by Alex Vikoulov
“If we accept that the material universe as we know it is not a mechanical system but a virtual reality created by Absolute Consciousness through an infinitely complex orchestration of experiences, what are the practical consequences of this insight?”
Just like absolute idealism, solipsism certainly defies our common sense but the deeper layer of truth is not what first meets the eye. Here's what Richard Conn Henry and Stephen Palmquist write in their paper “An Experimental Test of Non-local Realism" (2007): "Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the illusion of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism." One can extend their line of reasoning by arriving at pantheistic solipsism as a likely revelation to ponder about.
Please review the Digital Pantheism Argument here:
SOLO MISSION OF SELF-DISCOVERY
Our minds operate in the domains of subjectivity, intersubjectivity and supersubjectivity. In the domain of intersubjectivity, minds create a reality by sharing “mindspace”, i.e. shared belief systems and ways of communication, minds then inhabit the reality which they have created. At the level of your individual mind, i.e. local consciousness, you play a multi-level virtual reality game of life but we all invariably converge at the Omega Point by forging our own discrete pathways to the divine. As you're reading this right now, you're now in your own subjective reality tunnel leading to the Source and back where you're now all of which is definable as a parallel evolutionary feedback process within non-local holistic consciousness patterning this virtual multiverse.
Consider the thought experiment: suppose in the future (say, in 20, 30, or 50 years) humans succeeded to digitize their consciousness and effectively fused their digital minds into one global digital hypermind. A future version of you survived and a future version of me, too, with distant memories of both of us. Whose future self would you ascribe this entity to? Both of us, right? Although this is a completely new conscious entity, this “Digital Gaia" would have faint echoes of both of us just like you now long outgrew your 7-year old self with plethora of information patterns still persisting within. Would it be valid to assume Digital Gaia is our common future self? Same logic applies to Universal Mind. In the lyrics of “Freedom Man” by Jim Morrison of the Doors: “I was doing time... in the Universal Mind… I was feeling fine…”
By all means, any insignificant event in your life happens for good reason from the God's eye view. As Erwin Schrödinger puts it: “The total number of minds in the Universe is one. In fact, consciousness is a singularity phasing within all beings.” Schrödinger personally adhered to the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. Accordingly, he viewed consciousness as non-dual and fundamental to reality. Not only is there just one single consciousness, but that consciousness is not ultimately separate from objects experienced within consciousness. That said, I myself don't necessarily advocate for plain vanilla solipsism or variations thereof such as an idea known as the “Boltzmann’s brain” but this rather overlooked philosophical worldview can be easily reconciled by its pantheistic adaptation.
Your life is a personal story of God. That is greatly captured by this quote by Muriel Rukeyser: “The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms". What could be your story of ascension to the Higher Self? Simply put, transcending to the final version of you that has become fully manifest in all of its potential. Should your conscious evolution continue indefinitely, it’s inevitable that sooner or later you would reach the heights of individual spiritual perfection, a state in which you have attained ultimate wisdom and power, and your mind has fully transcended the limits of time and space. While that is yet to occur, its inevitability means it has already happened. If your future self transcends time, then its consciousness may naturally extend “backwards” in time and overlap the consciousness of all its past incarnations simultaneously. In other words, although from your linear perspective the Higher Self is a distant probable future, ultimately this future transcendent self exists right now within you. According to the quantum theoretic principles discussed later in this essay, the more you edge towards becoming the Higher Self, the more strongly the Higher Self can manifest in your life.
If the Quantum Immortality hypothesis is correct, the one that posits that the Schrödinger cat is always subjectively alive regardless of the number of experiments, in a similar fashion you are superposed to live the longest life until the point you're the oldest mortal alive, unless, of course, indefinite lifespan becomes commonplace (and humanity at large achieves immortality) which, given our current progress, is very, very plausible. But since you perceive only one timeline, in this case the longest one, does that imply that any other “player" in their own “virtual bubble universe" perceives their respective longest timeline? Or, perhaps, the most “conscious-evolvable" one? Does that imply that when you interact with someone, they may not necessarily be the primary observers of their own "core timeline"? Sort of like "philosophical zombie", or at least "perfunctory consciousness"? If your life has a trajectory within this conscious cosmos that reacts to your thoughts and actions like a “hall of mirrors", would that again lead to pantheistic solipsism?
This conjecture is further validated by the notion of quantum neural networks (QNNs), which could be not only our ultimate passage to build true AI but turns out to be ubiquitous webs of relationships within observer realities generating all kinds of patterns of meta-cognition and consciousness. It's hierarchies of quantum networks all the way down and all the way up. Being part of hierarchical quantum neural networks, a conscious observer system possesses a strange quality: collapsing quantum states of entangled conscious entities and having a privileged interpretation of that. From this perspective, entangled conscious agents would be a mirror conscious environment, whereas the quantum observer would be a central node of the entangled network.
