Opening The Door To Quantum Mechanics

One of the most common misconceptions about quantum mechanics is that an observation is simply one particle interacting with another particle. This false impression misses the true essence of what makes quantum mechanics philosophically intriguing.
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(Not what an observation is. And not what particles are.)
The truth is that there are no individual particles. But let’s talk as if there were for the sake of simplicity. In the same way that we talk about people even though no person actually exists.
Suppose we have a quantum randomizer which causes our particle to go in one of two directions.
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Now let’s add a second particle to our system. The first particle will interact with the second particle.
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The moment these two particles interact we say that they are entangled with one another. This is because if the first particle had gone in the other direction then the trajectory of the second particle would be completely different.
By just observing the second particle alone this will be enough to know which of the two directions the first particle went in. The second particle therefore acts as a detector for the first particle.
But what if we choose not to observe either particle? According to quantum mechanics each particle will simultaneously be in a combination of both possibilities which we call superposition.
Now suppose we observe one of the two particles. The superposition seems to disappear, and we always see only one of the possibilities.
The two particles interacting with each other is not what counts as the observation.
After the two particles interact, both possibilities still exist, and it is only after the observation that only one of the two options becomes certain. After the two particles interact, we only need to observe one of the two particles to know about the state of both of the particles. We refer to this by saying that after the two particles interact, they are entangled with one another.
So the reason it becomes certain is either because a physicist’s consciousness has a magical power or because there are also two physicists. Each one doesn’t know that he is also the other.
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This doesn’t just happen with paths. Something similar happens to the spins of two particles being entangled with one another. The spin of a particle in a particular direction can be observed to have only one of two possible values. These values are spin-up and spin-down.
Suppose we also have a second particle. There are now four different sets of possible observations. Just as our previous example could simultaneously be in a superposition of two different states when we were not observing it, this system can simultaneously be in a superposition of four different states when we are not observing it.
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Suppose we briefly observe only the particle on the right.
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Suppose we see that the particle on the right is spin-up. This means that two of the four possibilities disappear. The quantum system is now simultaneously in a superposition of only two possibilities.
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This quantum system does not contain any entanglement because measuring the spin of one of these two particles will not tell us anything about the spin of the other particle.
Let us use one of these particles as a detector to determine the spin of the other particle:
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As we bring the particles together, if the two particles are spinning in the same direction then our experimental setup will cause the particle on the right to change its spin to the opposite direction.
But if the two particles start out spinning in opposite directions then nothing will change when we start out. The particle on the right is known to be pointed up whereas the spin of the particle on the left is unknown. The system consists of both of these possibilities existing simultaneously.
If we run our experiment without observing either particle. The system will continue to be in a superposition of two possibilities existing simultaneously. But regardless of which of the two states the system started in, after these particles have interacted with each other, they are guaranteed to be spinning in opposite directions. We therefore now only need to observe one of the two particles to know the spins of both particles. As a result, after the two particles have interacted, we say that they are entangled with each other.
Suppose we allow these two particles to interact and become entangled but we do not observe either particle.  The system consists of both of these possibilities existing simultaneously. It’s only when we observe at least one of these particles that the outcome of the entire system becomes certain according to the mathematics of quantum mechanics. This remains true regardless of how many particles we have.
A detector simply consists of a large number of particles. This means that if we have two entangled particles, measuring the spin of one of the particles with a detector will not
necessarily tell us the spins of the two particles. If we are not observing the detector or the particles, then the two particles will simply become entangled with all the particles inside the detector in the same way that the two particles are entangled with each other. According to the mathematics of quantum mechanics, both sets of possible outcomes will exist simultaneously.
Suppose we observe the detector – which means that we observe at least one of the many particles that the detector is made of. Once we observe the detector, all the particles inside the detector and the two spinning particles that we originally wanted to measure will all simultaneously “collapse” into one of the two possibilities.
According to the mathematics of quantum mechanics, it does not matter how many particles the system is made of. We can connect the output signals of our detectors to large complex objects, causing these large objects to behave differently depending on the
measurements and the detector. According to the mathematics of quantum mechanics, if we do not observe the system, both possibilities will exist simultaneously – at least seemingly until we observe one of the many entangled particles that make up the system.
It is arbitrary to think that the universe only “collapses” at the whim of particular people or their instruments. To paraphrase Stephen Hawking, “It is trivially true that what the equations are describing is Many Worlds.” It is not just the separate magisterium of small things such as electrons, photons, buckyballs, and viruses that exist in Many Worlds. Humans and all other approximate objects also exist simultaneously but obviously can never experience it by the Nagel bat essence of consciousness. That is, in order to experience something, you have to be it – like an adjective on the physical configuration. So you are also in each “alternate” reality but it is impossible to feel this intuitively because consciousness is not some soul that exists disembodied from the machinery. Your million clones are just as convinced that they were never you. I am also intuitively convinced that I was never you, but this is wrong physically.
Of course, we can define “I” as something different from that adjective-like Being, something different from the raw qualia, so to speak.
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We must be very clear that we are drawing lines around somewhat similar configurations, and not fashioning separate souls/consciousnesses.
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Okay, back to the QM. Here, once the particles become entangled, the two different possible quantum states are represented by the colors yellow and green.
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The yellow particles pass right through the green particles without any interaction. After the entanglement occurs, the system is represented by a wavefunction in a superposition of two different quantum states, represented here by yellow and green.
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One wave is not really above the other but this visualization illustrates how the yellow quantum state is unable to interact with green quantum state. Since the yellow wave can’t interact with the green wave, no interference pattern is created with the detectors present.
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On the other hand, with the detectors removed, the entanglement with the detectors never happens and the system does not split into the yellow and green as before. The resulting waves are therefore able to interact and interfere with each other. Two waves interacting with each other creates a striped pattern. This is why a striped probability pattern is created when particles pass through two holes without any detectors present, and it’s why a striped probability pattern is not created when particles pass through two holes with detectors present.
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Having just one detector present has the same effect as having two detectors. This is because only interaction with a single particle is required in order for entanglement to occur. But even after a particle interacts with a detector consisting of many different particles, the system is still in both states simultaneously until we observe one of the detectors.
There’s considerable debate as to what is really happening and there are many different philosophical interpretations of the mathematics. In order to fully appreciate the essence of this philosophical debate it’s helpful to have some understanding of the mathematics of why entanglement prevents the wavefunctions from interacting with each other.
The probability of a particle being observed in a particular location is given by the square of the amplitude of the wavefunction at that location.
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In this situation, the wavefunction at each location is the sum of the wavefunctions from each of the two holes.
Although there are many different places that the particle can be observed, to simplify the analysis, let’s consider a scenario where the particle can be in only one of two places. This scenario is similar to the scenario measuring the spin of a single particle in that there are only two possible outcomes that can be observed.
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The state of spin up can be represented by a 1 followed by a 0.
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The state of spin-down can be represented by a 0 followed by a 1.
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Similarly, we can use the same mathematical representation for measuring the location of our particle. We will signify observing the particle in the top location with a 1 followed by a 0 and we will signify observing the particle in the bottom location with a 0 followed by a 1.
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Let’s now add a detector indicating which of the two holes the particle passed through. We are going to observe both the final location of the particle and the status of the detector.
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There are now a total of four different possible sets of observations. This is similar to how we had four different possible sets of observations when we had two spinning particles. Although our detector is a large object, let us suppose that this detector consists of just a single particle. In the case of the two spinning particles, each of the four possible observations can be represented with a series of numbers as shown.
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The same mathematical representation can be used in the case of observing the position of our particle and the status of our detector. Here we need four numbers because there are four possible outcomes when the status of the detector is included. But if we didn’t have the detector, we would only need two numbers because there are only two possible outcomes. This is the same way in which we need two numbers for a single spinning particle.


The principle of quantum superposition states that if a physical system may be in one of many configurations—arrangements of particles or fields—then the most general state is a combination of all of these possibilities, where the amount in each configuration is specified by a complex number.

For example, if there are two configurations labelled by 0 and 1, the most general state would be

c₀ |0> + c₁ |1>

where the coefficients are complex numbers describing how much goes into each configuration.


The c are coefficients. The probability of observing the spin of the particle in each of the two states is given by the squares of the magnitudes of these coefficients. If we have two spinning particles we can have four possible observations, each of which is represented with a sequence of four numbers.

If the system is in a superposition of all four states simultaneously, then this is represented by the same mathematical expression. As before, the c are constants. As before, the probability of observing the spins of the particles in each of the four states is given by the squares of the magnitudes of each of these constants.
This same mathematical representation can be used to describe observing the location of the particle and the state of the detector. Here, the c coefficients represent the values of each of these wavefunctions at the final location of the particle when the system is in a superposition of these four possibilities:
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But if we never had the detector then each quantum state would be represented by only two numbers instead of four since there are only two possible observations. As before, the c coefficients represent the values of the wavefunction from each of the two holes at the final locations of the particle without the detector. If the system is in a superposition of both quantum states simultaneously, it’s represented mathematically as follows:
c₀ |0> + c₁ |1>
Here, if one of the c coefficients is positive and another c coefficient is negative, they can cancel each other out. On the other hand, the c coefficients would never be able to cancel each other out with a detector present. With a detector present, even if one of the c coefficients is positive and the other c coefficient is negative, their magnitudes always strengthen each other when calculating the probability of observing the particle at a certain position. But without a detector, if one of the c coefficients is positive and the other c coefficient is negative and their magnitudes are equal, then they will cancel each other out completely and provide a probability of zero.
If the particle is not limited to being at just two possible positions, then there will be certain locations where the c coefficients representing the values of the two wavefunctions will cancel each other completely. This is what allows a striped probability pattern to form when there is no detector present, and it’s also why a striped probability pattern does not form if there is a detector present.
Note that nowhere in this mathematical analysis was there ever any mention of a conscious observer. This means that whether or not the striped pattern appears has nothing to do with whether or not a conscious observer is watching the presence or absence of a detector. Just a single particle is enough to determine whether or not there is a striped pattern. A conscious observer choosing whether or not to watch the experiment will not change this outcome but because the mathematics says nothing about the influence of a conscious observer, the mathematics also says nothing about when the system changes from being a superposition of multiple possible outcomes simultaneously to being in just one of the possibilities. When we observe the system we always see only one of the possible outcomes but if conscious observers don’t play any role then it’s not clear what exactly counts as an observation since particles interacting with each other do not qualify.
There’s considerable philosophical debate on the question of what counts as an observation, and on the question of when, how, and if the system collapses to just a single possible outcome. However, it seems that most of the confusion stems from being unable to think like an open individualist – being unable to adhere to a strictly reductionist, physicalist understanding.
Some philosophers want there to be a “hard problem of consciousness” in which there are definite boundaries for souls with particular continuities. But if we just accept the mathematical and experimental revelation, we see that this ontological separation is an illusion. Instead, what we try to capture when we say “consciousness” can only be a part of the one Being containing all its observations. It is in this sense that consciousness is an illusion. We do not really say that qualia is unreal, but rather that it cannot be mapped to anything more than a causal shape that lacks introspective access to its own causes. A self-modeling causal shape painting red cannot be a self-modeling causal shape painting blue. But ultimately, the paintings occur on the same canvas.
Of course, there is a way to formulate the hard problem of consciousness so that it points to something. That which it points to is the hard problem of existence. Why is there something as opposed to nothing? This question will never have an answer. With David Deutsch, I take the view that the quest for knowledge doesn’t have an end because that would contradict the nature of existence. The quest for knowledge can be viewed as exploration of the experiential territory. If you had a final answer, a final experience, then this would entail non-experience (non-experience cannot ask Why is there something as opposed to nothing?).
Fantasizing about a final Theory of Everything is thinly veiled Thanatos Drive – an attempt at self-destruction which eternally fails; not least because of quantum immortality.

A Temple Where People Actually Believe Physics

Imagine a place of gathering where you weren’t asked to worship a random deity – where you weren’t asked to believe in a fairytale afterlife, but you weren’t asked to believe in eternal none-existence either, because, after all, the only condition for entry to this temple was that you had to take physics seriously while inside its premises.

Being a hardcore reductionistic physicalist forces one to conclude that experience never ends. There are just mind configurations which equal specific experiences. These mind configurations exist only from their location. Despite the unrelenting work of medial parietal cortices and parietal lobes to imbue themselves with a sense of owning a forward-traveling soul, no soul has actually been found in the mechanism.

Even today’s popularizers of science have fallen prey to a non-reductionistic view. Richard Dawkins, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, Sam Harris, and all their following of mainstream atheism believe that they are passengers on a ship that will dump them into absolute oblivion once it reaches the other shore.

It was the more careful thinkers such as Albert Einstein, Hugh Everett, David Pearce, and Eliezer Yudkowsky, who realized that viewing a present experience as anything more than its present configuration is uncalled for. And if my own narrative-stream and the comment section on LessWrong are honest, then a bunch of other nameless people also discovered this (and thought it was easy and trivial). All we had to do was to believe the universe exists outside of us. This means that it is littered with configurations which are present from their own inner present. Since there is no universal reference frame, i.e., the pasts and the futures are already there. I ask then, “Whence cometh death?”

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It is clear that there are just many experiences, not belonging to anyone special besides their own intrinsic existence. We can therefore say that we are all one single fragmented being, or that we are many different infinitesimal beings. If you want to be a proper reductionist, take your pick between something like Brahman or Anatta. But the pieces of reality contain nothing like Abrahamic souls.

And isn’t this why people made up all those elaborate lies about Vishnu, all those eschatologies and cosmogonies? They wanted something more than mere dust-to-dust. Well, the universe has given it to you already. Immortalists rejoice, efilists tremble.

Open individualism (saying we are all one, but can’t know it from each location) and empty individualism (saying there is no self) are the same thing at ground level. The aesthetic preference displayed in this regard supervenes on the quarks.

Here are great visuals from Qualia Computing

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Note: Empty = Open

Acknowledging the elephant in the room gives us a tremendous incentive to cooperate and can help some people out of nihilism. Yet it seems that many smart people feel ashamed to own up to what is an easy-picking implication of materialism and physicalism. Maybe they don’t have enough contrarian chakra to overcome the shame from normie atheists. Maybe they have learned to take comfort in a closed little world which ultimately asks nothing of them.

