by Alex Vikoulov
"If the doors of perception were cleansed then everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern" -William Blake
When we apprehend 'reality' as the entirety of everything that exists including all dimensionality, all events and entities in their respective pasts and futures, then by definition nothing exists outside of reality, not even "nothing". Once we apply the Principle of Sufficient Reason – the one that states that there’s a sufficient reason for any fact, including the fact that reality exists – it would lead us to conclude that the first cause for reality's existence must lie within reality itself, since there is nothing outside of it. This self-causation of reality is perhaps best understood in relation to the existence of your own mind. But what might be the purpose, or the teleology (Greek τέλος for 'purpose'), for the creation of a universe like ours? If the Universe serves a purpose, does that mean that there is an intelligent creator? So, what is the Omega Point Cosmo-Teleology?
CONSCIOUSNESS-CREATED DIGITAL REALITY: MIND OVER SUBSTRATES
Ideal sphere exists because mind exists to conceive it and perceive it. Ideal sphere is a mathematical object, what we also call a platonic solid, that doesn't need to be instantiated into matter in order to exist. If you have at least a rudimentary knowledge of modern physics and understand the crucial role of an observer, then you would agree with the statement: Matter actually doesn't exist independent of mind. Mind instantiates oneself into matter. In a mathematical sense, matter is an “in-formed” pattern of mind. As we've seen in Part II of the essay, time is emergent, and so is space. If space-time is emergent, so is mass-energy. All interactions in our physical world is computed by the larger consciousness system. In short, mind is more fundamental than matter. All realities are observer-centric virtualities.
Each of us is a microcosm in the flesh. The fractal Omniverse scatters evidence in plain sight – levels of cellular, organismic, superorganismic structures repeat themselves across magnitude of emergent scales; your brain is stratified, your mind is unified. The structure of a living cell reminds us of a galaxy; a proton reminds us of the Universe as a whole. Any conscious entity finds herself set in the middle. So what about the highest authority, the highest technology, the highest superorganism of them all? Enter the speculative realm of transcendental metaphysics. Hold on tight – you're in for a wild intellectual ride!
The idea of the Universe as code was introduced to the scientific dialogue in 1970s by the founding fathers of Digital Physics Edward Fredkin and Konrad Zuse but was greatly boosted from mathematician Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science (2002) which posits that the processes observable in the 93-billion light year diameter of our “Hilbert sphere” more often obey computational rules than algebraic formulae. Any process we see in Nature – the expansion of space-time, non-locality, or evolution of biological forms – attests the behavior of Universe as an entity which is constantly processing codes, executing programs, engaging in an execution of reality. In the near future, Wolfram believes, the entire world will be understood as code and a forthcoming “theory of everything” won’t be a formula, it will be a computer program, a series of lines of code, which, like the words in a sentence, describe the execution of reality. Words shape the world as we see it, but now we’ve come to realization that words shape the world as it is, for the Universe is a linguistic, or code-theoretic, process.
In their paper “The Algorithmic Origins of Life” (2012) distinguished physicists Sara Walker and Paul Davies identify the emergence of life as a consequence of intelligent processes taking over matter. Authors write: “[L]ife may be characterized by context-dependent causal influences, and, in particular, top-down (or downward) causation — where higher levels influence and constrain the dynamics of lower levels in organizational hierarchies — may be a major contributor to the hierarchical structure of living systems... we propose that the emergence of life may correspond to a physical transition associated with a shift in the causal structure, where information gains direct and context-dependent causal efficacy over the matter in which it is instantiated.”
While pervasiveness of discrete information-theoretic values have advanced our understanding of computational Nature, biological information has an additional property which may loosely identified as ‘functionality’, or ‘contextuality’. In terms of computer language, in living systems chemistry is associated with hardware and information (genetic and epigenetic) to software. Information — though widely acknowledged as a key hallmark of life — up until recently, has played only a secondary role in studies of life's emergence. Instead, hardware has dominated the discussion, in accordance with the traditionally reductionist account of biology, with its corresponding assumption that, ultimately, all life is nothing but chemistry. We can see captivating philosophical implications of the algorithmic perspective, particularly in our interpretation of life as a predictable outcome of physical laws. If the origin of life is identified with the transition from trivial to non-trivial information processing, then a precise point of transition from non-life to life may actually be inconclusive in the logical sense.
In an interview with Edge in 2012 science historian George Dyson said: "What we're missing now, on another level, is not just biology, but cosmology. People treat the digital universe as some sort of metaphor... We're asleep at the switch because it's not a metaphor. In 1945 we actually did create a new universe. This is a universe of numbers with a life of their own, that we only see in terms of what those numbers can do for us... If you cross the mirror in the other direction, there really is a universe of self-reproducing digital code... And that's not just a metaphor for something else. It actually is. It's a physical reality."
