"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” - Bill Keane
Temporal philosophy is a fascinating but eerily difficult topic. Correctly answering the philosophical questions and paradoxes of time paves the way to unlocking one of the last remaining mysteries of mind since our perception of time and consciousness, as you know, are simply inseparable. A new theory of time, Digital Presentism, comes from the triangulation of temporal physics, digital physics and experiential realism. In this Part II of the essay "The Origins of Us" I'm answering the flaming questions in philosophy of time: "Is time fundamental or emergent?", "How does time exist, if at all?", "How can we update the current epistemological status of temporal ontology?" For starters, let’s recap what we’ve learned so far about physics of time. Here’s a quick summary: in Time Series essays, we dissected the nature of time through the prism of these 7 common misconceptions:
For additional insights, you can review “Temporal Dynamics” and “Temporal Mechanics” in more detail, here:
What is Digital Physics?
To us humans, to be alive is to perceive the flow of time. Our perception of time is linear — we remember the past, we live in the present and we look forward to the future. Our spatio-temporal reality and consciousness are two sides of the same coin made of information. We discussed the properties of consciousness and digital ontology in “Digital Pantheism: Philosophical Afterthoughts and Follow-up Questions to the Argument.”
The Digital Pantheism argument rests on identifying certain features of reality and claiming that these features are a consequence of our reality being a computational simulation of a special emergent kind. We, as "avatars" of the greater cosmic mind, are instrumental for bringing the finite experience of reality out of absolute infinity. Infinite becomes finite. That's quantum computation: incrementally changing into "adjacent possible", from potentiality to actuality, from quantum past to digital present.
So, what is Digital Presentism?
DIGITAL PRESENTISM: D-THEORY OF TIME
Let's start with a brief historical overview of temporal philosophy, crucial definitions and basic assumptions.
One of the earliest philosophers of time Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430) compared the present to a knife edge placed exactly between the perceived past and the imaginary future. If the present is extended, he said, it must have separate simultaneous parts but we know that time cannot be simultaneously past and present and hence not extended. Contrary to Saint Augustine, some philosophers argued that conscious experience is extended in time. For instance, William James (1842–1910) said that time is "the short duration of which we are immediately and incessantly sensible".
Philosophical Presentism, as its name hints, holds that only the present moment is real – neither past nor future exist. By contrast, Eternalism and the Growing Block Theory stipulate that past events, like the Wright brothers’ first flight, and past entities, like Salvador Dali’s ocelot cat Babou, really do exist, although not in the present. Eternalism extends to future events as well. Classical Philosophical Presentism is not to be confused with Digital Presentism which we’ll discuss at length hereafter.
In the beginning of 20th century, Cambridge idealist philosopher J. M. E. McTaggart published "The Unreality of Time" (1908) where he categorized events into three ways of referencing: the 'A Series' (or 'tensed time': yesterday, today, tomorrow), the 'B Series' (or 'untensed time': Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), and the ‘C Series’ (or ‘sequential time’: Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday). In the first part of three, McTaggart offers a phenomenological analysis of the appearance of time, in terms of the now famous A- and B-series. In the second part, he argues that a conception of time as only forming a B-series but not an A-series is an inadequate conception of time because the B-series does not contain any notion of change. The A-series, on the other hand, appears to contain change and is thus more likely to be an adequate conception of time. In the third and final part, he argues that the A-series conception of time is contradictory and thus nothing can be like an A-series. Since the A-, the B-, and the C- series exhaust possible conceptions of how reality can be temporal, and neither is adequate, the conclusion McTaggart reaches is that reality is not temporal at all.