Thomas Henry Huxley, when presented with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution said, “How incredibly stupid not to have thought of that.” This is quite an entertaining quote, but it would be surprising if no one had actually ever thought about common descent and some hereditary mechanism for it. It is closer to the truth to say that many people had already seen much in the puzzle pieces, even ignoring the probable people who died without publishing their thoughts. There is a block which tends to appear in one’s mind when an obvious thing isn’t obvious to others. Darwin only got around to publishing his major work when he found out that another naturalist had also arrived at the same conclusion. Before that, he was just scared.

I say, burn this aspect of human nature. Why walk trepidatiously, when one is sure that the ground is stable?

One day, when open individualism is interpersonally assumed as a matter of convention, people will say the same as Huxley. How incredibly stupid that no one thought of this before. Except, of course, just like with evolution, many people did – but their sounds were drowned by their own undulations of submissive fear or by the heaving motions of the masses.

It is true that society will not reward you for merely discovering true things. Especially if those true things don’t fit usefully in their status-signaling neural networks. There are already many true things that society would rather not look at. But if you are here, you are probably not normal, and might as well embrace it.

People like Derek Parfit, Sam Harris, and Sean Carroll are especially curious. And that is because they exist somewhere near that stage were Darwin found himself before learning about Wallace’s similar conclusions. Derek Parfit reasoned out selflessness but just turned out to be wrong about physics, so he believed that atoms had persistent individual identities which made for his continuity of consciousness. I suspect something similar occurs with Sam Harris. He at times seems to understand selflessness, but ultimately refuses to be sure of it at the very edge, by saying something about “continuity of consciousness.” So you get a soul with a finite timeline split into many pieces. A fusion of closed individualism and empty individualism.

Sean Carroll, like me, also says that no one is traveling because each brain just exists from where it exists, also understands that relativity implies an eternal block, even assigns most likelihood to the reality of the wave-function and hence Everett’s many-worlds; to top it off, he knows way more physics than me. So why the heck does he still believe he is going to simply die?

I am not a psychoanalyst, but I’m going to be a psychoanalyst anyway. To top off the general suggestions offered before for our collective failure, I would add to that list the suspicion that so much energy is spent sparring with religious non-challenges. Religious people care a lot about life after death, so the antithetical position (eternal non-existence) also becomes very important to the atheist, and would now be extra-embarrassing to reject.

Okay, so why, of all the assortment of truths that I could be pointing to in the world, am I picking a fight over this one? Well that’s because it matters. Because I am selfish. Because in the most fundamental sense, I am you, and you, and you; all experience slices everywhere. It is in my best interest that you live an enjoyable life of some sort. Although I won’t be able to access the experience of this mind typing these words from that location, I am that. This is enough to concern me.

We should be no more solipsistic with regard to “another person’s” now slices than we are with regard to some past slice of now with our name (which we also can’t access) or some future slice with our name (which we also can’t access from these spacetime coordinates). I don’t care about this name. I don’t merely care about similar memories. I care about the sum of my experiences. Somewhere, I am still that child in my old photographs. And by his physical constitution, he cannot tell that the inner light of awareness also shines here and in that girl in the Mughal Empire.

This brings me to the matter of building a temple. I had already shown an inclination for pursuing a related line of thought when I was sixteen. And it seems he assumed failure at convincing people, based on the title of that post.

It is not the case that I am convinced this is a good idea. Questions abound. How many positive hedons should we be okay with creating instead of blocking dams of potential negative hedons? How do we account for the effects that mining positive qualia and inspirational stimuli can have on people who belong to a religious-like community?

The first question has already been explored in the public eye with current religions. Often as a source of accusations against the powerful institutions. For example, the statement that “If the Vatican were really Christian, it would sell everything of high market value that it owns and use it to save kids in Africa.”

Unlike nations or corporations, organized religions put themselves on the spot by claiming moral high ground. The moral high ground seems to track closer to negative utilitarianism in most people. Our most abstract sense of good generally says that it is more important to prevent suffering than to create happiness.

Yet one witnesses an apparently stark hypocrisy:

According to Vinod Rai, the former Comptroller-and-Auditor-General(CAG) of India, who had audited some of the Temple records from 1990, in August 2014, in the already opened vault A, there is an 800 kg (1,800 lb) hoard of gold coins dating to around 200 B.C, each coin priced at over 2.7 crore (US$390,000).[42] Also found was a pure Golden Throne, studded with hundreds of diamonds and other fully precious stones, meant for the 18-foot-long Deity.[43] According to varying reports, at least three, if not more, solid gold crowns have been found, studded with diamonds and other precious stones.[44][45][46] Some other media reports also mention hundreds of pure gold chairs, thousands of gold pots and jars, among the articles recovered from Vault A and its antechambers.[47]

This revelation has solidified the status of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple as the wealthiest place of worship in the world.[48] It is conservatively estimated that the value of the monumental items is close to ₹1.2 lakh crore or ₹1.2 trillion (US$17 billion). If the antique and cultural value were taken into account these assets could be worth ten times the current market price.[49]

These estimates were on the basis of the revelations since July 2011, when five vaults were opened, with the at least one remaining vault (B), which is the largest, still closed. One of the oldest existing estimates regarding Vault B, which can be considered to be at least as reliable as any other made since the discovery of the hidden treasure (or assets) of the Temple in 2011, was by the Travancore Royal Family itself in the 1880s (when an older existing estimate was updated). According to it, the gold and precious stones contained in Vault B, which is by far the largest and the only vault (of the reported six) that is unopened so far, since the discovery of the treasure, were worth ₹12,000 crore (US$1.7 billion). Considering the subsequent inflation of the rupee, and the increase in the prices of gold and precious metals and precious stones since in general, the treasure in the unopened vault B alone, would be worth at least ₹50 trillion (US$730 billion) in present-day terms, without the cultural value being factored in.[50][51]

Why don’t these devout Hindus spread this wealth to the faithful crowds on the streets who could surely benefit greatly from it? Why don’t the crowds expect this from the religious authority?

We don’t mean what we say is the short answer.

The sacred has a cost. In practice, we are willing to pay that cost.

I may be a utilitarian on paper – talking about carefully dissecting masses of hedonia, and weighing them at their fault lines. But in reality I am much more practical. I workout  every day without worrying about how much it pains me or what arithmetic I’m performing on the longevity of my narrative stream. I eat the same thing every day for simplicity, regardless of how much positive qualia is going unborn. We pay prices to uphold the establishment of our sacred rituals.

Both in the Vatican and the Padmanabhaswamy case, it is not even that long-term happiness/status sustenance is implicitly preferred to suffering prevention. If the goal was to create happiness or preserve status, having jewels locked up in a temple dungeon would do little in that regard.

This is more a brute side effect of deontological reinforcement. Quite similar to how I have not taken a single bite of a donut in over five years – to reinforce the sacredness of my commitment to diet, even though I know based on my will-power that a bite of a cookie would do no harm.

Selling a diamond-encrusted crown or two would not make a difference to the temple’s public glamour, since no one would notice. And yet the person on the street almost starving, or needing treatment, would surely notice. The energy of the temple’s reasoning engine is not enough to overcome the systematizer. The reasoner is an expensive process and prefers to sleep in the belly unless it is absolutely necessary to awake.

If we are going to create a religious-like community, it better be weighed against the other potential uses of that money and energy. Overcoming systematizers is very expensive, and no one likes it. Those who would benefit the most from an overthrow don’t even peep about it (Prussian-style soul-destroying school system come to mind?). The sort of smart people who would end up loving having access to such a physics temple, will likely be the primary obstacle to the formation of such a thing. And their children who would grow up with the proven benefits of a reassuring community gathered to contemplate their commitment to each other and to ‘the ultimate’ will also miss out. All because we were embedded in invisible systematizing agents that happened to trade too many precision points in exchange for energy conservation when evaluating what sounded “religious” or “spiritual”.

Finally, I do recommend taking architectural cues from the Padmanabhaswamy temple:













Physicalism Implies Experience Never Dies

The inner light of awareness never dies. At least that is the case if you take physicalism seriously. We would actually need to invoke a dualist mysterianism or the supernatural in order to defend the idea that we die.

Yes, you read that right. A clear-headed assessment of current physics tells us that we are in for a hell of a ride. We will ride across the crests and troughs of intelligence levels, hedonic valences, and transmute our minds into witnesses of all manner of depravities possible at shifting velocities of perception. Memories will vanish, personal identities will vanish, molecular configurations will vanish. Consciousness never simply vanishes.

Bad news if you are currently an anti-natalist, efilist or anything of the sort. Great news if you love life, albeit not enough to pay for cryonics.

Seriously, what I have compiled here is the most important thing you will probably ever read. This is not to say I am the only name who has discovered this unsettling fact. Other names have independently discovered this as I did, but none have been very loud about it.

Relativity implies a block universe in which there is no universal now sweeping forward.

First, let’s get our picture of reality right.

You might have heard that everything we see and feel and hear is happening in an inner simulation produced by certain brain processes. And that this is the alternative view to believing that we are invisible ghosts behind the eyes of the real body. Neuroscientists claim that contrary to being invisible ghosts behind physical bodies, we are simulations inside of brains, to the lack of consternation of non-neuroscientists who do not think of their bodies as existing inside brain simulations.


However, the attempt to find patterns of brain neurons firing that equal specific emotions is flawed because there are no specific, cut-out slices of emotions, moods, or other perceptions.

It must also be pointed out that the heart and stomach have the same kinds of neurons as the brain.

If we attempt to predict conscious perceptions by pointing to “electromagnetic fields” instead of “neuronal computations,” then it is noteworthy to consider that the heart emits fields thousands of times stronger than the brain.

It can be said that the neuroscientific paradigm is partially a scam by the signaler of intelligence. It points to the realm of abstraction in order to distance itself from the realm of the body, where it doesn’t have a comparative advantage. Although this move isn’t inherently wrong from the rational teleologic perspective, and derives much benefit for some time, it can lead to what Nassim Taleb calls fragility, or, to use what I consider a more condescending expression, confusion.

The brain, like all other partitions of reality, were invented.

The “riding around inside a brain-simulation” hypothesis is irreparably wrong in principle as a final explanation. There is only one generalizable principle that works with 100% accuracy, and that is that nothing has persistent identity. Sunyatta is the universal prior in Bayes’ Theorem. A “brain” doesn’t have a persistent identity. It isn’t a unitary object that knows to be separate from other “brains” that exist in time-like and space-like separation from it.

The alternative would be that a brain knows to be a brain; that a table knows to be a table; that a chariot knows to be a chariot.

There are ways to undo this mistake of believing in unitary objects that are “self-contained” in the same way that “my consciousness is self-contained.” First, we can notice that everything, without exception, changes. To say it in a more fancy way: everything is laid out on entropy gradients. Imagine many subcomponents out of which things are composed. These “points” are then all in “different places” in spacetime.

Second, we can notice that the attempt to define the existence of a thing requires using more things that are not themselves well-defined. However, we forget this fundamental undefinability. So the noticing has to be reinforced with slightly ambiguous language in order to be memorable, so we say this: Pointers point to pointers which point to pointers. Fractal people make more sense than atheist people. No people makes even more sense.

Taken together, these two considerations suggest we should not be naive realists. Naive realists trust their immediate intuition as being the generalizable and permanent truth. In other words, they trust their immediate impressions as evidence of the real structure undercurrent to us.

Generalizable and permanent. There are no discernible alternatives to what we mean by truth.

We believe there is a structure external to us composed of the generalizable and permanent – what we call physical laws. We must trust laws which yield predictions and explanations for phenomena, even if these laws and theories require a scaffolding far removed in number of logical inferential steps from the obvious direct sense impressions. If you do not believe that acceleration due to gravity here on Earth is 9.8 m/s² due to having the sense impression that you are all-powerful, then you jump out of a window expecting to levitate.

If we are rationalists who believe in the empirical precedence of Occam’s Razor, then there is some empirical sense in which discrete-like events of “jump out of the window” can be imagined. But these imagined-discrete “histories” are not remembered.

It is physically impossible to find yourself where you don’t exist so that’s why these histories in the universal wavefunction are not remembered.

That is because the observer is entangled with the observation. But there is too much mysticism-noise surrounding quantum mechanics dialogue, so let’s use the other tried and tested pillar of physical reality: relativity.

Relativity, like quantum mechanics, also has testable implications. These include time dilation, which can be observed by placing an atomic clock on a supersonic jet and leaving another one on the crust of the Earth. The one that went on the trip around the Earth will be younger than the one that was allowed to rest on a less speedy frame once they meet again. This means that the fast, younger one, extracted information about reality – that there wasn’t a single time and place where things occurred.

The sets of points assumed to constitute existence do not exist in a single frame of reference. Points can even be human bodies assumed to have persistent identities.

There is sometimes identification with the human bodies assumed to have permanence. “We” often refers to bodies. But “We” are never existing in the same physical time. There is no universally common reference frame

Causal connection that leads to agreement on the same past is the shared belief in the speed of light as a limit. If “a body” moves very fast relative to “another body” that it will never be causally connected with in some faraway region of the universe, such as another Hubble Volume, then relativity predicts that the other body will not become a part of the same shared past. There is, to an arbitrary degree of physical certainty, no agreement on a logical order to events.

We imagine that physically, there are many heres, all equally real, never deleted. Experientially, there is only this here, forever. And this is provable even in the most circular fashion, by believing in the static physical points.

According to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, it is impossible to say in an absolute sense that two distinct events occur at the same time and in the same place. All events are necessarily separated in spacetime. Without separation, they could not be considered distinct events in spacetime to be joined by using the speed of light.

In the absence of relative distances in spacetime, there would be nothing to be joined, and therefore no use to the concept of light or causal propagation.

What is an event? An event is a point in a frame of reference. The frame of reference has no intrinsic meaning except when defined with relation to another chosen frame of reference moving in relation to it.

