Lazy, distributed universe
What if every person had their own copy of space and time?The original post is here: https://erikbenson.typepad.com/mu/2004/0...
I was walking to a friends house the other day and came within a block of a couple large metallic antenna-like structures that are possible radio towers of some sort. As soon as I came within a certain distance of it I realized that the probability of me climbing up those towers shot up tremendously simply because I was exposed to them. Before I came within eye distance of the base of the towers I had no chance of climbing the towers. Now, perhaps, my chances are closer to 1 in 1,000,000. Small chance considering, but imagine that by simply living in a certain place, you opt in to a million different low-probability events that would have had zero chance of happening otherwise. People can affect you this way too–simply by being around you are suddenly a lot more likely to act similarly to them. I guess I’m just trying to force myself to realize the blurry lines between our selves, our decisions, our community, and our environment. We don’t have as much control as we think. It’s the difference between building a list and choosing from the list. If you’re only doing the latter, then whatever controls the former has a lot of power.
I’m interested in how some societies move common functions into shared areas. For example, the laundromat is a good example… everyone needs to have clean clothes but not everyone has the money or space to support a full washer/drier of their own. Grocery stores, post offices, garbage collection, etc. This phenomenon is not very interesting in itself, but my recent trip to New York showed me that the more dense people live together, and the more busy they become, the more tightly dependant they become to the shared services and areas. It’s probably an inevitable part of the evolution of society that we become increasingly limited in our own abilities in order to reduce the investment required to take advantage of some simple benefit. Or something.
Is there a kind of math that doesn’t allow infinity? Ever since thinking about the universe’s computer I’ve been trying to think about what is required to start chipping away at the metaphor problems inherent in thinking about the universe as a computer. One of the more obvious ones, to me at least, is the fact that the universe must not allow for unbounded infinity. Space cannot go in all directions forever. Neither can a piece of information have infinite precision… for example, pi (as the universe sees it) cannot be irrational. If it exists at all, and is used in any way, it must be usable without resorting to approximations. The metaphor of math is flawed in its model for the concepts of infinity and numbers.
But how can it be otherwise? I think infinity can exist in only one way–bounded by time or space. For example, time can go on forever, but only if it is generated as it goes and doesn’t exist all at once beforehand. In this way, space can also be potentially infinite if it is tied to time–meaning that you can go as far as you want in a certain direction, but that space will be generated as you go in that direction. Also, measurement cannot allow for infinite precision because that would make it impossible to work with. However the universe uses measurement, it must use it in such a way that it has discreet packets (doesn’t it?). Those can be really tiny packets, but they have to be packets, don’t they? I am still using some computer metaphor language, but I want to only use it so far as it is useful… if anyone thinks that the metaphor has been taken too far, and can talk about it in another way, let me know.
What if every person had their own copy of space and time? These copies communicated with one another, and remained somewhat in sync, but each copy was optimized for the person that was using it. If I never went to Italy, my copy of space and time doesn’t have Italy. When you go you Italy and place a rock on a certain wall, that information is updated in other peoples’ copies when it is requested, but no sooner. It’s a lazy distributed universe. The amount of data required to run this universe would be much smaller (assuming a relatively small number of active copies: ~6 billion at any given time, unless animals and plants get their own copies too) than one that just had a single copy but which had to maintain every corner of the universe in infinite directions at all times. Of course, this would require that there be some concept of active agent in the universe that the entire system is working to support, rather than just the less anthropomorphic idea that we just happen to be thinking dust in an otherwise dusty dustball.