This impasse in the philosophical discourse on temporal ontology, also known as the "problem of time" in modern physics, only looks unsurmountable but in actuality has an elegant solution to it. In 1983, physicists Don Page and William Wootters proposed a theoretical solution based on quantum entanglement. Thirty years later, in 2013, at the Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRIM) in Turin, Italy, researchers experimentally confirmed Page and Wootters' ideas: time is an emergent phenomenon for internal observers but absent for “God-like” external observers of the Universe. But can these scientific and philosophical ideas be further developed and refined in order for us to make a logically consistent temporal ontology argument? What if we try to combine all salient features of the McTaggartian time series and throw into the mix of temporal conceptions the all new D-series, the one that has never been conceived before in philosophy of time? It turns out it can be done and that's how Digital Presentism, that I also call the D-Theory of Time, comes to the fore.
Reality is not temporal, it's digital. According to Digital Physics, all experiential realities are digital, i.e. information theoretic and observer-centric – you can't get rid of the centrality of observers. Think of the new conception of time, Digital Presentism, like real-time streaming of progressively generated content in immersive virtual reality (VR). We're all familiar with online music streaming, too: When you stream music online, every bit is discretely rendered, interpreted and finally interwoven into your unitary experiential reality. Only with Digital Presentism “music” is also being created in “real time" as if right from your mind. At last, Digital Presentism brings in the most comprehensive conceptual framework for our notion of temporality, and soon you'll see the reasons why.
First of all I'd like to make a critical distinction between Digital Presentism and classical Philosophical Presentism. Classical Presentism is the view that neither the future nor the past exist. By contrast, Digital Presentism tells us that at least platonic objects and ideas such as numbers and sacred geometry should be treated as timeless, implying that time is not fundamental but emergent from information. According to digitalism, information like energy is always preserved, meaning that past and future experiential data is never really lost, however, access to that data is contingent upon certain degrees of freedom.
To be clear, the main differences of proposed observer-centric D-Theory of Time from A-theory (classical presentism) and B-Theory (classical eternalism) can be summarized as follows: instead of the past and the future claimed to be non-existent by A-theory, D-theory agrees with B-Theory that both past and future events co-exist with the present but have multiple pathways to the present singular “now”. Thus, according to Digital Presentism, there exist multiple possible pasts without specifically identifying any of those pasts as “actualized" even though they may be in “perfect sync" with the current memories of the observer. There also exist multiple probable futures, none of which are pre-determined and eventually converging at the cosmological singularity, the Theillardian Omega Point. In other words, our future is not “carved in stone” – but here's a big surprise – neither is our past.
The three basic assumptions of Digital Presentism are as follows: (1) Per the principle of universality of computation, experiential reality is a data stream of consciousness rendered to a given observer; (2) A ‘Conscious Instant’ (CI) is information integrated into a single “frame” of the experiential data stream. Any unstructured information is irrelevant and null (see the CI hypothesis in “Unified Field and Quantum Nature of Consciousness”; (3) The present observer moment is a convergent point of the funneled observer pasts and the funneled observer futures which is formed by two causal diamonds: the past causal diamond and the future retrocausal diamond (see Universal Causal Diamond in part III “Is God The Ultimate Computer?”)
Digital Presentism engulfs some similarities with other classical theories of time. With Philosophical Presentism, it shares not only the name but also the ultimacy of the present moment which appears self-evident in the spotlight of your conscious awareness; it's also similar to Eternalism as to digital pasts, digital present and digital futures are all informationally real – nothing really is ever lost – quantum information is said to be preserved. Similar to the Growing Block Universe theory, consistent digital histories, if experienced and therefore actualized, become part of the ‘Akashic Records’, or “the memory of the Universe,” in the words of Hungarian physicist and philosopher Ervin Laszlo, author of Science and the Akashic Field (2004).
