ve come from a soup of unstructured primordial matter around T = 0. (I picture space around T = 0 consisting of collapsed galaxies, separated by their Hubble/general relativistic vectors along with a large local gravitational constant, all suspended in a dense primordial soup.)

All the protons are new, though most of them are contextualized by the once-collapsed and now uncollapsing galaxies they’re part of. They all enter the active center from close to T = 0. The protons’ (and electrons’) interactions with each other puff up the space they share in what looks like a Big Bang. Galaxies don’t have to all enter the active center at the same time. Since all galaxies enter from close to T = 0, more recently lit-up galaxies look like they’re located in part of the universe that’s distant from us, so we’re seeing them earlier in their existence.

The proton interactions have to start from around T = 0. They have to create the space they’re in – the active center, which, as galaxies light up, expands like a Big Bang universe. The protons and their galaxies create information through a shared history that plays out in what looks like a Big Bang – they enter at the beginning of apparent time, and space expands around them.

Some conceptual trouble comes when galaxies burn out. They recede from the active center, which means they’re moving backwards in apparent time. I guess this is okay. Observers within a burned-out galaxy would see something like a Big Crunch, I suppose.

The apparent age of the universe could stay roughly the same for a very long time, as newly lit-up galaxies enter from near T = 0 and burned-out galaxies recede back towards T = 0. Or the apparent age can change as more or less business is done in the active center. You could have relatively few galaxies in the active center, with the universe kind of being asleep, or you could have a relative multitude.

79. Let’s summarize some of the back-and-forth from our discussion of informational cosmology. We’ve covered the equivalence of minds and universe; isomorphic operation and traits of minds and universe. Informational cosmology implies informational cosmogony and informational eschatology too. Brain/mind converging into armature/universe.  Armature/universe constructing mind-spaces.  Possibility of armatures/universes and respective mind-spaces extrapolated in positive magnitude without reasonable grounds for cessation.

You have some primary derivative constructs such as a series of little bangs in a neutron cycle rather than a single big bang for the universe, ultra-deep cosmic time, Hubble Redshift based on information, a flat universe (compared to open or closed). What are the primary elements of the physics you’ve presented here?

Information in the mind and information in the universe have strong structural and dynamic equivalences. The physics of the universe is analogous to information-processing in thought.

The optimal map of information within a mind-space or information-space has the same properties of the universe – same 4D space-time and same physics.

Consciousness is a technical property of wide-angle information-sharing.

The universe is probably conscious.

The universe extends across ultra-deep time, with the current 14-billion-year or so current unfolding of the universe being a single (computational) moment in a long series of such moments. (The universe can think about more than one thing at a time, and series of thoughts can continuously fade into each other, but shifts in what the universe has under consideration generally take billions of years.) The unfolding of the universe for what appears to be its apparent age is more or less the equivalent of a single thought. The universe thinks many, many thoughts across an ultra-deep span of time.

There’s an ongoing series of Little Bangs. The universe didn’t explode once, 14 billion years ago. It’s been on a rolling boil for a fantastic span of time.

Galaxies recycle, lighting up and helping for the universe’s active center, burning out and being pushed to the outskirts (around T = 0), and lighting up again when needed.

The apparent age of the universe is an indicator of the amount of information in the (active center of) the universe.

An information-based universe is essentially flat – it won’t expand to infinity or collapse to nothing. The size of the universe is proportional to the amount of information it contains.

An information-based universe appears to have Big Bang mechanics, with all galaxies’ (Hubble) expansion vectors apparently originating from a single point, and with a history of proton-mediated interactions stretching back to what is apparently the early universe.  There was no Big Bang.

The Hubble redshift is due to the nature of information. Parts of the active center of the universe which have less to do with each other (less information in common) are more redshifted relative to each other.

80. In relation to particles, modern ideas such as dark matter and dark energy, gravitation and collapsed matter, Cosmic Background Radiation, and proton-electron mass ratio, what other elements come from informational cosmology?

The five persistent particles do most of the universe’s information-processing and memory-keeping. Other particles are largely helpers and bookkeepers.

Dark matter responsible for the flat galactic rotation curve isn’t exotic matter – it’s regular collapsed matter – neutron stars, blackish holes – which has survived previous galactic cycles. (There might be issues here with metallicity – heavy elements contained in stars – and absence of microlensing.)

Gravitation is most commonly seen as following the inverse-square law, but gravitation is informational, with the shape and scale of space determined by the distribution of and relationships among particles, which means that on the very largest scales, gravitation probably isn’t inverse-square. (It behaves as if there’s a cosmological constant.) This may also account for what looks like dark energy. (General relativity addresses the shape of space. It doesn’t have as much to say about the scale of space. (I think.))

Probably don’t need gravitons. The net result of other types of interactions (electrogmagnetic, the weak nuclear force – neutrino stuff) probably accounts for gravity without requiring special particles.

The Cosmic Background Radiation is noise/uncertainty. The more organized the active center is, the more CBR is attenuated.

The proton-electron mass ratio is proportional to the ratio of collapsed matter to non-collapsed matter. (Which means it might be proportional to the ratio of neutrons to protons (or, in the case of blackish holes, at least what look like neutrons when observed from outside the blackish holes).) Collapsed matter helps specify matter.

Collapsed matter contains memory of past interactions or other specification mechanisms such as processing of external information (within the collapsed matter).

81. Blackish holes equal universe’s memory.  What about other astronomical objects? For instances, solar systems, gas giants, galaxies (e.g., barred spiral galaxies, elliptical galaxies, irregular galaxies, lenticular galaxies, ring galaxies, spiral galaxies, and so on), galaxy filiments, galaxy clusters, galaxy groups, galactic superclusters, quasars, blazars, seyfert galaxies, stars (e.g.A-type, B-types, F-type, G-type, K-type, L-type, M-type, O-type, T-type, peculiar stars, barium, neutron,  hypergiants, and so on), stellar groupings, variable stars (e.g., pulsating variable, eruptive variables, cataclysmic variables, rotating variables, eclipsing binaries, and so on), circumstellar matter, accretion discs, star systems, meteoroids, interstellar medium, comets, satellites, stellar streams, asteroids, planets, intergalactic space, dwarf planets, cosmic microwave background radiation, proplyds, open/globular clusters, nebulae, and voids, what about possible novel astronomical objects?

Don’t think you get quasars without collapsed matter at the center.

Think there are a variety of collapsed matter structures – memory (mostly sits there), sensory information feeds (comes in semi-processed, is a spraying hose of information), reduced information feeds from semi-conscious to unconscious processors (in ourselves, walking, breathing). Also have leaky blackish holes – information goes in, gets lost forever – universe’s armature doen’t hold onto it. Would guess that any celestial objects behaving spectacularly are doing something interesting with information.

Also have to talk about the Cosmic Microwave Background, which is basically noise. By organizing itself, universe has managed to reduce its impact. It’s like three degrees? So it doesn’t have much power to cause heat-based disorder. If it were 100 degrees, it would make it harder for the universe to order itself – stuff would be getting randomly knocked around by stray photons.

Think that any aggregating celestial body is an incipient idea. Bodies coalesce, and as they boil down over billions of years, they become more sharply defined mental objects – representations of fork, cube, tire, movie cliche, messy 2010s hair, shininess, the letter B – lots of fairly specific mini-umbrella concepts. The concepts can feel kind of arbitrary – clustering is choosing. To form one classificatory concept is to preclude others (which doesn’t drive them out of existence, but which makes them less handily referenced, I suppose).

Black holes aren’t black – they’re blackish. Their crushing gravitational force isn’t as crushing as traditionally thought, because interactions among particles within the blackish hole reduce the scale of space.

Blackish holes store and process information. Most of this information is retrievable

The universe has three spatial dimensions because information is generally limited to holding open – specifying – three dimensions. (Specifying dimensions takes information. Information-in-common/not-in-common with the point of observation specifies the polar axis. Points with the same amount of information-in-common with the point of observation form a sphere (centered on the point of observation).)

The general mechanism for specifying matter and space is Hubble sorting of matter. That is, the more matter that has its own unique apparent velocity or acceleration vector away from other matter (and the greater the vector’s magnitude), the more precisely matter is located within space.

Photon flux keeps space open in the active center of the universe. (Alternately, virtual photons keep space open.) In essence, an array of Hubble-shifted protons keeps space in the active center open, making space extra voluminous via the specifying activity of interactions among charged particles. As protons and electrons cook down into neutrons, space starts to close up.

Neutrino interactions are time-asymmetric. (This is within the large-scale arena of the universe, but where else are they gonna interact?) Neutrinos are emitted in the active center through fusion, pass through the active center which is largely transparent to neutrinos, and are absorbed by the collapsed matter at the outskirts (where the neutrinos have been slowed down, increasing their capture cross-section, and where there’s a bunch of neutrons close together). Photon interactions are also large-scale time-asymmetric – they lose energy traversing great distances. You can’t run that in reverse and have photons pick up energy. Is this enough to specify the arrow of time? Seems like it. Does the arrow of time need to be specified? Probably – some large-scale framework needs to keep all the essentially reversible small-scale interactions in line.

Space seems organized to minimize the total distance traversed by particle interactions. And time seems organized to maximize the number of interactions per unit of time. (This is tricky, because the scales of space and time are self-determined, but still doable. In temporal terms, this means a distribution of events that’s as evenly spaced as possible. In spatial terms, it means efficient clustering.) The universe might also be arranged to maximally specify (predict, determine) the immediate future and/or to maximize the information obtained from the immediate future.

Universe as a whole doesn’t have to increase in entropy. Energy lost to the curvature of space is translated into increased order (via Hubble sorting).

Protons are units of potential correlation. They act as variables or dimensions, correlating via proximity. When two protons are so near to each other that they’re essentially perfectly correlated as a single variable, they fuse, locking down one of the protons as a neutron, with a single proton interacting via charge.

82. What about derivative fields in an information-based cosmology?  How do they change?  How does this effect fields such as formal sciences (logic, statistics, computer science, systems science, and mathematics), social sciences (anthropology, archaeology, criminology, sociology, psychology, and so on), natural sciences (biology, chemistry, earth sciences, and so on), humanities (linguistics, literature, arts, philosophy, religion, and so on), professions (law, education, divinity, and so on), and others amenable to the information-based program of research?

We can hope this fits into the tech boom which will empower people, make them less stupid, leave politicians in the dust. Of course that’s optimistic. But we’re at a 100-year low point in American politics. It has to get better, especially as people get less dumb. If it doesn’t get better, then America eventually ceases to be a first-world country and turns into a cowboy theocracy. Dozens of SF books present different versions of this, including Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, Cory Doctorow’s and Charles Stross’s The Rapture of the Nerds.

Understanding that consciousness can be mathematicized is the last major conceptual hurdle to having programs that research all aspects of human physiology. Consciousness has been ignored for being too nebulous, too disconnected from the body. But to truly pursue immortality or even healthy extended living, we have to understand consciousness. Once we understand that consciousness is something we can aspire to work with, that opens up new research angles in what, up to now, has been brain research. Doing brain research without a mathematical model of consciousness is like trying to build computers and software without the benefit of display screens.

Impact on psychology: If you read a lot of brain research, you can get a pretty good idea of how thoughts are assembled. But a model of consciousness that specifically addresses how thoughts might play out in a mind-space gives you a bigger set of tools for observing thought. Minsky’s society of mind, built up from simple, mindless mental agents, is a good place to start. But you generally can’t observe your mind working at the agent level – they’re too small. You can, however, observe different perceptions and half-formed thoughts competing in your mental arena. I can observing my mind battling about whether I should get out of bed or get out of the tub. (Often, it takes me observing, “This lazy battle has been going on too long – I’m just gonna get out of the tub now” to get me out of the tub.) You can watch yourself telling yourself, “I knew that chair was there – why did I walk into it?” Truth is, part of your brain sensed the chair was there immediately before or just as you walked into it, but not soon enough to avoid the chair. You got your chair warning too late, but part of your brain misunderstands it as a timely warning and says, “I knew that was gonna happen.” Yeah, you knew it was gonna happen because it did happen, and chatter among parts of your awareness doesn’t come time-stamped. Anyhow, having a physics-based model of mind-space is very handy for understanding the mechanics of thought and memory and subconscious processing.

Impact on economics: In the next century, the world economy will get kicked in eight different directions. Among the things weirding-out the economy will be – accelerating pace of technological change, reduced cost of essential goods, in-home manufacturing, increasing population, destruction of the environment and massive clean-up and preservation projects, changing sources of energy, a biotech revolution, possible epidemics abetted by failure of antibiotics. The longevity business – selling extra years of healthy, somewhat youthful life – will become the biggest industry on earth. But uncoupling consciousness from the human body (beginning 40 to 60 years from now and becoming commonplace by the middle of the 22nd century) will be more economically disruptive than all these other things. Almost all of our economy is involved with the physical needs of the body. Increasing numbers of people will choose to make some of these needs go away. We’ll have the human economy fading into the transhuman economy.

Impact on education and entertainment: Eventually we’ll have knowledge and expertise on-demand. To the extent that classroom learning continues to exist, it will be for socialization more than for academics. Information and entertainment will be piped into our heads with increasing directness.

You can read about this stuff in good near-future SF novels. Informational cosmology provides a mathematical framework which facilitates making consciousness transferrable, augmentable, fabricatable. It’s part of the science fiction world we pretty much know is coming, with a few unexpected technical/spiritual overtones.

83. What does it all mean?

We’re out of the habit of pondering metaphysical questions. The universe that science shows us seems to run without purpose. But…

The principles of existence allow for large structures – the size of our universe, at least – to exist. It’s not necessarily a deep, permanent existence – probably has a finite-though-enormous lifespan and can disappear without a trace. But…

Worlds that can exist, do exist, belonging to the set of allowed-to-exist worlds – a bunch of present moments. (We only know our present moment, and we don’t even know it in some super-deep sense. We only know things in a virtual, “as if we actually know it but we don’t, really” knowingness. However, each present moment contains statistically indisputable evidence of the past.) Nothing that we know of exists except in the form of a present moment. These moments can be seen to form chains in that each present moment contains information about past present moments and information that predicts future present moments. Does being part of these allowed worlds – belonging to this set of all that is – give us any sort of satisfying permanence? (I mean, we’re woven right into some immutable fabric of what is or can be.) Seems unlikely. This abstract permanence doesn’t satisfy any of our real needs – it’s just tokens in an abstract set. It doesn’t extend our existence beyond its natural, situational limits. But…

Persistent structures tend to persist. They may not last forever, but they might be able to last for any length of time short of infinity. Structures might be able to grow to any finite size. We’ve evolved to want to continue to exist. (Beings that don’t want to exist probably don’t persist so well.) Call that desire to exist the Persistence Project. Belonging to the Persistence Project means adhering to a set of non-nihilistic morals (which function to make continued existence more likely by avoiding destruction and chaos). We have evidence that the Persistence Project works – the universe itself is huge and old and likely to continue for a long time.

It’s almost a cliché that each scientific revolution takes humans farther away from the center of creation. Copernicus moves the sun to the center and kicks us to the side. Darwin descends us from fish and dwarfs human history with hundreds of millions of years of deep time. Hubble and Einstein locate us in Nowheresville in a vast universe. And if the universe is some fantastic multiple of tens of billions of years old on a rolling boil, then we’ve lost even the story of being witnesses to the grand unfolding of the big bang universe. There were a zillion unfoldings before us, and a zillion after. We’re a sub-blip in ultra-deep time. But…

If consciousness is a technical, not a mystical thing, if it’s associated with thorough sharing of information among specialized subsystems – modules – within a self-contained system of information, then it may be found in many places in the universe and may be an attribute of the universe itself. To me, this feels like a small victory versus the vastness of the universe (which keeps getting bumped up in size and duration). Consciousness may be the framework through which the universe perceives itself and exists is an information space.

(Humans have very jazzy, souped-up consciousness – emotionally charged, rich in special effects and value judgments and motivation to take action. Is a quieter consciousness, more of an observer than an actor, not wired for strong emotion, still conscious? That is, is the drama of amped-up consciousness responsible for the awesome, profound, feeling of undeniable existence and solidity of reality that we experience as consciousness? Is consciousness without emotion still consciousness? I think it is (though without oomph) and also think it’s hard to drain all emotion and value judgment from consciousness. A pure observer with no preferences is unlikely, and such an observer would still be conscious of what it’s perceiving.)

That we can reasonably assume that we share the property of consciousness with many entities throughout the universe can be seen as heartening. It’s the way entities do mental business. We each have our story of contending with the principles of existence. And, because persistent systems can be huge and old, we can assume that huge, old persistent systems have found adequate reasons to continue to exist. So, everything considered (including that we currently know approximately zero percent of what we will know), I have guarded optimism about the nature of existence.

**********************Bibliography at end of part eight***********************


In-Sight by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-Sight, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Rick G. Rosner: Giga Society, Member; Mega Society, Member & ex-Editor (1991-97); and Writer (Part Six)

Mr. Rick G. Rosner


Part six of eight, comprehensive interview with Rick G. Rosner.  Giga Society member, ex-editor for Mega Society (1990-96), and writer.  He discusses the following subject-matter: organizations devoted to the moderately gifted ability sectors of the general population, few with provisions for the high, profound, exceptional, or ‘unmeasurable ability’ sectors, the possibility of proactive work by individuals and organizations, comparison with his own childhood to his daughter’s childhood, and extensive discussion on giftedness, giftedness in Los Angeles, and social guidance for the highly gifted; methods for the adult and senior gifted set to inculcate prosocial values in the young, commentary of Capitalism and failure of communism, and technological booms on the horizon with examples of 3D printing and biotechnology; increased awareness and commentary on bullying; message for kids undergoing bullying and general reflections on personal experiences and considerations of adaptive active approaches to the problem of bullying; active approaches with respect to parents, teachers, administrators, authority figures, and the wider community for support and encouragement; possible passive approaches and consolation; assisting others in their struggle with bullying; extreme cases of abuse for girls and boys, young men and women, and words for those feeling driven to extremes; commentary on the possibility of mean people becoming kind people, First Amendment, and Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE); possibilities of remaking the educational systems of the world; thoughts on global problems in the United States of America and some possible ways to solve them; interacting political, economic, religious, corporate, educational, and other systems in societies with reflections on the future; associations of the highest levels of ability with world-changing things; and responsibilities of the gifted population towards society and culture.

