Is Life an Illusion?

 RESPONSE TO THE SETH SHOSTAK BLOG …“Is Life an Illusion?“ On Huffington post(Posted: 10/10/2014)


“Do you ever wonder about the meaning of life, and in particular your life? Well, of course you do, but maybe you should ease up on the angst. There are academics who say you don’t have a life. You’re just an app.This disconcerting idea has been most famously promoted by Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University. It goes like this: Everyone knows that historically, as computers became more powerful, programmers started making simulations — mimicking real-life situations in software. Scientists modeled everything from pandemics to planet formation. Soon complex and compelling societal models such as Will Wright’s SimEarth and its brethren emerged.

The characters in such sims were not very clever — they didn’t think. They simply reacted to your keyboard strokes or joystick moves with algorithmic behavior.

But now consider what might happen a few hundred years down the pike, when a simulation can be populated by avatars with advanced artificial intelligence. The characters can act in their own interests, and transcend the hard-wired intentions of the programmer. Presumably, at some level of complexity they become self-aware.“


I am inclined to appreciate the blog….This could be  a simulated universe.

As someone ( Seth Lloyd ) said :    “The very first information processing revolution, from which all other revolutions stem, began with the beginning of the universe itself. The big bang at the beginning of time consisted of huge number of elementary particles, colliding at temperatures of billions of degrees. Each of these particles carried with it bits of information, and every time two particles bounced off each other, those bits were transformed and processed. The big bang was a bit bang“

With regard to the Big Bang… one of the these explanations  must hold good:   Either it was an `Act of God` or an `Act of Simulation`. Perhaps both are true… provided we assume that the `God` in question is not an Anthromorphic `physical function` God. In what form can the God be, such that it is acceptable to one and all…to believers as well as atheists … and does not violate the established principles of Science ? The best bet I think is an all pervading `Intelligent Field`… or the omnipresent `Infinite Mind` …omnipresent in space as well as time.

As someone (Paul Davies) said : “Whatever their difference of opinion about the nature of God, I know of no religion that does not teach that God is a Mind“

So, It looks like there is some sort of an all pervading “INTELLIGENT FIELD` (I.F.) that controls nature. This `IF` is also the link between Quantum Physics and Classical Physics.You might think I am just replacing `Acts of God` with this `IF` But that is not the case. I believe the `IF` has evolved over the years and still evolving.

But there is nothing disconcerting about the idea that the universe might be a simulated universe. We need not worry …if the idea that this is a simulated universe …implies that we are just `apps` and there is nothing special about us or that we have no free will. For, the realization having manifested itself that we are not special could imply that in some ways we are indeed special for the simple reason that such a realization that we are not special has manifested itself……And the fact that NOW the said realization has manifested itself that we are indeed in some ways special or at least among those who are special, leads us to another realization….That we are not `SO SPECIAL` that a divine universal force will arrive to save us from extinction….but `SPECIAL ENOUGH ` to have been granted the realization (perhaps by the divine universal force) …..That it is up to us to create certain probabilities on the planet Earth that can enable us to survive from self destruction. It’s the same thing with `Free will`. In essence we do not have free will…for it’s the interactions of the world on us that make us what we are. But the realization has manifested itself on us – due to these interactions – that we do not have free will, implies that NOW we have the free will to do what we like to do…. And maybe improve our future interactions.

I am currently reading “Information and the nature of reality…edited by Paul Davies and N.H.Gregerson“ …a book of far reaching significance in respect of understanding the subject, and here my explanation  is interspersed with some passages from the book.

“I could draw you a map of all the tens of thousands of components in a single celled organism and put all the proper arrows connecting them (and even then) I or anybody else would look at that map and have absolutely no ability whatsoever to predict anything“  ….    ….    By Jesper Hoffmeyer ( from the chapter on `Semiotic Freedom: An Emerging Force)

But when we consider the cell as a whole…such as a single celled paramecium.. as it swims toward food we can very well predict that there is a very good probability that enroute it will retreat from danger, negotiate obstacles, and achieve its goal.  What can be the explanation for this ?

Now consider the `information` carried by DNA molecules.

“The code does provide a program for constructing an organism, but no person has constructed it and no consciousness needs to understand and apply the program. It has originated by ordinary evolutionary processes, and like a computer programme, it operates without the need for conscious interpretation“ …  …  By Keith Ward  (from the chapter on `God As The ultimate Informational Principle`).

One can of course argue that consciousness is just a random by product of the evolutionary process. But where does the `Intelligence` come from that determines the code that provides a program for constructing that organism?. What can be the explanation for this ?

Indeed we need a cosmic holistic explanation, in which the development of the parts is explained by their contribution to the existence of an integrated totality.

From the same chapter : … “ Taken together these considerations suggest the idea of a primordial consciousness that is ontologically prior to all physical realities, that contain the coded information for constructing any possible Universe, and that can apprehend and appreciate any physical universe that exists. It would certainly be a strong reason for creating a universe that might contain finite consciousness, that could share in appreciating, and even in creating some of the distinctive values potential in the basic structure of the universe. Whether or not one calls such a primordial consciousness `GOD` is partly a matter of taste.“

But of course …an Anthromorphic God … made up of atoms and molecules is too primitive and sentimental to be of any use.  No harm will be done to our psyche …or our ego… if we call this `primordial consciousness` as an `Intelligent Field` or may be an `Infinite mind`.

And as I said earlier the Intelligent field evolved over the years and is still evolving. The question may be asked : Is `IF` itself a product of simulation which then simulates the universe?.

I would say:

`Yes,  It is simulated … and then it simulates …i s simulated … and then it simulates … and it goes on and on … step by step … trillions and trillions of intermediate steps, through trillions of years and countless eons of the universe. It could be that we the human beings are an intermediate step. And with each simulation the complexities increase.  It must have been very very very simple in the very very very beginning.`

Could it be that the very first simulation was just a `thought`.

And when we calculate the ratio `Matter : Void`… as one in several trillion trillion trillion ( Average quantum of matter in the universe is equivalent to about 4 atoms per cubic.m of space and that includes dark matter, and the atom itself is mostly void with its nucleus like a grain of sand in a huge auditorium).

Can we not say that …“It is still a thought“.

In short …can we indeed ask the question ..

`Is life an illusion ?`

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