All theoretical roads lead to Digital Physics. Researchers suspect that ultimately the axioms of quantum theory will be about information: what can and can’t be done with it. One such derivation of quantum theory based on axioms about information was proposed in 2010. “Loosely speaking,” explained Jacques Pienaar, a theoretical physicist at the University of Vienna, “... principles state that information should be localized in space and time, that systems should be able to encode information about each other, and that every process should in principle be reversible, so that information is conserved.” In irreversible classical processes, by contrast, information is typically lost — just as it is when you erase a file on your hard drive. Quantum computing models eliminate causal asymmetry which is inherent in classical-style computation and, some say, responsible for our unidirectional time's arrow. Quantum models are as good at predicting the future states as retrodicting the past states of the system: They are equally adept at inferring effect from cause as they are cause from effect. Physics knows no upper limit on the amount of reversible computing that can be performed using a fixed amount of energy, or in case of the universal operating system — vastly large but still finite computational resources.
The past is quantum theoretic (or 'analog', if you prefer that term), the present is digital, and the future like the past is quantum, made of qubits, quantum mechanical bits of information. Once again, pay attention: the present is digital, the future and the past are quantum (analog). There is no universal frame of reference, instead, there's only the conscious observer’s frame of reference. At this point, you might say: “But I do remember my past!” And you'll be right! However, if our memories are mutable and editable, at least in principle, you can't vouch with 100% certainty for one particular digital history. There are always countless forgotten or otherwise misremembered past periods of time filled with qubits of potentiality. So, how editable is our past?
ANALOG TIME: "EDITABLE” PAST
The present, the “now” is what we’re experiencing. But it feels like the past exists. We remember the past happening. Well, none of us remember everything, we may only remember some moments, some pieces of information. But does that past exist? Or is that just a memory we're experiencing now? Things get even more complicated when we realize that there is no possible way to prove the past existed at all.
As a thought experiment, imagine that there exists technology to create a replica of human mind that allows to install fabricated memories. The “Blade Runner"-like replicant would think that she has lived for years even though she has only been alive for a short time. For all we know, the whole of humanity may have been just created days ago and that our memories and other evidence of our existence could be implanted by some supreme being. Those past years of your life are only your memories that could have been fabricated and implanted by the higher power. This may not be the case whatsoever but it's a rather interesting thought experiment demonstrating how our reality could be no more than a mere illusion since our perception of time depends on our memories of the past.
Organic memories are also utterly unreliable. When a new memory forms, that memory is fragile until time passes and the memory consolidates. When memories are recalled or reactivated, they become temporarily unstable and vulnerable to change until they become more or less stable again, shortly afterward. Over the long term, however, any relatively stable memories fade away like sandcastles washed away from ashore by the tides of time. For instance, there’s no way to arrive at a definitive best-memory-ever answer. Indeed, you may well have forgotten your best memory, or the best thing to ever happen to you, leaving you grasping for something that kind of, but not really, fits the bill — and feeling a bit of longing for something you can’t quite put your finger on. One may argue that in the near future we may develop technologies to record our entire lives including thoughts and dreams, but by the same token, you can always modify and even erase those digitized memories. Should you travel to your own past by the means of immersive VR, you can always tweak or simply replay “points of interest.”
Already, scientists can project holograms onto the top layer of the brain, activating dozens of neurons many hundreds of times a second in an effort to simulate real activity patterns in the brain. By using this technique, called optogenetics, they hope to essentially fool the brain into thinking it has perceived something. The scientists also intend to imitate real patterns of brain activity so that they can ultimately reproduce sensations and perceptions that they can “play back” via the holographic system they have developed. Ultimately, this technology will help stream VR experiences broadcasted to and recreated from within your nervous system, as well as implant and edit your memories.
Clearly, everything around us including our relationships could be illusory with our consciousness being the only necessary truth. But we do not have to go so far as to imagine a supreme being implanting memories in our minds of events that never happened. Your own brain is capable of creating false memories all by itself because it doesn't work as a digital camcorder. Our past in this regard is always confabulated, idealized versions of the past events. The information that is stored in our memories can be unintentionally modified as we try to recall them. This is why witness testimonies are one of the weakest pieces of evidence because their memories are not reliable.
