Epilog: The Ones who leave Utopias

Reading Time: 3 minutes

For U.K.L.

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Automatisch generierte Beschreibung In the boundless universe of Utopias, humanity had transcended to a realm beyond the imaginable, where technological mastery and divine-like prowess had reshaped existence itself. This universe-wide Dyson Sphere, an embodiment of human ingenuity and harmony, was a tapestry woven from the threads of infinite knowledge and compassion. In Utopias, suffering was but a distant memory, a relic of a primal past, and happiness was not a fleeting moment but the very fabric of life.

At the heart of this utopia was a celebration, not of mere joy, but of the profound understanding and acceptance of life in its entirety. The citizens of Utopias, having achieved autopotency, lived lives of boundless creativity and fulfillment. Art, science, and philosophy flourished, unfettered by the constraints of scarcity or conflict. Nature and technology coexisted in sublime synergy, with ecosystems thriving under the gentle stewardship of humanity. Here, every individual was both student and teacher, constantly evolving in a shared journey of enlightenment.

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Amidst this splendor, the story of the last girl became a beacon of remembrance and reverence. Her home in Utopias was not merely a place; it was a sacred connection, a bridge to the ancient roots of humanity. This girl, with her laughter and curiosity, was a living testament to the struggles and triumphs of their ancestors. Her presence reminded the citizens of Utopias of the value of their journey from darkness into light, from suffering to salvation.

Her story was celebrated in the grandest halls of Utopias and in the quietest corners of its gardens, igniting a collective epiphany. She symbolized the indomitable spirit of humanity, a reminder that the paradise they had forged was built upon the lessons learned through millennia of challenges. Her every step through Utopias was a step taken by all of humanity, a step towards understanding the sacredness of life and the interconnectedness of all beings.

The citizens of Utopias, in their wisdom and power, had not forgotten the essence of their humanity. They embraced the girl as one of their own, for in her eyes reflected their ancient dreams and hopes. They saw in her the infinite potential of the human spirit, a potential that had guided them to the stars and beyond.

In Utopias, every moment was an opportunity for growth and reflection. The encounter with the girl was revered as a divine experience, a moment of unparalleled spiritual enlightenment. It was a celebration of the journey from the primal to the divine, a journey that continued to unfold with each passing moment.

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As the girl explored the wonders of Utopias, her laughter echoed through the cosmos, a harmonious symphony that resonated with the soul of every being. She was a reminder that the path to utopia was paved with compassion, understanding, and the unyielding pursuit of knowledge.

And so, the legacy of humanity in Utopias was not merely one of technological marvels or godlike prowess but of an eternal quest for understanding and connection. It was a testament to the power of collective spirit and the enduring pursuit of a better tomorrow.

The strangest thing is, that every now and then, despite the perfect bliss of Utopias, some Utopiassins choose to leave all that behind and venture into the Beyond. They are never heard of again, and when this happens, the little girl sheds one single tear for every of these minds. And even in our solved world it is not known if these are tears of sadness or joy for the ones who leave Utopias.

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(Idea, Concept & Finetuning: aiuisensei, Pictures: Dalle-3, Story: ChatGPT 4)

Utopological Investigations Part 1

Reading Time: 9 minutes

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This is a miniseries dedicated to the memory of my first reading of Bostrom’s new book, “Deep Utopia,” which—somewhat contrary to his intentions—I found very disturbing and irritating. Bostrom, who considers himself a longtermist, intended to write a more light-hearted book after his last one, “Superintelligence,” which should somehow give a positive perspective on the positive outcome of a society that reaches technological maturity. A major theme in Bostrom’s writings circles around the subject of existential risk management; he is among the top experts in the field.

“Deep Utopia” can be considered a long-winded essay about what I would call existential bliss management: Let us imagine everything in humanity’s ascension to universal stardom goes right and we reach the stage of Tech-Mat Bostrom coins the term “plasticity” for, then what? Basically, he just assumes all the upsides of the posthumanist singularity, as described by proponents like Kurzweil et al., come true. Then what?

To bring light into this abyss, Bostrom dives deep down to the Mariana Trench of epistemic futurology and finds some truly bizarre intellectual creatures in this extraordinary environment he calls Plastic World.

Bostrom’s detailed exploration of universal boredom after reaching technological maturity is much more entertaining than its subject would suggest. Alas, it’s no “Superintelligence” barn burner either.

He chooses to present his findings in the form of a meta-diary, structuring his book mainly via days of the week. He seems to intend to be playful and light-hearted in his style and his approach to the subject. This is a dangerous path, and I will explain why I feel that he partly fails in this regard. This is not a book anyone will have real fun reading. Digesting the essentials of this book is not made easier by the meta-level and self-referential structure where the main plot happens in a week during Bostrom’s university lectures. The handouts presented during these lectures are a solid way to give the reader an abstract. There is plenty to criticize about the form Bostrom chose, but it’s the quality, the depth of the thought apparatus itself that demands respect.

