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 (PEW). 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 minds. 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:
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:
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:
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.
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-Ic ratio 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.
Part one 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: geography, culture, and linguistic background, and attenuated Jewish cultural influence during upbringing; Noesis issue 57 article entitled When Good IQs Happen to Bad People, and early signs of being a child prodigy; experiences in grade school, junior high, high school, and college; long history of forging identities beginning in entering high school another time, and many more, motivations for the behavior, outcomes for him, and tease for upcoming book entitled Dumbass Genius; ideas on cosmology and physics beginning at age 10, coming to a realization at age 21, Noesis 58 comments on the equivalence, and subsequent development of the equivalence to the present day; discussion on a mathematical model to represent the equivalence and a layman analogy for this equivalence; coined phrase of “lazy voodoo physics,” definition of it, and relation of this to considerations about 20th and 21st century cosmology and physics; entrance into the ultra-high IQ community, the Mega Society, forging another identity, pseudonym of Richard Sterman, Noesis, and eventual amends for forgery; three trends in Noesis of high-level material across arts and sciences, mix of scatological material (circa 1990-96), and his time as an editor from 1990-1996, earning position of editor, and thoughts on fulfilling the purpose of the journal’s constitution; My Problem With Black People (1992), argument at the time for equivalent intelligence of the races, differing views of other Mega Society members, and current stance on the issue; current membership in societies and personal use through membership; Intelligence Quotient (IQ) pervading American culture, Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM) and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), some independent researchers’ work and test constructors’ productions for those achieving maximum or near-maximum scores on mainstream tests, and this setting the groundwork for his obsession of IQ tests; Titan Test perfect score, and range, mean, and median for best high-range IQ test scores; criticism of some intelligence tests and solution through non-verbal/‘culture-fair’ tests, and recommendations for identifying giftedness; and interest in health from a young age and the reason for it.
Keywords: arts, child prodigy, college, cosmology, equivalence, Genius, giftedness, Giga Society, Intelligence, IQ, Jewish, mathematical, Mega Society, Mega Test, Noesis, physics, Rick G. Rosner, Richard Sterman, Raven’s Progressive Matrices, sciences, Titan Test, Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale.
1. In terms of geography, culture, and language, where does your family background reside? How do you find this influencing your development?
I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, with my mom, stepdad and brother, and spent a month each summer with my dad and stepmom and their kids in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My ancestors came from Eastern Europe and the Baltics by way of Cincinnati and Shreveport. I’m Jewish, but out west, Jewish cultural influence is somewhat attenuated.
2. In Noesis issue 57’s article When Good IQs Happen to Bad People, you describe some of your experience as a kid. Could you elaborate on some of the history before entering grade school?
I showed some signs of being a child prodigy – by the age of about 18 months, I’d learned the alphabet, and by age 3 ¾, I’d taught myself to read at a near-adult level, which was unusual for the era. I was good with puzzles and math – but this wasn’t encouraged. My parents thought I’d do better growing up as a normal kid, which did not go smoothly.
Some non-prodigy stuff – the theme music to Perry Mason scared me – I’d have to go hide behind the couch. My first crush was on Patty Duke on The Patty Duke Show, who I somehow conflated with my dad’s sister, Aunt Janice, whom I saw during summer visitation with my dad in Los Angeles. My first memory is of the Raggedy Ann & Andy curtains and bedspread in my room. We had a very nice cocker spaniel named Tinkerbell, who died when I was four. (This is before cockers became overbred and high-strung.)
I was terrified of swimming, which was part of my generally being a wuss – had to be peeled off the side of the pool by the swim teacher.
3. What about your time in grade school, junior high, high school, and college? In particular, what do you consider pivotal moments in each of these cross-sections of latter portions of your early life?
I grew up nerdy and interested in science, deciding at a young age to make it my job to figure out the universe. At age six, I was left with a scary babysitter, which led me to start spinning clockwise, chanting to God, and to be sent to my first shrink.
I was uncoordinated. Each year, I’d enter the 50-yard-dash on track & field day, and each year, would come in last. (Maybe the other not-so-fast kids knew not to enter the race and avoid the embarrassment.) Even as a kid, I had gross caveman feet with weirdly long second toes. I used to take off my shoe to make girls scream and run away – I liked the attention.