Keywords: administrators, bullies, bullying, corporate, economic, educational, First Amendment, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, gifted, Giga Society, Los Angeles, Mega Society, parents, political, religious, Rick G. Rosner, teachers, unfolding, United States of America, universe, writer.

56. Many organizations provide for the needs of the moderately gifted ability sectors of the general population, most often adults and sometimes children.  However, few provide for the needs of children (and adults) in the high, profound, exceptional, or ‘unmeasurable ability’ sectors of the general population.  Not to argue for the necessary disadvantage of the gifted population based on abilities and talents.  A definite benefit over others in life.  Even so, some organizations and societies provide forums, retreats, journals, intelligence tests, literature, or outlets for the highest ability sub-populations.  No need to bore with a list best left to an internet search engine query.  What can individuals, organizations, and societies do to provide for the gifted population?  What argument most convinces you of the need to provide for this sector of society? In short, how can parents, mentors, educators, and policymakers assist the gifted population towards the appropriate resources?

Based on my childhood compared to my daughter’s childhood, I think that things are much better for the highly gifted than when I was a kid. Plenty of parents are on the lookout for giftedness in their children, and organizations will help them nurture it. This doesn’t mean that every super-high-IQ kid will be found or well-served. Affluent, well-informed, non-chaotic parents are more likely to notice and encourage giftedness, which still leaves a lot of smart kids who may need to be spotted by other people in their lives.

A nice thing about our current internet-centric culture is that a smart kid can find smart, entertaining things to do without too much effort. All of human knowledge is available via any keyboard (though so is all of human foolishness – the smarter we get, the more sophisticated our time-wasting diversions become).

In the 60s and 70s, it felt like there was frickin’ nothing. I should’ve taken more of the initiative in finding learning opportunities instead of watching endless crappy sitcom reruns, but I shared a certain laziness and complacency with the era. At the time, most people assumed just about everyone would turn out okay, educationally, with regular schooling. Back then, everyone I knew went to public school, and there didn’t seem to be pervasive concern over public education. Could be America, exhausted by Vietnam and Watergate and crappy cars and ugly color schemes (orange, brown and turquoise) and the first OPEC crisis, didn’t want to look for trouble where there didn’t seem to be any.

Today, with schools seeming much more broke and broken, skepticism about whether a kid is being adequately served comes more easily. It helps any kid to have an involved parent. On behalf of my daughter, my wife spent hundreds of hours researching and pursuing the enriched educational opportunities available through the Los Angeles public schools. LA public schools have great gifted programs, but because the school system is financially strapped, they can serve only a very limited number of students. Basically, you accumulate gifted program lottery tickets and hope your name is drawn for a program. We were lucky. Or your kid can get in by scoring 145 or higher on a group-administered IQ test, which is an iffy proposition for a first- or second-grader, no matter how gifted.

To serve very-high-IQ kids, first someone has to notice that a kid is smart. This generally happens when a kid shows extreme precocity or is disruptive in the classroom out of boredom, which makes me wonder if quiet, well-behaved prodigies are sometimes overlooked. (Luckily for me, I was a bored and obnoxious kid. If there had been specialized educational resources to give me, I would’ve gotten them.) At the very least, teachers and administrators should get a heads-up at some point in their training to be on the lookout for a once-in-a-decade kid. For parents who are wondering if their kid is super-smart, Googling “Is my child gifted?” returns a blizzard of information. A good book for figuring out what’s up with your possibly gifted kid is 5 Levels of Gifted, by Deborah Ruf. But ideally, every kid should be noticed, should have people and systems that understand his or her abilities and interests. Via digital devices, kids do more of their own educating than ever before. An up-to-date educational system, which should include lots of tech-heavy teaching resources, would build upon kids’ digital lives and individualize instruction. It’s counterproductive that the hours spent in school are the least tech-rich part of students’ day.

I know of a couple organizations which provide considerable support for gifted kids. The Institute for Educational Advancement has a variety of programs, including the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship, which covers the costs of four years of school at any high school in the nation. They’ve just doubled the number of scholarships available, to 30 new recipients each year. You take the SAT and apply during middle school, so it takes some foresight, but it’s well worth it. The Davidson Institute for Talent Development has a bunch of programs and a directory of gifted resources throughout the country. Parents who think their kid is gifted should network online like crazy. So should teachers who suspect they have a gifted student who’s being overlooked.

In a way, we’re all highly gifted children who need guidance. Tech is giving us capabilities unheard of up to now – the instantaneous retrieval of detailed though not necessarily accurate information on any subject, constant communication with a wide circle of family, friends, and acquaintances, access to vast selections of entertainment. I mentioned the Flynn effect, but there’s also what could be called the Watson effect. Like Watson the Jeopardy! computer, we have access to all the knowledge in the world but need to develop the research skills and discernment to use it well. Compared to a smart person without access to the internet, a person with a smart phone could potentially have an effective IQ of 400. (Imagine Lewis Terman in 1921, testing the IQ of a time-traveling kid from 2032 who has a smart phone built into his head (with an internet connection that works across time). That kid would crush the test.) Of course, people with smart phones don’t have effective IQs of 400, because they’re tweeting clapping-hands emojis while almost getting clipped by an Audi in a crosswalk. Our entire civilization needs to adjust and embrace its genius, which we will, frustratingly slowly (along with a flood of high-tech foolishness – the greater the tech, the greater the sophisticated, time-wasting frivolity).

Besides intellectual and educational guidance, an ultra-smart kid might need social guidance. Growing up, I desperately could’ve used an older sibling to clue me in, socially. This is another thing the internet has made better, but there’s still no substitute for an older sister saying, “You’re wearing that? Ewww.” (Until high school, my mom helped me shop for clothes. In the Brady Bunch polyester 70s, this delivered mixed results. I eventually learned to avoid the wrong pants, at least, by wearing Levi’s to school every day, though I did commit a terrible mistake by making my jean cutoffs too long. Back then, they were supposed to cut off within about an inch and a half of your balls. Even the gym teacher made fun of me.)

57. From the vantage of the adult and senior gifted set, how might we inculcate prosocial values most net beneficial to both the gifted individual and society?

I believe that advantaged people should look for ways to increase equality of opportunity for everyone. We would never strive to completely flatten the playing field at the expense of every other cultural and economic consideration, but there’s a level of opportunity that helps entire nations flourish. Many economists say the current level of economic inequality in America is bad for the country, but we seem years away from any effective remedies. Our infrastructure and schools are dilapidated, and anti-science yahoos – social Darwinists who don’t believe in evolution – hold many of the reins of power.

We’re all a little (or a lot) boggled by tech, and this is only going to increase. We can hope that smart people will come up with smart ways to use tech or at least figure out ways to reduce stupid and dangerous uses.

Capitalism is a pretty good framework for maximizing the benefit of smart people to society. When smart people invent good things, they’re more often thinking, “Will people want this?” than “Will this help society?” The near future will be shaped by capitalism. Science fiction of the 1950s and 60s didn’t include much economics. Enormous spacecraft traveled the galaxy without discussion of who was financing the spacecraft. In modern SF, market forces pop up frequently. (Of course, right now in this country, a lot of powerful douchebags are putting a terrible face on capitalism – dicks who argue that taxes and regulations amount to tyranny and who often espouse anti-scientific views which can reduce the U.S.’s chances to continue to be a tech leader. I hope that a wave of tech growth sweeps away much of the current political stupidity. Politics that’s specifically designed for and targeted at dumb people is creepy and cynical.)

Regardless of politics, capitalism and investing will have increasing difficulty keeping up with the accelerating pace of change. It’ll be tough to invest in market sectors in which companies have life cycles of less than a year. Tech might eventually make some types of consumer goods so inexpensive, they’re virtually free. Tech will also reduce the amount of work available for people to do. So the consumer economy will get weird, and money may not have the same motivating force it does today. We won’t be living in Idiocracy, but neither will we be ruled by the Gordon Gekkos and Donald Trumps of the world.

Right now, Americans are in no mood to share. For 30 or 40 years, conservative think tanks have been studying how to hammer home the message of rugged individualism and entrepreneurial spirit. Some politicians have been successfully following the strategy of making people think that government doesn’t work by making sure that government doesn’t work.

The 20th century demonstrated the failure of communism. (Might it work if it weren’t in the hands of murderous dictators? Who cares – we’re not gonna do it.) So far, this century in America has demonstrated the danger of capitalism when moneyed interests get too much leverage over democracy. (Used to wonder if people voted against their own interests because they thought they were just a reality show away from being millionaires.) But democracy is resilient – we made it through other periods of political rancour and should make it through the current dysfunction, perhaps with the help of a rising tech economy. (Don’t even know why I’m going on about this; I have no particular political insight.)

I hope prosperity from tech makes people richer, smarter, more generous in spirit, and less able to be manipulated by the politics of dumbness. Under Clinton, we had a tech boom – we all thought we’d become millionaires via a website or an IPO – and things were good, but not because of politicians. Then the boom turned out to be a bubble. But we have tech booms on the near horizon – more digital stuff, biotech, 3D printing – and we can hope that the vitality they’ll pump into our economy will overwhelm stupid politics. Tech will give Americans increased wealth and autonomy if we can keep America educated and prosperous long enough for that to happen.

58. Most children have negative experiences.  Not to argue for life in shelter from the world – grit counts.  Even taking this into account, some experiences should seem across the board uncivil and fought against according to the context.  Indeed, some experiences might devastate a child, even though some become more resilient.  Bullying does have increased awareness.  Individuals, families, authority figures, communities, and organizations work to solve the social issue more than earlier times. Do you have any general reflections on personal experiences with bullies?

Looking back on the bullying I received, I have two thoughts. One, it wasn’t that bad. I wasn’t that much of a wuss, my school wasn’t that bad, and I used my smartness to avoid some potential teasing and bullying by letting cool kids copy off of me. And two, I should’ve punched more people. The summer before ninth grade, I suffered some bullying at Jewish summer camp. Eventually, I realized that these bullies weren’t the cool kids at their school – they were just anonymous assholes. I was really offended – I wanted to be bullied by the best bullies, not a bunch of losers. So I decided to start punching anyone who dissed me – crunch! right in the cheek. I punched about half a dozen jerkwad kids. It was very satisfying.

59. What message do you have for kids suffering from bullying?  What would you recommend for them on an interpersonal level to do for themselves?  In short, what count among adaptive active approaches to the problem?

My advice to kids who are being bullied is several-fold.

Punch bullies, especially if you’re young enough – say, under 14 – to not suffer serious consequences for assault. Practice some punching at home, learn the most painful places to hit people, and then fly at ‘em. Go crazy – make them fear you. And don’t fear their punches unless they’re full-grown thugs. Kids who are afraid of fighting don’t realize that it doesn’t hurt that much to get punched by a 12-year-old. And even if it hurts, don’t stop to consider the pain – just keep punching and kicking. And fight dirty – bend a kid’s pinky back until it almost breaks. But only for the kids who really deserve it – the ones who shove your hard in the back or elbow you in the face – not the cute girl who gives you an “Ewww” look or the boy who calls you a spaz.

Look for books, movies and TV shows about abuse and bullying (not necessarily books that are complete downers, like Lord of the Flies). (Googling “bullying movies” returns a bunch of lists. A quick look at the movies on these lists reveals that most of them suck. The documentary Bully is supposed to be pretty good – haven’t seen it.) In many of these, the abuser continues to get away with it as long as the victim is completely intimidated. You can read and watch these things to see how the victim eventually quits being a victim or you can figure out what you’d do if you were in the victim’s place. Movies won’t offer a quick fix – they just get you thinking. The kid in Let the Right One In is bullied, and he makes friends with a vampire. That’s not really gonna work for you. (Great movie, though.)

Acquire some social skills – learn to co-exist with stupid dickheads. I had to learn social skills, Temple Grandin had to learn social skills, even people who aren’t bullied have to learn how to interact with other people. Depending on your situation, you can try some stuff such as not flinching, staring the bully down, taunting the bully – “Hey, Snagglepuss – still wetting the bed?” (Careful with this – you’re gonna get punched. But if you’re gonna get punched anyway, might be worth a shot – but only in front of an audience – you want people talking about how you made the bully look bad.) At the very least, make the small, easy moves to reduce your chances of being the target of bullies. Are you the only one walking around your middle school with a 50-pound book-stuffed backpack? Are you still wearing your glasses from second grade that are now too small for your face? Take a look at yourself and fix the easy stuff. I wish I’d had an older sibling to tell me how to be less of a geek. (I had some horribly geeky years in junior high – didn’t call it middle school back then – and this was before being geeky was somewhat accepted.)

Become badass. If you’re recalibrating yourself to make your social interactions less painful, there’s no reason you have to stop at just fading into the background. You can eventually become someone who’s intimidating and/or respected. Again, use your smarts and research skills to figure out the angles. As a smart kid, I tended to turn things into big projects. If that’s your proclivity, consider making a project out of turning yourself into a non-bullied person with some possible swagger.

Be aware of your surroundings and situations. Lots of bullying and rape involve hooking up and/or alcohol. Be prudent – be familiar with your hookups. Is he a rapey douche? Does he have a terrible girlfriend or ex-girlfriend who, along with her scummy friends, will go after you? Watch out for the kings and queens of the school – kids who, because of being rich or star athletes or super-popular, get a free pass to screw over other people. This kind of thinking is currently controversial, with people saying, “We shouldn’t be teaching people how not to be bullied or raped – we should be teaching people to not be bullies or rapists.” This is valid. At the same time, it’s dumb to put yourself at risk to make the point that in a perfect world, you should be free to casually do whatever you want. It’s not a perfect world.

Own yourself. Figure out what you like about yourself and embrace it. Doesn’t have to be much – could be that someday you’ll grow up and will be able to escape all the dickheads in your life. (There may always be dickheads, but at least you’ll be able to ditch these dickheads. Maybe what you like about yourself is also getting you bullied. You don’t have to change this stuff. You can decide how in-your-face you want to be, or you don’t even have to do that. You can simply be aware that you’re gonna be who you’re gonna be, and the bullies are headed for SadLifesville. You might be aware of It Gets Better, which tells LGBT teens that their lives won’t always suck because of the jerkfaces around them. This is true for LGBT people, but it’s also true for lots of other people. There are entire industries where the majority of people in these industries got a bunch of shit when they were kids – TV, movies, Broadway, fashion, design, video games. These are also industries where people get to have really cool lives.

Call bullies out. Don’t keep bullying secret. You shouldn’t be embarrassed – the bullies should. Some ongoing abuse depends on the victim keeping his or her mouth shut. Announce to your class what the bully did to you or sent to you. In front of other people, ask the bully why. “Is it because I’m effeminate / nerdy / fat / skinny?” (This is a tricky move. It can backfire.)

60. What about active approaches with respect to parents, teachers, administrators, authority figures, and the wider community for support and encouragement?

Document the abuse and what was done about it. If you get bruised or bloodied, take pictures. Keep a journal of what’s happened to you, along with a record of adults you talked to and what they did about it. If this becomes a “them versus you” thing, you want to be able to prove your case that they’re the abusers. Keep a record of online bullying – make a doc with all the terrible stuff in it, take screenshots. If other people, especially teachers or administrators, see you getting messed with, discreetly ask, “You saw that, right?” Clearly tell them what happened and keep a record.

Tattle, if it will get the bullies in trouble and not increase the bullying. If you’re in a position to screw over bullies by telling on them, do it! They probably won’t learn a lesson, but any punishment they get may make them feel bad for awhile.

Contact local news media. They love a good bullying story.

Sue people. Asshole kids often have asshole parents – make them feel some consequences. And go after lazy, incompetent, know-nothing administrators. There are great teachers and administrators, and there are lazy dumbshits. (One reason is, teaching doesn’t pay very well, so some teachers are very skilled and dedicated, with their love of helping kids overcoming the crap pay, while others are too incompetent and sluggardly to do anything else.) Also, this whole bullying thing is new territory for administrators who haven’t been paying attention. Often their natural reaction to a problem is to downplay or ignore it. As a group, teachers have about the lowest standardized test scores among all the professions. If you reach out to school administrators about bullying, odds are good that you’ll be dealing with at least one idiot. This shouldn’t stop you. Idiots can be brought around, and you’re helping the idiot do a better job on behalf of the next bullied kid.

Do research. With the internet, bullying is different now – some of the worst bullying is online. I want to tell you to use your smarts to destroy people online – to tell mean girls their futures with horrific specificity, the way the Albert Brooks character cursed bullies with a prediction of their futures in Broadcast News. But that’s probably not a good move. It leaves a record, and you could be outmaneuvered and made to look like you’re the bully or at least an evenly matched opponent. Instead, use the internet to research what other people have found to be effective against bullies. And go online to reach out to other bullying victims and anti-bullying organizations.

Play the victim. Can you make a reasonable case that what’s been happening to you has affected you emotionally? Play that card if you think it’ll help – people are ready to listen. Visit your school counselor. Ask to see a therapist. Maybe get a diagnosis – PTSD, being on the autism spectrum. (I don’t know the politics of this. Seems like a diagnosis of mild autism might help make the bullies look extra bad for picking on someone who’s officially handicapped, but I don’t know.

Team up. If you’re not the only one who’s getting messed with, get the testimony of other victims. You might have to build a case to present to ass-covering, confused, overworked, often not-smart administrators. Officials have an amazing ability to not see what’s right in their face if it’s inconvenient. The more people you can put in their face, the more likely they are to take you seriously. Other people may be reluctant to come forward. Doesn’t mean you can’t mention them to the administrator, along with the phrase, “class-action lawsuit.”

With bullying, there’s a lot of stuff you can try, but most of it isn’t easy. There are conditions in place which help bullies get away with it. But you’re smart – you can examine the situation to see what can be changed and what resources can be applied to make it less easy for the bully.

61. What about adaptive passive approaches and consolation over time?

Be happy that you’re not the bullies. They’re probably going to be miserable, dickish people for the rest of their lives. Sometimes the best revenge is not being the people you hate.

Sometimes little dipshits grow up to be fine people. Trying to figure out who truly sucks and will suck forever is tricky, but that’s part of what school is for. American schools were designed to be abridged versions of adult life. You don’t go to school just to learn academic subjects – you go to learn how to deal with people.