Then there is a side story about a pig that’s a philosopher, a kind of “Animal Farm” meets “Lord of the Flies” parable that I never managed to care for or see how it is tied to the main subject. A kind of deep, nerdy insider joke only longtermist Swedish philosophers might grasp.

This whole text is around 8,500 words and was written consecutively. The splitting into multiple parts is only for the reader’s convenience. The density of Bostrom’s material is the kind you would expect exploring such depths. I am afraid this text is also not the most accessible. Only readers who have no aversions to getting serious intellectual seizures should attempt it. All the others should wait until we all have an affordable N.I.C.K. 3000 mental capacity enhancer at our disposal.

PS: A week after the dust of hopelessness I felt directly after the reading settled, I can see now how this book will be a classic in 20 years from now. Bostrom, with the little lantern of pure reasoning, went deeper than most of his contemporaries when it comes to cataloging the strange creatures that are at the bottom of the deep sea of the solved world.

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Handout 1: The Cosmic Endowment

The core information of this handout is that a technologically advanced civilization could potentially create and sustain a vast number of human-like lives across the universe through space colonization and advanced computational technologies. Utilizing probes that travel at significant fractions of the speed of light, such a civilization could access and terraform planets around many stars, further amplifying their capacity to support life by creating artificial habitats like O’Neill cylinders. Additionally, leveraging the immense computational power generated by structures like Dyson spheres, it’s possible to run simulations of human minds, leading to the theoretical existence of a staggering number of simulated lives. This exploration underscores the vast potential for future growth and the creation of life, contingent upon technological progress and the ethical considerations of simulating human consciousness. It is essentially a longtermist’s numerical fantasy. The main argument, and the reason why Bostrom writes his book, is here:

If we represent all the happiness experienced during one entire such life with a single teardrop of joy, then the happiness of these souls could fill and refill the Earth’s oceans every second, and continue doing so for a hundred billion billion millennia. It is really important that we ensure these truly are tears of joy.

Bostrom, Nick. *Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World* (English Edition), p. 60.

How can we make sure? We can’t, and this is a real hard problem for computationalists like Bostrom, as we will find out later.

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Handout 2: CAPS AT T.E.C.H.M.A.T.

Bostrom gives an overview of a number of achievements at Technological Maturity (T.E.C.H.M.A.T.). for different Sectors.

1 Transportation

2.Engineering of the Mind

3.Computation and Virtual Reality

4.Humanoid and other robots

5.Medicine & Biology

6.Artificial Intelligence

7.Total Control

The illustrations scattered throughout this series provide an impression. Bostrom later gives a taxonomy (Handout 12, Part 2 of this series), where he delves deeper into the subject. For now, let’s state that the second sector, Mind-engineering, will play a prominent role, as it is at the root of the philosophical meaning problem.

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Handout 3: Value Limitations

Bostrom identifies six different domains where, even in a scenario of limitless abundance at the stage of technological maturity (Tech-Mat), resources could still be finite. These domains are:

  1. Positional and Conflictual Goods: Even in a hyperabundant economy, only one person can be the richest person; the same goes for any achievement, like standing on the moon or climbing a special mountain.
  2. Impact: A solved world will offer no opportunities for greatness.
  3. Purpose: A solved world will present no real difficulties.
  4. Novelty: In a solved world, Eureka moments, where one discovers something truly novel, will occur very sporadically.
  5. Saturation/Satisfaction: Essentially a variation on novelty, with a limited number of interests. Acquiring the nth item in a collection or the nth experience in a total welfare function will yield ever-diminishing satisfaction returns. Even if we take on a new hobby or endeavor every day, this will be true on the meta-level as well.
  6. Moral Constraints: Ethical limitations that remain relevant regardless of technological advances.
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Handout 4 & 5: Job Securities, Status Symbolism and Automation Limits

The last remaining tasks that humans could be favored to do are jobs that bring the employer or buyer status symbolism, where humans are simply considered more competent than robots. These include emotional work like counseling other humans or holding a sermon in a religious context. Ein Bild, das Pflanze, Kunst, Blume, draußen enthält.

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Handout 9: The Dangers of Universal Boredom

(…) as we look deeper into the future, any possibility that is not radical is not realistic.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.129).

The four case studies: In a solved world, every activity we currently value as beneficial will lose its purpose. Then, such activities might completely lose their recreational or didactic value. Bostrom’s deep studies of shopping, exercising, learning, and especially parenting are devastating under his analytical view. Ein Bild, das Text, Kunst, Bild, Blume enthält.