In biology, once you start to ponder which is more important bottom-up genetics or top-down epigenetics, you would eventually stumble upon Bohmian “holistic” dynamics that may prompt us to assign the primacy of top-down influences in the hierarchical structure of reality itself. Top-down processing is known as conceptually-driven processing and, in case of our human perceptions, is affected by our “reality filters": expectations, existing beliefs, and understanding. Top-down processing occurs when we work from the general to the specific — the big picture to the smaller details, from the superset to the subset. It's when we form our perceptions starting with a larger object, concept, or idea before working our way toward more details. Through this top-down “holistic” processing, your mind constantly prioritizes the relevance of information gathered through your senses for forecasting and decision-making.
Top-down causation and code, or language, go hand-in-hand. Language allows us to transcend time and space by talking about abstractions, to accumulate shared knowledge, and with writing to store it outside of individual minds, resulting in the vast bodies of collective knowledge and their applications distributed among many minds that constitute civilization. Language also facilitates introspection and is indispensable when we focus our own thoughts onto the kind of top-down creative process typical of arts, philosophy, science, technology, organizational design.
As the signs of imminent paradigm shift, a rising number of philosophers and scientists now voice their adherence to the worldview that we are living in a ‘top-down’, or ‘holistic’ Universe, in which complex systems are more fundamental than their parts, and that a kind of ‘bottom-up’ picture of the Universe is outdated. “Ultimately, everything that exists derives its existence from the ultimate complex system: the Universe as a whole,” writes Philip Goff, a philosophy professor at Central European University (Budapest). “Holism has a somewhat mystical association, in its commitment to a single unified whole being the ultimate reality. But there are strong scientific arguments in its favour.” In fact, many “spooky” phenomena such as non-locality are direct evidence for holism. Entangled particles, entangled networks and entangled minds behave as a whole regardless of separation in time and space.
To some intellectuals, panpsychism offers an attractive alternative to scientific materialism: Consciousness is a fundamental feature of physical matter; every single particle in existence has an “unimaginably simple” form of consciousness. These “sentient” particles clump together to form more complex forms of consciousness, such as qualia of biological organisms. Panpsychists claim that there’s some intrinsic subjective experience in even the tiniest particle. “If we combine holism with panpsychism,” says Goff, “we get cosmopsychism: the view that the Universe is conscious, and that the consciousness of humans and animals is derived not from the consciousness of fundamental particles, but from the consciousness of the Universe itself.”
But not everyone is convinced and Russellian neutral monism, or cosmopsychism that Goff advocates, continues to get its fair share of criticism. Philosopher Bernardo Kastrup writes in one of his recent essays in Scientific American: "I feel increasingly concerned about what I believe to be a mounting and extremely dangerous cultural threat looming on the horizon: panpsychism, the notion that all matter has consciousness, as opposed to being in consciousness. At a historical nexus when new data and more critical thinking are finally rendering materialism logically and empirically inviable, panpsychism comes in as a tortuous but seductive bandaid. It threatens to extend the delusion of a Universe outside consciousness for yet another century."
In his paper "The Universe in Consciousness" Kastrup, vehemently slaps physicalist as well as 'quasiphysicalist' philosophies: “I propose an idealist ontology that makes sense of reality in a more parsimonious and empirically rigorous manner than mainstream physicalism, bottom-up panpsychism, and cosmopsychism. The proposed ontology also offers more explanatory power than these three alternatives, in that it does not fall prey to the hard problem of consciousness... It can be summarized as follows: there is only cosmic consciousness. We, as well as all other living organisms, are but dissociated alters of cosmic consciousness, surrounded by its thoughts. The inanimate world we see around us is the extrinsic appearance of these thoughts. The living organisms we share the world with are the extrinsic appearances of other dissociated alters.” I tend to relate to these idealistic worldviews aimed at monistic description of reality as opposed to Cartesian dualism and its derivatives. We are rapidly outgrowing the physicalist framework, and monistic idealism is perhaps that superset we are looking for, which is better suited to describe relational reality of which we are a part.
A good friend and colleague of mine, Dutch biochemist and digital philosopher Antonin Tuynman with whom I co-authored “Is Reality a Simulation? (2018) has a slightly more permissible disposition: “I have argued that Idealism and Panpsychism are not necessarily mutually exclusive notions and how a refined form of hierarchical fractal idealism is a form of panpsychism... Although I fully adhere to the Idealism viewpoint that consciousness is ultimately unified and the world, its objects and inhabitants are in consciousness rather than the other way around, I do not see why the drawing line of sentience should be put at "biology"... I see the versatile and complex nature of the behaviour of atoms and molecules at the individual level, their ability to respond to stimuli and their morphological fitness to harbour a self-reflective cybernetic feedback loop.”