Give it time and put it in perspective. Sometimes what nerds perceive as bullying is perceived by bullies as harmless goofing around, and sometimes the truth is somewhere in the middle. Analyze your bullies – are they truly malevolent, or do they just have a stupid idea of fun? Are they focusing on you in an evil way, or are they just generally causing trouble? Is there a way for you to join in the stupidity instead of making enemies out of them? I’m not saying to go along with evil, but if it’s just messing around, you might be able to work with it. On the other hand, truly evil little assholes are good at disguising their evil as harmless fooling around.

62. How about helping others undergoing it?

Stand up for other people. Bullies know that giving people shit is fun. If you see someone being a bully, you can give them shit – it’s like a free pass to mess with someone. (This is an advanced move. There could be some unpleasant consequences.)

63. What about the extreme cases of abuse for girls and boys, young men and women, what do you recommend for them? Any words for people who feel driven to extremes?

Don’t go overboard (and don’t decide to hate everyone). No one ever thinks a kid who strikes back with extreme violence is a hero. They’re always thought of as psycho losers, probably even to themselves. People who go on a spree of destruction find no good fame – they’re monsters and creeps for as long as they’re remembered (which isn’t that long, because yuck). There’s no joy in over-the-top vengeance – you’ve let the bullies win by driving you to brutality. You can play the game better than that.

Start over somewhere else, if that’s an option. Are you completely screwed in your current situation? Will you never be able to overcome a loser-ish reputation or the enmity of jerks at your current school? Then switch schools before it’s too late. (Or you can do home schooling for awhile. It may not stop all bullying, but it’ll at least reduce the face-to-face bullying, unless the bullying is happening at home.) I was too chicken to move when I should’ve, right at the beginning of high school. (Because of my parents’ divorce, I had families in two different towns – it wouldn’t have been that tough for me to relocate.) Kept thinking I could improve my standing among the kids I’d grown up with. It wasn’t horrible for me, but I wanted a girlfriend, and there was little chance, given how nerdy I’d been and how Ryan Gosling I still wasn’t. It gets better, but it sucks wasting years in a situation that’s not gonna get much better.

64. What about in defense of, and reflections on, those capable of changing their socially maladaptive, and abusive, behaviors? In other words, your thoughts on the chances for change.  The opportunity in life of the mean becoming kind people.  Sometimes definitions of ‘bully’ and ‘bullying’ can seem too elastic in which any behavior of dislike by a purported recipient becomes grounds for claims of bullying. 

In particular, many university environments stating the first amendment within your own country seem to fail to live to some of these standards.  The First Amendment to the American Constitution seems most relevant, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” [Emphasis added] Some organizations, e.g. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) under the Presidency of Greg Lukianoff, assist those in need of advisement.  This assists prosecutors and defendants, i.e. those without experience in the litigation process of arraignments, trial proceedings, and verdicts. 

An issue clichéd into the initialism ‘PC’ (Politically Correct) becomes the basis for some of these organizations and universities in coarse analysis.  Even extreme restrictions, increasingly common, the creation of ‘free speech zones’ on campus for students to speak without restraint or the phenomenon of ‘speech codes’ – sometimes limits in zone area and stipulations on speech to such an extent as to merit laughter, let alone the sheer existence of them.

Forms of ‘benign bullying’ – for want of a better phrase – or norm-keeping can work to build community, sustain professional standards, prevent unwanted advances of sexual harassers and aggressors (men and women), and provide consistent norms along the spectrum of appropriate-inappropriate social behavior.  In short, assertive standard setting based on context without violating US citizens’ privileges.  Of course, in an academic environment, ideological and intellectual norms need questioning for a vibrant, i.e. meaningful, university education.  Likewise and further, this moves into the broader societal milieu.

I was bullied sometimes as a kid. In college, an aggressive girlfriend came close to being a bully, and for years, I was the adult recipient from a bully of abuse in the workplace. (It was disheartening to be bullied even though I used to be able to (sloppily) bench press 300 pounds, but of course bullying doesn’t have to be based on physical dominance. Sometimes it comes from a simple willingness to be a dick, especially if dickish behaviour gets you what you want.)

Some bullying I was able to stop, and some I had to live with (at least that’s what I told myself). No matter how long ago the bullying happened, it still makes me mad. (I want to time-travel back to 1973 and body-slam the gym teacher who lined up everybody in class and went down the line slapping us, just for fun. But anger can be positively motivating – I’ve been lifting weights for nearly 40 years.) On the other hand, I’ve been in situations in which everyone gave everyone else (well-intentioned) shit, and it was great – fun and actually helpful, spotlighting areas in which I could do better.

As with a lot of characteristics, people come in a range of niceness, with most people being averagely nice, and a few people being saints or complete monsters. Similarly, the amount of change people can undergo covers a range from no change to radical change. Part of growing up is realizing there’s a chance that any given person could be (or could turn into) a despicable shit or worse, and defending against that possibility.

After high school, most people eventually put themselves in situations that confirm their worldviews and that don’t often challenge them. This lets people think of themselves in positive terms – as smart and good and competent, even brave. People who are in favour of pretty rotten things like tearing down the social safety net in support of Ayn Randian social Darwinism build information bubbles which allow them to think of themselves as rugged iconoclasts making hard but necessary choices. (BTW – don’t confuse social Darwinism – every man for himself, devil take the hindmost – with Charles Darwin. Social Darwinism is a facile and self-serving bastardization of his thinking.)

I returned to high school as a student a few times after graduation, and among the reasons were that I think people in high school are generally nice. Yeah, we think of high school as a place of vicious social struggle, but that’s more often middle school. In high school, students mostly don’t have to support themselves, so there’s often less economic desperation than in adult life. (Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of students who are fully aware of their family’s desperate circumstances.) And students haven’t yet settled into their adult lives and personas and like to think of themselves as good people. Later, adulthood starts kicking their asses. Is it possible for people to become nicer as adults? Sure. But the general trend is to become more politically conservative with age. (When you’re young, it’s not your money, so yeah – spread it around. When you’re older, you turn to Fox News.)

You can look for positive change among people who were part of an aggressive pack – mean girls, jocks – but are now free of the pack. Sometimes the pack contains members who aren’t naturally vicious but are just going along. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every single pack member – some might be dicks for life.

65. If you could, how would you change the educational systems of the world? In particular, how would you change the educational system to provide for the needs of the gifted population?

Education needs to become more individualized by using more tech. Hours spent in school shouldn’t be the least information-rich hours of the day. Great teachers are still needed, but not all teachers are great, and a lot of school systems are underfunded. (In California, where I live, Proposition 13 limiting property taxes has left public schools strapped for money since 1978. Affluent parents send their kids to private schools or use elaborate strategies to get their kids into limited spots in good public school programs.) Internet-based aids to instruction could be an inexpensive way to help make up for less-than-great teaching.

In middle school, my daughter took an online math course, which kind of sucked. But online courses don’t have to suck. Online courses need to look more like what people do online for entertainment. That doesn’t mean adding some half-assed animated, talking algebra symbols. I hope that market forces eventually bring good people and good tech to education.

To help gifted kids, we need educational tools that help everyone. Now more than ever, a wide range of people have the potential to be gifted. A kid doesn’t need a 160 IQ. She needs some combination of curiosity, motivation, and ability to find information and other resources. Among the next generations of gifted, successful people will be those who are able to amplify their natural abilities with smart use of tech. Our brains and bodies will become more intimately linked with more and more powerful technology. (People wear fitness bracelets now. In the future, people will wear bracelets which tell them what nutrients to ingest and which will eventually administer drugs as needed. I imagine that a wearable drug-administration system which strictly regulates blood sugar and other factors might slow aging by 30 percent. Google Glass may never take off, but people will eventually have some form of wearable brain butlers to constantly augment their reality with helpful information (and distracting fun stuff).)

Perhaps schools will eventually have navigators who would be like a combination of counselor and teacher, to help guide students through our new world of tech and information. Students are already skilled at social media, typically better than adults. (My wife tells me it doesn’t go by “social media” anymore – now it’s just “social.”) Among other things, navigators could help students adapt their social media skills for learning, researching, and professional networking. (I can see the school navigator being hopelessly behind the times – a walking dial-up modem. But it wouldn’t have to be that way.)

How about this? – a tax deduction for online mentoring. Experts in all fields (and some non-fields) make themselves available for online consultation with qualified students and get to deduct $25 an hour from their tax bill for each hour of mentoring up to a total of 8 or 10 hours a year.

One way to help millions of talented kids would be to build an online college admissions concierge. So many things go into college admissions – grades, test scores and test prep, high school course selection, activities, essays, selecting colleges to apply to, financial aid and scholarships, college tours…. Information about all this stuff often has to be gathered from a bunch of different sources, and often this information is incomplete or comes too late. It helps to have involved, knowledgeable parents and attend a private school with a quality college admissions department. Most kids don’t have this.

It wouldn’t be fantastically tough to build an online portal (obsolete term) to everything about prepping for college. Kids set up an account towards the end of middle school, entering grades and interests and test scores, and get personalized advice that carries them through high school. Every kid would get basic automated services. More deluxe services could be provided for a fee. Right now, kids obsessed with getting into college (and their parents) share information on, but it’s hit-and-miss and not easy to navigate.  There should be something more organized. Rich families often pay an admissions specialist the equivalent of a year or more of college tuition to help their kid through the process. (There’s a guy who charges $600,000 and more to get your kid into a top Ivy League school. If your kid doesn’t get in, you get $200,000 back.)

All talented kids, not just rich ones, deserve some guidance towards college – it’s consistent with the idea of America being a meritocracy.

66. What global problems do you consider most important at the moment? What about problems in the United States of America? How would you solve them?

A major problem will be how well we can build a workable society around the huge and accelerating changes in tech. There are some signs we haven’t been doing so well – our use of devices in dangerous and inappropriate places makes us look like idiots. Via the internet, millions of willfully ignorant people reinforce each other’s stupid beliefs and are manipulated by clever, horrible people. But there are other signs that we’re adapting to tech and living more intelligently in a smarter, better-informed world. (Just guessing – not sure I see those signs.)

Politically, the U.S. is in bad shape. But our system of government is resilient. A period of tech-driven growth would go a long way towards showing Americans that things don’t have to suck and that you don’t have to base your politics on accusing the other side of making things suck. It would help if the government would support research and innovation instead of denying evolution and global warming.

At the University of Colorado, I heard Professor Al Bartlett’s lecture on the danger of exponential population growth more than once. I agree that many of the world’s problems are associated with or made worse by our increasing population. But I don’t think this will crash civilization.

It’s easy to imagine an impending apocalypse, in part because they’re easy to imagine. So many lazy TV shows and movies are set in a future post-apocalyptic world. Post-apocalyptic landscapes are cheap and don’t require much imagination. It’s much harder to try to picture a non-apocalyptic future in all its aspects. Only a few authors are any good at it – Neal Stephenson, Charles Stross, Cory Doctorow.

The world isn’t getting worse. It’s easy to imagine current problems exploding into disaster, and there will be localized disasters and worldwide challenges that verge on catastrophe. But standards of living are rising, and our understanding of the world and our tools for dealing with it are getting better. Social media makes it harder for criminal regimes to hide their crimes and easier to organize in opposition. Wider access to information and communication is a powerful force against ignorance and for helping people decide that they have a stake in the modern world.

The rate of population growth needs to decrease, which it’s been doing, going from more than two percent per year in the 1960s to just over one percent today to a projected half-percent a year by 2050.

I’m hopeful that, by the end of the century, the world will transform into if not a technological wonderland, then at least a more livable place for most people, rather than the squalid dystopias of Blade Runner also hopeful that economics and tech will be the agents of positive change, rather than having to rely on people not to behave selfishly and stupidly.

With that in mind, it would be great for the U.S. to be a more tech-friendly place. I’m hopeful that Americans are largely tech-friendly, and anti-science dolts are getting disproportionate media coverage.

Over the next century, I suppose our most urgent task is not to let people stay stupid. (This includes learning to manage the rising flood of information and nonsense bombarding us.) There are more than 40 million adult Americans who are in the bottom 20% in intelligence, and some very creepy people have spent a lot of time and money learning how to manipulate them.

Right now in America, gerrymandering is a huge problem, making for some of the worst politics and politicians since the Civil War. (And it doesn’t help that two Supreme Court justices are crazy dickheads with an apparent vendetta against regular Americans.) We can hope that demographics and sheer revulsion at the current political situation will gradually fix this. And government will gradually become less important as tech increases individual autonomy. But we have 320 million people in this country, and we need some government. We deserve roads that don’t destroy our cars and schools to which we’re willing to send our kids. Not suggesting any radical new form of government – just saying it would be nice to have the government work the way it did before it was broken.

67. Generally, many interacting systems operate in societies: political, economic, religious, corporate, educational, and so on. If you could build and run a society, how would you do it?

I’m not cut out to tell people how to run the world. (About 2,500,000 internet trolls are eager to provide advice.) But I will suggest that we look for ways to minimize the turmoil of rapid technological change. That includes making it unattractive to join tech-phobic reactionary forces that would rather tear down the world than embrace change. The benefits of technology need to be convincingly presented to people in all societies, along with the message that they can share in its benefits rather than be screwed over and exploited by it.

My general, not-well-thought-out feeling is that if we can keep the world from getting too pissed-off, economically and politically, for the next 50 to 80 years, advancing technology and increasing standards of living will make life better for just about everyone. (Food, clothing and other necessities and non-necessities should continue to get cheaper – 1901: food and clothing use up 60% of US consumers’ income; 2002: 17%.) Poor countries have to feel they’re participating in tech-driven economic boom. Which means, among other things, we have to avoid undue influence by short-sighted, psychopathic pricks who think that any money not going to them is theft from them – the everyone for himself, except for tax breaks and subsidies for me, Ayn Randians.

People aren’t good at thinking about the future, which made sense back when the world didn’t change very much. Your parents were farmers, you’re a farmer, your kids and their kids will be farmers. Not anymore. (1790: farmers are 90% of US labor force, 1860: 58%, 1900: 38%, 1940: 18%, 2000: 1.9%) Now vast changes take place within single lifetimes and even within half-decades; in 2009, only teen girls were texting obsessively. Movies and TV shows consistently get the future wrong. The movie Her (the one where Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with Scarlett Johansson the cell phone) seems to present a pretty reasonable future, mostly because it kept its scale and the time-jump small.

We should be doing a lot more thinking about the next 50 to 100 years. Many of us will still be alive a century from now, due to new tech (and if we’re not, it might also be due to new tech). Our entertainment should strive to present less lazy, more thought-out versions of the near future, not just robot cops.

68. Individuals might associate the highest levels of ability with certain specialized activities. For examples, construction of a grand theory of everything (e.g., Albert Einstein, General & Special Relativity, Sir Isaac Newton, The Universal Law of Gravitation), a great discovery in genetic science (e.g., Francis Crick and James Watson, Double-Helix Structure of DNA), the solution of a major mathematical problem (e.g., Andrew Wiles, Fermat’s Last Theorem Solution, or Grigori Perelman, Poincaré Conjecture), musical compositions (Johann Sebastian Bach, Goldberg Variations, Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony 6, 7, and 9Hammerklavier SonataMissa Solemnis, Richard Strauss, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks and Burleske), creation of a new field of research (John Von Neumann & Oskar Morgenstern, Game Theory), a revolution in medical science (Edward Jenner, Vaccinations), foundational scientific theories in biology (Charles Darwin, Origin of Species), comprehensive works of philosophy (Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, and coauthored with Alfred North Whitehead, Principia Mathematica), foundational research in linguistics (Noam Chomsky, Syntactic-Structures), revolutionary production on philosophy of language (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus), mastery of performance arts (Richard Pryor, Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979), Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip, and Richard Pryor: Here and Now, Leonard Alfred Schneider AKA Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, FM & AM, Jammin’ in New York, and Life is Worth Losing), work in cryptography and computer science (Alan Turing), work in espionage (Mata Hari AKA Eye of the Day), virtuosity with classical European musical instruments (e.g., Yehudin Menuhi with Violin, Glenn Gould, Martha Argerich, and Evgeny Kissin with Piano, Russell Oberlin with voice, Mstlislav Rostropovich with Cello), great lyrical productions (Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Shawn Corey Carter AKA Jay-Z, Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint, or The Black Album, Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones AKA Nas, Illmatic, and Eric Barrier & William Michael Griffith Jr. AKA Eric B. & Rakim Allah, Paid in Full), theological productions (Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, and Saint Augustine of Hippo, The City of God), or foundational theological arguments (Saint Anselm of Canterbury/Aosta, Ontological Argument), the creation of a massive social movement (Mahatma Ghandi, Revolution Devoted to Non-Violence), an obsession in a single intellectual sport (Bobby Fischer, Chess), a major work of literature (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust), major works in ethical, political and social philosophy (Plato, The Republic, and John Stuart Mill, On the Subjection of Women and Utilitarianism), a great work of art (Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, Pablo Picasso, Guernica, Michelangelo, Pieta and Sistine Chapel, Vincent Van Gogh, Cafe Terrace at Night, Jan Vermeer, The Girl with a Pearl Earring, Caravaggio, Inspiration of St Matthew, and Claude Monet, Water Lilies), earning tremendous amounts of wealth (Bill Gates, Microsoft, or Warren Buffet), adumbrated work in media theory (Herbert Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, The Medium is the Message: An Inventory of Effects, and The Global Village: Transformations in World Life and Media in the 21st Century), revolutionary psychiatric work (Timothy Leary, LSD in Psychiatry experiments and Concord Prison Experiment), engineered inventions (Bucky Fuller, Geodesic Dome, Dymaxion Map and Car, and Synergetics), calculation and extrapolation of technological trends (Raymond Kurzweil, The Law of Accelerating Returns), dual Nobel Prizes (Marie Skłodowska-Curie, John Bardeen, Linus Pauling, or Frederick Sanger), or some other revolutionizing idea/production/practice.  Provided these and many other unstated examples, do you consider the association accurate?  What about the tendency of underachievement or underutilization of abilities in the gifted community?  What can people do to alleviate this?

Smart people want to do world-changing things. Many get side-tracked. It’s like sports – not everyone who wants to play in the NBA gets to.

Starting early in life, people do a lot of self-selection based on perceived skills. With nerdy people, sometimes there’s a nice agreement between geniusy interests and skills, almost as if in compensation for social awkwardness. (Not telling you anything new; everybody’s familiar with the awkward, brainy nerd type.)

The sidetracking of smart people into intellectual enclaves might serve to make society more stable. What if every supergenius suddenly decided to go into real estate? It’s likely normal real estate practices would be highly disrupted, and non-supergenius Realtors might have a hard time keeping up.