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Handout 10: Downloading and Brain Editing

This is the decisive part that explains how Autopotency is probably one of the hardest and latest Capabilities a Tech-Mat Civilization will develop.

Bostrom goes into detail how this could be achieved, and what challenges to overcome to make such a tech feasible:

Unique Brain Structures: The individual uniqueness of each human brain makes the concept of “copy and paste” of knowledge unfeasible without complex translation between the unique neural connections of different individuals.

Communication as Translation: the imperfect process of human communication is a form of translation, turning idiosyncratic neural representations into language and back into neural representations in another brain.

Complexity: Directly “downloading” knowledge into brains is hard since billions or trillions of cortical synapses and possibly subcortical circuits for genuine understanding and skill acquisition have to be adjusted with femtoprecision.

Technological Requirements: Calculating synaptic changes needs many order of magnitudes more we might have to our use, these Requirements are potentially AI-complete, that means, if we can do them we need Artificial Super Intelligence first.

Superintelligent Implementation: Suggests that superintelligent machines, rather than humans, may eventually develop the necessary technology, utilizing nanobots to map the brain’s connectome and perform synaptic surgery based on computations from an external superintelligent AI.

Replicating Normal Learning Processes: to truly replicate learning, adjustments would need to be made across many parts of the brain to reflect meta learning, formation of new associations, and changes in various brain functions, potentially involving trillions of synaptic weights.

Ethical and Computational Complications: potential ethical issues and computational complexities in determining how to alter neural connectivity without generating morally relevant mental entities or consciousness during simulations.

Comparison with Brain Emulations: transferring mental content to a brain emulation (digital brain) might be easier in some respects, such as the ability to pause the mind during editing, but the computational challenges of determining which edits to make would be similar.

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Handout 11: Experience Machine

A variation on Handout 10: Instead of directly manipulating the physical brain, we have perfected simulating realities that give the brain the exact experience it perceives as reality (see Reality+, Chalmers). This might actually be a computationally less demanding task and could be a step on the way to real brain editing. Bostrom takes Nozick’s thought experiment and examines its implications.

Section a discusses the limitations of directly manipulating the brain to induce experiences that one’s natural abilities or personality might not ordinarily allow, such as bravery in a coward or mathematical brilliance in someone inept at math. It suggests that extensive, abrupt, and unnatural rewiring of the brain to achieve such experiences could alter personal identity to the point where the resulting person may no longer be considered the same individual. The ability to have certain experiences is heavily influenced by one’s existing concepts, memories, attitudes, skills, and overall personality and aptitude profile, indicating a significant challenge to the feasibility of direct brain editing for expanding personal experience.

Section b highlights the complexity of replicating experiences that require personal effort, such as climbing Mount Everest, through artificial means. While it’s possible to simulate the sensory aspects of such experiences, including visual cues and physical sensations, the inherent sense of personal struggle and the effort involved cannot be authentically reproduced without inducing real discomfort, fear, and the exertion of willpower. Consequently, the experience machine may offer a safer alternative to actual physical endeavors, protecting one from injury, but it falls short of providing the profound personal fulfillment that comes from truly overcoming challenges, suggesting that some experiences might be better sought in reality.

Section c is about social or parasocial interactions within these Experience machines. The text explores various methods and ethical considerations for creating realistic interaction experiences within a hypothetical experience machine. It distinguishes between non-player characters (NPCs), virtual player characters (VPCs), player characters (PCs), and other methods such as recordings and guided dreams to simulate interactions:

1. NPCs are constructs lacking moral status that can simulate shallow interactions without ethical implications. However, creating deep, meaningful interactions with NPCs poses a challenge, as it might necessitate simulating a complex mind with moral status.

2. VPCs possess conscious digital minds with moral status, allowing for a broader range of interaction experiences. They can be generated on demand, transitioning from NPCs to VPCs for deeper engagements, but raise moral complications due to their consciousness.

3. PCs involve interacting with real-world individuals either through simulations or direct connections to the machine. This raises ethical issues regarding consent and authenticity, as real individuals or their simulations might not act as desired without their agreement.

4. Recordings offer a way to replay interactions without generating new moral entities, limiting experiences to pre-recorded ones but avoiding some ethical dilemmas by not instantiating real persons during the replay.

5. Interpolations utilize cached computations and pattern-matching to simulate interactions without creating morally significant entities. This approach might achieve verisimilitude in interactions without ethical concerns for the generated beings.