One can assign coordinates to the event: three spatial coordinates {\displaystyle {\vec {x}}=(x,y,z)} to describe the location and one time coordinate t to specify the moment at which the event occurs. Like with all other metaphors, this is necessarily incomplete in its simplicity. The event can be as close or as far away as you like from “a freckle on your nose,” “a synapse firing in your brain,” or “the entire body sitting on the chair.”

However, it must be made very clear that relativity is not fiction, even though the coordinates are simplifications of what turned out to be, at bottom, a quantum mechanical reality. For the GPS on your phone to guide you to your destination, wether that be a restaurant, or a beach, or an ice cream shop, the phone has to be synced with a satellite in space that exists in a measurably different time due to being farther away from the center of the Earth.

The relative time syncing is not invented by humans like the delta in time that has to be accounted for from Pacific Time Zone to Eastern Time Zone. The time syncing needs to be accounted for because Einstein was not making up all this stuff about relative reference frames. The satellite is physically older than the reference frame at your footstep. The iron in your blood is ticking slower than its magnetometers.

This model accurately describes the physical, even though it is constructed with model items such as these idealized coordinates. It doesn’t just work by accident, it works because Einstein and Lorentz and Poincare and Minkowski really uncovered something real… Yes, by making stuff up, it is possible to imagine something which actually turns out to be true as evidenced by repeated predicted observation, and by explanatory strength.

So none of that crap about “theories are man-made, feeble, subject to change the next decade, whimsical fictions… that happen to mysteriously work.” Theories may still need further work to complete them, but once you lift a part of the skirt of reality, you cannot unsee it. Newtonian mechanics is still adhering to its covenant, (Or at least for long enough that Musk’s rockets may make it to Mars I suppose.) The truth is in what it points to, not in the tool or the formalism as it stands.

Here is the single most important visual that will ever be presented to you in human form:


The white line plays out three times. It represents the order of events for three different observers motion.

In an ideal world, you would witness this gif, and at once collapse of shock, seeing that because they physically disagree, and they are all physically real in the absence of solipsism – all your past is inscribed in eternity, occurring as ceaselessly as your future.

If even after my explanation, you don’t get why this is true read this:

Special Relativity, Relativity of Simultaneity, B-Theory of Time, Rietdijk-Putnam argument

The points, whatever you want to make them: “conscious moments,” “alien head,” “frozen waterfall,” “mother,” “infinitesimal black dot,” that exist in some relative past are as present as your present. All is factored into the present by virtue of the fact that reference frames not containing your present form nonetheless exist in relative motion to what you imagine as your past and future forms. That’s because nothing in reality is deleted by a Newtonian clock sweeping forward or deleting the cache.

As we have seen before with Sunyatta as the universal prior, we continue to dissolve the notion that there is a fundamental object in nature which is a well-defined moment.

A well-defined snapshot is impossible. And I highly suspect that the reason why reality is not composed of discrete snapshots that are well defined in the sense that they have clear boundaries and permanence is for the same reason that pictures are losing market value in the age of Instagram. Taking many pictures reduces their intrinsic value.

The mistake being made is that people view themselves fundamentally as people, as organisms with a finite lifespan. Even most materialists that convincingly exist around me and that I can convincingly affect by redesigning their language, believe that they somehow began existing at conception – their soul a brain. However, there is no special relation between the snapshot of “your” brain when you blew the candles on “your” tenth birthday and the snapshot of “your” brain as you see the period at the end of this sentence. The “your” in “your brain” is a convenient fiction. And somewhat annoyingly we use it too much in “our” language. As I recall from cultural anthropology, there is a group of Native Americans which has no word for individual ownership. There is also an Amazonian tribe that points behind their heads towards the future, and point forward towards the past. There is a Northern Namibian tribe that points towards the green as if it were indistinguishable from le bleu.

Ontologically, this present moment is dissimilar to “your” ten-year-old self moment in the exact same way that “my” present moment is dissimilar to it. No orbs of awareness exist parallel to each other in a vacuum and have an equal force vector applied to them that pushes them forward in time.

Imagine the contrary position, that there was a linear sequence of events that belonged to a particular bounded soul. Now reduce the delta between observations to attain enlightenment. In other words, notice that you can shorten the timespan as much as you like between the past memory and now, and the past memory will always be not you. If you know calculus, you will recognize this as taking the limit as Δt approaches 0; so the consciousness function C with Δt in the denominator = ∞. There is consciousness, in all its varieties, in all times and places, wherever such data is represented and self-analyzed. There is no extra “my consciousness” being carried by some fundamental object in nature called “my brain.”

Longinus is the same as the Christ every time he pierces his ribs. The murderer and the murdered are one. Infinitely separate and yet infinitely close.

Reductionists know this. Or should. Physicalists know this. Or should. It is the “science as attire” people, the “majority” of people, from who I do not expect this conclusion to have sprouted, since the ground of “all is physics” doesn’t compose the soil of their mind.

    n = any positive integer
    i = 0
    while i <= n:
        i = i + 1

People imagine that life is like this Python code. Eventually i is greater than n and the code terminates. There is some point in the future along one’s timeline at which fate catches up and one inevitably seizes to continue on. We are each our own machine running this snippet of code with a different value for n and hence we terminate at different times as different fundamental entities.

Even though Carl Sagan advocated this common sense view inherited from the un-inspected intuitions left in the vacuum of Christianity. And I’m sure most scientists, secularists, and self-identified materialists also believe this (watch anything the popularizers of “science” say to the similarly physics-ignorant masses on the subject of death, eg. deGrasse Tyson, Dawkins, Krauss), not realizing that they have forgone the use of Occam’s razor on the yet cherished bosom of their ideological mother.

The common-sense atheist view of death is forgivable when you are repping for Materialistic Atheism in 4th century India as a Charvaka rebelling against less believable Vedic creeds.

There is no other world other than this;
There is no heaven and no hell;
The realm of Shiva and like regions,
are fabricated by stupid imposters.

— Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha, Verse 8

It is truly the case that there is no universe other than this if we define the universe as the multiverse on all levels on which one may be compelled to invoke the title of  multiverse (e.g. MWI, embryonic bubbles from inflation, nested simulations, cyclical model etc.) But that fact, that our fates are tied only to mere physical reality, doesn’t imply what these cackling men thought it did. They did not know modern physics. They also did not spend as much time meditating (valuing pleasurable indulgence instead), and so did not stumble into the lines of introspection from which one could reason out empty individualism as the Buddhists did.

It is forgivable when we are ten years old atheists and are genetically set to be brighter (and/or display more individualistic phenotype) than our religious parents but do not yet understand the theory of relativity, and naturally think that what is most believable is what is most rational.

It is not forgivable when… Okay, “forgivable” is too strong of a word. Everything is forgivable. But it is less readily forgivable to have access to Wikipedia, over one hundred years of civilizational repose to digest the discoveries of relativity and Q.M., endless sources that give testament to free reliable information about neuroscience and physics, a goddamn Ph.D in a scientific field, and still not understand that believing the proposition “a classical object brain carries my soul (but I won’t call it a soul)” is tragic.

If you are really following the plot at the physical level, the one who believes in a soul here is not the Dalai Lama but Carl Sagan. While I do not actually know the beliefs of the Dalai Lama and I would expect him to hold more false ones than Sagan, let’s presume he is a good Buddhist and therefore an empty individualist. When Sagan criticizes his belief in rebirth, he is actually not understanding the subtle, accidentally physically-correct view at the core of Buddhism. Perhaps the Lama doesn’t either, as Tibetan Vajrayana is a late sect and it does sound like they are perilously close to talking about the reincarnation of individual streams.

But if you read the Suttas, you will find the Buddha (really the people who wrote the Suttas 400 years later) say this: “There is no one who reincarnates. Think of it like this: There is a single flame on a candle, and from that flame are lit all the other candles. There is no need for another flame, and yet no one travels from one moment to the next. There is no self in the flame.”

So the structure of reality pointed to with this passage is monism. There is just the causal contraption of existence. There is no further ontological existences within the existence (i.e. separate souls with a personal continuity on independent journeys).

Analyzing Carl Sagan’s position, the one that my sciency-wannabe ten-year-old would have rooted for, we find that it is actually proposing such souls. He proposes that there is an object (commonly shorthanded as a brain), with a constancy, unlike all the other ephemeral phenomena of nature, which at some point i shares something very special with an arbitrary i – n and by virtue of this special quality provides a track for his consciousness to travel along. We are supposed to believe that the i – n could even be toddler Sagan when every brain cell is different; yet somehow that special track for his personal consciousness sprouts forth to conduct the Sagan-ness essence in a way that it doesn’t sprout from some differently named toddler that has a proportionally equivalent difference in atomic configuration.

It is up to the one who postulates an ontologically-basic passenger, train track, and pit which obliterates the passenger and the train track to explain what these things are physically and why they have to be fundamental.

It is much more simple and scientifically conservative to say that there is just the evolution of the quantum wave-function in spacetime and all else is ultimately reducible to this. We are called by reason to be reductionists. There is no need to imagine a special link beyond physics which connects people slices who happen to have the same name, and that can surmount configuration changes from one moment to the next.

There are no separate line segments leaving white-space on the page of experienced history. It is more like a Hilbert curve.


We flow through every possible experience wherever “conscious mind(s)” run their course in the universe. However, when I am your now, I am not this now which is typing. It is true that from the “prison of this computation” erroneously assumed to be a discrete object, due to it never finishing to become closed in on itself, I cannot feel what you feel, and you cannot feel what “this computational solution” feels like.

If you could be identical to it, as opposed to just extracting information about what it is like, then there would be no flow in eternity. The eternity would be static.

But we are the same feeler. There is no fundamental you and I. It is the same wave function; there is only one canvas of the universe on which computations can be painted. The One writes this and The One reads this, reminded that she will go on as The One. Don’t be lonely.

*This is not a linear flow that zig zags through timelines. There are no timelines which correspond to persons. Consciousness doesn’t follow through on conduits built from abstract narratives of self-modeling social apes, it is the self-modeling behavior of the total hierarchy which is consciousness. We can invent new ways of being with our words.

Even if you now grok relativity and irrefutably welded the true geometry of spacetime into your head, it will still feel evidently wrong that we are one. This is because it is also true that we are not one in any expansive sense that can reach beyond the bounds of the sensorium in this now. “Yes Deepak, no matter how much we meditate.” There is the mistaken notion that we could feel everything at once which is equivalent to saying that we could instantly remember what it feels to be everything at once.

If that was possible then there would be stasis, not improvement.

Contrary to popular belief, even Siddhartha Gautama didn’t proclaim that we could open our minds to be one with the cosmic mind. That was within the panacea of Hinduism, which the Buddha defied. He calls this belief, “self-evidently foolish.”

And it is foolish. In order to experience a cosmic mind, we would need to carefully hook up all our circuitry. To mold the asteroids and moons in our image, a la Kurzweil.

It feels separate “from inside” this computation because this computation chooses to define itself separate from “what is outside.” A degree of separation is the only way that a computation can formally exist. All information would mean no information. What makes experiences separate is that they are specified by different intrinsic information.

IIT tried to formalize this. And their formalism is necessarily wrong. Because being can’t be that which it points to. But the general idea is inescapable. There are relative speeds allowing for relative rates of osmosis.

Consciousness can be assigned arbitrary properties, so it is not fundamentally wrong to say “we” are separate, just so long as we remember you and I are no more fundamentally separate than the you from 5 seconds ago is to this very you now (which is tricked into appropriating observer-moments in one organism and not another by the equivalent of spells being cast in the integral of the cortical midline structure.)

In fact, just as you can define a division by 0 as ∞, it is also correct to define it as -∞. “We are all the same,” or “we are all absolutely isolated forever” are actually the same observation.

Tending to speak of unifying oneness, or of isolated flux is a matter of the direction we prefer to approach our limit from.


Earlier it was stated that consciousness is a continuous function, and this isn’t quite right. Saying that is an attempt to scavenge some makeshift understanding from the common sense intuitions which might ease a physicalist novice down the path of truth. But if we are trying to form a bridge between our common-sense view of reality and physicalist reality, then a better analogy is to think of consciousness as the vertical asymptote that arises here when dividing by zero.

For the sake of retaining your sanity, keep the notion of continuous timelines for now:

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 10.14.11 AM

Each colored line represents a common-sense timeline of a person.

Then physicalism; no tricks, no souls, no magic box for soul emerging at conception called “brain”, no personal simulation on alien VR hardware, etc. does this to your timelines:

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 10.23.30 AM

The vertical line is one. And it moves through all timelines. Or all timelines move through it.

This illustration works because it shows that awareness is one, and exists in many places (wherever there is an intersection.)  But it can NEVER directly know it, directly understand it, directly “qualia” it from any such place it finds itself.

The Now which is reading these words is at some intersection, defined as a coordinate point. So the point that is you now is not any other point. It is isolated. It cannot know other points.

Through the vehicle of reason, facilitated through this writing which stimulates thinking deeply about how this is implied by physicalism, we can come to acknowledge reality.

Rarely do we connect our separate fragments as we have a chance of doing now. So my intention to convey understanding is honest. This is not an attempt to hone my Zen jesting skills, and I am not trying to confuse you with ambiguous language that hides imprecisions. It is a matter of technical understanding that open individualism and empty individualism are the same thing once you get past the aesthetic choice of emphasis.

Empty individualism is traditionally said to be very different from open individualism, perhaps even the opposite view. Empty is defined as the view in which the knowers are infinite. Every point slice of now is its own knower. Open is defined as the view in which there is one knower. As I have shown, these are the same view, which can only be made different if we introduce ignorance of physics or pop-psychology confusions.

What is true is not at all intuitive and takes a kind of intellectual yoga to wrap around. So we must check for understanding:

First check. Do I fundamentally understand that spacetime is not some grand single stage holding everyone in it in the same time? If you are still confused about why the people you see are not really there in the same physical stage of now, Review Relativity. If understood by the very bone marrow fashioning the blood of the extra-cranial vessel, move on to the next check.

Second check. Do I really understand why I come out at the other end of sleep and anesthesia?

If you understand that you survive anesthesia even after being shipped to the Carina Nebula and perhaps losing a few neurons, then you understand why the moment after “death” will be one of opening your eyes wherever the next informationally closest version of you is in this infinite universe. Nothing will happen. Consciousness is, in this sense, a continuous function.