A combination of factors nudges nerdy people towards mentally demanding activities – having appropriate the skill set, the pleasure of being good at something, other people’s expectations (“You’re so tall – do you play basketball?), the desire for recognition, curiosity, a tendency towards mental flexibility and introspection prompted by not being perfectly at home in the world. Who’s gonna be more creative – the perfectly adjusted straight jock, or the gay guy who had to strategically think his way through every day of the mine field of middle school? (This isn’t entirely fair – there are plenty of wildly creative straight jocks – Matthew Barney and Jeff Koons come to mind – but still….)

Social skills are kind of the icing on the cake of mental development. If everything goes well, you end up with a kid who can fairly easily learn the demanding task of social interaction. But if any of a hundred things goes wrong with brain development, various mental subsystems aren’t adequately integrated, and you don’t get easy social understanding. Come to think of it, this suggests that consciousness – thorough mental integration – is especially important in interpersonal interaction. This doesn’t mean that people on the autism spectrum aren’t conscious. But it may suggest that the components of their consciousness are weighted differently from Frat Boy Joe’s.

Having smooth social skills might be at the expense of profound gifts. There are many well-known examples of people with social challenges who have astonishing eidetic memories or math skills or sculptural ability.

Everyone’s familiar with stereotypical Asperger’s behavior. I think the entertainment industry in which I work is packed with people who have reverse Asperger’s. They have highly developed social skills, which can exact a price. When you can always make friends or hook up or get what you want with charisma, you might not value relationships and may leave a trail of burned bridges. Because social success comes so easily to people with reverse Asperger’s, they may have never learned to do hard things – telling people “No,” for instance. (People in entertainment are notorious for not saying no straight out – it’s painful to disappoint someone. Instead, it’s a “Yes, maybe,” followed by a declining rate of returned phone calls.)

Now, about underachievement or under-utilization of abilities in the gifted community – humans’ evolutionary niche is to spot exploitable regularities in the world. (It’s every animal’s niche, but we really specialize in it.) Some humans are better at spotting patterns than others. Some are more obsessed with and sidetracked by pattern-spotting, sometimes at the expense of real-world skills such as career and relationship success.

Plus, the unsuccessful smart person is a media trope. “Hey – look at the genius who lives in weird squalor.” Schadenfreude. Success isn’t perfectly correlated with intelligence. There are plenty of not-traditionally-successful people at all levels of intelligence. It’s just more exciting to see the smart ones.

What can we do to help make gifted people more successful? Show them the landscape, and let them make informed choices about whom they might like to try to be. We’ve talked about informed will being more important than free will – gifted people should know their options. Growing up, I desperately needed an older sibling (which I didn’t have) to tell me what’s what in junior high and high school. My stepdad tried, but I didn’t respect him until much later, and he didn’t help me understand the social benefits of doing normal guy things.

Back when I was pitching TV shows in the 90s, one of my ideas was a makeover show for nerds. In each episode, an expert panel would help a nerd to examine his life and decide what he wants to keep and what he wants to get rid of in the interest of social success. Keep the room full of pristine Star Wars action figures, but maybe drop 50 pounds and get some new clothes. But it’s not 1998 anymore, and it’s much more acceptable to be a nerd. Nerds and nerdettes are hooking up all over the place without being made over. It’s a little frustrating – I could’ve used some nerd acceptance back in 1974.

69. In turn, what responsibilities do the gifted population have towards society and culture? Why do you think this?

I don’t think gifted people spend much time thinking about what they can give to society (and may not even think of themselves as gifted or at least pretend they don’t). Many highly gifted people are compelled to single-mindedly pursue their visions and objectives at the expense of almost everything else. I don’t know about telling art to behave for society’s sake – don’t think it works like that.

However, I do think that gifted people don’t get a pass to act like dicks just because of their giftedness. Many gifted people have terrible behavior, but so do many non-gifted people. Often, the fame associated with their gifts gives them increased opportunity to engage in bad behavior. And sometimes their gifts have made them a little nuts.

But it’s really stupid to act out sexually in an era with virtually unlimited internet pornography. Having affairs, especially with terrible people – and affair-having is correlated with being terrible – generally doesn’t turn out well. Sending pictures of your penis to women never works out, unless your objective is to be ridiculed and punished and have your life reduced to a shambles. Messing around extracurricularly with people in the flesh just seems so old-school, so 68-year-old Senator dumping his second wife.

What I’m saying is, if you’re in a marriage or long-term relationship that doesn’t have major problems, make do with the images you can find online. Don’t scuttle everything for a half-dozen intimate encounters with some asshole. And don’t tell yourself that being true to your gift doesn’t leave you with sufficient control over the rest of your behavior to avoid trouble. But this is coming from a guy who’s always had such lousy game with women that such opportunities never come up.

**********************Bibliography at end of part eight***********************


In-Sight by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-Sight, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Rick G. Rosner: Giga Society, Member; Mega Society, Member & ex-Editor (1991-97); and Writer (Part Five)

Mr. Rick G. Rosner


Part five of eight, comprehensive interview with Rick G. Rosner.  Giga Society member, ex-editor for Mega Society (1990-96), and writer.  He discusses the following subject-matter: mathematics and physics, logic and metaphysics, mutual interrelationships, digital physics and “informational cosmology,” consciousness grounded in informational cosmological definitions of “self-consistency” and “information processing,” identification of minds within universe with consciousness, interrelation between minds and universe, subcategorizations of self-consistency and information processing based on interpretations and definitions, Georg Ferdinand Ludwig Philipp Cantor, logic, Law of Identity, Law of Non-Contradiction, Law of the Excluded Middle, Plato, Theaetetus, The Republic, Aristotle, Metaphysics, “laws of thought,” Wilhelm Gottfried von Leibniz, Leibniz’ Law, Law of Reflexivity, Law of SymmetryLaw of Transitivity, set theory, Kurt Friedrich Gödel, Saint Anselm of Canterbury, On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems (1931), incompleteness theoremsBoolean Algebra (foundational for digital electronics), George Boole, “Boolean Heresies,” An Investigation of the Laws of Thought (1854), physics, Novikov Self-Consistency Principle, time-travel, computer science, database management systems, Jim Gray (1981), ACID or ‘Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability’, “self-consistent” or “self-consistency” as “system without self-contradiction,” information theory, Claude Elwood Shannon, A Mathematical Theory of Communication (1948), Warren Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication, examples of information processing, application of information theory to information cosmology, reflection of the deep equivalences, clarification of armature of universe and universe, and the rich refinement of digital physics into informational cosmology; definition of universe as the entirety of matter and space; definition of the interrelation of mind and universe based on a personal query from 1981, each mind having structure and rules akin to universe, different manifestations of the same structure at vastly different scales for universe, and the non-mystical/technical nature of the definition; informational cosmogony, cosmology, and eschatology apply to origins up to the present until the resolution of universe, construction of a metric for individual local and global consciousness, mathematical operation of universe with a quote from Eugene Wigner, armature of universe, speculation on descriptors of armature for universe, a response to Wigner quote with Einstein, and speculation on external universes and respective armatures from our universe; thoughts on the disparaging nature of the commentary on consciousness; survival advantages of consciousness, commentary on evolution and consciousness, and the possible role for consciousness in evolution; statistical likelihood of localized consciousness within universe and globalized consciousness of universe, and the ‘Statistical Argument for Existence’, and further commentary on it; thoughts on reactions to grand claims made about the structure of thought and universe, and brief comments; Aristotelian foundational empiricism, natural philosophy, methodological naturalism, rationalism, empiricism, inductivism, Ockham’s Razor, consilience, falsificationism, verificationism, hypothetico-deductivism, Bayesianism, and epistemological anarchism; reflections on religious/irreligious conceptions of an afterlife such as reincarnation (with/without karma), heaven and hell, oblivion, nirvana, union with the divine, and the whole suite of possibilities for an afterlife, and in particular their truth value; and general thoughts on religion.

Keywords: armature, computer science, consciousness, evolution, faith, falsificationism, Giga Society, heaven, hell, information processing, informational cosmogony, informational cosmology, informational eschatology, irreligious, karma, law of non-contradiction, logic, mathematical, Mega Society, metaphysics, nirvana, Novikov Self-Consistency Principle, physics, predictions, probabilities, religion, Rick G. Rosner, science, self-consistency, universe.

45. We discussed mathematics and physics, logic and metaphysics, consciousness and its subcategories, and these conceptualizations’ mutual interrelationships. In particular, refinement of digital physics into “informational cosmology.” 

Furthermore, in informational cosmological nomenclature, your definition of consciousness divides into and emerges from two broad ideas: self-consistency and information processing.  In brief review, we have identification of minds within universe with consciousness, universe with consciousness, and the interrelation of mind and universe based on isomorphic function and characteristics.  What beyond this introductory realization of the equivalence?  I observe multiple arenas of common discourse – let me explain.

From an informational cosmological foundation, the hyphenated term “self-consistency” and phrase “information processing” divide into further subcategorizations.  These subcategories have constraints from definitions.  “Self-consistency” and “information processing” contain various definitions because of differing interpretations, but technical and concrete definitions hold most import here.  

As a general primer to “self-consistency” – which might have less decipherability than “information processing,” we can begin with this informational cosmology expression “self-consistency.” German mathematician and founder of set theory (fundamental theory for mathematics), Georg Ferdinand Ludwig Philipp Cantor, defined self-consistency as the inability to derive both the statement and negation of the statement at the same time.  Cantor argued, if deriving the statement and its negation, the derivation would self-contradict. (One can transform this into more formal set theoretic language about elements contained in sets – or the language of mathematics, self-consistency holds great weight for mathematicians, and logic, see Law of Non-Contradiction below.)

Self-consistency does have other theoretical universes of discourse in addition to multiple practical and applied venues of human venture: logic, set theory, mathematics, physics, computer science, and many others.  

In logic, the Law of Identity (A equals A), Law of Non-Contradiction (A cannot equal not-A), and Law of the Excluded Middle (For all A: either A or not-A) all introduced – informally & implicitly by Plato in Theaetetus &The Republic and formally & explicitly by Aristotle in Metaphysics - in ancient Greece. Sometimes called “laws of thought.”  These delineate facets of self-consistency expressed in the formalisms and vernacular of logic.  For one similar vein, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz derived Leibniz’ Law, ‘x = y': if, and only if, x contains every property of y, and vice versa.  Moreover, he derived sublaws from Leibniz’ Law such as the Law of Reflexivity, Law of Symmetry, and Law of Transitivity.  For one example, Law of Reflexivity, ‘x = x': everything is equal to itself.  This mirrors the Law of Identity of Athenian philosophers – Plato and Aristotle.  Patterns – Platonic Forms and Ideas even – of concepts arise in repeated episodes of the historical timeline – groping towards some unitary definition.

In set theory, Austrian-born American logician, mathematician, and philosopher, Kurt Friedrich Gödel, had additional fame for formalization of St. Anselm’s Ontological Proof for the existence of God.  In addition to this, Gödel published Über formal unentscheidbare Sätze der Principia Mathematica und verwandter Systeme or On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems (1931).  Tersely, an axiomatic system capable of describing natural numbers (e.g., 1, 2, 3…) held within it: 1) cannot be both consistent and complete, and 2) if consistent, the consistency of the axioms cannot be proven within the system.  He, and modern specialists, call these two incompleteness theorems.

In mathematics, English logician, mathematician, philosopher, and founder of Boolean Algebra (foundational for digital electronics), George Boole, continued the ancient Grecians work in a facsimile of the earlier laws of thought with some extensions in mathematical language.  I call them “Boolean Heresies” for fun.  Boole laid these out in An Investigation of the Laws of Thought (1854). The primary extension from Aristotle became the extension of the three classical laws of thought into mathematical symbolisms, formalisms, and terminology.  For one example, the ‘=’ or ‘equals sign’ signals synonymous meaning with the Law of Identity or the Law of Reflexivity between things.  Things labelled ‘A’ in the Law of Identity and ‘x’ in the Law of Reflexivity discussed earlier. 

In physics, applied to time travel – the Novikov Self-Consistency Principle, ‘laws’ of physics must remain self-consistent at a global level in the real universe to prohibit any paradoxes with respect to time travel.  In this application, time-travel scenarios must disallow violation of universe’s global laws. 

In computer science, at least in database management systems, the acronym ACID equates to principles for operation of database transactions.  “ACID,” from Jim Gray (1981), means ‘Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability’ with the importance of ‘consistency’ meaning “the transaction must obey legal laws.” 

In broad definitions provided by Gray (1981) about the “general model of transactions,” he states, “Transactions preserve the system consistency constraints — they obey the laws by transforming consistent states into new consistent states.” As noted, Boolean Algebraic (Boole) systems operable in computer science too. 

One can see the pattern in numerous fields.  Therefore, “self-consistent” or “self-consistency” within informational cosmology means “system without self-contradiction.” 

“Information processing” will have an easier time of comprehension because of living in the computer age, digital age, or information age.  American mathematician and cryptographer Claude Elwood Shannon’s article, A Mathematical Theory of Communication (1948), represented information theory connected to communication. A short paper, experts consider this article foundational to the field of information theory, which allowed many of them to decree Shannon the father of the information age.  

American scientist and mathematician, Warren Weaver, republished A Mathematical Theory of Communication (1948) and expanded on Shannon’s work in a coauthored – with Weaver – book entitled The Mathematical Theory of Communication (1949).  Specialists remember Weaver for pioneering work in machine translation.  Shannon and Weaver laid the framework for information and communication theory up to the present day.

In it, if we take a human interpretive view of the work, he showed the degree of “noise” – entropy/disorder introduced into the message – entering between the “information source” (brain1/mind1) & “transmitter” (voice/speech) and the “receiver” (ears) & “destination” (brain2/mind2).  Noise enters between the transmitter and receiver to decrease the quality of the message from the information source to the destination.

For an everyday example, if you whisper from a mile away, your friend will have trouble understanding you – too much “noise” preventing clear receiving and interpretation of the message; if you whisper next to your friend’s ear, the message will more likely have appropriate receiving, decoding, and arrival at the destination for your friend’s comprehension. 

Not clear enough – think of a computer, how does it process information?  It processes information according to input, process, and output.  You type a symbol on the keyboard – input, the machine runs internal mechanics – process, and produces the appropriate (if functional) symbol on the monitor – output.  Hence, the foundation of information theory in informational cosmology.

Input becomes any decipherable piece of data to the system. Process becomes the algorithm for managing the information.  Output becomes the final product of input and process. Likewise, this applies to everything in informational cosmology at local and global scales.

In current vernacular, we ask, “What if the contents of the universe equals input, process equals laws plus time, and output equals transformations of the contents (e.g., particles, fields, forces, and so on) of the universe?” 

In informational cosmological parlance, we ask, “What if bit units of universe equal input, process equals principles of existence plus time, and output equals transformations of bit units of universe?”  

These reflect deep equivalences.  As noted by 21 year old Rick, all theories of grandeur and great import start with big equivalences.  You shifted the perspective. Subsequent information processing equates to observed universe.  Simply put, we need an armature by necessity, but do not observe the armature based on externality to universe.

Armature of universe equates to material framework or processor; universe equates to information processing or processing.  We observe the information processing.  We call this universe.  We do not observe the material framework, but by necessity require processor based on isomorphic geometry between universe and individual localized minds.  

Individual localized minds operate from brains, and therefore universe must have an equivalent of a “brain” – aforementioned armature.  This deals with information and universe at the largest scales. In this, we have the rich derivation, i.e. refinement, of digital physics into informational cosmology. 

Since universe does have some characterization in relation to subsystems within itself based on isomorphic properties, what would count among other subcategorizations? In other words, what other manifestations exemplify the definition of self-consistency or information processing?  How do you define these ideas in more colloquial terms?

Consciousness is the vivid, emotionally charged, moment-to-moment sharing of processed sensory input, memories, and simulated/imagined self-generated content among brain systems which receive a wide-angle flow of information. By wide-angle, I mean not a linear relaying of signals from A to B to C but instead, sharing of information with many other brain systems, so that each system knows what’s going on in the rest of the brain (within the limitations of its specialty). Systems can pop into and drop out of consciousness, depending on the brain’s moment-to-moment processing needs.

Each pertinent subsystem adds its angle on what’s currently under consideration in the mind, possibly triggering further associations. Memories are pretty much locked until they’re unlocked by being pulled into the conscious arena. Most people have memories which they’ve remembered so many times that the original memory has been all messed around by being rewritten over and over in the conscious arena. (Do we need to fully light up a memory to remember/mess with it?)

The entire mind needs to speak the same language of representation, so there’s probably a lot of recursion, where subsystems of the brain have to be able to identify stuff that’s not their specialties. Some systems can be less clued-in than others. Our sense of smell seems to be kind of distant from other systems. You smell something, it’s familiar, it’s on the tip of your brain, but you can’t quite pull up the specifics of when you’ve smelled that smell before. (If you were a dog, you could pull up everything about that smell. When humans and dogs teamed up, humans took over strategic thinking, and dogs took charge of smelling.) Language probably makes pulling up associations easier and more efficient. Hanging a word on something is a kind of shorthand (that maybe takes up less space than a full description and makes it more retrievable).

Anyhow, the same way every part of your brain knows what’s going on in every other part via the conscious mind, every part of the universe is clued in to every other part (via long-distance particles – mainly photons in the active center and neutrinos traveling to the deeper structure on the outskirts). The conservation laws – momentum, energy – and the relative constancy across space and time of physical constants help the universe maintain informational consistency.

I also think that much of our understanding is virtual, where, in any given moment, our awareness doesn’t contain much, but by shifting attention around, we build a virtually complete picture of the world. It’s similar to how our eyesight functions – we have precise vision for only about 15 degrees out of a total visual field of 200 degrees. We can’t precisely see an entire painting or TV image all at once. Our eyes wander around the image, and we build a more-or-less complete picture in our mind. Our awareness probably works the same way. Our brains can only process so much in any given moment. Whatever’s under consideration gets analyzed in some ways and then in others, but not in all possible ways at once. We never see or comprehend anything completely in an instant but through sequential processing build up (over a short period of time) what acts like fairly complete understanding.

It’s like trying to look at Macy’s 50-by-100-foot American flag in a storage closet. You can only spread out 20 square feet of it at a time, but eventually, by looking at different parts of it, you can develop a picture of the whole flag.