How can we know for sure that our past memories are real and not false? We can't. We also tend to reinterpret the past events in light of present-day’s attitudes, knowledge, culture, morality and even fads, thus inadvertently passing moral judgments, introducing cognitive biases and in the process distorting our own memories from this psychological influence. On top of all factors mentioned above, in physics, many scientists are now enamored with a phenomenon called retrocausality when future events influence the present, and the present influences the past. It turns out retrocausality challenges not only our everyday intuitions of ‘cause and effect’, but makes many older physics textbooks obsolete.
The conclusion is inescapable: your memories are malleable and so is your past. Your present experiential instant is like a crystalized pattern of digital information between the past causal diamond and the future retrocausal diamond converging into an observer temporal singularity.
THE TEMPORAL SINGULARITY
The experienced present is always the temporal singularity (let's call it 'the Theta Point' represented by the Greek letter θ) with maximum informational input/output, and thus well could be regarded as the origin of any observer-centric reality (or ‘observer-centric virtuality’ if you’d like). Experiential reality is being created at the present moment, i.e. digital writing/reading occurs in the now. You need additional degrees of freedom to reread, or rewrite, or instantiate certain initial conditions, colloquially speaking, travel in time. Moreover, reread could be done from the akashic records. Does it all sound like "electronic Buddhism"? Since antiquity, in fact, Eastern wisdom traditions have been teaching us to live in the "present moment."
In modern relativistic physics, the conceptual observer is at a geometric point in both space and time at the apex of the 'light cone' which observes the events laid out in time as well as space. Different observers may disagree on whether two events at different locations occurred simultaneously depending on whether the observers are in relative motion — and it seems like more often they are — just by “sitting” still on different planets puts them in relative motion by default. So, something can happen in one observer’s future, but another observer’s past? That's right! The future and the past are very personal concepts. They belong to an observer and that observer is only in their own present. Einstein’s theory of general relativity depends upon the idea of time as an extended property of space-time as has been confirmed by experimental science, thus giving rise to a philosophical worldview known as 'Four-Dimensionalism'. The key drawback of this worldview, though, is that 4 dimensions just wouldn't cut it (see ‘common objections’ below). It's very useful, however, to construct a visual aid for the concept of Digital Presentism by extending Minkowski space-time diagram (see Figure 1: The D-theoretic Space-time Diagram).
Let's examine the D-theoretic diagram. The temporal singularity, the Theta Point, represents your present. Your now. Whether you’re stationary, moving at a steady speed, constantly accelerating, or doing something completely random, you can’t go any faster than light. Your swath is confined inside two space-time regions. The lower half happened before your present — it’s your past — all the events that might have influenced you. The higher half will happen after your present — it’s your future — all the events you might influence. Your entire life is contained inside these two regions, no matter what you might have done or what you might decide to do. Those regions are called your past causal diamond and your future retrocausal diamond.
The finite boundaries of the past causal diamond are formed by the intersection of two light cones, one cone points outward from the Alpha Point — the point of lowest informational entropy, the “Big Bang” of an observer’s universe — and the other aims backward from the temporal singularity. Similarly, the boundaries of the future retrocausal diamond are formed by intersecting light cones, one pointing outward from the temporal singularity, and the other is being projected from the Omega Point (explained in detail in Part III). Any “unseen” orthogonal dimensions higher than the 4th dimension of time are suppressed here for the sake of simplicity of space-time diagram.
This space-time diagram is only a map of predictions about your probable futures and predictions about your possible pasts. It’s attached to you as you move through space-time. But are we predetermined to travel our space-time paths or not? Mathematically speaking, your future exists as a probability wave function represented by Wheeler-DeWitt equation that’s indicative of all the uncertainty of everyday life. The Schrödinger equation and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle apply to all scales. Arguably, these mathematical notations favor non-determinism and imply unpredictability of observer timelines; and in case of the timeless Wheeler-DeWitt equation time reversibility as well. Spatio-temporal matrix doesn’t deny you free will because the future reflects your conscious choices and the past leads you where you are today. As you can see from the diagram, your temporal singularity is connected to and your future probable timelines are ultimately leading to the Omega Point, the very source of this omnidimensional experiential matrix itself. In part III of this essay, we'll talk about the Omega Point cosmology and the future, more specifically, our “forgotten” future.