In the 1970s, there was no such thing as nerd chic. If you were nerdy, you were probably lonely. But, like many misguided nerds, I thought my intelligence and niceness would inspire a girl to look past my nerdiness. I spent the second semester of ninth grade building a Three-Dimensional Gaussian Distribution Generator to demonstrate to my honors math class. The machine dropped a thousand BBs through a pyramidal tower of overlapping half-inch grids into a 24-by-12 array of columns. It was a supercharged Plinko machine with an added spatial dimension, forming a half-bell of BBs, thanks to the laws of probability. During its construction, I thought, “A girl will see this elegant experimental apparatus, think I’m brilliant, and become my girlfriend.” I completed the BB Machine in time to demonstrate it to the class on the last day of school. No one cared. Of course they didn’t – it was the last day of junior high, and a dweeb was pouring BBs into a plastic pyramid.
Realizing that my nerdiness was standing in the way of ever having a girlfriend, I began changing myself – lifting weights and wearing contact lenses.
Towards the end of high school, I saw my IQ test scores, which maxed out at about 150. I decided that a 150 IQ wasn’t high enough for me to become the world-changing physicist I wanted to be, so I decided to become kind of a meathead – a stripper and a bar bouncer. At about the same time I was beginning my meathead career, I started to take high-end IQ tests, scoring in the 170s, 180s, and eventually 190s. I also found out that among the reasons I’d never scored much above 150 on school-administered IQ tests is that the tests themselves don’t go much above 150. (This makes sense – if you’re a teacher or administrator trying to figure out whether a kid needs educational enrichment, it doesn’t matter much whether a kid’s IQ is 150 or 165. With either IQ, that kid will go stir-crazy in a regular classroom.)
I’d never quit thinking about physics, but my new, high scores gave me more confidence that I might eventually be able to theorize productively. Of course, a few points should probably be subtracted from my IQ for basing my life on IQ scores.
4. You have a long history with forging identities beginning with entering high school another time, and many more. What motivated this behavior? How long did you pursue this ‘calling’ of entering high school? In particular, how did each experience turn out? How many times did you do this?
Though I had started trying to de-nerdify myself as early as ninth grade, it wasn’t effective. In my small town, my classmates were well aware of my nerdiness – there was no erasing that. After years of trying to be cool and failing, I was very frustrated and had something like a freak-out. I decided that I would not leave high school a virgin. So after graduating high school with the class of 1978, using forged transcripts, I went back to high school for a second senior year (class of ’79) with my other family in Albuquerque. I only lasted ten weeks and didn’t come close to even making out with a girl.
A note on inappropriateness: I think standards have changed since I did this. The creepiness factor has increased. But since I was just 18 – still roughly high school age – and barely talked to any girls much less date them when I returned to high school, it was pretty harmless.
1980: Went on a double-date to a high school prom because my girlfriend (who, like me, was in college) had a best friend who was still in high school and thought we should all go to her prom.
Also 1980: I went to L.A. to try to sell my back-to-high-school story to a Hollywood producer. Thought it would help sell the story if I were back in high school at the time. Tried to talk my way into a couple of L.A. schools without any transcripts, just a class of ’81 letterman’s jacket.
I eventually spent several more semesters in high school, but rather than tell about them here, I’ll just tease my forthcoming book, Dumbass Genius, which will detail my more than ten years as a sometime high school student.
5. In terms of your ideas related to cosmology and physics, at 10, you began thinking about the universe. The reason for existence. At 21, you came to a realization. You note, “All the big theories are built around big equivalences.” Namely, your realization of an equivalence between the operation of information in an individual consciousness and the operation of space & matter in the universe. Both have self-consistency. In addition to this, and later in response to a similar topic in Noesis 58, you state, “I believe in matter and space as information held in some vast awareness…” What do you mean by these? In particular, the idea of a great equivalence. How have you developed the idea from the original equivalence to the present day?
I’ve continued to think about this stuff and think I have a pretty good theoretical framework, though it needs more math.
I believe that it’s almost impossible to have a large, self-consistent system of information without that system having some degree of consciousness – probably a high degree. Consciousness can be characterized as every part of a system knowing what’s going on, more or less, with every other part of the system, within a framework that assigns (emotional) values to events perceived by the system. (Of course there are processes which are peripheral to consciousness – most of the time, we’re not aware of the finer points of breathing or walking or why we like looking at cat videos and butts.)