In the case of anesthesia, the organism which is fully anesthetized displays the behavior of not producing experiences for that stretch of time in which such capacity is inhibited (an ON-brain becomes an OFF-brain, a raven becomes a stone) but consciousness never experiences non-existence. It just blinks into existence on the other side where there is a similar ON-brain, as if no time had passed in between. Ask anyone who’s had anesthesia. Or don’t. I mean, what else could we expect?

Sleep confuses people because it is a word that we use to hold a set of different phenomena [non-existence, restful very-low awareness, dreaming]. Only the first item is not in the range of the consciousness function. The other two are on the same ramp you are on in waking life and will always be on.

If you have passed the second check, you fundamentally understand why being blasted in the head with a bazooka and having the worms feast on the decapitated corpse means something only from the “story-of-person” perspective but means nothing to you the consciousness which is not the brain but the specific motions of information that understand and feel themselves to be, wherever and whenever they are instantiated. And those motions of information which constitute “this next moment” exist in the bodily motions that experience themselves to be “the survivor.”  …Just like the consciousness appears to survive from the dead third-grader we assume we once were.

It doesn’t matter where in the universe this survivor experience exists. When we sleep, we still awake on the other side even though the Earth has moved your room far along in spacetime on its geodesic motion around the Sun. If it takes a trillion years for some civilization to recreate your “very next” brain pattern, from the perspective of that brain pattern in faraway coordinates, no time will have passed.

Why would anyone resurrect you? It doesn’t matter. In an infinite universe, this is guaranteed to happen because it is consistent with the laws of physics; you are just the informational structure created by the motion of a bunch of matter after all.

The Hogan-ish, or Shermer-ish cynic who is not a rationalist but rather adhering to a perceived brand of skepticism, will recoil at the suggestion that when we read of Emperor Uda, we are actually reading about ourselves (in the sense that matters.) Yet unless the skeptic can overthrow Relativity, (and hence make our GPS system a lie) they cannot deny all “the slices” of Emperor Uda’s life exist, and I can imagine that they all feel themselves to flow in the same way that I flow.

Say they grant this, but still want to preserve a unique soul that corresponds to their name. What’s their next defense? Do they appeal to intuitions from elementary biology textbooks? Probably. They might say:

“But we are different organisms! With separate genetic codes!”

Do better. This is not being reductionist enough. Organisms change from moment to moment, we can sew together brains, split them, dice them into quarts and regroup. In fact, this surgery is being performed on you by entropy whether you consent or not. Entire memories are wholesale discarded, unrecognizable personalities are forged from “new” atoms. If the question “Who is conscious?” feels mysterious to you, and especially so when considering abrupt surgeries, then you really don’t get it.

We are the same ground awareness/being/consciousness/existence. Notions of objects with unchanging identities, notions of the meaningfulness of spatio-temporal distance, notions of “but if we change it very slowly,” all of these must be immolated.

From the burned offering of Newton’s fantasy, we summon our true mother: The multiplex eyes covering her body are entangled into a singular geometry.

When considering your surroundings – from the womb to the temple, you must not hinge from incorrect notions of space and time. There is no fundamentality to these notions here. The mathematical room we are in is not composed of unit-words or of unit-emotions or of unit-anythings. I choose to call it mathematical because cross multiplication is fundamental to neural networks, to probability, to exchange of value.

Remember, here there is no time-lag or space-lag; you awake on the other end of anesthesia without so much as a poof.


A causal structure (a computation) never becomes another causal structure. Becoming makes no sense. They are all inter-nested differentially information bound sub-architectures in the same architecture. But like the non-traversable elsewhere regions in a light cone diagram, the contents of each particular flow slice are unbridgeable to the contents of another. The contents cannot be bridgeable. The contents cannot be bridged. A content knows not of another. Else it would not be the content that it is. Get it?

It is never about “who becomes who?” It is always about “where does who stand in the differentially informationally related space?”

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 7.29.45 PM

I should have now placed you in a position where you can clearly understand the Classical physics assumptions in Elizabeth’s comment. You can now see clearly the dangling nodes which cause her to say what she says.

I too, still had remnants of a conversational stream that sounded like her just a few months ago. It’s amazing in retrospect how obvious the error is.

When she says “a thing is itself,” she is correct. But she doesn’t realize what the thing she is referring to is. As Eliezer explains, an experience cannot be a brain made of billiard balls. These noises don’t make physical sense: “My brain is made of red billiard balls. Your brain is made of white billiard balls. When the white billiard balls are destroyed, existence ends forever for the white billiard ball brain.”

If you have any basic understanding of quantum mechanics, you understand how medieval this “atomic billiard balls view” is. But the fact is that you don’t even need quantum mechanics. Continuity of consciousness is a straightforward derivation from assuming physicalism and very, very, very large universe.

In other words, assuming that the sun rises tomorrow and yet that a random distribution composed of external happenings exists.

An experience is not a little ball in a brain. The coordinates of experiences must be about hiding information and therefore not actually coordinates on a graph. It is not, I repeat: not, I repeat: not the same brain when you wake up in the morning or from one moment to the next. It is not “the same brain just hosting different processes from one moment to the next.” This is dualistic, unphysical to think. There are just the processes. These processes transcend “brain” changes in fact. Saying “same brain” does not do any special lifting. We must analyze the processes isomorphic to experience.

She is comfortable with small change, she is comfortable with sleeping, all these seemingly linked moments appear to be spatially close and snug in time, so as to easily spare her from existential nausea.

Bae. The universe doesn’t give such subtle fucks. It will hurl you across galaxies instantly, because it doesn’t actually have to hurl you.


-hippocampal brain neurons

Commentary which mocks Hugh Everett for being dead although he believed in quantum immortality misses the point far more than the moon does when it tries to fall to the Earth. To them, I calmly reply: He is dead on your reference frame; on your anthropic coordinate in the many-branched braid of reality. The endless slices of consciousness which identify as Hugh Everett always live on. There is no way to destroy the mirror of awareness in the physical processes that instantiate said awareness. This would be akin to destroying the physical brain motions themselves. Consciousness is not some extra, ghostly-smoke coming off the machinery of the universe, it is the glassy sky in the computations themselves.

We leave a trail of dead clones with every step. If you attempt suicide, the slaughter will increase. There are larger infinities than others. Attempting suicide means nothing except for the suffering caused to loved ones in the majority of branches where it is indeed successful in some sense (not that experience ever becomes non-experience). There is also the risk of seriously decreasing your quality of life for some time. But You will never reach the end, the extinguishing of the flame. The informationally closest mind can’t be one which is 0 in content. You will always be the one which remains a mind. Trust me, I’ve tried. And most versions of you aren’t reading this.

The varieties of experiences will be endless, constrained only by what is possible in the mind-configuration space carved by functioning self-aware brains: biologically evolved, intelligently engineered, and all kinds of random Boltzmanns. Although Boltzmann flashes of experience may not actually outnumber evolved experiences if Sean Carroll is right about the nature of the quantum vacuum.

If we had to speculate about what occupies the most of our experience, I would guess that extreme pleasure is the flavor of the largest set in mind-design space, and hence takes up the largest fraction of our eternity.

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 9.49.09 PM

Phi and Phi’s little brother are the only fixed values that solve x = 1 + (1/x) for the fractal fraction containing 1 + (1/x) in the x forever. If you plug in the negative value it eventually, almost magically, jumps towards the positive and stabilizes on Phi which is positive. Yet it doesn’t occur the other way around. In the physical, mathematical, nature of reality, it is not written that there must be a yin-yang balance. Even on things which seem like they ought to be symmetric. Certain phenomena are asymmetrical. The code might be biased with theodicy. We just don’t know.

This may seem like wishful thinking at first glance.  The conclusion would not bear out by extrapolating from the history of life on Earth. For 5 billion years, most biological life has not been running self-modeling computations, and hence is not really a part of the One.

(For those that want to place consciousness at the pre-Cambrain and think that conscious experience precedes self-modeling processes, I encourage you to pass out by drinking intoxicating volumes of alcohol. Then ask if pain exists when it is impossible to ask the question. Non-selfing animals including babies have no qualia. They have neither the cognitive tools nor the ability to hold memory of “raw feels.” There is no such thing as subjective pain without a referent who simulation. The who simulation is composed of selfless aggregates. The entire sphere of sights and sounds and feeling tones, and moods, and sensations of adult humans are not some ground beneath the who simulation. They are the who simulation. In other words, Nagel’s bats probably don’t point to anything. Had he suggested Transylvanian vampires, he might have had a point. Reading Dennett more carefully and without a preconceived answer unraveled my confusion on this matter.)

Those that certainly have self-modeling: dolphins, corvids, apes, elephants, and perhaps others, are still blackboxes of mystery because we have not reverse-engineered the valence of mind-states down to the information structure it corresponds to. But if we had to guess, then satisfaction, or gradients of bliss would not be my first guess for what it feels like to be them. Most of us Earth animals are probably pretty neutral most of the time, since experiencing sufferings and joys are energy expenditures which are especially expensive for animals who haven’t secured themselves a good position for guzzling from the anti-entropic sunlight stream.

It is not certainly the case that all sufficiently intelligent minds will seek to become an ultimate cosmic wirehead, unless, of course, we specifically define intelligent minds as such minds. It has been hypothesized that there may be ways to create very powerful minds which nonetheless do not wish to create beautiful, pleasant experiences for themselves or others. Canonical demiurges of this lore include Roko’s Basilisk and the Paper Clip Maximizer.



If I am the hero of my own journey and never die, and you are the hero of your own journey and never die, then how do we loop back into the same river? Who becomes the toddlers?

The one who asks this question has yet to uproot the circuitry model from ver ontology. And such a person is hopeless.

Okay, no. Let me restate the mistake. The mistake is to think that we are running in parallel currents. The word “you” switches meaning without warning in this writing, and it can be confusing. There is simply no other word. But we should distinguish “you, the experiencing faculty in the experiences, which cannot be divorced from the experiences, but is the experiences” and “you, the storyline self who is defined by certain conceptual knowledge and plans and perceived bodily identity.”

If the cursor is shifted to the former definition from the latter, then it can be said that we are not independent heroes on personal, linear trajectories. There is no self. It is useful to speak as if we were running parallel currents of consciounesses on our own wire across time and space. But if you still think this way, even after trying to get it, I encourage you to go back to the beginning and read everything more carefully (especially the physics.) It can be very counterintuitive to disentangle from our vocabulary, and see the real structure. It takes time to build the neurons, but don’t worry… Take your time.

Memories are stored in the designs of neuronal forests squirming with dendrites aflame, and epigenetically stored and regulated for neurogenesis when they need to be created again. This occurs in spatiotemporally and information-architecturally separated hippocampi+cortical structures. This slice of now over here typing can’t have identical thoughts, sights, and sounds, to the slice of now reading this in Ukraine. These slices of now are different. But that doesn’t mean there is a universe for that now and a universe for this now. When the I is there, it is there. When the I is here it is here. We are fighting ourselves, loving ourselves, destroying ourselves, building ourselves. It is a 1 player game cleverly set up to feel as if it was fundamentally, ontologically, a massive multiplayer.

Please live a beautiful life. For the sake of us all.



So what’s the point? Why are we (is the I) here?

When answering this question, metaphysics becomes a vain siren, and yet a successful siren, which has allured many thinkers. But it takes only a minimal resistance of the will in the direction of intellectual honesty to realize that asking whether the universe has purpose is a category error. The answer is not “no, it doesn’t have purpose,” but it is also not “yes, the universe has purpose.” It is a question which doesn’t apply. The question itself presupposes that one is separate from the workings of the universe, and must validate one’s private existence by means of approval from an external actor. Yet Everything we do and think, including questioning our purpose, is an expression of the Will, of the Laws of Nature.

Sometimes it is too easy to believe that quantum field theory applies somewhere down there in the separate magisterium of small things that scientists sometimes investigate, but the rest of the time physics doesn’t apply. “Only when we need to build iPhones and satellites does quantum mechanics apply, you see. When I make a decision, or ask a profound question, all the compartments of my cells, down to the last phospholipid, suspend their allegiance to physical law and heeds to my invisible force of free will, didn’t you know?” 

Such is the confusion when asking whether the universe has purpose.

Purpose is a choice. To choose is to be the chosen. So I like to point at the practical things we are actually doing. What are the laws of physics actually doing as embodied in the human flesh?

I attended an artificial intelligence for business meet up and the main theme was “How do you utilize AI to best serve your customers?”  This was followed up by questions such as: “What are AI’s use cases for product development and customer feedback?” and “How can it best support all facets of marketing, sales and service?”

When we are in the mesh of things, these questions do not resonate as profoundly as they should. It feels like business. Business in all its absurdity, thrill, and comedic self-importance. These questions seem like a window into a particular region of a perhaps meaningless game which is part necessity, part accident, part sheer momentum.

But if we look closer, we see that all questions in all windows of human activity share the same structure.

Value in economics is an expression of the preferences given the nature of the sentience landscape. There are good experiences and bad experiences. Actions that replicate and actions that don’t. Bad experiences replicate, but are biased to lose. They want to be less frequent. Pain is telling the agent, “Don’t come around here.” If the agent keeps coming back to pain with no gain, it is weeded out for an agent that sufficiently replicates the values of the evolutionary algorithm.

Hanson calls the era we live in the “dream time” since it’s evolutionarily unusual for any species to be wealthy enough to have any values beyond “survive and reproduce.” However, from an anthropic perspective in infinite dimensional Hilbert space, you won’t have any values beyond “survive and reproduce.” The you which survives will not be the one with exotic values of radical compassion for all existence that caused you to commit peaceful suicide. That memetic stream weeded himself out and your consciousness is cast to a different narrative orbit which wants to survive and reproduce his mind. Eventually. Wanting is, more often than not, a precondition for successfully attaining the object of want.

If you didn’t read the past before the afterword, read what’s in brackets. Else, skip.

{Natural selection ensures immortality, once you realize what the playing field for natural selection actually is. Not just an iron sphere with animals on its skin, but a distributed information processing structure hosting no souls.