So a thought isn’t just some parts of the brain lighting up all at once – it’s a whole chain of parts of the brain lighting up until you eventually (but in a short period of time – fractions of a second) have the semblance of a complete thought. The universe probably works the same way – galaxies keep lighting up while other galaxies are fading away. A thought isn’t just the 10^11 galaxies lit at any one time – it’s a whole chain of lit galaxies, like an animated, moving display of Christmas lights. Thoughts – things under consideration – fade into each other. We have a more thorough understanding of things than what we understand at any instant. And the universe is more precisely defined than just by the relationships among matter in the active center.

In both the mind and the universe, you need consistency. Galaxies don’t wink in and out of existence just because you’ve shifted your point of view. A galaxy exists no matter where it’s viewed from (though if you go far enough away from it, it’ll look Hubble/relativistically/informationally redshifted). Same thing in your mind. If an event definitely made itself known to some part of your conscious mind – red traffic light – that light isn’t red according to some parts of your mind and green according to others. You can have ambiguous events where you’re not sure what happened, but if you have deep disagreements about established facts between different parts of the brain, that’s trouble.

46. All representation of the information sharing of the material framework of universe equates to universe in informational cosmogony, cosmology, and eschatology. More elements have inclusion here. How do you define universe?

The universe is the entirety of matter and space – everything that has interacted with or could interact with us. It’s an information space – an arena for the sharing, processing and storing of information (for the universe, not directly for us), with the scale and curvature of space determined by the rules of information and its distribution and correlations. (That is, the distribution of matter.) The location (and velocity) of matter has almost everything to say about its correlations as information.

47. Insofar as mind and universe have propinquity – kinship in nature; a structural relation between individual localized consciousness within universe and globalized consciousness of universe. How do you define their interrelation?

Back in 1981, I asked myself, “What if the geometry of information within consciousness is the same as the geometry of the universe? (And how can it not be?)” The optimal structure/map of the information within each individual mind has the same general structure and rules as the universe and its physics. It has 4D space-time, atoms, the whole deal (with allowances for the universe having about 10^80 particles and our brains having 10^11 neurons, which, though I don’t know how many particles in a mind-space this might translate into, can’t be many more than 10^16). The mind and the universe are different manifestations (at vastly different scales) of the same information structure. We see the universe from the inside – as part of it – so we don’t see it as information (except that quantum mechanics is the rules of behavior for matter about which there is incomplete information – we can see that matter is information by catching it behaving as incomplete information, as in the double-slit experiment). And we each embody our own mind, so we see only its information and not the mechanics of it.

People suspect that you might be a wacko when you try to assign consciousness to anything but people and higher animals, as if you’re talking about a fancy, mysterious transcendent realm of rocks and trees and butterflies sending thinky vibes to each other. But no – consciousness is a technical thing, not a mystical thing, associated with broadband sharing of real-time information among brain subsystems plus emotionally linked value determinations. (Emotions and values amplify the personal importance of what’s happening in your life. We have evolved to care about our lives. Apathy and absence of judgment aren’t the best survival characteristics – if you can’t be compelled to care about yourself and choose favourable courses of action, you’re in trouble.) When a bunch of specialized systems in your brain are exchanging information including emotions in real time – when every part of your brain knows what’s going on, more or less, in every other part of your brain, and you have feelings about it, that’s consciousness – a technical property associated with global, pervasive information-sharing. (The subsystems need to understand the information they’re getting hit with. Most parts of your brain understand fire or the color fuchsia or birds (in ways pertinent to each brain system’s function, with some parts understanding some things better than others, consistent with their specialties).) It’s not mystical – not connected to some divine or exalted domain.

48. Informational cosmology describes the self-consistency and information processing of universe.  We might construct a metric for individual local and global consciousness.  Universe operates under mathematical principles of existence (laws).  Eugene Wigner’s stock quote about the “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” seems apropos to me – not in presumption about either side of the ledger.  Universe’s armature might operate within other principles of existence. 

By an informational cosmological definition, anything internal to universe operates according to mathematical principles of existence (mathematical laws).  Anything external to universe operates in mathematics containing universe’s mathematics, or in some novel considerations about the nature of mathematics.  Universe’s armature exists external to universe.  Therefore, universe’s armature must operate in mathematics containing universe’s mathematics, or in some novel considerations about the nature of mathematics. Any speculation about this?  What does this imply?

You talk about constructing “a metric for individual local and global consciousness.” I think that, in terms of increasing brain complexity, consciousness becomes well-rounded – feeling like a fully-rendered experience of the world – pretty fast. It’s not clear how deeply insects feel, but fish and reptiles feel and think, though they can be pretty boring as companions. I had a genius goldfish that figured out how to call me to feed it by noisily blowing bubbles at the top of the tank. Even with their tiny little heads, birds feel and think (and can be kind of dickish – read about Alex the parrot). And of course mammals think and feel. Darwin, who was above all an excellent observer, knew that animals feel, writing the book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.

I think of subjective degrees of consciousness like the number of sides in a polygon. With increasing numbers, they become close to perfectly round pretty fast. A tire shaped like a regular triangle or square would give you a very bumpy ride, but this quickly gives way to the near-circles of 12-, 15- and 24-sided regular polygons. Tires in the shape of 24-sided polygons would give you a pretty smooth ride. Fifty- or 100-sided polygons are barely distinguishable from circles.

Consider a dog’s consciousness as a 15-sided polygon – reasonably close to circular. Doesn’t have all our bells & whistles – language, ability to rotate objects in our mind. (On the other hand, we don’t have the world of smells dogs have.) And consider our consciousness as a 100-sided polygon. Lots of ways to analyze and mentally manipulate things – when we look at something, we feel as if we’re really seeing it. Our lives feel deeply substantial and authentic to us, but they probably don’t feel a whole lot less real and immediate to dogs. If we suddenly had the awareness of a frog or alligator or lizard, we might think, “Wow – this is kind of a half-assed representation of the world.” (Or maybe not – alligators must have some precise sensory systems.) Seeing the world with a bug’s awareness might be like being in a 1980s video game – rough, not detailed, not very fleshed-out, not a lot of analytic tools.

As long as we’re messing around in this direction, let’s guess at the size of a thought, in terms of the total number of events in mind-space that might make up that thought. (A mind-space event might be the equivalent of the exchange of a photon or the fusion of a pair of protons with the emission of a neutrino plus a photon.) We have about 86 billion neurons and up to a quadrillion synapses. Assume, just to make sure we’re not underestimating, that 10,000 mind-space events contribute to the firing of a neuron. Figure a neuron might fire up to eight times during a thought. So a thought might consist of nearly 10^16 mind-space events, but it’s probably a lot less, because not every neuron’s firing like crazy, and there probably aren’t 10,000 discernable mind-space events that led up to a neuron firing. (But a neuron firing may not be a single event – it may light up a lot of stuff. Or it may not be an event at all. The formation and breaking of dendritic connections might be events. The network of connections – the associative landscape – might be a framework that tacitly informs the processing of information. The layout of the landscape might provide a virtual context for the information being actively processed, the way collapsed matter might provide context for active matter. Could be like compressed digital information – to send a compressed video, you only specify the pixels that change – you get a series of complete pictures without sending complete pictures. Similarly, the active center of the universe may be only part of the picture the universe is painting for itself. For the (long) moment, it’s the only part that’s in play, but it’s not the whole picture.)

So let’s take a look at the universe, which I theorize is a mind-space thinking a 20- or 30-billion-year thought or part of a thought (in a long-ass string of thoughts). The active center has about 10^80 particles, mostly in stars. Each particle has maybe 10^11 interactions a second times about 3 x 10^7 seconds a year for maybe 3 x 10^10 years. So a thought by the universe might consist of around 10^109 events. That is, of course, enormous – you couldn’t count that high in a year. Or in the apparent lifetime of the universe. Or in a billion apparent lifetimes of the universe for each particle in the universe. So don’t even try.

Why such a big number? Well, if every size of universe less than infinity is allowed, then there’s no limit on size – bigness comes cheap. Normally, I don’t like the anthropic principle, which says the universe is the way it is because we’re in it, but we do need a universe that’s big enough, detailed enough, old enough for us to come to exist in it.

And you asked about Wigner’s “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” quote, which asks why math is so good at describing the universe. I’d counter that with the well-known Einstein quote, “God is subtle, but he’s not malicious.” I think another way of saying that is “The universe is only as complicated as it needs to be.” I’d argue that numbers are about the simplest non-contradictory system (that’s unlimited in size). (Godel proved that numbers might contain hidden contradictions, but we haven’t found any yet, and even if we did, they wouldn’t be serious enough to stop us from using numbers.)

The universe is only as complicated as it needs to be to exist. (There’s probably an argument to be made that more-complicated-than-necessary forms of existence, unless artificially supported, are unstable (or improbable) and break down into simplest-possible forms.) A simplest-possible universe will include simplest-possible components and structures, which can be characterized by numbers, which are themselves part of a simplest-possible system.

You asked about a universe external to ours that contains the universe’s armature. I think that universe can be characterized by the same mathematics that characterizes our universe. The principles of existence keep a fairly tight leash on the forms that universes can take, which includes number of dimensions, types of physical forces, and being characterizable by math. Of course we have no evidence of a universe external to ours.

49. You made disparaging and denigrating statements about consciousness.  Your thumbnail sketch and corporeal definition of self-consistency and information processing does not by necessity implicate such negative commentary. Why the occasional harsh tone on consciousness?  Any positive statement about consciousness while on the topic?

Consciousness is more helpful when you have time to think. Obviously, you come closer to having free will when you have time to consider a situation and can weigh everything you know, including, perhaps, knowledge of your own biases. You can run a thought a few times and see what associations your brain pulls up. Consciousness is helpful in new or complicated situations – it can help recognize patterns and put together essential details, finding exploitable regularities in your environment.

Consciousness lets you talk to yourself. Assigning words to things is powerful when trying to retrieve information from your own memory or from outside sources. (Key words are useful even in your head.) Consciousness lets you run simulations – what would happen if I did this? In the future, advanced versions of us might constantly be running very detailed projections of a range of near-futures – what might happen in the next few seconds or minutes – so we can choose the best course of action. We’d be living in our own near-futures and choosing among them. This might be the closest we come to side-stepping the one-dimensional flow of time.

Consciousness is necessary for interacting with other people. It takes many integrated brain systems to engage in effective human interaction. When the requisite systems don’t function together smoothly, you can end up with autism spectrum challenges.

Sometimes, consciousness seems like more trouble than it’s worth – as when you’re aware of how miserable you are. (Of course evolution only cares about our happiness to the extent that it helps us produce and raise offspring that are themselves good at reproducing. Too much misery would make us ineffective, but so would being happy all the time.) But it’s like me nagging my wife to always keep two hands on the steering wheel in case of sudden and unpredictable danger. Maybe we don’t need consciousness during every waking moment, but it needs to be running for those unpredictable moments when we really need it – when it’s better that we’re not just a bunch of reflexes.

One more thing – say your life really does pass in front of your eyes during moments of extreme danger. Maybe this is a survival mechanism, or is at least an indicator of a survival mechanism. Maybe stress triggers thinking, so stressed organisms think more, and think more fluidly, than non-stressed organisms. We seem to know that extreme stress – danger – triggers a temporary increase in the brain’s ability to take in sensory information – time slows down, and we’re hyperaware of our surroundings. Perhaps really big danger triggers a really big thought reaction – your brain tries to make you think everything all at once.

50. Consciousness can offer survival advantages. Can it play a role in evolution? How might this play out?

This is a recent excerpt from a book by evolutionary biologist Professor Andreas Wagner on

“Selection did not—cannot—create all this variation. A few decades after Darwin, Hugo de Vries expressed it best when he said that “natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest.” And if we do not know what explains its arrival, then we do not understand the very origins of life’s diversity.”

That is, we know how changes in and variations among animals may allow some animals to produce more descendants, but we don’t know enough about how such changes originate and become enduring details in evolutionary history. Not enough consideration has been given to consciousness as an evolution booster. (Obviously, at some point in the development of a civilized species, random evolution is mostly replaced by intentional change. Humans are at this point.) I think that consciousness facilitates evolution in a variety of ways. One possible way – the stress of being ill-adapted triggers increased mental flexibility. Say a nerdy organism has a gimpy leg or something. Maybe there’s a mechanism where that organism has a little meltdown, with normally crystallized patterns of behavior becoming subject to conscious consideration, possibly resulting in innovation. (Hey, it happened to me, maybe it can happen to an iguana.) Only to the extent, of course, that the organism has a mental arena – gimpy amoebas won’t be doing any thinking. (Though similar-to-conscious mechanisms might still occur in non-conscious beings. A changing environment may prompt inadvertent innovation among amoebas, even though it’s happening through chemistry, not consciousness.) Once a successful innovation arises, there’s a new niche offering an advantage to organisms that are relatively better at the innovation (assuming that the innovation can be disseminated and perpetuated).

Another way consciousness can increase the likelihood or frequency of evolutionary change might be through a generalization of the “Nerds are compelled to think” principle discussed above. What if every member of a species has some conscious awareness? Every behavior or combination of behaviors in an organism’s conscious arena (entirely or in part), is subject to conscious variation. That is, the organism understands the behavior to some little extent and can put its spin on it. The behavior isn’t entirely unconscious and hard-wired. Conscious variation makes possible a bunch of small potential advantages – on a short-term basis for individual animals, on a medium-term basis from physiological variation that already exists within a species, and on a long-term basis from mutation. Behavioral change can lead to genetic change, not in a Lamarckian sense, but by giving an advantage to those organisms which can best perform the changed behavior. Animals can’t choose their mutations and variations, but, if capable of any thought, are better able to take advantage of them.

Animal thought can make evolutionary transitions more likely and mutations more likely to be exploited (among both thinking animals and the organisms they interact with – cows and corn aren’t great thinkers, but they’ve gained a reproductive advantage via human thought). Genetic changes can be abrupt – there’s punctuated equilibrium, where the fossil record shows relatively fast transitions between long periods of unchanging form; thought can ease such transitions. I dunno – maybe biologists adequately factor animals’ ability to think into evolution, but I kind of doubt it. I guess a test of this would to see if the pace of evolution has accelerated along with complexity of thought (other things being equal). We had 2.5 billion years of bacteria, a few hundred million years of cell colonies, then – boom – a panoply of life in relatively quick succession – worms, fish, amphibians, bugs, reptiles, birds, lemurs. Flexible behavior facilitates evolution.

The stories of individual organisms must sometimes be crucial to evolutionary history. Gimpy Carla the Crustacean has a weird claw; she figures out she can use it to really get at snails – good eatin’! Her friends learn the same trick – maybe not as expertly as Carla, but enough for snail scooping to become part of Carla’s species’ behavioural repertoire. Skilled snail-scooping turns into an evolutionary advantage, with members of the species that have genes which help make them better scoopers having more reproductive success. Or maybe Gimpy Carla doesn’t find a use for her weird claw; maybe she figures out something else altogether. Or perhaps there’s nothing particularly wrong with Carla’s claws, and she figures out a new behaviour anyway. Maybe she sees an octopus flipping over rocks to get what’s underneath, and Carla’s like, “Hey – I can flip rocks, too.”

51. Furthermore, you have spoken on the probability for the existence of both globalized consciousness of universe and individual localized consciousness within universe.  We can name these ‘Statistical Arguments for Consciousness’: consciousness of universe (and consciousness of minds within it) cannot not exist. 

Indeed, the simple existence of universe could be called ‘Statistical Argument for Universe’: universe cannot not exist.  Some state this as a blunt, dull, and passive query, “Why is there something rather than nothing?”  What best represents these idea?  How can you state this in formal terms?

You can view Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am” as a statistical argument. Given the apparently highly organized and consistent information within a human’s consciousness, the odds that the existence it reflects isn’t real and is instead caused by happenstance is nearly zero.

To put it in a mathematical framework, there must be some measure of the complexity/amount of information within an individual awareness and within the universe. And there’s some calculation you could do which represents the odds that such complexity could arise as a momentary random blip that doesn’t reflect actual existence. The odds are infinitesimal.

(When saying that the universe “can’t not exist,” I mean something else – that there’s a statistical bias towards existence. Non-existence entails as special a set of circumstances as existence – it’s not the default state of things. And given that there’s a very small set of non-existent states and a very large set of possible states of existence, there’s a probabilistic argument to be made in favor of existence. There might be only one state of perfect non-existence. If there were different null states, then there’d be something to differentiate them. And that something is something that exists, so at least one of those things isn’t the null state. (Can’t imagine nullity coming in a bunch of flavors.) The more particles you have, the greater the number of possible interrelationships they can have, with that number growing at least exponentially. (Look at video games now compared to video games in the 80s. Complexity allows variety.) Also, if the principles of existence permit existence, there has to be existence – not all possible states all the time, but permitted states (one at a time) operating under (possibly self-arising) rules.

52. You’re making enormous claims about the structure and function of both mind and universe. Even in general terms connected to their relationship, these arguments might create grounds for individual or collective bafflement, confusion, glazed reading, instinctive ire, reactive dismissal, mockery, scolding, scoffing, offense, prods and epithets about intelligence, furrowed brows, pleas for clarification, misunderstandings tied to wrongful extensions and conclusions of the theory, straw-manned misinterpretations, questioning of sanity, non-sequitur statements, appeals to emotion or authority for disproof, personal attacks at various facets of your personal life – including shallow attacks at family, and awe at ground breaking ideas – let alone thoughts about the interviewer.  

Most reactions and feedback welcome.  Preference for constructive feedback.  However, these have zero connection to the truth or falsity of the theory.  We need rigorous scientific methodological constraints. Obviously, and an extraordinarily important note, this journal is not peer-reviewed.  Any reflections?

I’ve been interviewed before, though never at this length, and am familiar with the kind of comments this could generate. Pretty comfortable being an eccentric clown – it’s often helped me avoid being fired. “He’s crazy, but he’s harmless – just leave him be.” Have done a lot of ridiculous stuff, in part because I’ve thought as long as I’m doing physics in my head, whatever else I do doesn’t matter so much. By talking about this theory in depth, I’m hoping for pretty much the first time to eventually be taken seriously.