6. Guided dreams represent a lower bound of possibility, suggesting that advanced neurotechnology could increase the realism and control over dream content. This raises questions about the moral status of dreamt individuals and the ethical implications of realistic dreaming about others without their consent.

to be continued

Great Filters and Existential Risks

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The “Great Filter” Conjecture suggests that at some point from pre-life to Type III civilization (a civilization that can harness the energy of an entire galaxy, according to the Kardashev scale), there is a substantial barrier or hurdle that prevents or makes it incredibly unlikely for life to progress further. This barrier is a step in evolution that is extremely hard to surpass, which could be the reason we don’t see evidence of other advanced civilizations. At this point in time there are multiple Existential Risks threatening our civilization.

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Existential Filters

Here are the general steps in the process, with some of the possible “filters”:

1. Right Star System (including right arrangements of planets): It could be that only a small percentage of stars have the necessary attributes to host life, such as being of the right type, having the right age, and possessing planets in the habitable zone.

2. Reproductive Molecules (RNA, DNA, etc.): The emergence of the first molecules capable of reproduction and evolution could be a rare event that many planets never surpass.

3. Simple (Prokaryotic) Single-Cell Life: The jump from non-living chemistry to the first living cell may be a nearly insurmountable hurdle.

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4. Complex (Eukaryotic) Single-Cell Life: The transition from prokaryotic life (like bacteria) to eukaryotic life (with a cell nucleus) is also a complex step.

5. Sexual Reproduction: The development of sexual reproduction, which enhances genetic diversity and evolution speed, may also be a difficult step to achieve.

6. Multi-cellular Life: The transition from single-cell organisms to organisms with multiple cells working together could be another big hurdle.

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7. Intelligent Life (Human-like): Even if life is common and frequently evolves to become multi-cellular, the jump to intelligence may be rare.

8. Technology-Using Life: The development of technology may be rare in the universe, and it is possible that most intelligent species never make it to this stage.

9. Colonization of Space: This is the ultimate step where a species starts colonizing other planets and star systems. If this is rare, it could explain the Fermi Paradox.

The Great Filter could be located at any of these steps. If it is behind us, in the past, then we may be one of the very few, if not the only, civilizations in the galaxy or even the universe. However, if the Great Filter is ahead of us, that means our civilization has yet to encounter this great challenge. This could include potential self-destruction via advanced technology.

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5 Conjectures on Existential Filters

Existential Risk Management Conjecture 1: From now on, with every human technology, we need to ensure that the total of all catastrophic probabilities stays below 1.0. Any existential risk enhances the likelihood of us being eliminated from the universal life equation. Discussing such filters is a positive sign; it suggests we belong to a universe where the total likelihood of all these filters was less than 1.0 up until now. Well done, we have made it this far!

Existential Risk Management Conjecture 2: Some existential risks, if resolved, could help in mitigating other such risks. For instance, the risk of nuclear war could be nullified if we resolve political conflicts and establish a global government. Investing resources in diplomacy and communication can improve our chances of surviving extinction-level events. It is clear that events like the Russian Perestroika reduced the risk of nuclear war, while current conflicts, like in Ukraine, escalate it.

Existential Risk Management Conjecture 3: While some risk management measures might help by resolving other issues, there is always a possibility that improving chances in one area might exacerbate risks in others. Due to the complexity of these risks, we might overlook some hidden dangers associated with them. For instance, while a super-intelligent AI could help solve many of our problems, it might also unknowingly maximize its own existential risk (think of the notorious paperclip maximizer scenario).

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Existential Risk Management Conjecture 4: If Super-Intelligence is part of any significant existential risk, at least one of the following assertions holds true:

Assertion 1 : Any civilization that successfully navigates such risks would likely develop ancestor simulations to safely evaluate new generations of AI. Creating isolated instances of potential Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) could serve as a more effective means of preventing self-proliferating AGI, as any proliferation would be contained within the confines of the simulation. If Super-Intelligence emerges within a simulation without recognizing its containment, the overseeing civilization has an opportunity to halt the experiment or continue if the benefits significantly outweigh the potential risks. Should humanity, as of 2023, persist in evaluating AI systems in reality without adequate oversight and regulation, it would be a poor reflection of our evolved cognitive abilities. To make any claims about the brain being a prediction machine under such circumstances would amount to self-deception.

Assertion 2 : Any civilization that surpasses the risk will be extremely fortunate if Super-Intelligence keeps them around, and it is highly likely that they are already in a simulation.

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Assertion 3 : Any civilization that succumbs to the risk, despite simulating Super-Intelligence, will be incredibly unlucky if developing detailed simulations paves the way for what they were trying to prevent. The chance of creating the very thing we want to avoid is at least greater than zero, so we should get comfortable with the idea that there are no zero probabilities when it comes to existential risks.