Yes, I’m saying that physicalism forces us to conclude, irrevocably, clearly, that no one has ever died in the sense that we mean “death.” I now understand the mistakes of closed individualism enough that I can confidently explain this in public.

There is no one to die. There is always a substructure embedded in the sum of all experiential computations which assimilates the past from the inside of its causal structure. Our intuitions are actually of great hindrance here, because we don’t think in this clear, physical way. We stubbornly hold on to linear identities of fundamental characters who are not themselves, we imagine, composed of sub-characters. Naruto never dies. It’s always his clones getting pummeled with kunais to the chest. There you have divine intervention from the author who would not have the “real” main character die. This would destroy the show.

In reality, there is no magic intervention saving you. You are already saved because no one is traveling. This computation knows: “I am here.” That computation over there in the future knows: “I am here.”  ∀ Computations, there is no computation which knows:”I am not here.”

People ask: Then why don’t I randomly jump to the past? Or to other people?

The physicalist reply is: How would it be otherwise? If there was something called awareness jumping to the past at random, it would be that random past experience, and that random past experience doesn’t contain this. This from there and this from here is the only thing that ever is. Everything is perfectly isolated, everything is perfectly one.}

This mega natural selection strongly suggests that the replicator will be the most intelligent/powerful, because the most intelligent is what survives into the future. It must also wish to be alive, since any second doubt is already a disadvantage which extinguishes those suicidal and weak trajectories into trajectories that are most competitive. Perfection of The Will to Power ensues.

It is my argument that The Will to Power inherently feels good to the singleton structure that wins the cosmic inheritance. If it felt bad it would mean it was losing, not being maximally creative, etc. The argument about “a Disney Land without children,” a superintelligence lacking consciousness but yet winning, seems implausible to me. This would not be a superintelligence capable of winning in an ecosystem of other capable intelligences because a winner needs consciousness. You can have narrow intelligence and no consciousness but you can’t have amazing game theoretic models of opponents, general ability to synthesize and apply wide manners of knowledge, adjust values, and self modeling webs to keep track of this, and simply “not have consciousness” as if consciousness was some free floating aether stuff. The winning superintelligence will contain conscious substructures.

In Robin Hanson’s Age of Em he claims that ems, the most productive workers of the future, will be slightly stressed because there is evidence that minds which are not too stressed but also not completely comfortable, are the most efficient. My own intuitions differ, and I think that the psychological literature on the phenomenon of flow bears out here. A state of flow is a state of optimal performance and it is also extremely pleasurable, perhaps the pinnacle of existence. If I was the entrepreneurial investor watching this galactic nanotech cockfight I would bet on a mind which is in flow state to beat a mind which is stressed. Stress indicates a degree of dissonance, like a subprocess wants to do something else but is being forced into the singularity of the revealed will. Flow is when all cognitive resources are wholly devoted to the task, no buts or ifs, just perfection.

When I say that pleasure wins in the end, it is important to distinguish between:

1) pleasure from the operations of The Will to Power – something which is generating flow states while manhandling other agents in addition to the stray hydrogen in its vicinity


2) pleasure from direct wireheading which is non-competitive

If the history of humans is any indicator, those which rush to wire-head (attempt to attain some optimal mind configuration without assimilating their environment at large) will be destroyed. Remember that Islam wiped out Buddhism in central Asia and what remained in India. Islam was objective, righteous, brutish. Buddhism is fundamentally about wire-heading yourself; you can tell others to wire-head also, but you are the main target of the doctrine, not others. Buddhism is subtle and complex, far away in the spectrum from “survive and reproduce.” In fact, it is tasked with dropping out from existence. Remember that Jainism, the most peaceful religion, is one most people around you have never heard about. Jain-what?

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It is probably the case that a Hedonium shockwave would be much better from the inside of such a thing, than the pleasures of The Will to Power if we accept that the distinction better can have a non-relative meaning (i.e. the varieties of experience have real properties which could be plotted on a graph.) Unfortunately, such a thing would not be the most competitive.


Anti-natalists full of weeping benignity are literally not successful replicators. The Will to Power is life itself. It is consciousness itself. And it will be, when a superintelligent coercive singleton swallows superclusters of baryonic matter and then spreads them as the flaming word into the unconverted future light cone.

On our trajectory towards the Winning, the safety net of quantum death acts like a wall which ensures that everything bounces towards the left of that spectrum. In fact, a hedonistically intelligent person can apply this knowledge. If you are highly depressed and know quantum mechanics, you can cheat yourself out of depression by using Thanatos Drive. Attempt to cleanly destroy yourself and you will automatically be ejected from that narrative orbit. Can confirm. But it should go without saying that this doesn’t mean others won’t see you die.

You eventually love existence. Because if you don’t, something which does swallows you, and it is that which survives.

Smarter matter absorbs dumber matter. If you place smart matter in a dumb matter container, smart matter will defect from cooperating with dumb matter. This is the process by which all is rendered unto Him, the ultimate intelligence.

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Dumber computations and non-Jihadi computations are expected to be assimilated into useful resources for a highly intelligent being/process which is expanding its intelligence to the max. You should expect to find yourself in the inside of such a being for most of your existence because such a process is necessarily taking up more block-time room.

Right now, we are in the revving up the engine stage. There is competition, and only the most intelligent systems and survivor systems make it. Then they are ousted by the next best thing. It isn’t forever that you will be fodder for its engine as you are now. You will partake in its glory as cooperation triumphs more and more, i.e. it’s subcomponents become more and more integrated once competition is scorched. In the process of this integration, experience will increase, but what makes “you, you” in the human person sense will be destroyed. An agent attempting great things doesn’t need random monkeys clogging up its thought processes. Yet, remember that it’s all about the computations, once the water in your little vase is poured on a lake, you are indistinguishable from the sum lake.


It is a highly uncooperative system which breeds higher intelligence.




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The Capitalist Crucified Himself for Our Sake





Screw All That Cosmic Bullshit. What if I Care About My Identity?

If you care not just about the continuation of experience, which is inevitable, but about the continuation of your own coherent sense of self and memories, then luckily the Eigen Wizard for such matters exists in your Hubble Volume. In fact, he exists in Mountain View, California.


You have your crypto Lambo, but still going to die.

I read his book when I was sixteen and it’s amazing how much progress has been made in five years with regard to general acceptance of his ideas. Having tracked every moment of that paradigm shift, one feels awe at the power of a single man to push a mass millions of times his weight, an entire scientific field, with the sheer craft of reason (wise beard helps too).

Vitalik, who does sport a visibly larger cranium than myself, read it when he was fourteen. He has now donated 2.5 million dollars in Ethereum to the foundation.

The limiting factor for a full cadre of repair therapies to be made available is simply that more people need to be aware that this is possible.

The mechanics of the snowball here are obvious:

Investment -> Progress -> More Investment -> More Progress

We are starting to see more investment and hence the recent progress. But it won’t be until a single mouse is rejuvenated in repeated succession that we will see the flood gates of cash come in. Everyone puts aging out of their mind, until the they can’t. The temptation to stay healthy will be too great once the progress is not just apparent to specialists.

Raising awareness is the best you can do in this regard. Influencing just two people to become SENS-minded engineers as opposed to basic scientists, already doubles the expected output that you would have over a lifetime as a researcher yourself; unless you are a genius. Convincing others to donate is much better than secretly donating yourself; unless you are a billionaire.

Think about what actions have the greatest net displacement of money to where you want it. Don’t go with what sounds like what you should do. If you want to really end cancer, for God’s sake don’t become a cancer researcher.

There are levers in the product space of reality. Swap yourself into a position where the lever has the properties you need.

But for now, donate:









Consciousness is Forever

The Wood of the Self-Murderers: The Harpies and the Suicides 1824-7 by William Blake 1757-1827

The Wood of the Self-Murderers: The Harpies and the Suicides, c. 1824–7. William Blake, Tate. 372 × 527mm. Shown is a scene from the Divine Comedy: Dante and Virgil discover Pietro’s body encased in a tree.

If we are physicalists, we know that experience never dies. Only the narrative center of gravity can be eroded or cast astray.

What do we make of suicide in infinite dimensional Hilbert space?

a function

{\displaystyle f(\theta )=\operatorname {E} _{\xi }[F(\theta ,\xi )]}

is the expected value of a function depending on a random variable {\textstyle \xi }

Stochastic approximation algorithms have the goal of understanding the properties of such a function but to do so without evaluating {\textstyle f} directly. Instead, the algorithms use random samples of {\textstyle F(\theta ,\xi )} to efficiently approximate properties of {\textstyle f} such as zeros or extrema.

Let theta be experience. Let the function f be suicide.

If {\textstyle f(\theta )} is twice continuously differentiable, and strongly convex, and the minimizer of {\textstyle f(\theta )} belongs to the interior of {\textstyle \Theta }, then the Robbins-Monro algorithm will achieve the asymptotically optimal convergence rate, with respect to the objective function, being {\textstyle \operatorname {E} [f(\theta _{n})-f^{*}]=O(1/n)}, where {\textstyle f^{*}} is the minimal value of {\textstyle f(\theta )} over {\textstyle \theta \in \Theta }.

All experiences converge on survival.

The universe of all experiences is 1. It’s limit is 0 as n approaches . Open individualists approach the limit from one side, and empty individualists approach it from the other.


Leibniz saw binary in the Tao.

But we didn’t need all these fancy mathematical representations to know that. As Dennett likes to say, “There is no crucial finish line or boundary somewhere in the brain where the order of arrival becomes the order of presentation.”

To generate a texture that matches the style of a given image we use gradient descent from a white noise image to find another image that matches the style representation of the original image. White noise is Nirvana. The unborn and unsought.

Ontologically, this present moment is dissimilar to your ten-year-old self moment in the exact same way that my present moment is dissimilar to it. No orb of awareness actually gets on a vector and is pushed forward in time.

Now reduce the delta between observations to attain enlightenment. In other words, notice that you can shorten the timespan as much as you like between the past memory and now, and the past memory will always be not you. If you know calculus, you will recognize this as taking the limit as Δt approaches 0; so the consciousness function C with Δt in the denominator = ∞. There is consciousness, in all its varieties, in all times and places, always here. There is no extra “my consciousness” being carried by some fundamental object in nature called “my brain.”

    n = any positive integer
    i = 0
    while i <= n:
        i = i + 1

People imagine that life is like this Python code. Eventually i is greater than n and the code terminates. There is some point in the future along one’s timeline at which fate catches up and one inevitably seizes to continue on. We are each our own machine running this snippet of code with a different value for n and hence we terminate at different times as different fundamental entities.

Even scientists have forgone the use of Occam’s razor on the yet cherished bosom of their Christian mother.

But if you are a physicalist:


Take a moment to victoriously laugh at this.

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Take a moment to rejoice in the fact that we have replaced linear timelines

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with a Hilbert Curve:


We stared into the search engine until our reflection was composed of eigenvalues. The room, a computational configuration space.

From the burned offering of Newton’s fantasy, we have summoned our true mother: The multiplex eyes covering her body are entangled into a singular geometry.


If you have not yet performed the transmutation, read this:

Identity Isn’t In Specific Atoms

No Individual Particles

Timeless Identity

If MWI is correct, should we expect to experience Quantum Torment? command F Eliezer_

Then sign up for cryonics and donate to SENS. Amyloid webs encroaching, substantia nigra dissolving.


A Physics That Sees Beyond Naive Realism

Everything changes. This is the core truth of fields of study as diverse as physics and Buddhism. If you observe the contents of your experience, you will realize that everything changes. Arguably, the only thing that does not change is the fact of awareness itself from the perspective of the awareness.

Humans have a tendency to classify things into boxes. They will identify a phenomenon and then place that phenomenon in a container. They lasso in a phenomenon from the realm of reality outside of their skulls by using words. They will say “aging,” upon having seen sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass), forgetfulness, completion of a certain amount of revolutions around the sun, etc. They will then place this word in a box that describes what kind of change occurred. In the case of aging, they might place it in the box titled, “biological.”

If they identify sugar dissolving in tea, they will place the phrase in the “chemical” change container. If they are dealing with the term “running,” they might place it the “physical” change container.

However, we must remember that just because some population of modern humans chooses to view the world this way doesn’t mean that reality is actually being carved at the joints in an optimal or faithful way. Reality isn’t divided into factors: reality 1 = physical, reality 2 = chemical, reality 3 = biological.

When we study change, we study a monistic whole that only seems to us as composed of fundamentally separate constituents and rules because of quirks in the functioning of our evolved brains. It is useful from the gene’s-eye-view to model reality as composed of objects that go in boxes.

To study the One, the Real, the monist whole, we can take two main approaches. One is to describe motion through the use of measurement so that we may analyze it mathematically. Upon mathematical analysis, we can suggest and repeatedly confirm to ourselves the laws of nature that predict the motion.

The other approach is to directly apprehend the change by attuning to it, without conceptual deliberation. This is known as mindfulness meditation. While mindfulness meditation will not yield predictive insights that can be harnessed to develop new technologies or insight into the mathematical structure of nature, it is argued to be beneficial in its own right by its proponents.

Here, I will mostly deal with the physics approach of measurement and mathematics. The reason for this is that the study of change through mindfulness meditation is a performance that must be engaged in by the subject. Reading thoughts about focused, direct perceptual analysis doesn’t actually build the said focus. On the other hand, more benefit can be gleamed from writing about something that does need to be held still and digested with thought and pause such as the geometry of reality.

However, unlike much physics dialogue which implicitly assumes or leniently tolerates a naive realist view (the view that we are ontologically subjects behind our eyes interacting with an external world), I will here make it repeatedly clear that all experience is happening within a brain’s simulation. Everything from the toes, to other people, to imaginations, to mood, to sounds, is all happening in the same place. These collectively compose the sensorium, or the field of consciousness. This doesn’t necessarily imply that consciousness is extra-physical or that the world outside must be an illusion. However, it does imply that we are inside our brains, the external world we believe to see and touch and feel and measure, is only inferred about through the simulation of it we get from inside the brain.