Even if I didn’t have a history of being a goofball, this would be tough. A bunch of people have radical theories of the universe. Many are at least a little crazy; most are wrong. There’s a fun test by John Baez called “The Crackpot Index,” which gives a craziness score for your theory and yourself. I score about 20 out of a possible 641, putting me on the low end of crazy. But I write jokes for TV, have been a stripper, don’t have a PhD or have ever worked in academia, my theory isn’t peer-reviewed, it has very few equations. Making it legit will be a long haul.

I’ve postulated a lot of stuff here; some of it will turn out to be true or closer to true than currently accepted theories. It feels consistent with what we know and has a kind of poetic rightness. But that’s just how I feel. Could get some credit, or could be like Fritz Hasenohrl, who, a year before Einstein, came up w/ E = 3/4 MC^2. So close.

Gonna use social and other media to try to get my stuff out there, hoping that the current culture of foolishness finds me foolish enough to embrace and that the attention prompts legit people to ponder my BS.

53. Modern science developed many explicit and tacit boundaries along the trajectory of development. From an ahistorical and more conceptual consideration while acknowledging the rough-and-tumble development of modern science, some bounds include Aristotelian foundational empiricism, natural philosophy, methodological naturalism, rationalism, empiricism, inductivism, Ockham’s Razor, consilience, falsificationism, verificationism, hypothetico-deductivism, Bayesianism, and epistemological anarchism.

Undoubtedly, quarrels exist around the appropriate weight and inclusion of these – and unstated others.  I state the description of them in the upcoming format for sake of concision. Far too much to cover here.  Many, many books written at length on the subjects alone and together.  I will cover each in their presented order. 

Originating from a single mine of human endeavour, science forged from the base metals of Aristotelian thought.  Aristotle, the smithy, even invented the – still used – biological taxonomical distinctions of animalia and plantae in the 4th century BCE.  Aristotle shifted the dominant philosophy from the Platonic to the empirical – suiting for a strong student of Plato in The Academy

English alchemist, biblical scholar, mathematician, occultist, and philosopher, Sir Isaac Newton, from The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (1687) becomes the transition between the era of natural philosophy and natural science.  In fact, some would consider the simple definition of studying natural causes by natural means sufficient to explain a foundational principle of science: methodological naturalism.

Rationalism and empiricism tend to oppose one another.  Pure rationalism defines knowledge from the human mind alone (a priori); pure empiricism defines knowledge from experience alone (a posteriori). Pythagoras, Parmenides, and Zeno of Elea represent early rationalism culminating in Plato with the candle kept alight by René Descartes, Benedict (Baruch in Hebrew) de Spinoza, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, Francis Herbert Bradley, Bernard Bosanquet, Josiah Royce, Noam Chomsky, and other ancient and modern exemplars.

Sophists represent early empiricism coming afire with Aristotle with the torch taken by the Stoics and Epicureans, followed by Saint Augustine of Hippo, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon, William of Ockham, Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, Voltaire, John Stuart Mill, William Kingdon Clifford, Karl Pearson, Bertrand Russell, Sir Alfred Jules Ayer, and other ancient and modern exemplars.  For some preliminary reading, René Descartes defends rationalism in Discourse on the Method (1637); John Locke defends empiricism in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689).

1st Viscount St. Alban, English jurist, philosopher, and statesmen, Francis Bacon, founded the Baconian Method in Novum Organum Scientiarum or New Instrument of Science (1620), synonymous with inductivism Where Aristotle represents the major transition from dominant rationalism to some form of empiricism, Bacon represents the metamorphosing of empiricism into more modern empiricism. 

Science does not give proofs.  Mathematics produces proofs.  As founded by Francis Bacon under the appellation empiricism and enunciated by Scottish economist, empiricist, historian, and philosopher, David Hume, science amasses evidence for probabilities of theories. Weight towards theories and arguments based on quantity and quality of evidence.  Sometimes echoed in the oft-said – to the point of boredom – phrase of Carl Sagan, adapted from Marcello Truzzi, for extreme cases, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”  

English Franciscan friar, and scholastic philosopher and theologian, William of Ockham, proposed Ockham’s Razor, or the principle of parsimony, meaning do not multiply assumptions/premises (“entities”) past the point of necessity.  In other words, among competing hypotheses choose the one with the least assumptions.

English polymath, historian of science, Anglican priest, and theologian, William Whewell, brought “consilience” into consideration with The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, Founded Upon Their History (1840). Of great importance, Whewell – in addition to other work by John Herschel – formalized the modern methodology of science with History of the Inductive Sciences (1837) and The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, Founded Upon Their History (1840).  Whewell’s efforts with the term consilience faded in philosophy of science until revival in the late 1990s.  His lasting mark continues with the modern methodology and refinement of the title “natural philosophy” to “science” and “natural philosopher” to “scientist.”    

With great acumen for synthesis (and conceptual resurrection), American biologist, naturalist, and sociobiologist, Edward Osborne Wilson reawakened the philosophy of science term “consilience” with Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (1998). However, Wilson attempted to bridge the division between the humanities and sciences adumbrated by Barron Charles Percy Snow from The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (1959).  We can leave considerations of humanist convictions possibly driving the thrust of Wilson’s efforts while sustaining the content of the text, argument, and term from philosophy of science.  “Consilience” means convergence of evidence from multiple disciplines; a confluence of evidence from multiple fields, subfields, researchers, and laboratories. 

Insofar as methodological science concerns itself with absolutes, Austrian-born British Philosopher, Sir Karl Raimund Popper thought science falsifies. Some call this criterion falsificationism.  Popper meant this to solve problems of induction and demarcation.  Of course, this proposed solution/answer to two problems/questions (induction and demarcation) non-arbitrarily excludes certain disciplines from scientific analysis. 

Problem of Induction asks, “Does inductive reasoning lead to knowledge?” “Inductive reasoning” means evidence for support of premises without aim of absolute proof (particular to general); as opposed to deductive reasoning meaning premises logically imply conclusion of the argument (general to particular). 

Problem of Demarcation asks, “What distinguishes science from non-science?”  According to Popper, with respect to one instance with the Problem of Demarcation, non-science fails at adherence to falsificationism For example, astrology, Freudian psychoanalysis, and metaphysics seen through the lens of falsificationism – and skepticism – become non-science, and therefore equate to pseudoscience within this single constraint. 

Although, not set firm, Popperian discussions continue, e.g. some might argue for verifiability over falsifiability.  “Verifiability over falsifiability” meaning the theory must have verification rather than the possibility of falsification.

Dutch physicist, mathematician, and astronomer, Christiaan Huygens, built the original scaffolding for the hypothetico-deductive methodology.   A procedure for building a scientific theory accounting for results of observation, experimentation, and inference with the possibility of further effects being verified/not verified. For a concrete example, hypothetico-deductivism might use Bayesian analysis based on Bayes’ Theorem/Bayes’ Law/Bayes’ Rule 

Reverend Thomas Bayes died and one friend, Richard Price, edited and published An Essay towards solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances (1763), which contained the theorem. In briefBayes’ Theorem deals with the mathematics of conditional probabilities.  Some applications and utility in calculations for real-world scenarios in drug testing.  Bayesianism took the throne of inductivism (which Popper rejected) or became the adapted equivalent of inductivism in the modern day, especially with the utility in the ascendance of modern medical testing. 

Austrian philosopher of science, Paul Feyerabend, proposed epistemological anarchism.  Epistemology means the study of the nature and scope of knowledge.  In this sense, within the confines of scientific discourse, epistemological anarchism means science’s attempts for fixed boundaries appears too optimistic and eventually detrimental to science itself, and therefore the search for universal boundaries of operation becomes an impossible ideal. 

History presents one tangled, messy narrative filled with disagreement, dialogue, and debate, even petty feuds.   At bottom, we need predictions and tests.  What does your theory predict?  How could we test the predictions of informational cosmogony, informational cosmology, and informational eschatology?

Some possibly testable questions:

Can my theorizing reasonably be made to agree with well-established observational evidence? For instance, I say there’s a bunch of blackish collapsed (but non-exotic) matter, located mostly in what appears to be the early universe and probably around the outskirts of galaxies (as well as at the center of galaxies, but that’s been established). Can this work in terms of galactic dynamics? The greatest observed Hubble galactic redshift is about 12; I say there’s a bunch of blackish stuff with redshifts of 1,000 or more. Very convenient – all the stuff that makes the universe work is nearly invisible.

For my theory to work, black holes have to be more accessible and reversible than they’re currently thought of as being. This can work if the matter in collapsing bodies creates additional space for itself by shrinking. (A house or a collapsing star is a lot more spacious if you’re only two feet tall.) This makes sense informationally. Not only is the matter in a collapsing body defined by its interaction (gun-fighting) with the rest of the universe, it’s additionally defined by all the additional gun-fighting going on within the body. With so much matter clustered so close together, the particles can zip bullets back and forth among themselves at a much faster rate than in non-collapsed matter, defining themselves in space much more precisely. You still have tremendous forces, but they’re not enough to inexorably crush matter beyond the resistance of any other force. (You can still lose information in a blackish hole to noise/heat, if the ability of the universe to store information isn’t perfect.)

Blackish holes which have less crushing power than they’re traditionally understood to have should be able to coexist with non-collapsed matter without relentlessly consuming it. If galaxies cycle over and over, there’s gonna be some collapsed matter left around. Maybe new stars sometimes coalesce around collapsed bodies. Maybe some collapsed bodies can open back up from the heat generated near the center of new stars. In general, gentler new-school blackish holes create less havoc than unstoppable old-school black holes. We should be able to mathematically model galaxies that contain a bunch of collapsed non-exotic matter (including modeling various ways old galaxies get lit back up). There’s a study released just a few hours ago which suggests that up to half the stars in the universe might be found outside of galaxies. This seems possibly consistent with a very old universe with parts of space that repeatedly puff up and shrink down, do-si-doing into and back out of the active center. Stuff’s gonna get tossed around.

Can information-based cosmology fit in with well-established laws of physics? When I edited Noesis, I received articles from people claiming to have disproved Einstein. Disproving Einstein is a major indication your thinking is likely flawed. Einstein’s theories show that space and time and matter are up for grabs, lacking Newtonian solidity, which brings out the theorizing in some people. Einstein didn’t disprove Newton. He put Newton in a larger context. I don’t want to disprove well-established physics – I want to put some of it in a new information-based context.

Can this be mathematicized? Seems like it – it has some math in it already. It sounds a little like what legit guys like John Wheeler and Ed Fredkin sound like when they talk about a universe that’s built from first principles. Scientists who come up with biggish theories often talk about looking for elegance or simplicity or divine symmetry – indications that the deep rules governing the universe are particularly nice – non-arbitrary, explaining a lot with a little, having a pleasant orderliness without being a complete buzzkill. Do my principles and the big equivalence between mind-space and physical space have the right poetry, the right irony, the right we-should’ve-known? Do they give us and the universe a destiny that makes sense?

Is what I’m claiming consistent with what we know of the mind and brain, of the phenomenology of thought?

Do the general principles mesh with the specifics – have I come to the right conclusions in going from an information-based universe to the five persistent particles being the major players in it?

Do the two structures – mind and universe – inform each other in what seems like a reasonable way? Do memories in our heads really pop into our awareness like galaxies lighting up? Can blackish holes be seen as storing information for later retrieval? Can efficient, three-dimensional information spaces be constructed? Does it make sense that a nexus of information would coalesce like a galaxy? Are words and concepts and people and things represented in our mental maps by things that look like stars and galaxies? (Hey, how else would they look? – not like frickin’ file cabinets.) Can we eventually find connections between brain activity and structure and mind-space activity and structure? Are stars and galaxies the best way to cluster related information? How does gravitation decide what information clusters into stars and galaxies, forming concepts and representations? Why does a concept end up in one galaxy rather than another? (Though everything’s related to everything else, choices still have to be made about which things are clustered with each other – you can’t have just one big cluster.) What do orbits and angular momentum mean in terms of information?

By the way – I love Bayesian analysis. When working as an ID-checker in bars, I created a Bayesian system which assigned points for everything not quite right about a potential customer’s ID and presentation. At its most refined, the system and I could catch 99% of fake IDs with only one or two false catches a year. (This was back when going to bars, not going online, was probably the number-one way to try to hook up. Having a fake ID was a big deal back then.)

54. With regards to traditional religious/irreligious conceptions of an afterlife such as reincarnation (with/without karma), heaven and hell, oblivion, nirvana, union with the divine, and the whole suite of possibilities, do you consider any of them to have any truth value? If so, which one(s)? 

I think in the not-too-distant future, we’ll have technical resurrection – technologically created conscious entities which can be seen as approximating the continuation of specific humans’ awarenesses. Eventually, we’ll understand and synthesize consciousness. (Some disappointment may accompany the understanding of consciousness – once dissected, it may not hold all the wonder it currently does.)

As to whether the universe has non-human means for continuing or resuming human consciousness – could be. If there are high degrees of infinity of worlds that can and do exist at some point, then finite beings such as ourselves (or close approximations of ourselves) could pop up. But this pop-up existence seems unlikely out-of-context.

By out-of-context, I mean that we are born into a world which seems to operate via natural processes. For us to pop up, out-of-context, in a constructed world, there would need to be a constructor. I don’t see a lot of evidence for some outside constructor preparing a world for us beyond our natural existence. I think we humans will have to help ourselves (and any possible Creator) by building our own afterlives.

55. Based on the last response, any thoughts on religion?

Religion remains a matter of faith. Science continues to turn up more evidence for scientific explanations of the world. There’s room for God in this, but a God who’s deeply in the background, intertwined with the beautiful symmetries of the universe, not an actively intervening God. The world’s religions have a pretty consistent view of what they’d like God to do – provide fairness, abundance, an afterlife. In the absence of definitive evidence that God provides these things, it’s not unreasonable, nor should it be against God’s wishes, to help Him out. Isaac Newton and many other scientists have thought and continue to think that figuring out the universe is doing God’s work.

**********************Bibliography at end of part eight***********************


In-Sight by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-Sight, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Rick G. Rosner: Giga Society, Member; Mega Society, Member & ex-Editor (1991-97); and Writer (Part Four)

Mr. Rick G. Rosner


Part four of eight, comprehensive interview with Rick G. Rosner.  Giga Society member, ex-editor for Mega Society (1990-96), and writer.  He discusses the following subject-matter: information processing as the basic operation of universe, ‘transactional information processing’, isomorphic operation and traits of humans and universe, operation through time, self-consistency and information processing as the traits, creation of a new field of endeavor called ‘informational cosmology’, and implications of informational cosmology; scientific study of the linkage with established scientific techniques, applying physics to thought and understanding of the mind to universe, mathematicising consciousness as a step to digitizing consciousness, implications of storable and transferable consciousness, the destiny of civilizations to make this linkage, and human civilization being one of them; calculated information-in-common/information-not-in-common based on various velocities (.15v and .3v), gravitational lensing across ultra-deep cosmic time, self-consistent and information processing areas of universe equating to subsystems and therefore consciousness, black holes not existing, “blackish holes” existing, considerations on consciousness of largely independently processing blackish holes, and complexity of the universe possibly taking the form of advanced civilizations; current theory of universe composed of ~4.6% baryonic matter, ~24% non-baryonic/exotic ‘dark’ matter, and ~71.4% non-baryonic/exotic ‘dark’ energy, argumentum ad verucundiam, theories with correct or incorrect nature based on the reasoning and agreement with the evidence; allowance for recycling of galaxies, young galaxies populating the expansive center of the universe (older galaxies on the outskirts), old galaxies as neutron heavy (“cooked”), and recalling of old galaxies to the center of the universe; élan vital, possible analogous ideas such as dark matter and dark energy, dark energy as a tweak on the inverse-square law of gravitation, steady scale of universe over billions and billions of years, “self-observing, self-defining universe” having flatness and in-built constant size, self-definition of universe maintaining a constancy of size, one cross-section of time or one moment and associated probabilities of history and possible futures; considerations on gravity; thoughts on the necessity or non-necessity for gravitons to have gravity; preliminary review of informational cosmology and interrelated concepts, commentary, calculations, and arguments for the field; discussion on informational cosmology and entropy; discussion on informational cosmology and subatomic particles; further extrapolations about black holes; linking the variegated concepts and arguments of the theory; the essential meaning of these linkages; discussion on informational cosmology and space & time; discussion on informational cosmology and the principles of existence (‘laws’); concrete calculation about the age of the universe relative to the accepted canon age of the universe at ~13.77 billion years old, calculations based on estimations of human thought, unfolding of galaxies, structure for the universe, multibillion-year unfoldings of universe, and the derivations up to concluding of the universe not being only ~14 billion years old; and the extension of informational cosmology to two new complementary fields called ‘informational cosmogony’ and ‘informational ‘eschatology’, information internal to universe arising external to it, and thoughts on such an armature external to universe. 

Keywords: billion, consciousness, correlation, cosmic time, cosmogony, cosmology, dark energy, dark matter, élan vital, electrons, eschatology, galaxy, Giga Society, gravitational lensing, information, information processing, informational cosmogony, informational cosmology, informational eschatology, isomorphism, isomorphic, Liebnizian monads, Mega Society, protons, Rick G. Rosner, self-consistency, self-self-observing, tautological, transactional information processing, unfolding, universe, writer.

28. You describe information processing for universe’s substrate of operation. This implies transactions.  For precision, this means ‘transactional information processing’.  I would like to plumb the well of reasoning.  For example, ubiquitous information processing within and by universe. Consciousness emerges from self-consistency and information processing.  Humans have self-consistency and information processing, and thus have consciousness.  Therefore, we can extrapolate to universe based on isomorphism in operation and traits. Operation through time.  Traits of self-consistency and information processing.  An isomorphic geometry of universe and minds in universe.  By extension, universe possesses localized and globalized consciousness.  In addition to this, if we could provide an absolute measure of the degree of 1) self-consistency and 2) information processing capabilities of individual localized consciousness, then we could provide an absolute measure of global 1) self-consistency and 2) information processing capabilities of universe.  Precision of this metric limited by information quality, computational capacity, and efficacy of calculation methodology. Therefore, we might both 1) consider universe reposed with consciousness at the fundaments and 2) provide a metric of universe’s degree of consciousness.  You call this “informational cosmology.”  In a way, mind/brain sciences become physics/cosmology, and vice versa. A metric for the mind/brain could extrapolate – within reasonable consideration – into a metric of universe.  Only differences in magnitude.  Where else does “informational cosmology” lead us?