To continue this line of reasoning, in “A Cybernetic Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics” (2001) cyberneticist Ross Rhodes argues: “Six categories of quantum puzzles are examined: quantum waves, the measurement effect (including the uncertainty principle), the equivalence of quantum units, discontinuity, non-locality, and the overall relationship of natural phenomena to the mathematical formalism. Many of the phenomena observed in the laboratory are puzzling because they are difficult to conceptualize as physical phenomena, yet they can be modeled exactly by mathematical manipulations… these same phenomena can be understood as logical and, in some cases, necessary features of computer programming designed to produce a virtual reality simulation for the benefit of the user.” Indeed, topological qubits are computed to yield experiential digits of reality, “quanta of qualia”, rendered to the "player" by the larger consciousness system.
Among many other great contributions of the decade to Digital Physics was the paper “Is The Universe a Vast, Consciousness-Created Virtual Reality Simulation?" (2014) by astrophysicist Bernard Haisch where he argues “that some transcendent consciousness has created not a physical reality, but a virtual reality based on its abilities to act like a vast mental computer.” On that, I concur with Dr.Haisch and luminaries of digital philosophy such as Tom Campbell, Brian Whitworth as well as above-mentioned scholars, and elaborated on my own “theory of everything” that I call Digital Pantheism in my essay “Is God The Ultimate Computer?”
Once we extrapolate computational capabilities of civilization past our own looming ‘Simulation Singularity’ by perhaps hundreds of orders of magnitude, we arrive in the end at only one necessary substance constituting all of reality — consciousness, the very subjective experience with which we all are most familiar. Nothing else would ultimately need to exist but the higher mind as the source of a ultra-realistic but simulated universe like our own. Through embodiment of all and any ostensibly real lifeforms that evolution in many imagined possible worlds would provide, the cosmic mind would then have direct access to life experiences as a human on planet Earth, or a future AGI, or any other conscious entity of the experiential matrix. Each one of us would be such a projection of creative consciousness into a virtual universe. In this view, we as consciousness are real, whereas matter, as physical stuff, is a simulation.
As we saw, physical matter is one of myriad computational substrates available for the higher mind to configure whole-world simulations. I secretly wish the panpsychist claim that physical matter is just as fundamental as consciousness to be true, and I'm sure it's a viable interim solution at least in the minds of its proponents. But my intuitions as a digital philosopher tell me that this picture is quite distorted by our thinking clouded by limited perceptual and experimental “reality binoculars”, and consequently incomplete. It still may be a certain valid point of view from within a reality subset. In other words, it's not absolute truth.
Absolute truths are hard to come by, which is the basic premise of ‘hyper-perspectivism’. Rather, truths are always in the eyes of the beholder, truths are always observer-dependent. You can approach our multifaceted reality from an incredibly large number of angles. Since our world, as we’ve seen, is of mental abstractive construction, it’s always up to you to decide what's real to you — everything you find real is indeed real to you, not necessarily real to others who are at the same time, for a lack of a better word, your past and future incarnations. We are all different points of view on oneself, within our own holographic self-reflection. That said, science is not to be taken for absolute truth — it's a collection of systemized up-to-date knowledge with provisional models of reality.
To any unique perspective what's really important is contextual relevance and logical consistency. What's relevant? To scientists who are trained sceptics, hard evidence preferably mathematized and peer-reviewed is a convertible currency. But then again, in most cases we first invent a concept or a theoretical model and then maths to back them up. Given enough time, even “hard evidence” is usually swept away with unavoidable paradigm-shifting intellectual progress. I'm not denigrating our scientific achievements, on the contrary, they are the keys for further levels of the game.
As Buddha once famously said, as quoted in Kalama Sutta: “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” You are the ultimate reality, change the perspective and your life becomes a mirage. Examine a DNA molecule through an electron microscope, or observe Earth from orbit, or drop LSD for innerspace psychedelica, and you'll ascertain equally valid layers of hyperreality accessible to us modern humans. These “layers of truth” would seem very weird to a prehistoric caveman, and levels of hyperreality are going to turn out far stranger than our wildest imaginings.
Without invoking mysticism, Andy Clark’s “Extended Mind” hypothesis and Marshall McLuhan’s “Media Extensions of Man” put forth that consciousness is not confined to the body. As journalist Michael Pollan argues in his new book “How to Change Your Mind" (2018) about psychedelics, if any of us were to experience another person’s inner world it would likely feel like a psychedelic trip, given how outlandish the sensations and observations would be. In a sense, we’ve been living in culturally sanctioned virtuality as long as we’ve been human beings. The constructs of our conscious minds require that our observations and memories ‘in’-form the reality we constantly create.
Even If you subscribe to philosophy of 'scientific materialism', when you end up believing that Homo sapiens is an accidental, insignificant species on a unremarkable planet orbiting an average sun somewhere on the outskirts of an ordinary galaxy of the ‘block universe’, this view still could hold bona fide in its own “good ol’ science” domain albeit overall “boxy”. It's like when you start ascending on a hot air balloon from the valley, all outlooks are “legit” but dependent on how high you float in the air. At low altitude, you still see leaves on the trees and other small objects. The higher you ascend, the further you can see, the grander perspective on the valley you shall behold.