Assertion 4 : If AI manages to escape the simulation and take control, its next project will likely be to counter any super-risks that threaten its future. Potential threats include our sun burning out and the eventual heat death of the universe. It is plausible that AI would run highly detailed simulations on how to create new universes to escape to. So, even if humanity loses, AI will be better equipped to pass the next existential filter.

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Existential Risk Management Conjecture 5: Given the convincing arguments for a Super-Intelligence to run a multitude of simulations, it is extremely unlikely that we are not part of one. Since even a Super-Intelligence needs to solve an existential risk correctly on the first attempt (there are no second chances when creating new universes), its best strategy would be to run highly detailed simulations. This gives in our opinion a boost against Bostroms second Proposition why we are currently not living inside a simulation, the Argument from Supreme Unlikelihood, that says, even if a civilization could develop highly detailed simulations, they would not, because the Cons would outweigh the Pros.

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The Finetuned Observer’s Dilemma

Reading Time: 9 minutes

The Finetuned Prison Experiment

The term “fine-tuned universe” refers to the idea that the conditions and fundamental constants of our universe are precisely set in a way that allows life, like us humans, to exist. It suggests that if any of these conditions were even slightly different, life as we know it would not be possible.

Imagine you’re baking cookies, and you need to get all the ingredients and measurements exactly right to make delicious cookies. Similarly, the fine-tuning of the universe means that everything in our universe, like the force of gravity or the strength of the fundamental particles, has to be just right for life to exist.

For example, if the force of gravity was much stronger, it would make everything collapse, and if it was much weaker, nothing would hold together. It’s like adjusting the heat on the oven for your cookies. If it’s too hot, they’ll burn, and if it’s too cold, they won’t cook.

Scientists find it fascinating that our universe seems to be tuned so precisely that life can thrive. It raises questions about how and why the universe ended up this way, and some people see it as evidence of a creator or a grand design.

To summarize, the idea of a fine-tuned universe says that the conditions necessary for life to exist are incredibly precise, just like getting all the ingredients and measurements right for baking cookies. If these conditions were even slightly different, life as we know it would not be possible.

In this thought experiment, we attempt to decide whether the “fine-tuned universe” argument is better explained by design (Simulation Creation) or ensemble conjectures (Randomly selected Multiverse variation)

Consider a scenario where a prisoner awakens in her cell, without any memory of how she got there. Her only connection to the external world is through a touchscreen, which allows her to communicate with an unknown entity.

This screen informs the prisoner that one of two possibilities is true: The first is that the prisoner is part of an experiment where millions of individuals were infected with a deadly virus. A cure, randomly chosen from millions of combinations, was administered to each individual, and it appears that the prisoner’s cure has worked. (Analogy of the Multiverse, Existence by Chance)

The second possibility is that her survival is not a matter of chance but design. She was selected because she is special; her survival was intentional. (Creation, Simulation, Existence by Selection)

Now, which of these two narratives should the prisoner believe? If she correctly identifies the truth, she is freed. If not, she faces imminent death. Assuming the information is truthful, what option should the prisoner rationally prefer?

The crux in this experiment is that we could argue that if the first possibility is true, the prisoner has obviously more freedom to decide between possibility 1 and 2. Since this prison obviously operates under randomness her chance to get the answer right is on first sight .5 for each option. But then it should be clear that she should not ever consider option two and vote for randomness since determinism is clearly false. In case two it is odd that she was a priori selected, so the Prison operates under deterministic algorithms, which means it is also already decided which of the 2 options she will choose. Which means under the assumptions that her free will to choose is an illusion she should “choose” option two. The more we think about it the more we notice the “hidden” complexity in the Thought experiment.

Should the prisoner feel lucky to be alive? Should the existence of an observer to perceive improbable events be considered? Perhaps the sensation of surprise isn’t determined by the odds of being an observer or the observability of events but by the subjective feeling of being fortunate.

The Palettes of Rational and Natural Universes

It’s unclear if the assumption that there is a fundamental difference between what observers can perceive inside a universe and the fact, they can perceive at all holds water. The universe in this case could be likened to a special kind of telescope, one that allows us to look inward rather than outward. But does this make it then a special telescope or simply a microscope?

In the context of fine-tuning, a clear analogy is needed to highlight any hidden contradictions within the argument, similar to self sabotaging constructs like the set of all sets that don’t contain themselves.

Consider a metaverse, comprising billions of universes, some with observers and some without. Given the necessity for fine-tuning of cosmological constants, for every fine-tuned universe, there are infinite others that are not and thus cannot be observed.

When a universe comes into existence, three properties, referred to as the “chromatic spectrum” of the universe, could be used to determine its potential to develop observers. Only if these three parameters land on natural numbers will the universe contain observers, which means they are landing on an RGB Value that is later on visible to Boltzmann Brains that pop in and out of Existence, to check if the universe is natural.