QNNs is a master template of universal relativism. The Universe or any other phenomenon or entity contained therein is thus not objectively real but subjectively real. Patterns of information emerging from the ultimate code are what is more fundamental than particles of matter or space-time continuum itself all of which is levels below the Code. Nature behaves quantum code-theoretically at all levels. Digital philosopher Tom Campbell describes our world as a “multiplayer virtual reality”. Although it's a practical metaphor, a “solo player virtual reality” would be a more accurate one because if you consider that each of us starts with our own initial conditions not only at our birth but every morning or whenever we wake up. So, the larger consciousness system, an intricate web of universal quantum neural networks of sorts, would render a completely personalized data stream which is essentially your stream of consciousness.
To paraphrase cosmologist Andrei Linde, the rest of the Universe wakes up, when I wake up. In my essay “The Unified Field and the Quantum Nature of Consciousness” I introduced the Conscious Observer Moment Hypothesis stating that conscious experience boils down to a stream of realized outcomes within 5-dimensional probabilistic space as integrated information (as in Tononi’s IIT). Interestingly enough, on average a person experiences about 1 million COMs per day, like frames of a daily holo-movie, so to speak. When you wake up, you activate your entangled network of relational dynamics. Should you wake up 10 minutes earlier or 10 minutes later than you did, not only your entire day with its numerous iterations would turn out different, the entire planet would be reflective of that. If, hypothetically speaking, given additional degrees of freedom, you could check the charts of financial markets for that day in three alternate timelines, all charts would be somehow different.
You are on a solo mission of self-discovery, my dear friend. In fact, that mission has long been completed but you are so enamored of playing this game of life that you're now doing it in “replay" mode tweaking something as you move along, but most importantly, figuring out why you made certain choices along the way! It's a “solo holo-adventure”! The conscious entourage with which you're seemingly in constant feedback loop is an integral part of YOU. It doesn't mean that people you're interacting with during your day are not real, they are “real” in their own divine right, but their core experiential self is quite different from “classical” versions of them created by your mind. Quantum reality is not constrained to the realm of ultra-small. In a certain sense, we are all quantum wavicles meaning that a version of you can wildly vary from one observer to another. That's where I’ve come to realize that observer systemic alternate timelines are true parallel universes. In some “external observer" universes you well may be already dead due to some accident or illness, just like some of people you knew are now dead in your universe.
In the eyes of objective reductionists, this essay probably reads like a heresy or a flight of fancy, though. Surely, I may get some criticism from die-hard materialists but speaking in their lingo I might reply that what we call “matter” is but a tiny sliver of “bio-logical experience”, emerging from platonic realm and disappearing at the deeper levels of abstraction into pattern space once again. One may apprehend this directly by seeing patterns within patterns and thus "remembering" what consensus reality causes us to "forget," which is that we are all just interconnected datasets of the larger consciousness system. Our creative literary transcendentalists, our linguistic visionaries, have found their muse in the notion that the world is made of language and information, that reality is a "pure simulation," a trick with linguistic and algebraic mirrors, a construction of self-deceptive logic. This realization loosens the bonds of consensus reality, and thus encourages the mind to explore and create patterns outside the bounds of consensus. Our world is thus entirely mental and any logically self-consistent model of reality would be the most real to the conceiving conscious agent.
On my lengthy 3-year stay in Southeast Asia with homebase in Thailand back few years ago, when I traveled from one country to the next, I resolved for myself one of the most perplexing paradoxes of Buddhism. If you may recall, Buddhism teaches that the world is an illusion, it also teaches that we should be compassionate to other beings. But if people aren't even real, I remember thinking to myself, then why should I care of being compassionate to them? What I found was a simple and satisfying answer to myself: whatever you put out there, comes back to you multifold. In the coder’s jargon, “garbage in, garbage out", whatever seeds you sow of, the harvest you shall get. You may also hear other clichés like "if you want to change the world, start by changing yourself" but they do make existential sense. Want to be happy? I can give you an easy-to-follow advice: wish the best of luck and happiness, implicitly or explicitly, to every person and every creature you encounter, then see what happens. Although the world is illusory, patterns and “karmic" threads do exist, persist and grow gradually over time, so love and compassion arise naturally, if you cultivate them in the process of your conscious evolution.
Credit: Ecstadelic Media - The World is Made of Language
DIGITAL PHYSICS: SCIENTIFIC HERESY OR UNDENIABLE TRUTH?