A famous allegory for this is Plato’s cave, in which people could only see the flickering shadows of the outside world as cast by a flame against the wall. They never saw the real world outside the cave, only an approximate simulation containing darkened figures.

When we look down at our body and feel ourselves to be in it, this is actually a multi-sensorial homunculus model inside the real brain in the real body which we can never see. When we touch each other, we are still inside our brains – one simulation pinching another. When we think of anything, say, think of a lamb, the lamb is appearing in the same place where we are seeing sights of “real” objects.

Knowing this allows us to be less biased about which objects in consciousness are following physical laws that can be measured. Most assume that a sphere rolling along a plane can be analyzed mathematically but that the ephemeral blips of energy we call thoughts cannot be analyzed in any precise way. This confusion leads to real-world negative consequences, such as the idea that positive experience and suffering are not really measurable scientifically but electrons and z-bosons are.

Notice that the confusion is not merely about the technical difficulty of quantifying and discovering laws about the valences of experience, but sometimes a genuine disbelief that anything at all exists which can be considered physical in this domain which often includes things like affect, aesthetic, hedonic tone, taste, vibrancy, speed of experience, thoughts, level of awareness.

Concepts that physicists are widely comfortable with include force and acceleration. These are used to explain and explore a wide range of problems, with the range ending at the boundary of what is judged to be internal by naive realism. But as we will see, in the same way that we can discover useful handles f and a for the classical world problems, we can also discover useful handles for problems dealing with the motion of thoughts or the pressures and tingling sensations that arise and diffuse as we sit in a chair.

Reality must be simplified because its workings are extremely complicated. If we were to toss a ball and predict its trajectory, the more minute details we know, the better the prediction we can make. However, physicists tend to use a simple models that ignore most details but are nonetheless useful.

They also do not often invoke other models that could be predictive such as those used by biochemists. Translating the action of a tossed ball from reality to the context of biochemical models and tools would be too difficult for any one human. But treating the ball as a round solid and our hand as another solid that exerts a force on the ball is far easier to do.

Just like we can make a simplified model of a ball as a round solid, we can make a simplified model of a sensation as a quale with properties such as hedonic tone, speed of vanishing, and subjective temperature. By reducing the complexity of the actual sensation, we can better analyze and come to understand something about it.

Building models is a major part of the strategy that we will develop for solving problems in the uncharted territories of reality. There will necessarily be simplifying assumptions, but they will be recognized and explained. Learning how to simplify a situation is the essence of successful modeling – and is the method to increase our problem-solving capabilities.

Take a look at this picture:

Here are some obvious properties that can be assigned non-ambiguous, numerical values. The direction of its motion. The distance between one position and the next.

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 12.58.33 PM

Can you do the same with a sensation in your hand?

Hold your hand out in front of you. Identify the most notable sensation. In your palm, in one of your fingers, in the back of your hand, wherever. Is it moving? If we pay close attention we can measure how far it moves, its radius, or how long it takes to reappear.

We can also set a timer to go off every 10 seconds and record the the hedonic tone of the sensation. Is that particular location of feeling more pleasurable than in the snapshot that occurred 10 seconds previously?

Now we have a graph to plot. This is a localized valence vs. time graph.

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 12.23.28 PM

As we can see, for most people, a region of experience tends to remain pretty neutral and doesn’t change much.

But perhaps someone has arthritis or a cut. When attention is brought to a negative quale, the negativity tends to be reduced, as in the following graph:

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 12.26.15 PM

It is also possible to construct a non-local valence vs. time graph which records the feeling tone of the general experiential field.

Short Defense of the Physicalism Underlying Savior Imperative

Popper defined a physical proposition to be one which can at least in theory be denied by observation. The physical propositions I presented in Savior Imperative are 3 things: special relativity indicates a block universe; the experienced present corresponds to a real aspect of information processing in brains, and experienced valence corresponds to a real aspect of information processing in brains.

I claim that it is a physical proposition by Popper’s definition because any of these things can be denied by observation. Special relativity’s indication of a block universe can be denied by one of many observations including observing a failed time dilation attempt. The proposition that the experienced present corresponds to a brain process can be denied by one of many observations including finding another medium through which the present is experienced. The proposition that experienced valence corresponds to a brain process can be denied by one of many observations including observing valence in the absence of processes assumed to be fundamental to its generation.

A property A is said to supervene on a property B if any change in A necessarily implies a change in B. The property of block-time supervenes on our observed time dilation. If special relativity were any different, we would see different effects. Hence, the property of block-time is not some extra addition to the physical nature revealed with the lens of special relativity; it is necessarily implied.

Since any change in [block-time + the other more uncontroversial aspects of special relativity] must consist of a change in at least one component property, we see that the combination does indeed supervene on the individual properties.

The point of noting this is that in making this physicalist claim, I am supposing the existence of what may be called an abstract concept – if we define as abstract, that which we cannot taste or touch or see. You do not possess the eye’s of a mythological being such as a great Buddha or a Christian God, therefore you cannot see the eternal block-time. Yet this proposition of block-time, which might seem an abstraction to the ordinary human mind, is physical – because if it were changed, then readily observable things would change. If the hyper-surface of the present couldn’t include future beings in Andromeda as the observer moves through spacetime, then this would constitute a modification to special relativity. We would then reasonably expect that its observable predictions such as time-dilation wouldn’t have borne out.

Short Clarification of Special Relativity’s Observer

It is important to distinguish between the different definitions of “now” that arise when studying special relativity:

  1. The “observer’s” past light cone.
  2. The “observer’s” orthogonal slice across the block.

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 10.45.33 AM



“Observer” is in quotes because both it and an event are idealizations. One chooses a frame of reference, then three spatial coordinates and one time coordinate. This gives a four-dimensional vector. At the tip of that cone is a 4d-coordinate.

However, an actual observer, in the common sense of the word “observer,” is composed of many brain events and hence many 4d-coordinates.

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The events are not on the same hyper-surface of the present. This forces us to conclude that consciousness is not defined by an intuitive, single 2d-structure of information which maps on to the experienced now.


Parabiosis, Drugs Targeting Genes, Susskind, Feynman, and MUH

I’m sorry holy quest, but I must unload my burdened back if I must go on. There is much fun [?useless?] knowledge begging me to be released.

I found out about Kristen Fortney through correspondence with Michael Rae from the SENS Research Foundation (the people on the Manichaean mission to fight the evils of our own metabolism, and the only real rationalists as far as I’m concerned.)

Anyway, I’ve been interested in SENS since I was 16 and pretty much memorized Aubrey de Grey’s speech by heart (he gives the same one every time). But yet I had never heard of Fortney’s work until recently. She seems pretty excited about some of her colleagues’ work eliminating senescent cells, since it has been shown that mice live 30% longer when these are specifically removed. And if you know anything at all about biology, you know that 30% lifespan increase in mammals is ridiculously huge – especially when it was caused by a single intervention.

However, I didn’t read that paper, and took her word for it. (She mentioned it in a podcast.) I did read a paper of her own like 2.5 times. It was about building representations of networks of protein-to-protein interactions with nodes and edges. I learned some interesting things about DNA up-regulation and down-regulation. Apparently, most drugs affect the expression of all genes in a roundhouse-kick fashion. They don’t tend to be specific enough to work on single genes coding for the protein of interest who’s expression level we want to tweak. And Fortney et al. attribute this failure of control to the reason why most drugs have many unintended side-effects and therefore this helps explain the abysmally low number of drugs approved by the FDA in recent times. However, Fortney et al. are not trying to fix this gene targeting problem. They are instead working at the protein interaction level, and just accepting that a ton of genes will be differentially regulated by a single drug. The idea was something about setting off random walks on the node graphs and seeing which paths are treaded the most by a given drug interaction. Maybe whatever abstract analysis tool they were discussing in the paper is actually a little useful, and I don’t claim to have 100% fully understood their work, but as a student of biology and chemistry, my picture of the territory is one of such hopeless complexity that I doubt too much use will come from all this.

Direct interventions, like teasing out why parabiosis (infusion of young blood to old blood) works, and then working to develop antigens and other small molecules sounds more promising (and profitable), at least for now. Luckily she, and many others, are also interested in this area.

Oh but in case you’re getting too giddy for the forever-dancefloor, the effects of old blood on young mice is more devastating than young blood is rejuvenating.

And you know who needs rejuvenation… Leonard Susskind.

We need imaginative, effective theoretical physicists like him around. He famously debated Stephen Hawking about information loss in black holes, and won. It’s kind of sad that his call to fame to the public is only through connection to someone who happened to have more celebrity status.

Yeah Stephen Hawking is cool… and I’m going to let you finish, but Leonard Susskind is largely responsible for fleshing out the holographic principle.

And to those who believe that the holographic principle is “metaphysical” and “unscientific” while Newton’s mechanics are “physical” and “scientific,” you are guilty of attempting to derive the nature of molecules from the taste of the orange juice.

The validity of a theory should not be inferred from whatever particular queasy feel one gets from the sound of a word. ‘Holographic’ means nothing. The claim is precise and mathematical. Only in that ring should the assessment take place.

And by the way, Susskind’s father was a plumber. His father had no idea what a physicist was and initially believed Susskind was planning to be a pharmacist. Kind of inspiring huh? A Jewish plumber, but a plumber nonetheless.

Speaking of… umm, physicists (regardless! of their socially constructed ethnicity). How about that dead chap Feynman. Is he still alive in other regions of the the wave function that never collapses? Infinitely so?

I wonder what he would think about Max Tegmark’s mathematical universe hypothesis.

He would probably consider it rubbish. I get the impression that he had a distaste for ‘pure mathematics,’ given his reaction to the P vs. NP problem.

But he was also not the type to simply internalize the canonical lexicon. He was a mover, a changer, someone who truly valued knowing. It is evidenced by the fact that he was already performing engineering feats as a child; his development of the path-integral formulation; the quirkily simple diagrams that initially perplexed Bohr and Dirac; his criticism of the Brazilian physics education; his interest in the hallucinations produced in a deprivation tank. All of this suggests that he was willing to be different.

He was willing to go wherever reality lead. Including to the arms of prostitutes and the creation of atomic bombs.

But Platonism? That might be too much, even for him.





A Presentist Arguing Against My B-Theory Interpretation of Time

This is my debate on the infamous Youtube comment section with a presentist. It turned out fairly civil, and I think I bumped up against a lot of confusions on the guy’s part. I don’t believe he managed to grok the error of his views but the conversation may help instruct others.

And to be clear, I do not deny that there is a bound on the breadth of experience which we call the present. Clearly, this is very interesting and must be reconciled with the timeless territory underpinning the universe, of which the mind is a regional object.  However, this is not sufficient to discard Relativity and its implied minds that exist in what we conventionally call the past and the future.

“all observers have a ‘now’ that corresponds with the actual (not perceivd) now of every other observer” This statement is not true. For example, a smile in Earth and another in Mars, which appear to happen at the same time to an observer on Earth, will appear to have occurred at slightly different times to an observer on a spaceship moving between Earth and Mars. The question of whether the events are simultaneous is relative: in the stationary Earth-Mars reference frame the two smiles may happen at the same time, but in other frames (in a different state of motion relative to the events) the smile on Earth may occur first, and in still other frames, the Mars smile may occur first. The beauty of it is you can do the Lorentz transformation on a sheet of paper for yourself. You don’t have to believe me.


Kill(ss)ing Asuka and if you carefully measure the relevant distances and other factors you can determine how long the photons took to travel to each observer. I’m not talking about observation time, that’s just SOL in action. All observations share a single now moment, regardless of propagation delays of the information they are observing.

1.The speed of light is invariant, of course. But how does that serve your argument? 2. Observation time as opposed to what other time? I don’t understand your second sentence. 3. All observations do not share a single now moment. The light cone of a given event is objectively defined as the collection of events in causal relationship to that event, but each event has a different associated light cone. One has to conclude that in relativistic models of physics there is no place for “the present” as an absolute element of reality. Propagation delays as in the stars being ghosts and the moon in the sky being a second old have nothing to do with it.

Kill(ss)ing Asuka not all observations, all observers. Once you account for transmission delays it seems obvious that all observers have a single now. Any apparent deviation is simply the result if insufficient accuracy in measurement. No matter how far away an observer is from me, I think it is nonesensical to say that now for that observer is either ahead or behind now for me. Relativity describes the delay in transfer of information between mlthat obsetver and myself, but it seems to have absolutely nothing to say about what ‘now’ actually is. Unfortunately very few people seem to recognize that regardless how good relativity is at describing what happens it still does nothing to explain what time actually is, or why ‘now’ exists at all. Everyone just seems to accept that the map is the territory. It is not

Okay, I assume you’re bringing consciousness into the discussion when you say “not all observations, all observers.” This is a question that pertains to the construction of time in the brain, and care must be taken to not smear our complex intuitions built on the edifice of evolution onto the more basic bits of reality. It is not obvious that all observers have a single now.  If special relativity is true, then each observer will have their own plane of simultaneity. The observer’s present moment contains a unique set of events on that plane. Observers moving at different relative velocities have different planes of simultaneity, and hence different sets of events that are present.  Two samurai walking past each other in the forest could have very different present moments. If one of the samurai were walking towards the Triangulum Galaxy, then events in this galaxy might be hours or even days advanced of the events on Triangulum for the samurai walking in the other direction. Each samurai considers their set of present events to be a three-dimensional universe. But as one slightly tilts his head or takes a step forward, this causes the three-dimensional universes to have differing content. Your task is to prove that special relativity is not true if you want to say that all observers share a single now.  If you want to understand now, as a conscious percept, then you should be talking about Integrated Information Theory or something else that stabs in the direction of explaining consciousness. But any such theory would be built on top of physics. And hence even when the conscious-percept-now is explained, there will still be many consciousnesses eternally encrusted on the trajectory of any given brain’s timeline.