Plenty of people think that the universe is a massive processor of information. Quantum mechanics mathematicizes the limitations of the universe’s information-processing ability. Being finite, the universe cannot observe itself with infinite precision.
6. Provided the nature of these particular equivalences, especially related to the universe, do you have a mathematical model to represent this equivalence? Furthermore, do you have a layman analogy for this equivalence?
I think the most efficient model of the information contained in a complex, self-contained and self-consistent system of information looks like the universe – locally three-dimensional (spatially) with linear time and particles and forces that transact business more or less the way they do in the universe itself.
I don’t believe in the big bang – instead, I believe that what looks like a big bang is kind of a trick of perspective, based on the universe being made of information. Parts of the universe which have less information in common with us are more distant and red-shifted. The apparent age of the universe is a measure of the amount of information it contains (or has in play). Somewhat similarly, train tracks don’t really touch at the horizon.
Kind of picture the universe as being at a slow boil. Some parts are energy-rich and expanding, while other parts are burned out and pushed to the outskirts by the expanding regions, waiting for their chance to expand again.
7. You have coined the phrase “lazy voodoo physics”. How do you define “lazy voodoo physics”? Why resort to this form of considering major interests such as the structure and fate our universe, or existence of other universes, and other concepts arising from 20th and 21st century cosmology and physics?
Lazy voodoo physics is my term for crappy metaphysical theorizing (which I’ve done some of, particularly as a little kid). I prefer to think that my current metaphysical theorizing is less crappy.
It is possible to think about the universe without a full mathematical arsenal. George Gamow, who came up with the big bang, was notoriously unschooled in math. Immanuel Kant was among the first people to endorse the idea of galaxies, and Edgar Allen Poe offered a reasonable solution to Olbers’ Paradox. Einstein himself had to be pointed towards the mathematical framework for general relativity by his friends. Trying to imagine the processes of the universe with the math to come later is not voodoo physics. Metaphysics doesn’t have to be voodoo physics, either.
8. When did you enter into the world of the ultra-high IQ community? In particular, the Mega Society. In it, once more, you forged an identity. What motivated this resurgence of forging an identity? For instance, the use of the pseudonym Richard Sterman within the publications of the Mega Society journal, Noesis. To make amends, and needing stating, you did apologize to members and readers of the journal for the false identity portrayal.
When I first qualified for the Mega Society in late 1985, I was depressed from a bad breakup and would try to make myself less depressed by doing stupid stuff. After receiving a score on the Mega Test that qualified me for the Mega Society, I wrote to Marilyn Savant (who must’ve been in charge of membership at the time) and asked, “Hey, can I join your club…and want to go on a date? I’m a stripper.” Marilyn wrote back and said my score didn’t qualify me for Mega. She had no response to the personal invitation. (Later, my score did turn out qualify me for Mega. My score’s IQ equivalent jumped around as more scores came in and the test was repeatedly recalibrated.)
On the Mega Test, I had tied for the second-highest score in the country. The CBS Morning News called to invite me to be on the show. I asked the producer if I should wear my tux or my loincloth. She immediately cancelled me for being a crazy person. In my defense, I worked in bars until two in the morning and didn’t wake up in time to see what morning news shows were like. I thought, stupidly, that the CBS Morning News would want somebody really fun. (Fun = loincloth.)
The other people with high scores were two Los Angeles math professors, Solomon Golomb and Herbert Taylor, and the Governor of New Hampshire. People seemed really annoyed that I, a roller skating waiter, stripper, bar bouncer, and amateur undercover high school student, was in their company.
In 1990, when the Titan Test came out, I remembered how appalled at me people were after the Mega. So I decided to take the test using my girlfriend’s last name instead of my own, figuring that if I did well on the Titan, I could get a fresh start at talking to reporters without being tainted by being the person who shocked people the first time around. If this sounds dumb, it’s because it was. My Twitter handle is @dumbassgenius because I tend to do a mix of smart and dumb stuff (not usually on purpose). I wasn’t trying to fool anyone for test purposes, I was just trying to sidestep my stupid past.
I did really well on the Titan, finally joining the Mega Society and becoming editor of the Mega Society journal. After a few months, I told everyone, “Hey, I’m the same guy who did well on the Mega Test.” I don’t think anyone was outraged. (I also took the Mega Test for a second time as Richard Sterman. But I soon came clean.)