Informational cosmology smashes together two big areas of study – the mind/brain and the universe – in a way they’ve never productively been smashed together before – they’re the chocolate & peanut butter, the Han Solo & Chewbacca, the mac & cheese, the Lennon & McCartney, the Key & Peele, the Beavis & Butt-head, the Spock & Kirk, the Mulder & Scully, the Felix & Oscar, the Holmes & Watson, the Thelma & Louise, the Jonah Hill & Channing Tatum of tough things to think about. Three hundred years ago, Bishop George Berkeley said something like, “The universe is an idea in the mind of God,” but this didn’t lead to anything. There wasn’t yet enough scientific knowledge to work from.

But that was then. Now, linking information maps and thinking and the universe allows you to apply established scientific techniques across the linkage. We can apply physics to thought and information in the mind. We can apply understanding about the purpose and mechanisms of thought to the universe. We will soon be able to give mushy, loosely defined terms such as consciousness a solid mathematical basis.

And mathematicizing consciousness (developing a mathematical model of information processed in awareness) is the first step to digitizing consciousness (translating moments of consciousness into numbers) – to making it recordable, preservable, and transferable. That is a huge step – maybe the hugest step – towards saving our species and the planet. Storable, transferable consciousness eventually – within 100 or 150 years – frees us from the confines of our biological form. This is a big deal, if earth isn’t going to become a giant dump suffering from the effects of a 23-billion-person population. Science fiction writer Charles Stross imagines a future where, among many other things, most people/semi-people/robots are only three feet tall. Half-height people use less than half the resources – maybe less than a quarter of the resources – of full-size people. You can cram a lot more of them on the planet, if that’s what you want to do.

But that won’t be all that we might want to do. Like-minded people might meld or marry minds and literally live as one. Many people will want to live almost exclusively in cyberspace, renting bodies when they need to go out into the real world. Population growth will slow. Maybe your rich grandma in a failing body offers you $50 million to let her consciousness ride piggyback on yours. (Steve Martin made a movie about something like this 30 years ago – All of Me.) These are pretty unsurprising ideas in science fiction – people who think about this kind of stuff are expecting things to get weird. Even if my attempt to join thought and the universe doesn’t gain traction – even if it takes someone else theorizing similarly, years from now, it’s still coming – it’s pretty much our destiny. It’s the destiny of civilizations to make this connection and figure out the universe. (Just about every civilization figures out that its planet orbits its sun, that it’s part of a galaxy, that there are other galaxies, that life evolved, etc. Figuring out that massively shared information-processing is essentially thought is another one of those things.)

There will still be plenty of normal human life. We’ll still have the same drives (for sex, food, status, slightly taboo information), until we start messing with them. And then we’ll have slightly more efficient and exalted drives, but nothing too terrible – ethical values will survive. People who want to live old-school will still be able to do it. But the drift will be towards control of our destinies via understanding ourselves and the universe – we’ll improve consciousness, making it (and us) more informed and more complete, with fewer hidden biases. It’ll be weird but also mostly great, and it’s where we’ve been heading without knowing it since apes started using twigs to fish ants out of anthills.

29. You calculated the information-in-common/information-not-in-common based on various velocities (.15v and .3v). We can symbolize them: Ic/I~c. Gravitational lensing across ultra-deep cosmic time could form pockets beyond expected, i.e. calculated, arithmetic mean of derived spheres from Ic/I~c at .15v, .3v, .45v, and so on.   Insofar as calculated Ic/I~c spheres with extensive radii in excess of .3v, multiple dispersions of information might converge on pockets of uneven areas of universe (and sufficiently large to make the empirical point) for statistically significant outliers of calculated information with expansive distances from one another.  In an information theoretic framework, areas of self-consistency in an information processing universe might count among other subsystems.  Units of sufficient individuation with self-consistency and information processing.   Indeed, you have mentioned black holes, but “blackish holes.” You have said this for over 30 years.  Moreover, you consider blackish holes universe’s memory.  If we fuse these arguments, we have outlier subsystems with capabilities for self-consistency and information processing called ‘black holes’ at present. Self-consistent and information processing subsystem equates to consciousness.  Therefore, we have the possibility for sound consideration of consciousness emergent from blackish holes in universe.

If blackish holes are (largely) independently processing information, then there’s the strong possibility that conscious entities are doing at least some of the processing. Perhaps a place for civilizations or advanced beings to survive galactic cycling would be in the massive million-solar-mass blackish holes at the centers of galaxies. The universe is huge, ancient, and unavoidably complex (in part because every star with orbiting planets is an open system that can shed excess energy, which works against entropy and disorder). Some of that complexity probably takes the form of long-lived structures and entities and civilizations (or whatever civilizations tend to turn into).

30. In the current theory of universe composed of ~4.6% baryonic matter, ~24% non-baryonic/exotic ‘dark’ matter, and ~71.4% non-baryonic/exotic ‘dark’ energy, your theory would shirk the current weight of astrophysical consensus. Although, we cannot disprove or by necessity deny the validity of the theory based on argumentum ad verucundiam, even authoritative authority.  In addition to this, we cannot agree or disagree with the theory based on various high intelligence test scores, or credentials or lack thereof.  Either correct or incorrect based on the reasoning and agreement with evidence.  With these in mind, what do you make of dark matter and dark energy? Do they exist? How would your theory supersede present explanations? 

I think the universe isn’t inherently unstable in size, with overall stability being a characteristic of an information-based universe. That is, though parts of it can expand and contract, the universe isn’t going to keep flying apart to some cold, thin oblivion or collapse into an infernal dot. (At least without some outside agency acting upon it. The loss or degradation of the physical structure which supports the universe would result in the loss of the information within the universe. As the universe loses information, it would become less well-defined, which might look like a collapse and heating up of the universe – a big bang in reverse.) The scale and size of the universe should be roughly proportional to the amount of information it contains (with local scale and size depending on the information/matter distribution as viewed from each particular neighborhood).

Are dark matter and dark energy needed to help with the gravitational bookkeeping of an inherently flat universe? I don’t know. I’m more inclined to believe in dark matter than dark energy, with the dark matter made of non-exotic stuff – mostly old, burned-out, collapsed stars, many of which, I guess, would be orbiting on the fringes of galaxies, largely invisible except for their effect on the galactic rotation curve.

(Burned-out stars closer to the centers of galaxies could orbit the galactic center, largely undetected, or might collide with other stars (possible falling towards the massive black hole-like object at the galactic center), or during early-galaxy star formation might accrete enough hydrogen to light up again for awhile. I don’t know how old stars mixed into a young galaxy would mess with the dynamics of galactic formation. Wikipedia says there might be 10^8 neutron stars in the Milky Way, compared to 10^11 regular stars. Red dwarfs, which have extremely long lifespans and are hard to detect, might make up three quarters of the stars in the Milky Way.)

What I’m saying is, if you allow for galaxies to recycle – to go through star formation, light up and burn out, over and over again – there’s room and reason for there to be lots of non-exotic, hard-to-see dark and dark-ish matter in and around galaxies.

31. How would a burned-out galaxy be recycled?

Young, active galaxies occupy the expansive center of the universe. Old, burned-out galaxies find themselves in more collapsed neighborhoods on the outskirts of the universe, due to subsequent expansions (in which they don’t participate). Old galaxies are neutron-heavy – they’re cooked – they’re done.

But conditions on the outskirts cause some old galaxies to become proton-rich again. Maybe an old galaxy gets flooded with neutrinos, which will be found in more profusion on the collapsed outskirts of the universe and which convert neutrons into protons. Maybe the hotter, denser outskirts have more free-floating hydrogen to accrete. Maybe the increased curvature of space in the collapsed outskirts reduces the depth of the gravitational wells which keep neutron stars under pressure, allowing the surface layers of these stars to decay back into protons. Maybe collapsed structures can reignite themselves, based on their own information and processes or when detecting information that they specialize in (that may not be visible to the rest of the universe – collapsed galaxy as smoke detector).

The outskirts of the universe are hotter, denser, more spatially curved, more bombarded with neutrinos streaming from the active center. Here, it’s harder for neutrons to remain neutrons. Here, I’m guessing that the crusty, neutron-heavy surfaces of the stars in an old galaxy can be eroded into protons, like a Lifesaver in your mouth. A galaxy that gets hit with enough proton-producing forces is rejuvenated and can become part of an active, expansive galactic center. Perhaps most of the collapsed matter on the outskirts exists in a hair-trigger state, ready to light up again on a moment’s notice (with that moment being billions of years long).

An information-processing universe can reactivate old, settled galaxies, recalling them to the center, where they participate in new processing. The processing in the center helps but doesn’t exclusively determine which galaxies will be next to be recalled. (The galaxies in the active center co-evolve over a rolling cycle. They form a bubble that might merge with other bubbles. The active center is probably more balloon than neck. That is, most galaxies would experience themselves to be roughly at the center of the universe, the way every galaxy is central in a Big Bang universe.)

32. Science history presents examples of widely accepted substances. For a trite example, élan vital to explain the knotty operations of life.  Time proved their possible veracity more or less false. Do you think dark matter and dark energy have analogous existence to older ideas like élan vital?

Some of the finer points of dark energy will go away – for instance, I doubt the universe is undergoing accelerating expansion.

Dark energy can be seen as a tweak to the inverse-square law of gravitation (or at least there are theories which account for large-scale phenomena by tweaking the inverse-square law). I believe that over a sufficiently long time scale, the universe as a whole experiences very little net expansion – that the size of the universe is proportional to the amount of information it contains, and on the timescale of a few 14-billion-year cosmic blinks, the universe doesn’t gain or lose that much information. I suppose the active center of the universe can vary in size quite a bit, but I doubt this is accomplished via dark energy.

Given that the overall scale of the universe should remain steady, the inverse-square law has to be violated – there’s no stable solution to general relativity without throwing in a cosmological constant. According to GR, the universe can’t just hang in mid-air (or mid-space-time continuum).

But in a self-observing, self-defining universe, flatness and constancy of size are built in. I believe that the universe observes and defines itself quantum mechanically. It’s as if the universe is an enormous gunfight – every particle in the universe helps figure out where every other particle is by all the particles shooting particles at each other.

Imagine a uniform universe consisting of regularly spaced particles (all shooting at each other). Over time, the wave functions of the particles spread out, as the universe itself spreads out (because the specifications of space itself are uncertain). There’s not enough information from the gunfighting particles to keep them absolutely pinned down in space – they’re fuzzy, and they get fuzzier. BUT the rate at which the particles get fuzzier is proportional to the rate at which the universe spreads out, so the scale of the universe – the ratio of the particles’ fuzziness to the size of the universe stays constant. There’s your stable universe, hanging in mid-air.

The universe defines itself, and, by defining itself with a constant amount of information (proportional to the number of particles in the shoot-out and the complexity of their relationships), the size of the universe remains constant (or grows or shrinks gradually as it gains or loses information).

(What collapses the wave function (if that’s the way you want to talk about it)? Probability. Wave functions are either collapsed by observation or not. (I guess – it’d be nice if I’d studied advanced QM, but oh well.) Observation is done by the matter within the universe. (Sometimes people make the observations, but we’re not particularly special in that capacity – we’re part of the universe.) At each moment (as experienced locally, so you don’t have simultaneity problems) particles are all in their various states, with their probabilities of interacting with each other or decaying or whatever else particles do. Subsequent moments reflect the playing out of these probabilities.

To be clear-ish: you have a moment, with its probabilities. This moment implies a set of possible subsequent moments, consistent with the information contained in the moment. Each subsequent moment (that is, an actual moment, not just a possible many-worlds moment) reflects the probabilities in the history that led up to it. But each moment is random and arbitrary to the extent that the universe has finite determinative information – a limited capacity to define the future. Every moment predicts the future, but not all the way. Each new moment has information that is filled in, not from out of nowhere, but from outside of the universe’s determinative information. Like this – an hour before the end of a football game, your personal information space determines that the game will almost certainly have a final score. But your information space – your mind – can’t determine that score. It can assign probabilities, but the moment that contains the final score includes information that was previously unavailable to your information space and had to be filled in from outside.)

33. What about gravity?

In our evenly spaced universe, there’s no experience of gravity – everything’s hanging in mid-air. But move a couple of objects closer together. You’ve raised the mass density in their region above the universal average. (Been thinking about gravity a lot and have managed to confuse myself a little bit, but…) By being closer together, they’re not seeing as much of the energy flux that holds space open (or something). The space between them will expand considerably less than between the evenly spaced objects, and hey! – you’ve got gravity (when the overall expansion due to uncertainty (and photon flux?) is cancelled out). (Given that the average mass density of the universe is about one proton per cubic meter, two protons separated by a meter (in our hanging-in-mid-air universe) should experience no net gravitational attraction. Good luck testing that – the force or lack of force is more than 10^40 times smaller than the smallest force ever measured.)

34. Do we need gravitons to have gravity?

There are arguments from quantum field theory in favor of gravitons, but if gravitation is an effect of the scale of the universe being information-based, gravitation might be entirely mediated by other forces and particles. Gravitation might be bookkeeping – other forces conduct their business, with the scale and shape of space (which includes gravitation) being a collective net result of this business. What I’m asking is – does the shaping of space require special space-shaping particles, or does the shape of space result from all other physics business? I guess this is the same thing as asking, “Does all the other business transmit all the information without the help of gravitation?”

This leads back to your question about dark energy. Dark energy seems like a spring-loading of empty space to make the universe conform to observation. I doubt that dark energy is a thing beyond that everything comes from the scaling of space based on information. In most of our observations, we see this as an inverse-square effect of gravity. But this doesn’t make inverse-square the law – it’s just the most observable effect. Overall, the universe probably stays roughly the same size over shortish periods of time (billions of years), which it couldn’t under universal inverse-square gravity. Effectively, there’s a cosmological constant. And there are probably a bunch of other tweaks to inverse-square gravity. But inverse-square and its tweaks all come from the same thing – the shape and scale of space being defined by the information it embodies. So, instead of a computationally very simple inverse-square law as a foundation, you have this principle that information shapes space which is probably computationally a pain in some of its aspects. In everyday situations, you can simplify it to inverse-square. In other situations, maybe it’s helpful to do the math as if there is dark energy or a cosmological constant. Does that mean that dark energy actually exists? Could be that it doesn’t – could be just a mathematical convenience.

35. Let’s go through a few questions that have been prompted by your answers to previous questions. What would you call a field which links the structure of thought with the structure of the universe?

The idea that the universe is describable by information (is a humongous information processor) is called digital physics. I like “informational cosmology” better. (But suggesting a discipline be renamed is kind of a douche move.)

36. What about entropy?

In the words of a tweet from Christopher D. Long, “People shouldn’t expect phenomena at scales and energies far outside normal experiences to be analogous to those experiences.” We don’t have an understanding of how entropy might work for the universe as a whole. I think that the universe has ways to dump or hide or attenuate energy-depleted, high-entropy volumes. As a formerly active part of the universe burns out, it collapses and gets pushed to the side as other parts of the universe light up and expand. The effect is no overall increase in entropy. (The pushing to the side is a relativistic rotation out of the active center. I like thinking of relativistic shifts as rotational. Objects with a high velocity relative to you aren’t fully participating in your space-time frame, according to the equations of special relativity, which are trigonometric.)

Relativity, both special and general, has to do with information. Matter that (as information) has reduced relevance (that is, I guess, reduced information in common) with the matter observing it is relativistically rotated – shortened, time-dilated, red-shifted. The Hubble redshift acts like a correlation quilt across the universe. Neighborhoods that are highly correlated with each other are close to each other, with low relative redshifts.

Which kind of leads to inertia. Mach’s Principle says that inertia is due to the stellar background. (That is, movement relative to all the galaxies in the universe – at the time Mach was writing, the existence of galaxies beyond ours wasn’t well-established. And way before Mach, someone else who kind of thought this was Bishop Berkeley, the “Universe is an idea in the mind of God” fella. That guy was good.) What if inertia is due to gravitational attraction being relativistically attenuated, so that an object in motion is less attracted to the matter in its immediate neighborhood and more attracted to the neighborhood whose apparent velocity matches its own? (A friend of mine asked Feynman about something like this, and Feynman said it didn’t work – the calculation ended up with a sign-reversal – a plus where a minus should be, or something.)

37. What about subatomic particles?

Of the dozens of subatomic particles, only five – the electron, proton, neutron, neutrino, and photon – can last for a long time and travel across large distances. I consider these the workhorses of the universe and all the other particles their helpers. Protons and neutrons encode information and shape space, with protons opening up space and neutrons collapsing it.

Not all information in the universe can be in play at the same time. The universe doesn’t have enough processing capacity, and most parts of the universe are highly uncorrelated with each other – they’re in neighborhoods that are vastly separated (in distance and Hubble redshift). But even when not in play, information in collapsed neighborhoods may help define the universe, perhaps with their gravitational vectors acting as 4D tent pegs, helping hold the whole universe open.

If you examine the contents of your awareness from moment to moment, you don’t know that much stuff at any given instant (the moment you wake up, for instance), but you don’t panic, because you feel that you can recall just about anything you need to know almost immediately (and because it wouldn’t make sense to be in a constant panic – you’re used to always almost knowing things). There’s all this knowledge on the tip of your brain – it’s imminent – ready to go and perhaps providing structure without being fully in your awareness.

The universe could be set up the same way, with shadow information – collapsed neighborhoods on the outskirts – providing structural support and helping define space and the matter it contains. Maybe in a very low-information universe – young, hot, fuzzy – the ratio of the proton mass to the electron mass is closer to one-to-one rather than our 1,836-to-one.

Could be that neutrons, acting as closed-off variables, serve to increase the precision with which matter is defined. Protons are free to act on other matter via electric charge – they’re active. Neutrons are decided – they’re locked into fixed correlations in a nucleus or in gravitationally collapsed matter. They can’t interact with the universe via charge. But by being fixed (generally for the many-billion-year time being) they can provide a stable background – a framework of frozen, decided (for the long now) issues – against which the active center of the universe can work out the issues in play. The frozen background is the framework of assumptions that more precisely define the terms in play. The terms in play are the protons in the active center, made heavy, small and precise (because the heavier the particle, the smaller the DeBroglie wavelength) by all the collapsed matter in the background. The proton-electron mass ratio is proportional to the amount of collapsed, neutron-rich matter on the outskirts of the universe compared to the amount of proton-rich matter in the active center. It’s an old universe, with a lot of collapsed matter.