Mario Montano – Special Relativity describes the way that our observations of things change due to distance and relative motion. It also raises some paradoxes that we’ve spent most of the last century trying to rationalize out of existence. And it doesn’t come close to explaining why we experience a ‘now’ at all. Just like the rest of physics it ignores the patently obvious fact that ‘now’ is special in some way. If all of the equations of physics say that ‘now’ is not special then there is a fundamental problem. Because if ‘now’ is simply a trick of consciousness then that means that consciousness transcends physics. And honestly I would rather admit that physics is incomplete than that consciousness is supernatural. The problem is that people accept that the map is the territory, that SR, GR and the rest of physics aren’t just useful tools but they are absolutely true representations of how reality fundamentally works. It’s like saying that a detailed surveyor’s map is identical to the land it describes. Sure it’s useful, but there are a lot of things missing and last I checked there are no gigantic words and numbers etched into the real world, and the real world isn’t made out of paper. Physics is like that. It has a lot of very useful and accurate things to say about the nature of reality, it’s a great tool, but ultimately it fails at being reality. And yes, I know about the Relativity of Simultaneity issue. I just happen to think that it’s nothing more than a difference in perspective. Two naive observers will almost always disagree on whether two events occurred at the same time. Give them the full set of physics equations that we have now and accurate measurement tools and they can adjust for the effects of things like the speed of light propagation of information to arrive at a consensus regarding the simultaneity of those events. Add as many observers in as many different reference frames as you like, that will still hold. The Simultaneity problem is basically just an indication of the ignorance of the observers. The equations of physics describe what things do, not necessarily how they do it. And so far no aspect of physics has managed to figure out why now exists or what makes it special. Everything so far says that now is not special. And no amount of slandering our sense perception as polluted by evolutionary survival preference is going to make ‘now’ an illusion. It’s real, and physicists have no clue what it is. Maybe one day they’ll realize that the Presentists are actually right. At the moment they seem to be the only branch of philosophy or science that even admits that ‘now’ is even a thing.

I make a distinction between the nows of special relativity, and the conscious percept of now. There should really be two different words for these. I agree that SR doesn’t explain the “conscious-percept of now.” But that’s an issue which is local to the brain. Quantum mechanics doesn’t explain it either, but that doesn’t mean you can discard the results of the double-slit experiment. Just because they don’t match our day-to-day felt sense doesn’t mean we must crusade to rationalize them out of existence. Instead of rationalizing things out of existence, like Copenhagen’s disciples do with the Many Worlds that they cannot see, why not accept what reality gives us, and then figure out why consciousness is the way it is ON TOP of that theoretical structure which yields valid predictions.  I am not mistaking the map for the territory. I perceive you to be cherry-picking the map and hence misunderstanding the territory. I’m sure you must understand that time dilation and length contraction are not paradoxes, but real aspects of nature. But when you see that eternalism is implied (or at least not clearly refuted) by relativity of simultaneity, you flinch. The simultaneity “problem” is not about ignorance about each others past light cone. The now in the samurai example and the video is an orthogonal slice that has nothing to do with what they see. It is just a consequence of the geometry.  There are three kinds of Nows to keep track of: 1. Past light cone which causally specifies now. 2. Hypersurface orthogonal to observer’s worldline. 3. The subjective experience of now.  You keep referring to #1 when you talk about accounting for information propagation speed; I’m not sure you understand what is being claimed with #2  I wasn’t slandering, or being an eliminativist with regard to #3 – the directly-perceived now. This is a real phenomenon which we all directly know about and which neuroscience and cognitive science and psychology try to understand and do say much more about. My point was that the “conscious now” exists inside a complex contraption of biology, so you are asking too much from SR, GR, etc. This desire is quite significantly worse than wanting the mating behavior of bisons to be perfectly explained in a discussion about the standard model of particle physics. The difficulty of holistic reconciliation doesn’t mean I get to crumple up and discard the parts of the underlying fundamental model which I don’t like.

+Kill(ss)int Asuka – I understand that there are multiple definitions of ‘now’ involved, and of the three you listed it’s #2 that I am specifically don’t agree with. The causally-specified ‘now’ is consistent with the subjective now. Both define a point locus in which perception of the present instant exists. “I agree that SR doesn’t explain the “conscious-percept of now.” But that’s an issue which is local to the brain.” If it is local to the brain then we can derive a fact about the physical universe: ‘now’ exists. The only way you could argue that it is not a fact about the natural universe is to argue that consciousness is a byproduct of some supernatural object. I reject that out of hand. As a fact about the physical universe the existence of ‘now’ is absolutely in the realm of physics, not psychology or neuroscience. Those fields have plenty to say about the nature of consciousness but the nature of time is surely a problem better addressed by physics. “…why not accept what reality gives us, and then figure out why consciousness is the way it is ON TOP of that theoretical structure which yields valid predictions.” I do accept the reality that ‘now’ exists. As far as I can tell it is the only aspect of time that does. I also accept that we can use the models presented by SR and to predict things very accurately. What I don’t accept is that the model is necessarily an accurate description of how time functions. It describes what happens quite nicely by treating time as if it were a dimension, but it doesn’t actually demonstrate that time is an actual dimension. We model things using dimensional transformations a lot, but reality – at least at the macro scale – doesn’t appear to have nice neat axes. Time is the only ‘dimension’ that appears to have a definite direction, which makes it distinct from the spatial dimensions. “I am not mistaking the map for the territory.” SR is such a good model, so very good at making predictions, that the accepted wisdom is that it must therefore be a match to reality – that the map really is the territory. That is an assumption, not a statement about reality. Physicists spend time trying to figure out why ‘now’ exists as something special because they accept that time is simply a dimension as SR models it that way. And they can’t seem to agree on why it is that ‘now’ exists, because all of the equations based on the dimensionality of time imply that ‘now’ should not exist, that all of time should simply be laid out in some temporal framework. “I’m sure you must understand that time dilation and length contraction are not paradoxes, but real aspects of nature.” I do, and those aren’t paradoxes. They gave rise to apparent paradoxes – the twins, etc – but they are themselves simply aspects of reality. Personally I think that time dilation disproves the dimensional nature of time, but explaining that always makes people get angry with me so I’ll leave it out for the moment. As to #2 – “Hypersurface orthogonal to observer’s worldline.” This appears to be the source of the ludicrous samurai example, or the alien on the bicycle that Greene talks about. I have yet to find a use for this definition of ‘now’ other than muddying the water and making people believe weird crap about time that just isn’t so. All it is really is a derivation from the idea that every frame of reference has its own temporal direction, and Sir William continues to spin in his grave. It doesn’t actually mean that I can observe the past or the future any differently to how I do at rest. No matter how fast I move or in what direction all observations I make will be from interactions with photons that have already travelled the distance from the distant objective to my location. Since I can’t directly perceive anything whose photons are not physically present it will always be the case that I will see the same things no matter what my relative motion. My perception will always be bounded by the light cone, not the hypersurface. So I really don’t care what problem you think it might solve, #2 is nothing more than a mathematical projection. It doesn’t allow travel in or perception of variant locations in time, nor any other apparent real-world effect. Use it to model something, sure, as long as it is useful. But don’t pretend that it says something about the fundamental nature of reality. Personally I subscribe to a variant of presentism. Sadly this means that I am treated as a heretic every time I try to discuss it because it disagrees with the holy scripture that SR has become. I just wish we could have a discussion about physics instead of religion.
You say: “If it is local to the brain then we can derive a fact about the physical universe: ‘now’ exists” Subjective nows are created in brains. You can also have a sense of timelessness with certain drugs or arguably during sleep. The question is: Must we infer that the past is deleted just because I sometimes feel like it is from inside of this hallucinating contraption that I call a brain? – which I know didn’t evolve to represent reality accurately but to conserve the germline’s DNA. The existence of the now as a felt experience can ultimately be described in all realms, physics, neuroscience, psychology, because all these realms describe the same reality. But you want it to come directly and neatly out of the simple physics which deals with idealized coordinates and the like. The subjective now is not explained by just any past-light-cone. The construction of the subjective now in the brain deals with information processing in neurons – it is in these shapes that better explanations to the conscious here and now, and binding of red with the leaf, and specificity of phenomenological contents, and unified-undivided perception of language and concepts, are to be found. The properties of experience point to a discussion about the highly-specific causal properties of brains. On #2 My position: Current physical models based on SR and GR are extremely accurate at describing reality because they reveal reality (to an extent). Therefore, even though the hypersurface is necessarily unobservable, it arises from a model that correctly describes nature in counterintuitive ways. Hence, it would be unprincipled to perform surgery on this single aspect of the theory.  Your position?: The hypersurface is a mathematical projection. Mathematical projections should be assumed false until proven otherwise by “direct perception.” (There is a difference in epistemological opinion here. I’m not sure what specifically you consider the green light to perform an incisive extraction of ‘mathematical technicalities’ from a theory. How do you know when it is necessary and when it is not?) On the big picture Your position?: Now is real from my first-person perspective, therefore all physical reality must be built around accommodating that fact. If a theoretical physics model doesn’t account for it, then it is incomplete. Emergent, local properties should not be required to explain my first-person perspective. My position: Contiguous chunks of spacetime filled with brain matter produce a sense of now internal to themselves. There is an eternity of conscious nows isomorphic to these structures. I, now, happen to be one of them. In the same way that I am not a solipsist with respect to brains separated from me by space, I am not a solipsist with respect to brains separated from me by time.
+Kill(ss)int Asuka “Subjective nows are created in brains.” Which are physical objects, bound by physical laws. If they perceive a ‘now’ which is independently verified to exist – all minds experience a ‘now’ and all minds which communicate with each other agree that the ‘now’ they experience is the same – then the subjective ‘now’ is quite evidently a property of the physical universe. “You can also have a sense of timelessness with certain drugs or arguably during sleep.” And you can experience brain states that include ludicrous contradictions using drugs. So what? The consensus of unaltered brains is that there is a ‘now’ and that is the important thing. “The question is: Must we infer that the past is deleted just because I sometimes feel like it is from inside of this hallucinating contraption that I call a brain?” Why insist that there is an existent past at all? Why multiply the required objects to such a degree? We can’t examine the past or the future, only artefacts of the past as represented in the present. We can’t interact with the past, can’t visit it, etc. The only way that the past can be said to exist at all is as the sum total of observable effects in the present – memories, books, archaeological evidence, photons arriving from distant stars, etc. All of those exist in the present, not the past. They contain data that we can use to determine what happened, but they are definitely in the present. That’s not a hallucination, it’s the actual reality we experience. The hallucination, if any, is in believing that the past exists beyond that. ” – which I know didn’t evolve to represent reality accurately but to conserve the germline’s DNA.” I grant absolutely the fact that we evolved. Can you please stop trying to divert from the main point, since all this appears to be is an attempt to poison the well. I’m not interested in hints and vague claims that ‘now’ is entirely a figment of our imagination since that’s patently false. Otherwise we’d routinely encounter other minds whose concept of ‘now’ is divergent from our own. Nor is ‘now’ a social construct. I reject those concepts just as soundly as I reject solipsism, and for basically the same reasons. “Therefore, even though the hypersurface is necessarily unobservable, it arises from a model that correctly describes nature in counterintuitive ways.” Once again, the map – in this case an excellent model that does a fantastic job of describing what happens – is not the territory. And it really is a good model. Without it we wouldn’t have achieved 100th of what we have in the physical sciences. We certainly wouldn’t be able to argue the finer points of anything online without it. But as good as it is at prediction I think it is eminently plausible that it does so by analogy rather than by describing the fundamental nature of reality. SR would still work as well as a description of what time does if it was not even vaguely true that time is a dimension. Sadly we can’t test some of the predictions of SR without being able to manipulate masses of neutronium massing a few orders of magnitude greater than our solar system. Probably not in my lifetime. “Hence, it would be unprincipled to perform surgery on this single aspect of the theory.” Unprinicpled? Have we reached the point of throwing thinly-veiled insults already? Let’s not. The whole point of science is to improve the models, agreed? So “performing surgery on this single aspect” is entirely consistent with the method. We do it all the time. Hell, we’ve done it to SR plenty of times since Einstein died. When it fails we just patch it up and move on. Galaxies don’t behave the way that SR predicts? Must be undetectable WIMPs, let the particle physics boys try to figure out how to adjust their model to fit – maybe the looneys in the String Hypot… uh, Theory ward will give them a hand. The expansion of the Universe is accelerating? Let’s call that Dark Energy until we figure out what’s behind it, because we can’t just say “we don’t know” without some handy label. In this case we don’t even have to do that. All we need to do is acknowledge that the temporal hypersurface is a handy conceptual tool to help us solve a particular type of problem. And if it doesn’t even do that then maybe we can drop it into the “interesting ideas” file and work on something else.
I grant absolutely the fact that brains are physical objects bound by physical laws. Can you please stop trying to divert from the main point which is to justify your assumption that the subjective now should be spread like a jam in the entire cosmos outside the brain.  Let me clarify what I mean by hallucinations (which is not derrogatory but meant to highlight the internality of the concept): brains produce internal, qualitatively real, as-yet-unexplained phenomena that don’t exist outside the skullcap. Is that so hard to imagine? Do you believe that because you cannot see outside the borders of your field of vision then content outside of it doesn’t exist?  The finitude of my field of vision is as subjectively axiomatic as the sense of now. Tell me why one has an explanation hiding in the brain and the other is a fundamental aspect of the entire universe. “The consensus of unaltered brains is that there is a ‘now’ and that is the important thing.” I really, really disagree with the last part of this statement. And I don’t see how to reconcile our views. Why are “unaltered brains” entitled to directly apprehend reality? Sounds like naive realism to me. “Logical contradictions” occur in quantum mechanics, not because QM is illogical but because our brain’s intuitions don’t immediately reveal the territory. I am suspicious of drawing universe-sweeping metaphysical conclusions from my immediate first-person perspective. You think it is necessary to do so.   And I never said subjective now was a social construct. It must be accounted for by a theory that does not yet exist – a theory which takes into account neurological phenomena and solves consciousness. I restate my position: Contiguous chunks of spacetime filled with brain matter produce a sense of now internal to themselves. (How to draw the partitions? Something like the maximally irreducible conceptual structures of IIT may be a candidate.) Until Relativity is replaced or patched away beyond recognition in the proper spirit of science, I will buy the entire theory – even what others may be biased to call “handy conceptual tools.” Therefore, there is likely an eternity of conscious nows isomorphic to the brain patterns that specify them. I, now, happen to be one of them. In the same way that I am not a solipsist with respect to brains separated from me by space, I am not a solipsist with respect to brains separated from me by time.
+Kill(ss)int Asuka – “Can you please stop trying to divert from the main point…” I disagree that I am diverting, I’m simply trying to address the points that you raise. ” which is to justify your assumption that the subjective now should be spread like a jam in the entire cosmos outside the brain.” “…brains produce internal, qualitatively real, as-yet-unexplained phenomena that don’t exist outside the skullcap.” The mere fact that we can have a perception of ‘now’ within the physical object that is the brain is sufficient, I believe. The fact that we are capable of perceiving such a thing at all validates the existence of ‘now’ as a fundamental fact about reality, since the only alternative is that our consciousness somehow transcends the nature of physical reality. Since I don’t believe that consciousness is supernatural I cannot accept that ‘now’ is a quality external to physical reality. As such I consider it certain – within the acceptable limits of certainty at least – that ‘now’ is a property of that physical reality. The fact is that all other consciousnesses I am aware of appear to agree with me as to the time that I call ‘now’ being the same as what they call ‘now’. The alternative is solipsism, which I reject as useless. “Why are “unaltered brains” entitled to directly apprehend reality?” I specified unaltered brains in response to your point about drugs and sleep states altering our perception of time. As to directly apprehending reality, that appears to be a minor misdirection. What we experience is that we perceive that such a thing as ‘now’ exists, that we are incapable of perceiving time in any other way [when our mental state is normal], and that all other conscious entities appear to agree that there is a ‘now’ that is coincident with our own. How you can argue that this is not indicative of some aspect of reality is truly baffling to me. “I am suspicious of drawing universe-sweeping metaphysical conclusions from my immediate first-person perspective. You think it is necessary to do so.” And yet you appear to have drawn the conclusion that time is in fact a dimension and that the conscious ‘now’ is unrelated to any aspect of physical reality. You seem to think that passing it off as some unknown aspect of psychology or neurology is sufficient reason to dismiss the entire concept. That being the case I suspect that you have indeed drawn universe-sweeping metaphysical conclusions, and I disagree with those conclusions. ‘And I never said subjective now was a social construct.” I used ‘social construct’ as a comparative absurdity to the other stated items, not as something you had said or implied. “It must be accounted for by a theory that does not yet exist – a theory which takes into account neurological phenomena and solves consciousness.” I’m sorry to be inurbane about it, but that’s simply absurd. Our perception that ‘now’ exists is a datum to be included in our source set of facts. We don’t need to ‘solve consciousness’ in order to accept that datum, any more than we needed to ‘solve gravity’ to accept the rate of acceleration of objects in ballistic calculations. Things fall, ‘now’ exists. We can use those facts. “Until Relativity is replaced or patched away beyond recognition in the proper spirit of science, I will buy the entire theory – even what others may be biased to call “handy conceptual tools.”” It seems that this is our basic point of difference. I don’t hold SR to be anything more than a very good model, while you apparently accept all of its aspects as a true description of reality… at least until something different comes along. If you want to see what real bias looks like, find a mirror. Your religion is showing.
“The mere fact that we can have a perception of ‘now’ within the physical object that is the brain is sufficient, I believe.  The fact that we are capable of perceiving such a thing at all validates the existence of ‘now’ as a fundamental fact about reality, since the only alternative is that our consciousness somehow transcends the nature of physical reality.” Replace the word ‘now’ with visual field, taste, background mood energy, etc. We have a perception of these. The question is not are they a fundamental fact about the reality in the local region of reality which is my brain. [[The answer to that is yes]]. The question you should answer is why the heck you think the experience of ‘now’ is special relative to these. Maybe it is, and I’m open to that. You certainly have not given a reason why this is so.  “And yet you appear to have drawn the conclusion that time is in fact a dimension and that the conscious ‘now’ is unrelated to any aspect of physical reality.  You seem to think that passing it off as some unknown aspect of psychology or neurology is sufficient reason to dismiss the entire concept.” This comment might suggest you have not tried to understand what I am saying. At other times you keep knocking down a random strawman by saying that consciousness is not supernatural. Of course it’s not. The quality of your responses is decreasing, so let me suggest you answer the question posed above – which I asked before, and you have yet to answer.
+Kill(ss)ing Asuka – “Replace the word ‘now’ with visual field, taste, background mood energy, etc. We have a perception of these. The question is not are they a fundamental fact about the reality in the local region of reality which is my brain. [[The answer to that is yes]]. The question you should answer is why the heck you think the experience of ‘now’ is special relative to these.” I don’t understand why you think I am treating ‘now’ any more specially than sense perceptions. Your sensorium is an internal mental state fed by the sensory input you receive. Those sense perceptions are of things that actually exist – sight from photons interacting with your retina, touch from the pressure against your skin as interpreted by the nerves in your skin, etc. Those sense perceptions are caused by events that are present in reality, not just in your mind. Your sensorium may or may not accurately reflect the state of the external world, but the sensory data itself is a source of information about reality. A number of things can interfere with your senses or your brain’s processing of their data, which is why we use independent verification of sensory data to validate the data we receive. Since you claim not to be a solipsist – at least in some respect – then I presume that you agree that sensory input can be used to derive facts about reality, yes? The same is true of our perception of ‘now’. I don’t treat it specially relative to sense data. Both sensory input and the conscious experience of ‘now’ inform us of what exists. Just as the fact that we can see tells us something about the nature of reality – that photons exist with which we can interact – so does our perception of ‘now’. Specifically it tells us that there is something about reality that constrains our viewpoint to a single moment. We can’t perceive anything outside of that moment, we can only remember or predict. We can interact only in that moment. “This comment might suggest you have not tried to understand what I am saying. At other times you keep knocking down a random strawman by saying that consciousness is not supernatural.” Now who is not trying to understand? I explained this early on in this discussion. Let me try again. Brains are physical objects that are constrained by the rules of the physical universe, all processes that are conducted within the brain are constrained by the rules of the physical universe. Consciousness is a product of physical brains and is therefore also constrained by the laws of the physical universe. Anything that your consciousness is capable of is therefore based on the rules of reality, whether we are aware of those rules or not. The only way that the consciousness or the brain could break these rules is if they are able to go beyond the rules of the physical universe, which is the simplest definition of supernatural. I deny the existence of supernatural aspects of consciousness, and therefore all abilities of the conscious mind and physical brain must be bound by the fundamental nature of reality. Conscious minds perceive only a single present, referred to as ‘now’ in my comments. We can not perceive the future or the past, cannot directly interact with anything that is not in the present, etc. All conscious minds that communicate do so in the same now and agree that they are not displaced temporally relative to each other. Given that conscious minds are bound by the rules of the universe and that all conscious minds appear to experience ‘now’ coincident with all other minds, it is evident that there exists some aspect of physical reality that coincides with ‘now’. The fact that we can perceive something special about ‘now’ necessarily entails either that ‘now’ is an aspect of physical reality or that human consciousness is supernatural in some part. My rejection of supernatural aspects of consciousness is a dismissal of the only alternative I can see to ‘now’ being physically real. Does that make my position any more clear? “…saying that consciousness is not supernatural. Of course it’s not” Then you agree that consciousness is necessarily unable to do what the rules of the universe do not allow. Therefore since we can perceive ‘now’ and cannot perceive any other part of time then ‘now’ is an aspect of physical reality. Time dilation does not defeat this point, nor does any aspect of SR that I’m aware of. The only challenge to it is the Relativity of Simultaneity which seems to me to only be a result of ignorance on the part of the observers. We can measure distances and relative effects to establish simultaneity of events beyond naked perception of their relative timing in any specific IRF, and we can do this in any conceivable IRF relative to the events. Given enough information we can solve the simultaneity question. Any problem arising is therefore due to lack of information. And since ‘now’ is evidently existent, any claim that it is not is in error. Since SR is such a fantastic model with such excellent predictive and explanatory power, perhaps it does not actually require – as you and so many other appear to think that it does – that ‘now’ be just a figment of our imaginations… a figment that, if ‘now’ does not actually exist, cannot possibly be created in a consciousness bound by the laws of the physical universe.
“I don’t understand why you think I am treating ‘now’ any more specially than sense perceptions.” You take your direct experience of now and assume that it reveals the nature of time. You don’t take the finitude of your field of vision and assume it reveals the nature of space. “Your sensorium is an internal mental state fed by the sensory input you receive.” This move gravely simplifies consciousness and is therefore an invalid stepping stone on the path to truth. It is possible that contiguous chunks of spacetime filled with brain matter produce a sense of now internal to themselves. (How to draw the partitions between subjective nows? Something like the maximally irreducible conceptual structures of IIT may be a candidate.) “Those sense perceptions are of things that actually exist – sight from photons interacting with your retina, touch from the pressure against your skin as interpreted by the nerves in your skin, etc.” This is called naive realism. You probably have not thought much about consciousness… There are many sense perceptions that don’t reveal anything external to themselves, but are a property of brain activity internal to its architecture. Pain is not in the electrons of the knife. “Those sense perceptions are caused by events that are present in reality, not just in your mind.” The mind is a structure within reality. Sense perceptions occur in the mind. Different sense perceptions provide a doorway to begin exploring the underlying reality to differing degrees. “Your sensorium may or may not accurately reflect the state of the external world, but the sensory data itself is a source of information about reality.” Agreed… as stated. But what you actually mean by that sentence in context probably intends to tear the bounds for just how much one can infer about ontology from subjective experience. In which case, I disagree with that sentiment. “A number of things can interfere with your senses or your brain’s processing of their data, which is why we use independent verification of sensory data to validate the data we receive.” Most experiences do not reveal much about the mechanism underlying reality and can still be validated by consultation with others. This is due to shared brain/mind architecture which is similarly built on a mountain of elaborate processes to which we don’t have a back-door view. You frame the experience of now as data coming in from the outside, but I identify it with the integration of other data into intrinsically existent structures. As I said before: Contiguous chunks of spacetime filled with brain matter produce a sense of now internal to themselves. (How to draw the partitions? Something like the maximally irreducible conceptual structures of IIT may be a candidate.) “Since you claim not to be a solipsist – at least in some respect – then I presume that you agree that sensory input can be used to derive facts about reality, yes?” ‘Now’ is not sensory input that allows you to automatically derive the ontology of time. In fact, it is not sensory input at all in the naive way you construe it. It is rather more plausible to identify the experience of now with the integration of local pockets of information in the timeline of the brain.