9. In reading through the available literature of Noesis, i.e. available online, three trends persist to me. One, the range of high-level and engaging material across the arts and science, e.g. the lucid description of relativity by Chris Cole at the end of issue 69 entitled Relativity – A Primer. Two, the mix of the occasional scatological material in the writing, mostly c. 1990-1996. Three, the length of your time as the main editor from 1990-1996. How did you come into the world of the Mega Society? How did you earn the position of editor for six years? Do you think the journal fulfilled part of the purpose stated in the constitution to “facilitate interaction among its members and to assist them in gaining access to resources to accomplish their individual purposes”?
When the editorship was offered to me, I was underemployed. I’d written for some TV quiz shows and thought that work would continue but didn’t know how to get that work. The publisher of Noesis said I could have the subscription money if I’d edit it. It wasn’t much, but everything helps when you’re a bouncer and nude model who’s trying to cover a mortgage and pay for hair transplants. I edited Noesis for six years because no one else was clamoring to do it. Towards the end, I started getting TV work again, and became even less reliable about getting issues out on time. Other members volunteered to take over.
As editor, I didn’t do too much editing. Most material submitted to me went straight into Noesis. I may have left out some crackpot submissions claiming to have disproved Einstein and perhaps some angry letters from people who thought they deserved to be admitted to Mega though they didn’t meet the entrance requirements.
Some of the writing you term scatological may have been my writing about myself. While most of the material submitted to Noesis is at a high intellectual level or at least reflects striving in that direction, I was trying to be entertaining and tell the embarrassing and I hope funny truth about myself. I eventually became a professional comedy writer, and, without looking back on my writing for Noesis, I’m sure much of it was goofier and more obnoxious (and perhaps more entertaining) than the average article.
I’m fairly pessimistic about the effectiveness of most high-IQ journals, though I’ve seen some good ones. My editorship was at the very beginning of the internet era, so most communication was by snail mail. Now, of course, high-IQ organizations are online, which speeds up discourse. The Mega Society online journal has some good material and discussions.
10. Amidst the busywork of editorials and organization of the material, upon reading Noesis, one article struck me regarding the title and content entitled My Problem With Black People. At the time, August 1992, other members of the Mega Society argued for the possibility of intellectual inferiority of blacks. You argued otherwise. In that, by your estimate, all races have about equal intelligence. Although in defense of all parties involved in the discussion of issue 72, the articles were written in 1992. Much work written in public discourse has progressed on the issue of intelligence and race: ‘does race count as an appropriate scientific category?’, ‘do IQ tests measure intelligence?’ and so forth. Where do you stand on this issue now?
I don’t have a problem with black people – in my juvenile manner, just wanted an attention-grabbing title. I believe that most work which tries to or claims to establish a relationship between intelligence and race has elements of creepy bullshit. Little good and lots and lots of bad has been done by people who claim that certain races or nationalities are mentally inferior to others.
Intelligence has a fluid relationship with environment, and all sorts of things can happen during an individual’s lifetime which may or may not bring his or her intelligence to fruition. Sometimes, being imperfectly adapted to an environment may elicit the expression of intelligence – think of perfectly adapted jocks who never had to learn to think versus awkward nerds who, because of physical imperfection, have to follow the riskier strategy of original thought. So, people who want to eliminate or reduce the reproductive opportunities of groups that may be considered inferior (according to crappy, wobbly, arbitrary, prejudiced and culturally loaded standards) may actually be trying to eliminate one of the triggers for intelligence – being at odds with one’s circumstances. More great art has been made by people who are ill-at-ease with their world than by people who are perfectly at home in it.
Furthermore, this is a particularly dumb time for arguments about racial differences in intelligence, as more and more of our effective intelligence comes from our interaction with technology. Tech is turning us all into geniuses, though it doesn’t seem like it when you see so many people behaving stupidly with their devices. Since World War Two, the average IQ of all of humanity has gone up by 15 points – the Flynn Effect. One of the main suspects in this upslope is the pervasiveness of complicated modern culture. Culture and tech will keep getting more complicated, and humans in conjunction with our devices will keep getting smarter. Tech that’s built into our bodies isn’t too far in the future. More than one percent of the population already has built-in computers – pacemakers, cochlear implants, etc. So who cares about some hard-to-measure few-IQ-point alleged difference among groups when we’re all going to end up being increasingly augmented geniuses?