Do you still doubt retrocausality? Perplexed by it? In quantum mechanics it does seem possible for causality to work backwards in time. The mysterious retrocausality displayed in delayed choice experiments, where an act of observation can collapse the wave function of a quantum state not only in the present but also backwards in time, altering the state's past. This retrocausality, seemingly allowed by quantum physics, has been used by the theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler (1911-2008) to explain how reality has brought itself into existence. Wheeler hypothesized of the ‘Self-observing Universe’: present-day and future observers retroactively collapse the wave function of the Universe from the Big Bang onwards, thereby facilitating their own – as well as the Universe's – evolution. Wheeler suggested that reality is created by observers and that: “no phenomenon is a real phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon.” He coined the term “Participatory Anthropic Principle” (PAP) from the Greek “anthropos”, or human. He went further to suggest that “we are participants in bringing into being not only the near and here, but the far away and long ago.”
Since time can't be absolute but is always subjective, Digital Presentism revolves around observer-centric temporality. What we call ‘time’ is a sequential change between static perceptual "frames", it's an emergent phenomenon, “a moving image of eternity” as Plato famously said more than two millennia ago. Nowadays, a renowned scientist and consciousness researcher Robert Lanza explains how the arrow of time ‒ indeed time itself ‒ is directly related to the nature of the observer: “[T]ime doesn’t just exist ‘out there’ ticking away from past to future, but rather is an emergent property that depends on the observer’s ability to preserve information about experienced events,” adding that “In his papers on relativity, Einstein showed that time was relative to the observer… Our paper takes this one step further, arguing that the observer actually creates it.”
Our human intuition tells us that time must be objective and even scientists often assume that time can be measured with infinite accuracy at nearby points in space. But theoretical physicists from the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences have recently demonstrated a fundamental limitation for our ability to synchronize clocks to arbitrarily high precision. The more precise a given clock is, the more it "blurs" the flow of time measured by neighboring clocks. As a consequence, the time shown by the clocks is no longer well defined.
Physicist Carlo Rovelli argues that what we experience as time’s passage is a mental process happening in the space between memory and anticipation. “Time is the form in which we beings whose brains are made up essentially of memory and foresight interact with our world: it is the source of our identity,” he writes. Essentially, time is a story we’re always telling ourselves in the present tense, individually and together. It’s a collective act of introspection and narrative, record-keeping and expectation, that’s based on our relationship to prior events and the sense that happenings are impending. It is this narrative that gives us our sense of selfhood as well, a feeling that many neuroscientists, mystics, and the physicist himself argue is a mass delirium. Without a record — or memory — and expectations of continuity, we would not experience the flow of time or even know who we are. Time, then, is an emotional and psychological experience. “It’s loosely connected with external reality,” he says, “but it is mostly something that happens now in our minds.”
One of the champions of Loop Quantum Gravity theory, Rovelli describes reality as a complex network of events onto which we project sequences of past, present and future. The whole Universe obeys the laws of quantum thermodynamics, out of which time emerges. According to Rovelli, time disappears at the most fundamental level. His theories ask us to accept the notion that time is merely a function of our “blurred” human perception. We see the world only through a glass, darkly; we are watching Plato’s shadow-play in the cave. Our undeniable experience of time is inextricably linked to the way heat behaves. In The Order of Time (2017), he asks why can we know only the past, and not the future? The key, he suggests, is the unidirectional flow of heat from warmer objects to colder ones. An ice cube dropped into a hot cup of coffee cools the coffee. Conventionally, the process is viewed as irreversible, as the second law of thermodynamics dictates. However, in "Temporal Dynamics: Anti-Time, as a Missing Degree of Freedom" I lay out the argument that informational entropy is perfectly reversible given extra degrees of freedom, although for us as biological systems anchored to biochemical processes, it’s nearly impossible to observe.