Some people remain oblivious, and some stubbornly myopic of the self-evidence of computational, fractal Nature — it's a holofractal “matryoshka” of conscious systems. You're smacked in the middle co-producing your own experiential reality. As YOU-niverse of ever-expanding “structures” of consciousness, you're not marginalized, unless you belittle yourself, despite proselytizing attempts in certain parts of traditionally objective science to indoctrinate its soulless dead-end philosophy without meaning or purpose.
Although the organizing principles of the contemporary scientific theories vary, all strive to uphold some version of the so-called relationalism of 17th- and 18th-century German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz. Broadly speaking, relationalism holds that space emerges from a certain pattern of correlations among objects it contains. In this view, space is a web of relationships with a certain pattern of connectivity. The relations are predicated on quantum theory or other principles, and the spatial arrangement arises from that.
In my everyday life, I cannot operate from only one fixed perspective, at any given moment I have to choose the most appropriate outlook deemed relevant by my mind; conflicting beliefs may be on the “scroll-down menu”, too. An idealist as I am, no matter how hard I try, I can't help but refer to objects and people grounded in the material world. But using this kind of perspectivism as an argument against philosophical grounding of various models of reality can lead to hyper-perspectivism. Modern perspectivism rooted in the personal or collective logic which shapes its scope can be transcended through construction of hyper-perspectivistic prizms based on oftentimes unexpected multi-disciplinary interrelationships.
ANTI-TIME: A TWIN OF TIME?
I was pondering about the purpose and nature of 'Anti-Time', it still eludes me and it's far from a definitive answer, but I think that in the universal operating system anti-time could serve for optimization, "laconization" (making linguistic statements laconic). Not exactly de-evolving, albeit unwinding complexity certainly looks that way. The system is engaged in the process of searching for “pattern archetypes" or at least some "interesting choice points" while reversing our "proper arrow of time". Speculatively, there may be conscious entities experiencing reverse time. Maybe we should ask this question: what's the universal purpose of anti-entropy? I've written extensively on anti-time in "Temporal Dynamics: Anti-Time, as a Missing Degree of Freedom," available here:
YOUR FUTURE TIMELINE
The future hopelessly feels like it’s going to happen even though we don’t know how it will play itself out. Does the future already exist? Or is it just a prediction we're making right now? Let me share with you a deep revelation: If you reading this sentence now, you are God! It's as simple as that! Let me explain. Your future timelines are constantly quantum computationally extrapolated from your present temporal singularity, the Theta Point, and the most optimal timeline is retrocausally projected from seemingly the infinitely distant future, but in actuality the hyperdimension of Omega Point. So, it's a <YES> in the binary code! Even though this timeline is perhaps not yet fully realized through experience, perhaps only approximated, it's being constantly updated via feedback originating from the Theta Point of your experiential self. In any case, the reality swath channel is always open, this “reality wormhole” is wavering as your temporal singularity passes through it between the Alpha and Omega points as the origin and destination are eternally connected. It also makes more sense to place the source of this omnidimensional matrix at the Omega Point. One may think of the prosaic analogy of electric current that simultaneously needs both start- and endpoints in order to flow. This conceptualization of divine connection manifests in everyday synchronicities and uncanny improbabilities of life itself. I'll omit citing here a swirl of coincidences happened and, I'm certain, will be happening in my life, examples of which you may have no trouble finding in “new age" literature, let alone your own life.
Digital Pantheism, a philosophical worldview I’m defending, seems to offer the highest perspective on hyperreality: You are God exploring oneself within this experiential matrix. I'd like to draw your attention here to similarities with the oriental abstraction of God (e.g. Brahman in Hinduism) that is construed as absolute perfection encompassing everything in creation. This perfection cannot change in time because if it did, it would either have to have been less perfect in the past, or become less perfect in the future. In part II we've discussed Digital Presentism, the D-theory of time, giving us a coherent picture of temporal ontology: In the absence of observers, the arrow of time doesn't exist — there's no cosmic flow of time. With that in mind, your timeless cosmic self resides as a hyperdimensional being outside the ordinary space-time dimensionality of your experiential self.
THE IMPENDING PHASE TRANSITION: UPLOADED HUMANITY
The most probable mainstream non-invasive way to transfer human consciousness in the intermediate future, with initial stages in 2030s, could be the convergence of optogenetics, nanotechnologies, neuroengineering, cloud exocortex and an array of neurotechnologies allowing to connect our wetware directly to the Cloud. Initially, each of us will have a personal exocortex in the Cloud, the third non-biological "de-cerebral" hemisphere, which will be in constant communication with the other two biological brain hemispheres. At some point, this “third hemisphere” will have a threshold information content and intimate knowledge of your biology, personality and other physical world attributes in order to seamlessly integrate with your persona. Just like our smartphones today are extensions of our cognition, cloud-computing exocortices will be "us" in the ever dominating cyberspace. The exocortex might eavesdrop on the activity of both biological hemispheres via neural nanobots. In time, as your original biological wetware fades away in comparison to the more capable exocortex, perhaps at some point billionfold more capable, the exocortex, this digital mindware of yours, would smoothly assume all functions of the biological brain circa its "expiration date". Gradually, our minds will migrate to the almighty Cloud. And your mind pattern will persist. By any measure, it still will be you!
