Monday, February 13, 2012

Virtual Multiverse




In the course of writing this post, I have spun off as many as eight different timelines and universes.  The number is probably higher than that but I stopped counting.

Through my various fumblings through the Internets, I have found a theory of free will called "The Virtual Multiverse Theory" developed by Ben Goerztel, an author and researcher in the field of transhumanism.  While he is not exactly the first person to ruminate upon these ideas, his "virtual multiverse" concept is rather innovative and bears inspection.

As I understand it, this concept is tied in heavily with the idea of the subconscious and with free will.  When acting wisely, we think about what we are going to do and the decisions we are going to make.  In considering options, the brain creates various future timelines in order to model the possible outcomes of each decision.  These are different "realities," universes unto themselves that never existed in our physical sense but were very real in our own minds.  No matter how mundane the decision or inane the situation, a line branches off as the world would be different even in just a small way as the result of the decision.

Goertzel invokes Jorge Luis Borges for the basis:

"The notion of a “multiverse” here is motivated by quantum mechanics (DeWitt and Seligman, 1974).  However, the theory I am proposing here is not a quantum theory of consciousness; it is compatible with both quantum and classical physics.  What I mean by a multiverse is a model of reality like the one explored by Borges in his famous tale The Garden of Forking Paths (see Borges, 1999). Borges portrayed the world as consisting of pathways defining series of events, in which each pathway eventually reaches a decision-point at which it forks out into more than one future pathway.  Borges’ “paths” are the “branches” of the mathematical “tree structures” used to model multiverses; and his decision points are the nodes or “branch-points” of the trees.  Actual reality is then considered as a single “universe” which is a single series of events defined by following one series of branching-choices through the mathematical tree.  The many-universes interpretation of quantum physics posits that the multiverse is physically real, even though we as individuals only see one universe; and that an act of quantum measurement consist of a choice of direction at a branching point in the multiverse tree.  On the other hand, what I am hypothesizing here is that we perceive a psychologically real multiverse – independently of whether there is a real physical multiverse or not – and that free will has something to do...with the choice of directions at branch-points in this psychological multiverse."

Think of it.  Each thought a virtual universe contained within the multiverse of your mind.  Is consciousness itself a multiverse?  If we extend this theory to its logical conclusion, then the answer would appear to be "yes."
Over at Kurzweil.net, a post was made regarding a related concept known as "virtual transcendence":
  
Virtual Transcendence- augmented minds discover that programming reality is too difficult or impossible- but the virtual multiverse will now be far richer and larger than physical reality- this growing difference will cause all societies to see physical reality as an information desert and we will all begin to shift into virtual space- transforming the physical world into a physical plant and substrate to support the expanding Virtual Multiverse."   

Falling further and further inward.  Endless permutations.  That doesn't really bother me but it's not exactly an exoteric notion and I'm quite certain it gives many the heebiejeebs.   It shouldn't.  The human brain is a computer.  What's described by Goertzel et. al. is the mind modeling outcomes, in other words, thinking.  As Goertzel emphasizes, the brain even models itself.  Really places the idea of free will into perspective, closing the gap on any real doubts that it exists.  We have the potential to create a multiverse with our minds.

Gives new meaning to what Ghandi once said, "A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes."
 

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