When we gaze up into a starry night sky, we don’t see other stars and galaxies, what we see is our story, unfolding right before our very eyes from the dimensional manifold. The reason we have the impression the Universe is expanding and actually accelerating in its expansion is because our 3D “movie” is getting more and more complex with passing time, and its information content grows with time as well. What we humans see with our expanding outer space and newly-created time is an algorithmic deployment of holographic information that grows in size and complexity. Most physicists and philosophers now agree that time is emergent while Digital Presentism denotes: Time emerges from complex qualia computing at the level of observer experiential reality. Time emerges from experiential data, it's an epiphenomenon of consciousness. From moment to moment, you are co-writing your own story, co-producing your own “parallel participatory reality” — your stream of consciousness is not subject to some kind of deterministic "script". You are entitled to degrees of freedom.
DEGREES OF FREEDOM
If you're like me who loves thought-provoking sci-fi literature and movies, Interstellar and Arrival are both about transcending temporality, one through physics and the other through language. Arguably, these two outlooks on time reflect our current understanding as the most plausible ways to overcome the grips of impermanence. If we look back at evolutionary emergence on our planet, the simplest organisms like primordial mitochondria, the frontrunners at the onset of biological life, were able to perceive and move towards nutrients and away from environmental threats in an essentially one-dimensional existence. In a while later, the more complex plants and animals were able to sense their environment and move around in two and eventually three spatial dimensions. Finally, the mathematical description of time in relativistic physics as a fourth spatial dimension implies that the more complex conscious entities like us humans, who perceive temporality, are perhaps in the process of emerging into the more advanced consciousness of ever more expansive degrees of dimensionality.
Time seems to be moving for us in one direction in a linear, incremental fashion which is not a result of immutable physical laws but rather their probabilistic interpretation — things are said to get messier over time, to move from more orderly states towards more entropy, disorderly states. However, a growing number of physicists now regard entropy as a measure of information, not of “messiness”. Since we don't possess the full degree of freedom in the 4th dimension compared to the other three dimensions, it follows that what we call time is actually a fraction of a dimension, i.e. a fractal dimension. In short, our experience of time can be described as a fractal dimension, not even a half dimension — we are subjected to our species-specific algorithmic sense of how time flows. Thus, the radical emergence of new perceptual dimensionality will include the fourth dimension as a full integer.
Although a number of philosophical attempts has been made to recognize evolution of consciousness as a process of ascension into a more extensive dimensional manifold, Swiss philosopher Jean Gebser (1905–1973) is perhaps the theorist who has most comprehensively elaborated this idea in his 1949 book The Ever-Present Origin. To Gebser, consciousness is "presence", or "being present". Each ‘consciousness structure’ eventually reaches a tipping point for the next phase transition. In his work, Gebser demonstrated that what we experience as time constituted the emergence of consciousness of a further degree of freedom, perhaps equivalent to something like another spatial dimension, which we have constructed in our experience as temporality. Our modality of change, our perception of time, is not the only one in the spectrum of all permutational modalities.
DISCARDING COMMON OBJECTIONS
At first glance just like classical presentism, Digital Presentism faces a glaring conflict with relativistic physics. Relativity theory affirms the relativity of simultaneity, an objection that immediately threatens presentism. This apparent contradiction between Digital Presentism and general relativity can actually be easily overcome. The following conjecture can also demonstrate that the quantum realm of ultrasmall is quite compatible with the relativistic realm of galactic scales, if we assume a computationalist perspective. To the reductionist delight, Einstein's fabric of space-time can be reduced to space-time experiential data. In the universal operating system with finite computational resources, as Digital Physics suggests, the more space-data you use by moving too fast near the speed of light, the less time-data is available to you, so your time naturally slows relative to others (see “Is God The Ultimate Computer?” P.3). In the introduction, I mentioned that Digital Presentism, comes from the triangulation of temporal physics, digital physics and experiential realism. The second grand triangulation set, perhaps worth mentioning here, would be quantum physics, emergence, and relativity.
