Re: A summary I just wrote for my blog

From: Kim Jones <>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2009 22:04:38 +1100

We only live once, but we live forever

There is no afterlife - only life eternal

Kim Jones

On 11/02/2009, at 4:27 AM, Michael Rosefield wrote:

> I wrote it for my friends, but feel free to criticise!
> _____________________________________
> Perhaps it's time I had another go at explaining all that weird
> stuff I believe in and why.
> Well, for those few that don't know, I reckon that all possible
> universes exist and that everyone's immortal.
> I admit, this does sound rather odd. It would have sounded odd to me
> about 10 years ago, too. Since about the age of 8 I was a pretty
> hardcore rational scientific naturalist: everything is simply matter
> and energy, and we but its dreams. What was real? Well, a chair. An
> atom. Something you can touch. After all, when you think of reality,
> you think of something... there. Something that sits there, quietly
> existing to itself.
> But what does that mean, really? Everyone knows that matter is
> almost entirely empty space, anyway - the solidity is just the
> feather-touch of far-extended electromagnetic fields. Electrons
> popping in and out of existence as the energy fields knot so charge
> can be transferred in quantised lumps. Particles do not behave as
> billiard balls - they are ghosts, obeying strange equations, lacking
> hard and fast surfaces or reliable locations. Matter, energy, space,
> time... they all begin to seem a bit ethereal when you look at them.
> Time. There's another one. I don't really believe in that, either.
> Spacetime is just a barely distinguishable fabric woven by the
> universe. Events do not occur at a time or a place - most of the
> observables we see arise kaleidoscope like out of an intricate web
> of possibilities, their form imposed by our own consciousness. And
> by that, I mean that our minds are embedded within the universe,
> constructed in such a way that the metaphysical structure of the
> cosmos is implied by our design - the word without reflects the
> world within. This has an aspect of the anthropic principle to it -
> that we observe a world capable of supporting our existence because
> if it didn't, we wouldn't.
> But this still has no bearing on how I started thinking things like
> this, so I shall get that out of the way.
> The short story is that I read some stories by a science-fiction
> author called Greg Egan. Before you laugh too much, a lot of sci-fi
> is essentially just window-dressing to convey an idea - the
> implications of some item of technology, turn of events or
> scientific/philosophical argument. And Greg Egan is a 'hard' science-
> fiction author, an ideas merchant. Well, you get the drift.
> The first story I read was called Wang's Carpets (later included as
> a chapter of the book Diaspora), in which some spacefarers
> (themselves software) find a planet whose major life-form are
> floating mats that take the form of Wang Tiles - tesselating objects
> whose patterns can implement a universal turing machine. But that's
> just the set-up for the idea: when someone analyses the Carpets, by
> taking various abstract variables (appearance of certain tiles and
> features, etc) and putting them through frequency transforms, it
> turns out that the computations the Carpets encode as part of their
> reproductive habits give rise to a fully realised n-dimensional
> space containing self-aware creatures.
> The thought-provoking part here was not that consciousness could be
> digitalised and run as software - I had already pretty much accepted
> that - but that the mathematical transformations necessary to do
> this could be pretty strange, and come from processes that were
> essentially plucked arbitrarily from the environment. That,
> largely, consciousness could be a matter of perspective.
> The second story was the book, Permutation City. A great deal of
> this book concerns one of the protagonists who wakes up one day and
> finds he is simply a downloaded copy - and that the 'real' him is
> running experiments. After being run at different speeds, and
> distributed in space and time, backwards, in chunks of different
> sizes, etc., the argument becomes that it doesn't matter what or how
> the program is run - it is all the same from the perspective of the
> consciousness being implemented, and that this is so abstract that
> one can find the relevant computational processes within any
> physical substrate. That all consciousnesses can be found within a
> grain of sand. That there is not even any physical bedrock to fall
> back upon - there is no way ever to verify, even in principle, that
> one is on the 'fundamental' metapysical level. At the end of the
> book, the characters have escaped into their own computational
> world, completely divorced from any physical hardware. Their
> universe contains a simulation of another world, whose very alien
> inhabitants find their own physical principles for the cosmos they
> observe - principles radically different from the computational ones
> 'running' it, and so compelling they start to take over the
> character's world, too.
> So when you get down to it, I no longer believe in the physical
> world - or rather, I believe in all of them. While I used to require
> reasons to believe in the existence of parallel worlds, I now
> require them not to. Existence, after all, can have no overseers. No
> arbiters to conjure it from nowhere. Time, remember, is just
> something created from within our cosmos - on a more fundamental
> level, nothing changes, nothing is created or destroyed. Things
> simply are, or are not. Either they satisfy the criteria for
> existing, or not. Either they are possible, and exist, or they are
> impossible, and do not.
> Assuming just our world exists is like, to me, saying just the
> number 532 exists, and that there is no proof for any other number.
> The Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics is like a very
> diluted version of this. All it says is that the equations of QM and
> our observations are consistent with the idea that, rather than the
> myriad possibilities inherent in a quantum system mysteriously
> collapsing into one observed outcome, all outcomes are realised. At
> first, this seems a little too much to believe. Where do they come
> from? Well, the key word there was mysterious. Nowhere in the
> equations of QM is the collapse predicted. That's our own kludge,
> inserted to explain the fact that we somehow only see single,
> classical, outcomes. QM predicts that all these outcomes exist
> anyway, interacting within the wavefunction. The MWI simply asks:
> what if they don't stop existing? What if the act of observation
> simply causes our own wavefunction to split along those pre-existing
> lines? If those decohered elements don't interact much, we would get
> precisely what we do see anyway.
> Now, if I exist in multiple worlds, how many me's are there? I would
> say: only 1. My consciousness, such that I observe it, is unique.
> While it might appear in an infinite number of possibile realities,
> it is a constant, a fulcrum. I carry along with me a train of all
> possible universes. So I don't think of myself as existing in 'this
> world', not really. I am in all of them.
> Now: immortality. Or 'quantum immortality', as the idea is known. I
> am running out of time, so I shall just say this: amongst all these
> universes I inhabit, there are possible future trajectories that
> take me into universes in which I am dead. However, I shall not be
> around to observe this; I can only witness universes in which I am
> alive. And there will always be possible trajectories into sets of
> universes in which I am alive. And that is what I will witness: I
> cannot die. Not in my world, anyway.
> Anyway, gotta dash now.
> --------------------------
> - Did you ever hear of "The Seattle Seven"?
> - Mmm.
> - That was me... and six other guys.
> >

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at
Received on Wed Feb 11 2009 - 06:04:44 PST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:15 PST