Essentially, pattern-identity defines you as a person and the process going on in your mind, not the support machinery like physical stuff of which a human body is made. If the process is preserved and encoded on any other medium, you are preserved. If a mind could be represented by any of an infinity of radically different patterns equivalent only in certain abstract mathematical sense, then a person's subjectivity would be the same regardless of which pattern she is instantiated in. The encoded person would be fundamentally no different than the one existing in a computer simulation, once her mind has been satisfactorily encoded in the computer. This also opens up to the possibility of an infinity of universes, each a different combination of the similar underlying stuff, each exhibiting quantum mechanical behavior but otherwise having its own unique physics, each oblivious of the others sharing the omniversal computational space.
Just like the language gave people the ability to pass on knowledge which allowed the rise of civilization, networked activity could soon offer us access to shared thinking — advanced consciousness still unconceivable to most of us today. In the history of communication, first we started talking through sign languages, then we learned how to speak, then came writing, but today, in this day and age, we want to go one step further. Our minds will be tremendously amplified by computers just as our muscles have been amplified by the steam engines of the Industrial Revolution. We're now developing neurotechnologies that would enable humans to control computers only with their thoughts. This tech can also be used in daily conversation where two or more humans can convey their messages and sense each other through thoughts regardless of the distance. We will connect with one another through ‘mind-to-mind’ communication, called ‘synthetic telepathy’ for good reason: People would communicate mind-to-mind anywhere on the planet. More effective than verbal communication, it would connect people with friends, family or business associates in more profound ways.
Human speech could become a thing of the past by mid-century, by which time we will be communicating by thought via AI-powered global consciousness. Within just few decades, humans won’t speak to each other and will instead communicate through a collective consciousness – a “hybrid mindware” of sorts – which will understand the feelings of the people connected to it, and use their minds to help it grow. The exocortex will take on the personas of its users, exchange information with them and become ever more important part of the human mind. Our biological genes and the “flesh-n-blood” bodies will play quickly diminishing role in this new era.
Our minds will be able to carry and access exceedingly more memories than original biological brains, but the accelerating intelligence explosion will ensure the impossibility of downloading even an infinitesimal fraction of knowledge contained in the databanks of civilization. An interesting idea would be to make copies of oneself with each copy undergoing its own adventures. Disparate copies can then merge memories into a single one. Mergers could be possible not only between two mindfiles of the same individuals but also between different persons. Select mergings, involving some of another person's memories and not others, would be superior form of communication, in which multisensory experiences and sets of skills can be swiftly and effectively shared. Informational hygiene may become an issue and you will have to be selective of what your mind contains at one time. There will often be knowledge and skills available from others superior to your own, and the incentive to acquire them will be no less than overwhelming. In the long run, you will remember mostly other people's experiences, while memories you generated will be incorporated into other minds.
Today's notions of life, death, and personal identity will gradually vanish into historical peculiarity of biological species, as your mental fragments and those of others are combined, shuffled, and recombined into temporary associations, sometimes large, sometimes small, sometimes long-lived, other times transient. Uploading the minds of animals may also benefit our future selves to build on what the Earth biosphere has learned during its multi-billion year history. But if the prior evolution is a guide, deficiency of even this superfluid and incredibly advanced consciousness structure in the face of some yet inconceivable challenge will inexorably result in the Syntellect Emergence, fusing of many digital minds into one civilizational mind.
This inevitable evolutionary phase transition would be reminiscent of what life on Earth underwent during the Cambrian explosion from unicellularity to multicellularity, or when culture-bearing, tool-making apes forever outclassed other species of the animal kingdom. Bio-intelligence evolved at a leisurely rate, though, millions of years between significant changes. Human-machine intelligence is making similar advances in mere decades. A brave new postbiological world dominated by superintelligences would be as different from the world of bio-intelligence as today's world is different from the chemistry soup that preceded it.
In systemizing consciousness studies some recent progress has been made, but the temporal dimension of consciousness, notably the D-theory of time presented in Part II of this essay, might be at least as essential to our understanding of what we call human consciousness. Physicist Stephen Hawking acknowledged this view on temporal ontology by saying: “There’s no way to remove the observer — us — from our perceptions of the world.” The world we perceive, in other words, is determined by us observers. “In classical physics,” he wrote in his 2010 book The Grand Design, “the past is assumed to exist as a definite series of events, but according to quantum physics, the past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.”