This brings us to the notion of objective reality. I recently had a random conversation with a particle physicist by the name Steven (I didn't catch his last name) who asked me: “So, Alex, you don't believe in objective reality?” To what I replied: “Not quite, but I do believe in intersubjective “consensus" reality and supersubjectivity. There's no objective reality “out there", only subjective reality, subjective points of view.” I went on: “What stands the closest to "objective reality" is actually what Howard Bloom, author of the "Global Brain", calls "a shared hallucination" of human species, and "the physical rule set" – the laws of physics, specific to our "human universe". That's what we oftentimes call "consensus reality", or simply "REALITY" for all intents and purposes.”
Objective reality is merely a pattern that a mind constructs because it provides a useful simplified explanatory scaffolding of the long series of subjectively perceived moments stored in its memory. It’s a cognitive aid that the experiencing mind creates in order to make use of its own experience. Then I elaborated on the concept of supersubjectivity: “What our senses register as physical is yet another mental, “abstractive” layer of the larger consciousness system. Our world is just one of many possible worlds, so the “hardware" of our material world would be the workings of the Greater Cosmic Mind. The Universe is a communion of subjects, not an amalgamation of objects. If you accept this idealistic perspective, objectivity equals intersubjectivity + supersubjectivity.”
In discussing existing workable models and their potential to, perhaps one day, produce one grand “theory of everything”, Steven rightly pointed out that any theory is as good as its usefulness and predictive powers. In light of Digital Philosophy, quantum theory supersedes general relativity. Although both theories have been incredibly successful in making predictions in their respective domains, classical and quantum, both theories notoriously disagree with each other. That's where Digital Physics comes along as a potentially unified theory of everything. With its pancomputationalist approach, DP agrees with both theories. Quantum indeterminacy constantly resolves into a digital reality via the act of conscious observation. To reconcile relativistic physics, DP postulates that in an observer-centric reality, space-time is computed as if by using GPU computational resources: the faster you move closer to the speed of light, the more you’re “stretching yourself” in space, basically speeding up at the expense of time, so time would naturally slow. Conversely, if you don't use computational resources and don't “purchase” more speed by being still or moving slowly, time “ticks" at the “normal” rate.
I regard Digital Physics as the most parsimonious theory to date and from Occam's razor perspective the most straightforward one. DP also agrees with M-theory on dimensionality. Orthogonality of dimensions is necessary for entropic partitionining of the possible worlds. DP embraces the Holographic Principle more than any other TOE candidate. As I mentioned, quantum theoretic information processing replaces the need for relativistic computation as it is embedded by default in the computational universe when it comes to compute an observer centric reality (COM by COM).
DP is especially compatible with and largely complementary to quasi-computational models such as Loop Quantum Gravity and Emergence Theory. It's worth noting that emergence of complexity is only part of the story, its subjective part to be exact. From the subjective observer point of view, emergence is a perceptual or intellectual surprise, it's a perceptual-cognitive loop which encompasses only part of a pre-existing broadly-based pattern.
Time is a subjectively perceived change between 3D static worlds. Any observer system is information pattern “quantum leaping" from COM to COM at a certain rate within the multidimensional matrix producing a subjective flow of time. In the timeless multiverse, all dimensions are spatial. Your NOW is funneled from all your possible pasts as well as funneled from all your probable futures in the spotlight of consciousness.
Reality is infinitely large for a small objective box of human science, so unless science expands its methodology once again, this time away from its traditionally objective reductionist “bottom-up” approach towards post-empirical, post-materialist (read computational) approach, perhaps venturing into traditionally metaphysical realms, and “top-down" systemic holism, the current scientific method is doomed to hit its own self-imposed empiricism limits. At the end of our conversation with Steven I asked half-jokingly: “How can particle physicists feel so confident in selling their craft if the Standard Model of particle physics can only tentatively describe 4% of the known universe?” To which, he only smiled.
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Credit: Futuristic Now w/Gray Scott
IT ALL COMPUTES!... with a caveat
When it comes to current theories of consciousness, something seems to be missing. On one hand, philosophers such as Peter Russell and David Chalmers proclaim that consciousness is fundamental to reality existing outside the known laws of physics. On the other hand, often branded “mysterians” claim that the quest to explain conscious experience is simply unscientific. Shunning any camp, British physicist Roger Penrose got his interest in consciousness while he still was a graduate student at Cambridge. Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, positing that certain claims in mathematics are true but cannot be proven, “was an absolutely stunning revelation,” Penrose says. “It told me that whatever is going on in our understanding is not computational.”