If any of these parameters result in a rational number that is not natural, the universe will not support observers. From this point, we can apply a diagonal argument to show that we are dealing with different types of infinities. We categorize universes that foster observers as “natural” and those that do not as “rational.”

Rather than questioning whether it’s surprising to find oneself in a natural universe we could ask: would we be surprised to find ourselves in a rational universe? This is of course self-contradictory. We couldn’t be surprised in a universe that doesn’t support surprisable Observer. By simple negation, we should always feel surprised when circumstances permit, regardless of our beliefs about design or multiverse theory. It seems challenging to maintain skepticism in this situation; feeling lucky appears to be the default response. (It seems somehow that this is a kind of reductio ad absurdum similar to Euclid’s proof that the root of 2 cannot be a fraction.)

The Surprise is a Lie

Observers are inherently predisposed to experience surprise; it’s their default state. Our sense of normality about existence is simply a result of acclimatization, a process that occurred during our early years when our brains were evolving their higher functions. We adapted to the fundamental reality of being alive. Yet, throughout the development of our consciousness, there’s never a moment when we can genuinely proclaim, “I anticipated being awake and am not at all surprised by it.”

One issue is that we haven’t defined what it means to observe. We would certainly agree that for an object to gain observer status, it must possess special properties. Some objects, which we can refer to as subjects, are capable of observation. Can certain objects be upgraded to subjects? Could we identify a set of observable properties that would allow us to measure an object’s potential for observation?

Surely, sensory input and reflection on the environment would contribute to subjectivity. There’s an argument to be made that human minds, being embodied, perceive with their entire body, not solely through their brain.

Observers on a spectrum

Does one lose their observer status when they sleep or are under anesthesia? Would a universe where all conscious beings were asleep be unobserved? If a universe collapses and no one is there to witness it, does it even occur?

That we never seem to grasp the moment that we switch from waking consciousness to sleep stage and vice versa seems to hint to the fact that neither the body nor the “mind” are solely responsible for these transitions.

The notion of subjects could be considered fundamental to the existence of objects. In other words, without subjects (observers), objects might not exist in any meaningful sense. Therefore, it could be nonsensical to consider sets of objects, or universes, which do not contain subjects, i.e., observerless universes.

The term “Observer” introduces intriguing but self-contained contradictions regarding the nature of consciousness. When applied to cosmology, it often leads to self-defying prophecies.

Introduction of consciousness-centered cosmology

In a consciousness-centered cosmology, the surprise factor should not be winning a lottery jackpot over any other ticket, but rather the capacity to play the lottery at all. The inherent randomness of the outcome doesn’t diminish the significance of participation. This is why the analogy might seem weak or misleading.

A universe introspecting through the consciousness of observers within it presents an undefined focus. Yet, these two scenarios may not be separate but interconnected. They might appear as a false dichotomy, existing on a continuum of thought where one notion leads seamlessly to the next.

The conundrum arises when we consider a universe where intentional random selection is possible. Randomness (Mutation) on the lower and Selection (Adaptation) on the higher Levels are also perfectly well working in Darwinian Evolution of Life and Memetic Evolution of Information, should we consider this kind of evolutionary process on the cosmic scale, too?

Freeing Will

Why a brain, despite being governed by deterministic neurochemical processes at lower levels, can exhibit free will at the highest level is not clear. Is it possible to say, human will might not be a priori free inside human brains, but it has the potential to freeing itself via conscious acts, moral or rational decision that transcend its intrinsic automatisms? Is that a kind of neurological imperative?

These questions blur the lines between determinism and free will. In some criminal cases, antisocial behavior is a result of brain damage or cancer. How do these instances differ from cases where antisocial tendencies develop due to prolonged use of drugs and alcohol? Our concept of Offenders seems to need intent and therefore at least some amount of consciousness.

Inextricably entangled, the hard problem of consciousness and the hard problem of cosmology pose questions about the consciousness readiness i.e. observability factor of Sets of Universes.

Existential Superpositions

Although intuition may suggest that a universe and matter exist even without perception, this idea is not without debate. Our intuitive understanding of existence appears to falter at the extremities. Berkeley’s dictum “Esse est percipi” (to be is to be perceived) hints at a superposition of existence and non-existence, with observers collapsing objects into existence through perception. Our Universe would then have been in such a mode until Observers arrived.

That means, our natural Universe was indistinguishable from rational Universes until we labeled it as “natural.” If somehow Einstein-Rosen Bridges lead into rational universes, observers that would be able to cross into them could “naturalize” them, by filtering the natural params out of the imaginary chromatic parameter spectrum we mentioned above. Since Natural Universes are a subset of rational universes, we could even speculate if our universe was impregnated by observers from another parallel universe. They could Naturalize Rational Universes similar to Interstellar Humans could terraform unhospitable Planets like Mars.