We have never been able to explain Classical Presentism as a physical process using modern physics, Eternalism doesn't cover it adequately either for a lack of reference to change — there can be no time unless it has a dynamic element — time, as we perceive it, can't stand still. Also, the 'block universe' of Eternalism is in direct conflict with M-theory stipulating additional dimensions. So, you have to choose one over the other. I would certainly bet my money on M-theory. Now, should we dismiss our own direct observations that time indeed flows only to accommodate the 'block universe' worldview of Eternalism? Is it time to retire this Einsteinian picture of 'block universe' the way we did with the Newtonian 'clockwork universe'? In comparison, Digital Presentism covers it all, and from the Occam's razor angle, is the most parsimonious theory of time. Predicated in large part on scientific epistemology, in part on metaphysical extrapolation, this D-theory of time might be deemed factual tomorrow within the next scientific paradigm. An entirely new scientific method can be adopted by the future generations of scientists, that I'm sure will include artificially intelligent scientists to whom any reality would be artificial by definition. AI scientists then could readily embrace a new post-materialist stance by accepting physics of information and data streams of first-person subjectivity as key operatives along with quantum neo-empiricism. In fact, if we are to create high fidelity first-person simulated realities that also may be part of intersubjectivity-based, multiplayer virtualities, the D-theory of time gives us a clear-cut guiding principle for doing just that.
Everything is code and experiential data, and consciousness creating it all. We don't inhabit the Universe, rather the Universe is within us, in our consciousness. All dimensionality is in computing consciousness. The trinity of your physical brain, conscious mind and higher (emergent) self is your whole persona, a holistic system spanning quantum neural networks all the way down and all the way up. Your higher self conceives, your physical brain receives and your conscious mind perceives. Needless to say that our linear experience of space-time is at odds with altered states of mind, such as hallucinations under influence of psychedelics, near-death experiences, astral projections or dreams. If those mental states are regarded as experiential data, though, as opposed to inscrutable interactions of particles of matter “out there" in four-dimensional space-time, this would again fit much more nicely with the idea of Digital Presentism.
THE MOST “OUTRAGEOUS” PREDICTIONS OF D-THEORY OF TIME
1. Time travel to the past is possible… with a caveat: Again, given certain degrees of freedom, anything becomes possible in our quantum multiverse (but not necessarily realized through experience). 'Open timelike curves’ don’t create causality problems because they don’t allow direct interaction with anything in the subject’s own past: Time-travelling data never self-interfere in the quantum multiverse. Any messages from the future would be insulated. I elaborate on feasibility of time travel technologies in my essay “Temporal Mechanics: From Theory to Feasibility of Time Travel”.
A great example of one of the plausible scenarios of traveling back in time is depicted in the Canadian TV series Travelers: In a distant future, a benevolent Artificial Intelligence finds a way to project the consciousness of “time travelers” into unaware hosts in the 21st century. The idea is that travelers from the future take over the minds and bodies of people in the past. The travelers go back in time by embodying a conscious entity — hack their experiential data stream, so to speak. Similarly, if you were to travel to the Jurassic Period, you could embody a pterodactyl, one of those adorable flying dinosaurs of the epoch, or a ferocious T-Rex, for the full multisensory immersion.