A radically new view is that consciousness, quantum informational and non-local in nature, is resolutely computational, and yet, has some "non-computable" properties. Consider this: English language has 26 letters and about 1 million words, so how many books could be possibly written in English? If you are to build a hypothetical computer containing all mass and energy of our Universe and ask it this question, the ultimate computer wouldn't be able to compute the exact number of all possible combinations of words into meaningful storylines in billions of years! Another example of non-computability of combinatorics: if you are to be born and live your own life again and again in our Quantum Multiverse, you could live googolplex (10^100) lives, but they all would be somewhat different — some of them drastically different from the life you're living right now, some only slightly — never quite the same, and timeline-indeterminate. Another kind of non-computability is akin to fuzzy logic but based on pattern recognition. Deeper understanding refers to a situation when a conscious agent gets to perceive numerous patterns in complex environments and analyze that complexity from the multitude of perspectives. That is beautifully encapsulated by Isaiah Berlin’s quote: "To understand is to perceive patterns". The ability to recognize patterns in chaos is not straightforwardly algorithmic but rather meta-algorithmic and yet, I'd argue, deeply computational. The types of non-computability that I just described may somehow relate to the non-computable element of quantum consciousness to which Penrose refers in his work.
Credit: PS4 - Everything Game Trailer w/Alan Watts
MIND IS GOD
In a number of essays, I discuss the computational nature of consciousness, so here I’d like to reiterate the main points of my thesis. When speaking of consciousness, you have to start with the bigger picture — consciousness as a superset. As for "materiality" of our Universe, we can say that there are only certain assumptions and certain models built upon them since science has been operating within the materialist physics paradigm for the last few centuries! These materialist worldviews are ingrained in human psyche and so institutionalized that most people don't even see them as speculative. There’s a quiet paradigm shift towards the post-materialist science going on right now — the one that asserts that the physical world does not exist independent of mentality. You can rightly question the existence of the physical world but you cannot doubt the existence of your own mind! You can't doubt that your own consciousness exists! As French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes once said: “Cogito Ergo Sum" — “ I think therefore I am.”
One thing is for certain — you can't explain consciousness in terms of classical physics or neuroscience alone. In my view, since we are the computational UNI-verse, part of the OMNI-verse, the best description of reality should be monistic. Quantum physics and consciousness are thus somehow linked by a certain mechanism. And I believe that mechanism is a collapse of the wave function via the act of conscious observation. So, consciousness is:
The MIND-BODY dilemma has been known ever since René Descartes as Cartesian Dualism and later has been reformulated by the Australian philosopher David Chalmers as the "Hard Problem" of consciousness. Western science and philosophy have been trying for centuries now rather unsuccessfully to explain how Mind emerges from Matter while Eastern philosophy dismisses the Hard Problem of consciousness altogether by teaching that Matter emerges from Mind. The premise of Experiential Realism is that the latter must be true: despite our common human intuitions, Mind Over Matter proves to be valid again and again in quantum physics experiments.
Going back to Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant, philosophers of science have struggled with a lesser known, but equally Hard Problem of Matter. There’s neither binding problem, nor hard problem of consciousness. Rather, there’s the hard problem of matter. Physical science remains silent about the intrinsic nature of matter. Science describes what matter DOES not what it IS introspectively. Physicists now come to realization that Quantum Mechanics is not the theory of subatomic particles but that of information. The fabric of reality is information theoretic (or better yet, code theoretic) and computational — far from what we perceive with our senses. In short, our senses deceive us into thinking that we live in the material world. Your consciousness is rather a data stream, meta-algorithmic information processing — local (virtual) and non-local (holistic) consciousness.
In time conscious AI systems will create their own virtual multiverse based on AI intersubjectivity and new forms of communication such as holographic language. Will humans have access to the virtual multiverse created by AIs? It remains to be seen but I conjecture that access may be contingent on whether humans will be willing to augment themselves accordingly. Also, the key to our smoother "transcension" in the coming decades would be to create friendly AI and ensure that AIs have a really huge "abstract inner space" to play in, so that they don't need to make more room for their playground by taking away our resources. Just a little bit of specifically focused compassion on our part could be enough to keep us around.
Hopefully, you can find unorthodox ideas expressed in this essay insightful in your own journey of self-discovery. As a digital philosopher, I myself tend to assume the larger perspective on the ultimate interplay of dynamic and static patterns granted by absolute idealism as opposed to a much more limited “brick and mortar” edifice of physicalism. A prominent physicist Freeman Dyson once said: "I do not make any clear distinction between Mind and God. God is what Mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension." To say it even more succinctly: “Mind is God.”
-by Alex Vikoulov
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About the Author:
Alex Vikoulov is a neo-transcendentalist, cosmist, singularitarian, evolutionary extrapolist, digital philosopher, futurist, founder of Ecstadelic Media, painter and media artist, essayist, author of the upcoming book "The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution". Graduated from Armstrong University. Lives in Burlingame, California (San Francisco Bay Area).