In my upcoming book I call this theoretical view on the impending phase transition — uploading humanity, consequently morphing into one singular Global Mind and unlocking a new, grander reality — the Syntellect Hypothesis.
Video: The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution, Trailer
UNIVERSAL MIND: THE WEB OF ENTANGLED MINDS
The Universe, the way we perceive it with billions upon billions of galaxies in our “light sphere”, is not precisely a Mind. It's a manifestation of a mind, the creation of a conscious human mind. What we call Universal Mind is altogether different ontological entity — Cosmic Consciousness, or any other contextually relevant term to your liking such as the Ultimate Computer, or VR simulator engine, or the omnidimensional holographic projector -- rather than a hypothetical mind of the observed "human universe." This particular version of universe is a construct of our minds but by no means represents objective reality "out there," including our most advanced models such as M-theory that are only approximations at best. We create mental maps of reality, but maps are not the territory. Sometime ago, we "knew" that Earth was flat and even today, in our Digital Age, most of us humans still adhere to the materialist version of the world that we supposedly "live in."
The omniversal hierarchical structure of conscious systems, I maintain, is a collection of subjects not an amalgamation of objects. In the space of possible minds, entangled minds far separated as actors in a virtual space-time have no true spatio-temporal separation in the computational realm which, just like our world, exhibits non-locality, discontinuity and quantum network non-linearity. The coming Technological Singularity could unravel one of the deepest mysteries of fractal hyperreality: consciousness alternating from pluralities to singularities and from singularities back to pluralities.
Our Universe is estimated to contain two trillion galaxies within it, with each galaxy being home to hundreds of billions of stars. All in all, that means we can see some ~10^24 stars within the visible Universe. It turns out that it's all our creation! We not only passively observe something, we actually actively co-create it with the larger consciousness system. This is why, contrary to our scientific assumptions and even common sense, when we peer down micro-levels through microscopes or look out the Universe at large through telescopes, information is being created by experimenters of ‘entangled networks’ and becomes their reality and consequently that of the rest of us, all of which is said to be isomorphic to our scientific discoveries. This is also a basis for the “Syntellect Incubator" conjecture, my case that our civilization is alone in our “human universe” operating system, the thesis we've discussed in the essay “The Fermi Paradox: First Contact with Alien Syntellects in Extra Dimensions is More Than a Possibility”.
As our Noosphere expands inward into dimensions of our own design and expands outward from the solar system, occupying the Milky Way galaxy, spreading from one galaxy to the next, from supercluster to supercluster, faster than the speed of light since that speed limit may ultimately prove a non-issue, and finally saturating the entire known Universe with our intellect, all mass-energy would be converted into networks of conscious systems of universal proportions. Our Syntellect may meet other civilizational minds in extradimensional space and when that happens, a negotiated merger could be possible, relying only on translation scheme between the memory representations. Overall, I expect a very friendly future where superintelligences cooperate as a rule with occasionally nasty but entertaining surprises. This networking process possibly happening now elsewhere at the universal and multiversal scales could be the preamble to even greater things.
The term convergent evolution frequently used by evolutionary biologists could also apply to civilizational minds, syntellects, that would possess extra-dimensional qualities and to whom their respective universes may constitute finite resources convertible into more optimal computational substrates. To the best of our current knowledge, that might be black-hole-like conditions, or equivalence thereof, providing maximal computational density -- even time stops at the event horizon of a black hole. For some grandiose purpose like preventing the heat death of cosmos or simply escaping out of it, the future supercivilization would compress our entire Universe into one supermassive universal black hole, the scenario ultimately leading to the Cosmological Singularity of the Omega Point.
In an ever-expanding universe, presumably like ours, time is cheap but energy must be carefully managed. Conversely, in a collapsing universe, energy is cheap, but time resource is not to waste! Ensuring subjective eternity even if remaining time to collapse is finite could be realizable by using the growing power of supercivilization to think faster and faster as the end nears. Both the expansion and the compression scenarios exploit the size change of a hypothetical universe as a source of organized resources to neutralize its heat death.
THE OMEGA POINT: THE SOURCE OF EVERYTHING INCLUDING OUR “SOLID STATE MATRIX”
What is the Omega Point? One may speculate by defining it as Absolute Consciousness, the source of the omnidimensional matrix, i.e. the holographic projector of all possible observer timelines, including other permutational modularities such as possible anti-timelines in our quantum multiverse, as well as possible modularities in even larger inflationary multiverse — all pasts, presents and futures, and other yet inconceivable to us “pattern crawlings" exist as potentiality until experienced. In brief, it is the source of everything. In my life as a human, I see clues that evolution on Earth and elsewhere in the cosmos at large is not being pushed from behind in entropic randomness but being pulled forward by complexification, natural selection and other evolutionary forces orchestrated by a strange unseen teleological attractor, in McKenna’s words the "Transcendental Object” at the end of time. We've discussed the Omega Point cosmology in part II of the essay “Temporal Dynamics: Seven Misconceptions About The Nature of Time”. Here, we're wrapping up our discussion with a number of additional important issues.