2. Multitude of pasts leading to this “now": Many temporal concepts are undoubtedly extremely counterintuitive. Take time directionality or time symmetry, for example. Any of the possible pasts may have led to the present digital instant. This is a strange idea if you are accustomed to looking at the world in a strictly linear, deterministic way, but it reflects the uncertain world described by quantum mechanics. A major counterargument to the multitude of pasts could be a combinatorial explosion of observer ‘anti-time’-lines, i.e. digital timelines extending in the opposite temporal direction from the present temporal singularity to the Alpha Point. So, how in the quantum multiverse are those digital anti-timelines supposed to converge once again at the Alpha Point? The answer has to do with reversible entropy (not observable, of course, in the Newtonian classicality). Reversing information entropy is like going from higher complexity to the lower complexity. As long as you continue to unwind the complexity bit-by-bit, you'll end up at the point of the lowest possible complexity with, perhaps, 1 bit of entropy — the Alpha Point — the convergent point of all anti-timelines and simultaneously the point of origin of all observer probable timelines.
3. Extra-Dimensionality: The Syntellect Emergence: In our posthuman future, we'll transcend our limited dimensionality, our species-specific temporality, which would spell the end of conventional progression of history. Once extra-dimensional, emerging collectively as the Syntellect, we will have acquired additional degrees of freedom that would reminisce about what we would typically ascribe to a divine being. Except, this time around, we'll become one.
The notion of Digital Presentism wouldn't be complete without the Omega Point teleological perspective that we’ll be discussing in final Part III of this essay: "The Omega Point Cosmo-Teleology: Our Forgotten Future."
-by Alex Vikoulov
P.S. In case you missed Part I of the essay:
...and here's Part III (Final Part of the essay):
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Tags: Digital Presentism, D-theory of time, Temporal Philosophy, Digital Philosophy, time paradox, Digital Physics, Experiential Realism, Temporal Dynamics, Temporal Mechanics, temporal ontology, Claude Shannon, John Wheeler, Bill Keane, qualia computing, topological qubits, Digital Pantheism, Saint Augustine of Hippo, William James, Philosophical Presentism, Eternalism, Growing Block Theory, Salvador Dali, J. M. E. McTaggart, The Unreality of Time, A Series, B Series, C Series, A-theory, classical presentism, B-Theory, classical eternalism, Don Page, William Wooters, problem of time, universality of computation, experiential reality, Conscious Observer Moment, Theta Point, past causal diamond, future retrocausal diamond, Universal Causal Diamond, Akashic Records, Ervin Laszlo, Science and the Akashic Field, Jacques Pienaar, reversible computing, universal operating system, Blade Runner, immersive VR, optogenetics, causal assymetry, retrocausality, temporal singularity, observer-centric reality, Minkowski space-time diagram, D-theoretic Diagram, Alpha Point, Omega Point, probability wave function, Wheeler-DeWitt equation, Schrödinger equation, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, time reversibility, spatio-temporal matrix, free will, Self-observing Universe, Participatory Anthropic Principle, emergent time, arrow of time, Robert Lanza, Albert Einstein, Carlo Rovelli, Loop Quantum Gravity, The Order of Time, Anti-Time, dimensional manifold, parallel participatory reality, transcending temporality, evolutionary emergence, perceptual dimensionality, Jean Gebser, The Ever-Present Origin, relativity of simultaneity, Is God The Ultimate Computer?, quantum physics, emergence, relativity, quantum neo-empiricism, quantum neural networks, quantum multiverse, open timelike curves, Canadian TV series Travelers, Artificial Intelligence, time travelers, pterodactyl, anti-timelines, digital timelines, reversing entropy, observer probable timelines, Extra-Dimensionality, The Syntellect Emergence, species-specific temporality
*Image Credit: Alex Ivkin
About the Author:
Alex Vikoulov is a futurist, neo-transcendentalist, singularitarian transhumanist, evolutionary extrapolist, cosmist, digital philosopher, founder of Ecstadelic Media, painter and media artist, essayist, author of the upcoming book "The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution". Lives in Burlingame, California (San Francisco Bay Area).