People who insist on racial inferiority are creeps. We can discuss cultural differences – for instance, there seem to be cultural differences in causes of passenger jet pilot error – but the idea that some races need to be babysat by other races is gross. We’re all going to need to figure out how to work with each (augmented) other as tech reshapes the world.
11. How many societies do you have membership inside of now? What use do you get from these societies?
Don’t know how many societies I belong to. People ask me to click on things on Facebook, and sometimes clicking means that I’ve joined something. Could be 8 societies, could be 15. I’m not very good at Facebook and don’t live on it, as does your Aunt Angie, with her constant posting of cat and casserole pictures. Currently living on Twitter.
12. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) pervades American culture more than most, based on my reading of the culture, with a litany of reactions ranging from reverence to laughter to skepticism – and serious scholarship. Many neuropsychological tests developed by those with appropriate qualifications have developed some of the most well-used and researched tests such as the Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM) and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). However, mainstream standardized intelligence tests tend to have maximum scores at 4-sigma above the norm (160/164/196; SD-15/16/24, respectively). In the development of this work, some independent researchers and test constructors began to make tests for those earning maximum, or near-maximum, scores on mainstream tests. In the process, tests and societies developed for the high-ability population. This environment set the stage for the flourishing of your obsession: IQ tests. For example, on a high-ability test called the Titan Test – one of the most difficult, you set a record score. In fact, you earned a perfect score. You have taken many more. What are some of the other tests? In particular, where does your range, mean, and median lie for the set of high-range IQ tests taken?
It’s hard to pin down what my actual score might be. It’s silly to even think that people have one set IQ and that it’s precisely measurable. My lowest scores probably reflect less than my maximum effort, and my highest scores probably grant me some extra points due to crazily high levels of diligence plus vast experience with these tests. It doesn’t really matter unless we want to turn IQ testing into a reality show sport. And we should – why do we have a bunch of competition shows about people cooking from Mystery Baskets and none with IQ showdowns?
13. In the testing of intelligence, much criticism exists towards the potential for bias inherent in the tests themselves. For example, the use of an examinee’s non-native language in intelligence tests. If an individual speaks a different native language than the test provides, they may score low in the verbal section, which may decrease the composite score. To solve this problem, non-verbal/’culture fair’ tests exist. However, many of these culture fair tests have lower ceilings. What do you see in the future for high-range non-verbal tests? How will this change general intelligence testing and the identification of gifted individuals?
Intelligence testing has always been kind of a mess, often arbitrary and unfair. I think the best, easiest thing to do is test kids repeatedly, using a variety of tests. There are plenty of good, long-established tests. Trouble is, school districts are broke and don’t have the resources for repeated testing.
We can hope that tech will make schools more responsive to individual needs. Schools can be a little behind the curve. A century ago, school was the most interesting part of a kid’s day – it’s where the information was. Now, with the rest of our lives being so information- and entertainment-rich, school can be relatively uninteresting, which isn’t helped by politicians and people who don’t like paying property tax starving schools of resources.
School needs somewhat of a makeover – increasing automation and personalization, which the ongoing tech wave should help make possible. Don’t know if a push for better giftedness-finder diagnostics needs a special push. Would guess that this won’t be overlooked as part of high-tech changes to education.
Currently a crazy thing is the pressure on a few tens of thousands of high-end students, with endless AP courses and brutal study loads, for a seven percent chance of getting into an Ivy. When I was in school, the average AP kid took 1.3 AP courses; now it’s more than 7. I assume our weird college admissions system will get somewhat straightened out by technological advances in education, or will become weird in exciting new ways.
14. You have great interest in health. In fact, you had interest in health since a young age. Why the deep interest in the health from a young age?
At first, I wanted to build muscles to impress girls. (This sort of worked, but it took many years of de-nerdification.) People were fit in the 70s – clothes were tight and high-waisted. The Arnold Schwarzenegger documentary, Pumping Iron, which came out in 1976, introduced many people to serious muscle-building. Weight training incidentally introduced me to some healthy eating habits, plus I’ve always been a little fat-phobic and perhaps over-disciplined.
Only much later did I read Kurzweil’s book, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, and go from a few vitamins a day to a zillion. I don’t buy Kurzweil’s entire argument – that the Singularity will happen around 2040, and anyone who can live until then can live forever – but I do think there will be many biotech breakthroughs in the coming decades which may offer extra years of life. I want to stick around – the future is where you can find a lot of cool stuff.
**********************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.