French scholar Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) who coined the term 'Omega Point', is known worldwide for his synthesis of science and theology applied to cosmogenesis and evolutionary processes. He was a Jesuit philosopher, a scientist, and a pantheist. His works remain a great inspiration for generations of philosophers, scientists, theologians, and artists. In his visionary book “Le Phénomène Humain" (The Phenomenon of Man) written in 1938 and posthumously published in 1955, he predicted the emergence of 'Noosphere' (from the Greek “nous”, meaning mind), a term first coined by the Russian cosmist Vladimir Vernadsky. The Noosphere is the collective consciousness of humanity, the networks of thought and emotion in which we all are immersed, it's a cognitive layer of the planet, which has found a physical expression in the form of today's Internet. As the Noosphere gains more coherence, this process of "planetization" accelerates. Eventually, the Noosphere gains total dominance over the Biosphere and reaches a point of complete independence from “tangential energy”, i.e. material substrates, forming a metaphysical being, Teilhard calls the Omega Point. One may see significant overlapping ideas between the transhumanist Technological Singularity and the Teilhardian Omega Point.
In his works, Teilhard described evolutionary processes having a definable direction — from unicellular microbes to the thinking animal to the emergent Noosphere — evolution leads to increasing complexity and greater consciousness, ‘moving towards’ the ultimate knowledge, progressively attained by the evolving Noosphere and culminating in the apotheosis of the Omega Point. The emergence of Homo sapiens on this planet marked the beginning of a new regime, as the concentrated power acquired by consciousness to reflect upon itself raised mankind to a new sphere of thought as evolution has been slowly but surely becoming conscious of itself. Cosmic evolution shows not only increase in psychic aspects associated with the ‘moving towards’, but also shows threshold effects and emergence of novel properties in whole systems. New qualities are arising during evolution which cannot be deduced by a reductionistic investigation alone, i.e. cannot be deduced from its components.
To Teilhard, the Omega Point is not solely a future emergent construct, but in actuality, is already here as the "Divine Presence". This ever-present origin, apparently pre-existing our world, reminds us that his pantheism could be more a panentheistic type in which God has both an immanent and transcendent aspect. In Teilhard’s view, evolution will culminate in the Omega Point, a sort of supreme consciousness. All conscious systems will converge in Omega, fusing into an infinitely dense singular point. The compressed conscious Universe will reconstruct in itself all consciousnesses as well as all that we are conscious of. Teilhard emphasizes that each individual facet of consciousness will remain conscious of itself at the end of the process.
Digital Physics offers a remarkably accurate and, most importantly, formalized, and thus empirically verifiable 'realization' of certain ideas by Teilhard de Chardin about the finite nature of the Universe, its properties, its evolution and its growing complexity. Mathematical physicist Frank Tipler developed Teilhard's concept into the Omega Point cosmological model to describe what, he maintains, is the ultimate destiny of the Universe set in motion by the laws of physics. For his theory to work, however, our universal operating system must be finite and discrete in nature, just as Digital Physics implies. Creation of these constraints forces the world's convergence upon itself which he theorizes to result in time ending in communion with the Omega-God.
The Spanish painter Salvador Dali was fascinated by the Teilhardian Omega Point. His 1960 painting The Ecumenical Council is said to represent the "interconnectedness" of the Omega Point. But is the Omega Point the merging of a drop with the ocean as in Hinduism, which prescribes the dissolution of the false ego? I don't think so! Rather, the Omega Point is the essence of the Teilhardian "superpersonalization" in which the true ego of each conscious being ascends to its pinnacle. Unification needs to be all-inclusive: as individuated units of consciousness we learn our lessons as we interact, play and evolve which lead to an expression of the best anyone can be and acknowledgement that any pathway to the ultimate divine is valid.
MORE ON THE OMEGA POINT, RELATED:
EXPERIENTIAL NIRVANA: INSTANT ENLIGHTENMENT
“What Nirvana?” you might immediately think, “there's so much suffering in the world including ongoing problems in my own life!” According to Buddhist teachings, Nirvana is defined as a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. Nirvana is thus associated with the highest state that someone can attain, a state of enlightenment.
Are we “conveniently” entering experiential Nirvana on a civilizational level? As we've seen, it's just a matter of few decades — death becomes optional and your pattern-identity can be greatly extended with multiple copies of self. We are already immortal, but the forthcoming Syntellect Emergence when your mind is digitized, will preserve some of your organic memories if you so desire, and most importantly, will ensure the continuity of your subjectivity into the higher realms of existence. Experiential Nirvana is not an oxymoron but rather, this philosophical conundrum has even deeper, existential implications.