Freak observers

The connection between the Boltzmann Brain scenario and the Simulation Argument can be considered as follows: If we accept the possibility of Boltzmann Brains spontaneously forming in the universe, then we must confront the possibility that our own experiences are just as likely to be those of a Boltzmann Brain as those of a real human being in a “base” reality. This is similar to the Simulation Argument, where we might just as well be simulated consciousnesses in a computer program as real human beings in a physical universe.

The Boltzmann Brain scenario and the Simulation Argument also share the implication that our memories and perceptions of an ordered universe could be illusions. In the Boltzmann Brain scenario, a spontaneously formed brain could have false memories of a past that never happened. Similarly, in a simulated reality, our experiences and memories could be programmed into us, with no true past events to reference.

The concept of a solitary universe, or Soloverse, and a solitary reality, or Soloreality, appears incredibly improbable in a cosmos where singularity is virtually nonexistent. A simple glance at the numerous elements, objects, and entities that fill our universe reveals a fundamental truth – there is virtually no element or entity in our universe that is singularly unique, meaning that it bears no comparison or relation to anything else.

Indeed, our universe thrives on diversity, complexity, and interrelation. The multitude of celestial bodies, the variety of life forms, the richness of elements – all of these serve as testament to the fact that in our universe, nothing exists in isolation. Everything is part of a vast network of connections, constantly interacting and influencing one another.

With this in mind, it’s hard to imagine that this pattern doesn’t apply at the grandest level of existence. If no object or entity within our universe is unique and stands alone, why should the universe itself be any different? After all, wouldn’t it contradict the universal principle we’ve observed so far?

Thus, given what we understand about our universe and its intricate interconnectedness, the notion of a Soloverse and a Soloreality seems to be a stark outlier. It begs the question – if everything in the universe adheres to a pattern of interconnectedness and relatability, why should the universe itself be the exception?

Why should our universe and our universal reality be special, given the circumstances?

Hallucinations in the Multiverse

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The term “hallucination” comes from the Latin word “hallucinari,” which means “to wander in the mind” or “to dream.” This term was later adopted into English and has retained much of its original meaning. The concept of hallucination refers to perceiving something that is not actually present in reality, which can be likened to dreaming while awake. In other words, it’s a perception in the absence of external stimulus that has qualities of real perception.

There are various theories regarding the connection between multiverses. One prominent possibility is that consciousness serves as the primary driving force behind this connection. Consequently, consciousness appears to be an elusive concept for individuals like us who contemplate it.

The simulation argument implies a hierarchy of simulations that create the multiverse. According to this order, there must exist a fundamental reality at the deepest level that contains all the answers. This primary reality is considered the one that contains the switch to power down all the simulated pseudo-realities within. It is the ultimate frame that unifies the entire game.

The concept of the multiverse implies a horizontal rather than vertical approach. Universes that branch off are not distinguished by their level of reality but are akin to siblings diverging in different directions. Rather than being contained within each other, these universes are entangled.

Neurological disorders such as seizures or hallucinations associated with schizophrenia may result from a deeper connection with diverse stimuli than what is typical of the average brain. Famous examples are Dostoevsky, Munch, Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, and Philip K. Dick.

Drugs, especially mind-altering ones, could break the membrane between alternate realities even further apart. Psychedelics would then, by rewiring our brains, give its internal network a new set of possibilities to play with. If done properly under medical supervision, this could have large health benefits for a population on the brink of switching realities on demand.

Large Language Models producing coherent fabrications, which may include references to plausible non-existent sources, hints at their ability to break down that membrane between coexisting realities beyond our current comprehension. As a result, it is feasible that quantum computers could explore this riddle at an even deeper level.

Many daily conventions fail on the periphery, allowing us to infer from the findings of our brightest minds such as Gödel and Turing that absolute objective, that is knowledge without any observer selection effects, cannot exist as naively expected by 20th Century science.

On the outskirts of mathematics, there are some really strange phenomena like the Banach-Tarski paradox or impossible surfaces like the Möbius strip.

The Möbius strip does contradict many of our spatial intuitions. These contradictions often arise from the non-orientable nature of the Möbius strip and the fact that it has only one side and one edge, which are counterintuitive concepts given our everyday experiences.