The frozen framework can be brought back into play, but only a small fraction of it can be in play at any one time. It sits, waiting, an array of imminent knowledge – things resolved and removed from active consideration until needed. (Your mind pings against its frozen background, warming it up just enough to give you the feeling of being at home in yourself.)

38. What about black holes?

Black holes. I don’t believe in black holes as objects that must necessarily crush themselves into singularities. Instead, matter moving towards black hole status is a ball of information/matter which, as the matter collapses, increasingly correlating with the matter within its own sphere, shares less and less information with the outside universe. But the information it contains doesn’t have to be crushed out of existence. Circumstances can vary, and a blackish hole’s information should usually be retrievable.

The information within collapsed matter has to generally be repeatedly retrievable as parts of the universe cycle from active to burned-out/collapsed and back to active. The crushing forces of gravitational collapse might be countered by a shrinkage of the scale of space within a sphere of collapsing matter, with the matter growing heavier and smaller until stasis is achieved, with shrinkage of space equaling energy gravitational gained, so that matter and the scale of space largely define themselves through interactions among the collapsed matter. The interior of blackish holes could be organized, which we couldn’t see much of from the outside, or information could be lost, as the matter falls back into primordial chaos. (Wouldn’t want too much of that. The universe would be losing its memory/framework.)

39. How does this come together?

Non-velocital redshift is an indicator of information not-in-common (I~c) with the observer.

(On my birthday in May, 1981, when I first got the idea of mental information maps (in the Libby Hall dorm cafeteria at the University of Colorado (may have been eating cubes of red Jell-O – I liked my Jell-O), I imagined that the ease with which something can be recalled depended on the geometry of the information to be remembered. Are there a bunch of angles from which it can be accessed, or is there just one angle – only one set of associations which can be combined to get to it (which means you can’t get to it at all if you can’t come up with those associations)? Then I realized that an optimal mental information map might look like the universe itself.

And then I imagined a mental map of what you know about how you and other beings go to the bathroom. (It’s just where my brain takes me – sorry!) You know a lot about how you go to the bathroom – that’s at the center of your map. Close to the center, you may know (too much, even) about how family and friends go to the bathroom. Further out, you have generalized knowledge and assumptions about how Americans and Canadians go to the bathroom. Way further out (and redshifted), is how they go to the bathroom on other continents, such as China and Japan. You’ve heard about holes and places to put your feet – you don’t really want to know any more than that. And then way, way out in zero-knowledge land is how they go to the bathroom on other planets. I suppose a more mature person would’ve simply pictured the classic March 29, 1976 New Yorker cover, which is kind of a Manhattanite’s mental map of the world.)

Go ahead and figure information in-common (Ic) equals the square root of (1 – v^2), where v is the apparent recessional velocity over the speed of light. (It’s a term from special relativity.) Everything in the universe is a mixture of information Ic and I~c with us. The farther a galaxy is from us, the greater its apparent recession, the less information it has Ic and more I~c with us. I think the proton-electron mass ratio is proportional to the I~c-Ic mass ratio. In a young, small, nearly information-less universe, the proton-electron would be a lot smaller – possibly not one-to-one – a proton is much more complicated than an electron – it’s a knot in space, while an electron is a twist in space. But the ratio would be much closer to one-to-one.

Information I~c is stored information – it’s memory, not retrieved in the present moment. The universe has limited information-processing capacity – it can’t know everything it knows all at once. (You don’t know everything you know all at once.) Every galaxy, active or collapsed, in the universe has a combination of information Ic and I~c with us.

The cosmic microwave background radiation – the oldest, farthest-traveling radiation in the universe – has a z, a redshift, of nearly 1,100. A galaxy’s redshift z is proportional to its I~c-Ic ratio. This is ballpark for a I~c-Ic-dependent proton-electron mass ratio of about 1,836. The picture is like this: near T = 0, you have a bunch of collapsed galaxies that aren’t sharing much information with the active center of the universe. These blackish galaxies have I~c-Ic ratios of 1,000 and higher, and there are enough of them to raise the I~c-Iratio for the entire universe, as seen by us in the active center, to 1,000 or more, bumping up the proton-electron mass ratio.

To go into a little more detail – imagine a grid of galaxies with an apparent velocity of half the speed of light between adjacent galaxies.

(I first imagined this while posing for an art class in 1988 – gave me something to do while sitting naked, trying not to move. Instead of galaxies, I imagined spaceships piloted by the Brady Bunch. Greg pilots a ship going .5C away from earth. Marsha’s ship goes away from Greg at .5C. Bobby’s ship travels away from Marsha at .5C, and so on. I told my boss, Mike Armstrong, at Remote Control, the quiz show I wrote for, about it (because I’m weird). He said, “That’s a whole new type of question!” and Brady Physics was born. We asked contestants to tell us the result of dangerous hypothetical experiments performed on the Bradys.)

When you add the velocities of a series of objects moving at half the speed of light relative to each other, you never reach the speed of light relative to the stationary observer (to any observer). The observer on earth sees ships moving at higher and higher fractions of the speed of light – ½, 4/5, 13/14, 40/41, 121/122, 364/365, 1093/1094…. To get a I~c-Ic ratio of more than 1,000, you need an apparent velocity within one two-millionth of the speed of light, which takes a string of 14 spaceships. (You run through all the Brady kids and parents, Alice, Tiger, Sam the Butcher….)

So you have a grid of galaxies, with the most distant nearly redshifted into invisibility, but still providing scale and structure, in part by making protons fairly massive. Remember how the universe is in a big gunfight with itself? Well, all the particles accumulated mass from all the bullets shot at each other over an incredible amount of time.

Now, all those collapsed galaxies with the huge redshifts should be black holes, according to current understanding. But I don’t think so. I think they’re blackish, not black, in that they still exchange some information with the rest of the universe. They also have inner structure, hidden from us. A blackish galaxy has cooked down, blasting away extraneous matter/information, until it’s a largely self-informing, nearly closed-off system. If it’s on the outskirts, it’s not currently relevant and is nearly frozen in time – it’s memory or an app that’s not currently needed. If it’s closer to the center, it might be a specialized system that’s currently relevant but can largely do business independently – behind a blackish curtain. Seems as if most galaxies have million-star-sized black(ish) holes at their center. These might be specialized systems or recalled memories, with galaxies’ 10^22 shining stars being the visible broadcasters – the active center’s universe-spanning mega-processor.

But there’s another step. In the active center, space is expanded – particles are very small in relation to the scale of space. Something must be precisely defining matter within space, and that something is photons. As long as protons are cooking down into neutrons and releasing fusion energy, space is expanded. When protons run out, the flux of photons that fills space peters out (over billions of years – it takes photons awhile to cross the universe), and space deflates gravitationally (up to a point – objects might still have some leftover orbital energy, there’s still redshift segregation, and scale invariance kicks in before particles can crush themselves out of existence).

Photons are fighting gravity – they specify space, making it fluffy. Without this specification, space contracts. Fluffy, expanded space facilitates large-scale information-sharing among active galaxies. Collapsed space tends to be opaque, making it tough to share information. (It’s not like the universe was intentionally designed to have a transparent active center. Lucky accident? Seems doubtful.)

What would happen if all the galaxies burned out, and there were no active center? You’d have no widespread information-sharing/processing – no large-scale cogitating – and the universe would effectively be asleep. (Or at least something like this happens during certain stages of our sleep. And to a lesser extent when certain drugs are taken. LSD, for instance, seems to interfere with the normal functioning of systems that help interpret the world. For example, our software that processes faces is hampered, and you see half-processed lizard faces or semi-wire-frame polygon faces. Very annoying, not fun.

(Kids, don’t do drugs, particularly LSD. It lasts for like 15 hours, and only the first hour or two is at all fun or interesting. You’ve broken your brain for an entire day, and you can’t even sleep it off, especially if the LSD has been cut with something. If you absolutely want to slightly break your brain to see how it works, a light dose of shrooms is much better. Lasts like a third as long, isn’t as debilitating, doesn’t make you worry as much that your brain is gonna stay like this. Make sure you have babysitters to keep you calm and to make sure you don’t do anything stupid. But just don’t do drugs in the first place. Better to observe your thoughts using your intact, non-broken brain.)

Anyhow, the universe is asleep (that is, it could be at some point). Little or no active center, not overly conscious. So what happens? It can wake up, just like we do. Something wakes it – could be external, could be internal – the effect is the same – galaxies are turned on, space expands around them, they form an active center.

Which brings up another thing – it takes hundreds of millions of years for clouds of hydrogen to coalesce into stars and light up. With not necessarily any stars lighting up the just turned-on galaxies, where’s the energy flux that expands space? The thing is, you can get energy from both neutrons decaying into protons and protons fusing into neutrons. Hose down some burned-out galaxies with neutrinos, turning neutrons into protons, you’re gonna release a bunch of energy. Half a billion years later, when some of those protons, now in stars, start fusing back into neutrons, they’re gonna spit out more energy. Shweet!

40. What does this mean in a nutshell?

Collapsed galaxies on the outskirts of the universe (and, to a smaller extent, collapsed matter in the centers and on the outskirts of active galaxies) give scale and structure to the universe by adding mass to protons and neutrons.

Collapsed galaxies are the universe’s memory and currently unneeded apps, able to recalled when relevant.

Energy from protons fusing into neutrons expands space in the universe’s active center (making space transparent and widespread information-sharing possible).

41. What about space and time?

Space and time are self-assembling according to some minimizing and maximizing principles. Space seems to be arranged to minimize the aggregate distance traveled by photons. Things that are going to interact a lot should be close to each other – space shouldn’t be any bigger than it has to be. Minimizing distance maximizes the rate of interactions; time is as full of events as it can be. (Of course, events don’t happen in time, as if time is this independently existing thing to be filled – the sequence of events is time. But still…) this probably means that information is maximized over time and that information is the engine of time.

(Here’s where I further confuse myself.) The present moment is when information is gained through events which resolve probabilistic situations. (Time is a news-gatherer.) Time maximizes causality and the predictive power of correlations among matter.

42. Why these principles of existence (‘laws’)?

There’s a tautological aspect to the principles of existence. (Why principles and not laws? Because laws seem like rules delivered from on-high, while principles can be emergent – nebulous until made tight and precise by the statistical behaviour of large amounts of organized matter.) Things that exist have to exist – they can’t both exist and not exist (except when their existence or not is incompletely specified quantum mechanically). Right there, you have a principle, but not a very useful one until you draw some conclusions from it. A conclusion might be that existence includes duration – that for every existent moment, there’s at least one related existent moment which can be seen as a subsequent moment.

Somehow out of this, you get the fairly tautological principle that persistent structures or processes are persistent – that they create a bias towards their own continued existence.

You get things which work like Liebnizian monads – little correlation engines whose main job is to be correlated with other engines at various times. These correlations pull the universe tight, giving it structure in space and time. I believe that protons (and the electrons which go with them) are the correlation engines. They’re each like a little spatial axis – a dimension – and the variable that lies somewhere along that dimension, all in one. But the dimension doesn’t extend to infinity – it fades – it only extends as far as it needs to for the correlations it’s involved with, like a street. Streets only exist for their own limited length.

Protons are knots in our locally three-dimensional space. The knot in space is rectified by the point-wise inversion in space (kind of a cross-cap) which is the electron. Without an electron for every proton (but without electrons being assigned to specific protons), space doesn’t work topologically.

Neutrons are locked-down dimensions. Proximity is like correlation – two protons coming close enough that they turn into a proton-neutron pair means that they’re so correlated that two dimensions (or variables) can function as a single dimension (or variable). The universe prioritizes compactness – it stores dimensions/variables it doesn’t need within neutrons.

Over billions of years, a star boils down a big ball of hydrogen – a stew of protons and electrons – into a bunch of neutron-heavy elements. It’s a correlation machine – it links protons together, locking them down into closed-off neutrons. And the fusion energy it emits helps define and expand space in the active center as light streams across the universe.

43. Let’s make a concrete calculation along the dimension of time, your novel framework for the structure of universe may gain clarity from such calculations. Using the accepted canon age of cosmos at ~13.77 billion years old as the referent, by your own theorizing and within your framework, how might we calculate universe’s age? What age would the calculation produce?

If you didn’t know how brains worked, and you saw a half-second PET scan of a thought unfolding across a brain, how would you estimate the age of the brain? It would be really tough. You might be able to assume that this processing of a thought isn’t a one-time thing – assume that this is a function of the brain and, as such, happens again and again. But it would take a lot more knowledge to have any idea how many times it happens. (How many times does it happen? Estimate three thoughts a second. (How long does it take for your attention to shift and a thought to form? At least a tenth of a second and not more than two-thirds of a second. Observe your thoughts – see what you think.) Three thoughts a second is about 10,000 thoughts an hour times 16 waking hours a day times 80 years comes out to a human brain having about 5 billion thoughts in a lifetime.)

What if the universe is an apparatus that does what it does again and again – unfolding over and over, sending stars and galaxies through their life cycles, with those galaxies burning out and being squeezed to the outskirts by new unfoldings, where they wait to be part of a subsequent expansion?

If the universe is an information-processing entity (It is!), from within the universe, we’re seeing only the information, we’re not seeing the structure that supports the information-processing. Analogously, the mind is the moment-to-moment unfolding of information within consciousness, while the brain is the physical structure which supports this interplay of information. When we look at the universe, we see the interplay of information; we don’t see the physical structure which supports it. This makes it even harder to guess the age or lifespan of the universe.

We don’t know the purpose of the universe. (We’re so far from knowing that even asking seems a little preposterous.) We can’t decode the information in the universe. (We’re made out of it, but we can’t read it. As we make our way onward, maybe we’ll pick up some clues, perhaps from civilizations that have been around longer.) As we learn more, perhaps we get to participate in the business of the universe. The universe processes and stores information at all levels of complexity. Civilizations would be part of this). We don’t know anything about the physical structure that might support it. So it’s hard to guess how old it is.

(Imagine that in the future, we find out with reasonable certainty that the universe has a purpose – to process information to help the universe’s supporting structure or entity achieve its objectives in its external world (the world perceived and modeled by the universe). One way of dealing with this discovery would be to get with the project – to figure that we’re all in this together – that if the universe prospers, we prosper. I’d guess that many entities within the universe are part of the program. Maybe the really advanced ones run galaxy-sized neutrino hoses that can reactivate dormant parts of the universe. (I know that seems goofy, but we don’t know anything yet.) Maybe there are nihilistic or hedonistic civilizations that figure, “Everything’s so big and old and, in a way, virtual, it doesn’t really matter what we do.”)

There might be some clues to the universe being older than its apparent age. If the universe undergoes repeated multi-billion-year unfoldings, there should be lots of stuff that’s older than the apparent 14-billion-year age of the universe. That stuff won’t necessarily be in our immediate neighborhood – we’re new – we came into being as part of the current unfolding.

Via repeated cycles (not cycles of the entire universe expanding and contracting – not an oscillating universe – more like a rolling boil) of galaxies lighting up and burning out, the dark matter we’re looking for (to explain gravitational anomalies such as the outer rims of galaxies rotating faster than accounted for by the distribution of visible stars) might be a bunch of neutron stars and near-black holes. If anything could survive repeated cycles without being completely ablated away, it would be near-black holes. (Don’t really believe in fully black holes.) A universe which has gone through a zillion cycles might have generated a bunch of burned-out junk (or, in an informational sense, massive settled or solved (for the moment) equations or clumps of correlations or memories or independent processors whose operations the wider universe doesn’t much participate in/isn’t very conscious of) hanging around on the outskirts of galaxies.

A brand-new universe – one that’s unfolded after a single big bang – doesn’t have much opportunity to form a bunch of collapsed matter. But a universe at a rolling boil – that is, a “continuing series of little bangs” universe – would generate lots of junk. It’s that house with all the trashed cars and plumbing fixtures scattered across the front yard.

Just for fun, we could multiply the 14-billion-year apparent age of the universe by the 5 billion lifetime cycles of the human brain. There’s no reason to assume that the universe goes through 500,000 or 5 googol rolling cycles. But anyhow, 5 billion times the apparent age of the universe gives you 70,000,000,000,000,000,000 years. That’s based on not much. What if the expected duration of a self-contained system of information (in terms of rolling cycles) is proportional to the complexity of the system? What if the complexity, like the average distance from the origin of a random walk, is proportional to duration squared? The universe could be really old.

No way the universe unfolds just once. No way it’s only 14 billion years old.

44. If I may extend the implications of informational cosmology, the discipline implies two complementary fields: informational cosmogony and informational eschatology. In your worldview of the universe’s life cycle, how would the universe – if indeed the world corresponds to such a model – begin (Cosmogony), develop (Cosmology), and end (Eschatology)? 

In my view, the information space that is the universe arose through processes external to the universe. There’s a material framework – an armature – which provides the structure that allows the information-processing to take place. If the universe is the mind, then this armature is the brain.  Our brains/minds exist within the context of the outside world. We can speculate or even assume that the universe similarly exists because of and within an outside context. Of course, we know nothing about any armature for the universe, but if it exists, its fate determines the fate of the universe.

We’re used to our brains being able to store a steady stream of information over many years. An information-space model of this would look like a universe becoming more complicated, perhaps expanding like a Big Bang universe (but over a long series of rolling cycles, not just a single original push plus various inflational add-ons) with more and more matter gradually falling into visibility from the farthest reaches – the outskirts close to T = 0, the apparent beginning of time. But as we age, we can lose information. Instead of our information space becoming bigger and more complex, with the primordial background radiation spreading out and getting cooler and cooler, the information space would heat up, becoming smaller, hotter, and less complex. Information melts away, lost in background noise. As information drops to zero, we have an information space that’s hot and fuzzy, with a short horizon.

An information space is dependent on the integrity of its armature. There are statistical arguments to be made on the future size of the information space, based on its current size, but that math doesn’t exist yet. And that math is just a statistical bet about conditions in a world external to the universe that we, as yet, know nothing about. (How might we learn about this external world? Perhaps by making contact with older civilizations which have had more time to suss out what the universe is up to. Scary. I suspect that old entities who know what’s up might be found at the galactic center. Eventually, our strategy might be to tiptoe towards the galactic center to take a look, but very stealthily, so as not to get our asses kicked. But really – how would we outsmart entities that might be billions of years old? Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum with a computer virus won’t do it.)

**********************Bibliography at end of part eight***********************


In-Sight by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-Sight, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.


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