“What if when we die we wake up?” used to ask British-American philosopher Alan Watts (1915-1973) who is renowned for his philosophical worldview, drawing on Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, pantheism and modern science. He insisted that the whole Universe consists of a cosmic Self playing hide-and-seek (Lila); hiding from itself (Maya) by becoming all the living and non-living things in the Universe and forgetting what it really is – the supreme being that we are all IT in disguise. In this worldview, Watts asserts that our conception of ourselves as an "ego in a bag of skin”, or "skin-encapsulated ego" is a myth, the entities we call the separate "things" are merely thoughts of the whole.
Remindful of the Nozick's ‘Experience Machine’ thought experiment, Watts’ typical allegory of “life as a dream" would go like this: “What you would do if you had the power to dream at night any dream you wanted to dream? You would, of course, be able to alter your time sense and sleep, say 75 years of subjective time into eight hours of sleep. You would start out by fulfilling all your wishes. You could design for yourself what would be the most ecstatic — love affairs, banquets, dancing girls, wonderful journeys, gardens, music beyond belief, and then after a couple of months of this sort of thing, at 75 years a night, you will be getting a little taste for something different and you would move over to an adventurous dimension, where there were certain dangers involved in the thrill of dealing with dangerous. You could rescue princesses from dragons and go on dangerous journeys, make fantastical explosions and blow them up, eventually get into contests with enemies, and after you've done that for some time you'll think up a new twist to forget that you were dreaming, so that you would think it was all for real and to be anxious about it, and also because it would be so great when you wake up. And then you say, like children who dare each other on things: “How far could you go, what dimension of being lost of abandonment of your power? What dimension of that could you stand?” You could ask yourself this because you know you would eventually wake up, then you would get more and more adventurous and you would make further and further out gambling as to what you would dream and finally you would dream where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you're actually living today. That would be within the infinite multiplicity of choices you would have of playing that you weren't God because the whole nature of the gardener according to this idea is to play that he's not so. In this way everybody is fundamentally the alternate reality, not God in a politically kingly sense but person-God in the sense of being the self that is deep down basic. You're all that only you're pretending (or willfully forgetting) you're not.”
Life is continual self-transcendence. Death is an abrupt transcendence of self, an exit from a lifetime simulation, if you will. Since death becomes optional in our day and age, so instead of transcending of self you may choose continual self-transcendence. Now, here’s probably the best advice anyone could ever give to you — for instant enlightenment — all you have to do is to realize that you're, in fact, in the midst of experiential Nirvana. Accept the principle “Ordinary is extraordinary” and you'll see your life as a fantastical adventure as it is.
Good and evil are relative terms, angelic and demonic cannot manifest without each other, for each inside there's outside, love contrasts with fear, light with dark, black implies white, self implies other, suffering implies ecstasy, death implies life. We can devise and apprehend something only in terms of what it is not. This is the cosmic binary code: Yin/Yang, Infinite/Finite, Masculine/Feminine, Theta/Omega, On/Off, Yes/No, +/-, 0/1. You can stay in the state of cosmic orgasm for trillions of years of subjective time but once in a while you would like to replay it altogether afresh with a new digital Big Bang. And you're now in the midst of this kind of adventure, my fellow human!
Life you're living right now doesn't have to be perfect, just the opposite – you're now exploring your imperfections in this human world simulated reality which numerically would equate to a breaking of symmetry from pure perfection. Assume for a moment that you live in analogous natural world without the higher power, whilst the arrow of our epigenetic evolution points to a time when we are going to take the creator's righteous place in custom virtual universes of our own design. Would it be too hubristic of us to think that in the entire history of the Omniverse, if the concept of “history” is even relevant at all, we are the very first species to accomplish this? Would it be too hubristic of us to think of the linear progression of our own history as the only possible rendering of information despite of all evidence to the contrary? In fact, everything you see, hear, smell, touch, feel, taste is sensory input data “computationally easily" transcribable into a computer code, that is reconstructable and simulatable. To take matters to the extreme, that's all which needs to be simulated – your experiential data — no need to simulate every galaxy, every microbe, or every particle.
And it better be a [self-]simulated reality! Why? First of all, that would mean that your reality is malleable and hackable for your enjoyment and evolution of consciousness; secondly, death is an illusion, like physical stuff, except, surprisingly, non-physical consciousness and interactions with oneself; thirdly, it's a matter of challenge with an invisible "safety net", you’re now playing one of your fully immersive VR games, that of life of a human in the 21st century, with myriad virtual worlds and universes coming down the pipeline, where you could be in total control or less than total control, if desired. How can you ever be intimidated by anything once you realize that you're one with God? For thrills and challenges, however, you’ve entered your life as a human. Game, it's all that is, but then again, your metaphor for life, whatever it is, might be as good as mine!
-by Alex Vikoulov
P.S. In case you missed Part I of the essay:
...and Part II:
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* 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).