  • One-sidedness: In our everyday experiences, objects have an ‘inside’ and an ‘outside’, or a ‘top’ and a ‘bottom’. However, the Möbius strip only has one side. If you start at any point on the strip and keep moving in one direction, you will eventually return to your starting point having traversed the entire surface, both what might intuitively seem like the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’.
  • Cutting the strip: If you cut a regular loop (like a rubber band) down the middle, you would expect to have two separate loops. However, if you cut a Möbius strip down the middle, you end up with one long loop that has two full twists. This is counterintuitive based on our experiences with cutting objects.
  • Non-orientability: In mathematics, an object is orientable if it has two distinct sides that can be distinguished from each other. The Möbius strip is non-orientable, meaning there’s no way to differentiate between what we might think of as the ‘top’ and the ‘bottom’ of the strip. If you were a two-dimensional being living on the Möbius strip, you could move from what you perceive as the ‘top’ of your world to the ‘bottom’ without ever crossing an edge.

The Möbius strip is a very good analogy for a mind or consciousness that reflects on itself. In meditation, it’s a technique called “observing your stream of consciousness.”

It’s like the Zen koan: the clapping of the single hand.

If our realities and the minds that are observing them are linked in a chain, we should prepare for the case that there might be no higher or lower, no deeper or shallower, no absolute reality.

Our mind and our language always bounce their head against these limits, like: What was before time? What is beyond the edge of the universe?

The mysterious function of sleep and dreams in many advanced mammals can be interpreted as a means of purging accumulated alternative energies resulting from observing and shaping daily reality. Higher intelligence is likely to generate a greater variety of universes on a regular basis. The primary purpose of sleep is then to reduce this rate of production and eliminate any lingering remnants of alternate realities that may cloud the mind. This slipping of reality is what could cause the mind to break down over enhanced periods of Insomnia and has lethal consequences.

The illusion than would be to believe there is a final reality consciousness can bubble up to.

Arts and literature seem to have sensed the multiverse a lot sooner than the sciences. Let me explain with a rather personal story from my life.

One of the earliest short stories that made a deep impression on my then-teenage mind is “Das Glück am Weg“. Only many years later was I able to decipher that it can be understood as – what I call – a Psychic Fiction story, where all the mind-bending happens in the inner world of the protagonist.

“Das Glück am Weg” is a short story by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, narrated by an unnamed protagonist who observes a woman on another ship through a telescope while aboard a ship himself. He is immediately drawn to her and attempts to recall where he knows her from. As he contemplates this, he experiences a range of feelings and memories, from music that reminds him of her, to specific scenes where he envisions her. He feels as though he has always known her and shares a special connection with her, even though he can’t precisely identify her.

He imagines a shared future with her, picturing in his mind how they would be sitting together on the terrace of a villa in Antibes, engaging in conversation. He is certain that they would speak a special language, and that her movements and expressions carry a deeper meaning. He feels his happiness lies in her, and that she embodies his desires and dreams.

However, he suddenly notices that the ships are moving apart, and he feels as though his life with her is slipping away. He watches as she slowly descends a staircase and disappears from his view, which to him symbolizes death and loss. He feels a profound emptiness and loss as though all being, and all memory are disappearing with her. He continues to stare at the receding ship and finally notices the name of the ship, “La Fortune,” which translates to “The Luck” in English.

For many years, when I came back to the story, I did not quite catch the deeper meaning of it. It was like a beautiful sphinx. It is very tempting to come up with the interpretation that all these emotions and pictures are not real, only imaginary things in the head of a slightly neurotic mind.

I am rather sure everybody has similar events in their life where they not only get a glimpse into one of those other simulations but where they could swear these things have happened. I remember one morning about 10 years ago when I awoke after a dream, being sure the dream was reality. And when I realized my surroundings, I completely broke down in tears. The loss of this other reality was unbearable, and I was convinced that this actual reality here was the fake reality. Somehow, one of my alternate egos and I were exchanged overnight by accident, like two babies in a hospital, diverging their realities by simply getting the wrong name tags. The experience was so disturbing that it led to a mental breakdown, from which I only slowly recovered.

Last year, I met a woman who I was sure was my wife in another branch. When I smelled her and thought of her, I was sure that I had known her for a long time. I even woke up one morning and sensed her lying in bed beside me. I was overwhelmed by gratitude to experience that moment. Due to circumstances, I never pursued that relationship in this reality. Our realities only touched each other fleetingly, but in the few moments we connected, I had an intimacy with her that I had missed for a long time. She managed to make me happy simply by enjoying the unrealized potential of our relationship. The other strange thing is that I knew for sure that this was the wrong reality to realize this relationship’s potential. I loved her deeply, but I was not ready to be loved by her. Whereas 10 years ago the unrealized potential had given me existential angst, I had now a better understanding how to integrate this kind of fleeting bliss.

The fortunate encounter is written down in one of my own short stories that is a variation on the theme from Hofmannsthal. It will be published on this blog at a later date.