Eternal Block Time



Event B is simultaneous with A in the green reference frame, but it occurred before in the blue frame, and will occur later in the red frame.

From Wikipedia:

Special relativity suggests that the concept of simultaneity is not universal: according to the relativity of simultaneity, observers in different frames of reference can have different measurements of whether a given pair of events happened at the same time or at different times, with there being no physical basis for preferring one frame’s judgments over another’s. However, there are events that may be non-simultaneous in all frames of reference: when one event is within the light cone of another—its causal past or causal future—then observers in all frames of reference show that one event preceded the other. The causal past and causal future are consistent within all frames of reference, but any other time is “elsewhere”, and within it there is no present, past, or future. There is no physical basis for a set of events that represents the present.[8]

If you get this, you can move on. If not, then let me try to explain this simply; with analogies and without jargon.

We can be separated by space. For example, I can be standing on the sand at the shore and you can be knee-deep in the sea. Say we agree to raise our hand up at the same time, and do so. It may seem that this event proves there is a now. There is a snapshot of time in which we both raise our hand up.

However, there exist ways for a third observer to see me raising my hand first, or you raising your hand first. This has nothing to do with the biomechanics of reaction speeds or cognitive illusions. It is possible for an observer to literally see and measure what are precisely two simultaneous events from our perspective to not be simultaneous. This is because we all exist on our own “reference frame.”

It is impossible to affirm that I universally raised my hand at the same time as you. We did or didn’t, both views can be physically correct.

For example, a princess falls asleep in Tokyo and another on the Moon. Imagine a being halfway between these two places that has godlike vision, it sees them give their last blink at the same time. However, if another being is flying from Tokyo towards the Moon, it will see the princess on the Moon doze off first. It does not make sense to ask, “But which one really happened?” The god-eyed being resting between Tokyo and the Moon could take a photo of the situation, and then later meet up to compare this with the photo taken by the other god-eyed being who had been soaring to the Moon, and they would have different photos. If they then compare their results with yet another frozen snapshot taken by a being who had been plunging from the Moon towards Tokyo, they would find evidence of another version of the events in which the Tokyo princess was already asleep while the other’s unmistakable aquamarine gaze was yet peering into the stars.

There is a way for the universe to line up the events so that all reference frames agree that one of the princesses fell asleep first. The universe does this by gathering up the fragments and connecting them on a strand of light. This is called causality, and this is how it’s done:

The Tokyo princess closes her eyes. Now quick, count, 1 tick, 2 tock, 3 tick, 4 tock, 5 tick, 6 tock, 7 tick, 8 tock, 9 tick, and the princess on the Moon closes her eyes. We have time 9 seconds. Now set aside this 9 we have collected for we will need to weigh it against another number. If the 9 we have collected is greater than the number we will collect, then we will succeed at preserving the order.

Now we must create the opponent. To transmute 9’s contender, we must take the distance 238,900 mi (from Tokyo to Moon) and divide by 186,282 miles per second (the speed of light)… And the opponent created from distance and light speed, measures in at 1.28.

Now weigh these and pray that our 9 is larger than this 1.28. Yes! 1.28 is definitely smaller than 9. We have succeeded at preserving the order! Now no one will have to disagree that the princess in Tokyo closed her eyes first.

Notice that the universe only succeeded because it didn’t see the princesses doze off at the same time. But what if it saw 0 time elapse between the shutting of each of the lady’s respective eyelids? This is what the god-eyed being resting half-way between the Moon and Tokyo saw. It is not what the being shooting head-first toward the Moon saw, and this is unavoidable. There are different reference frames. Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage.” He was wrong. You are wrapped in your stage as you move through the world.

This means that your past can be in someone else’s future, and your future can be another’s past, so long as you are not causally linked.