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Thread: Can our world be digitized?

  1. #1

    Can our world be digitized?

    I think it can't. The existence of the number pi, a transcendental number, which can not be represented by our computers is the proof.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_number



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  3. #2
    It can be approximated though.
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  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    It can be approximated though.
    That's not the same even at high resolution. You can not recover the original if lost.

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by timosman View Post
    I think it can't. The existence of the number pi, a transcendental number, which can not be represented by our computers is the proof.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_number
    It's a deep subject. At some depth of visual resolution, your visual cortex cannot distinguish photographic representation from a real object (as measured in terms of your ability to describe the differences). There are, of course, still visual differences - texture, depth, glint, matte, iridescence, holographic phenomena, polarized light, etc. But each of these differences is really just a mathematical "rounding out" of the visual phenomenon. In short, we have designed computer displays as a kind of "hack" of the human visual system, a hack that vastly simplifies the computation and signaling involved in modeling and reproducing the physical evolution of light waves. But there is nothing stopping us from building more robust simulations and, in fact, we have done exactly this. Here is an interesting project that started using laser-scanning and some efficient, large-database systems to render scenes at "real-world depth".

    Of course, sensory experience is not just visual. It is audio, tactile, scent, taste, material (sense of mass), proprioception (sense of taking up space), and so on. Each of these dimensions can be faked, to an extent but - as with the visual sense - current systems always leave a lingering "sense of fakeness".

    In my opinion (my qualification on the subject is that I have spent absurdly way too much time thinking about this), there are two general ways to break down the "real-to-virtual-to-real" barrier. First, we can use analog computation (not necessarily quantum) to overcome the resolution-depth, rendering speed and data-set size problems. It's difficult to explain in non-technical terms but the basic idea is that you use the digital computer for the things that it's good at (like operating systems, managing hardware devices, etc.) but you leave the heavy-lifting for "analog processing units" that would be like GPU's in your system, but dedicated to analog processing. Quantum computers can be seen as a kind of extremum of the analog computer.

    Second, we can follow the "anime route" or "the yellow brick road", which is to re-calibrate the mind's expectations of what, exactly, is "real". Essentially, we render the virtual world in great detail but we purposely throw out realism and we immerse the mind in a constant stream of "non-realism" until real sensory inputs themselves begin to feel non-real by comparison. This route seems to me to be the only possible path for "mind-uploading" because the material world is simply too information-dense to be "copied in simulation". If you've ever looked at a Magic Eye image, you should have an intuitive understanding of how this might be possible. Basically, we use exotic rendering of sensory information to over-saturate each particular sense so that the virtual experience is more compelling than ordinary physical experience. You can create sound forms that have exotic psychoaucoustic effects - consider this song (around 2:40) and pay attention to the "piercing" effect that the highly compressed clicking has on the auditory sense - the effect is not entirely unlike that of fingernails on a chalkboard, depending on your sensitivity. On this theory, the natural world is muted by its weather-worn detail - it is earth-tones and blackness. It may very well be possible to build a virtual world to escape this sensory prison by radically reducing the information density of the virtual world, while simultaneously increasing the sensory saturation of that world (vibrant, bright colors, spine-tingling audio, and so on).
    Last edited by ClaytonB; 02-02-2018 at 10:49 PM. Reason: typo

  6. #5
    A nice write up but you seem to completely ignore non-sensory input and assume humans are like soulless robots. What about the ability to dream? Desire?

    If we go with your proposal and assume a human can be defined by the summary of its actions(LOL) you propose two options:

    1. Merge with the AI and let AI handle anything of any complexity while the human brain is used as a high quality random number generator.
    2. Brainwash everybody into believing this Minecraft-like world is real and you don't need anything else. This seems to be the current strategy.

    Thanks Elon!

    Last edited by timosman; 02-02-2018 at 05:41 PM.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by timosman View Post
    A nice write up but you seem to completely ignore non-sensory input and assume humans are like soulless robots. What about the ability to dream? Desire?
    Well, I'm not espousing any particular outcome. I learned a long time ago that I have zero input into the evolution of the cosmos at any scale. All I can do is explain the menu of available options and observe as people make their choices (not necessarily in that order of precedence).

    In my opinion - from here on out, let's agree it is implied that anything I say is, of course, my opinion - dreams illustrate a deeper fact, namely, that all consciousness is, in fact, unitary. I feel like I am "ClaytonB" and I feel like I'm not "timosman" but this is not true in the sense that I feel that it is true. I don't espouse mumbo-jumbo Zenism, either. There is a way things are, and there is a way things aren't. Unfortunately, words fail at describing the case in fact. Precisely because words fail, there must be something else that is more fundamental than words and that more fundamental thing is conscious experience itself - dreams are the "gateway" to this wider reality that cannot be described in words.

    To put a little bit more meat on the bone, I will use a metaphor. You and I are like two leaves floating along on a deep river. We are on the same river, yet we feel like separate beings. The "laws" of our world that "push" us along feel like unalterable facts, a permanent reality that is indifferent to whatever happens to be floating on it. But if I become lodged against a rock, I can split the entire stream of the river in two - backed by the rock, I can split an entire river. And while a leaf is different from water, both are made of matter and it is ultimately only human prejudice that distinguishes between the two. Both river and leaf are equally fundamental parts of reality... we can say that the leaf is the river, and vice-versa. In the same way, we can see that the distinction we make between the leaves (between you and I) is equally prejudicial. The river itself is the "universal stream of consciousness", the eternal soul, the Prime Mover and we, like leaves floating across its surface, are as much a part of it as the river itself.

    So, dreams are the gateway by which the leaf peers down into the river - becomes the river.

    If we go with your proposal and assume a human can be defined by the summary of its actions(LOL) you propose two options:

    1. Merge with the AI and let AI handle anything of any complexity while the human brain is used as a high quality random number generator.
    2. Brainwash everybody into believing this Minecraft-like world is real and you don't need anything else. This seems to be the current strategy.

    Thanks Elon!
    As I said above, I have zero input. People are going to do whatever they're going to do and how I feel about the matter is irrelevant. If there is any correlation, it is an anti-correlation since humanity is going down a path that, as far as I can tell, leads straight to hell, however you care to define that word.

    I think that there are many pitfalls and I think it is possible to mark out a "pitfall-free" path but such a path is highly counter-intuitive. It's not illogical, it's just not obvious. Perhaps it's too logical for the average person to stomach. The AI is to the mind as the internal-combustion engine is to the body - a great burden-lifter. But it does open a can of worms that the ICE did not - what is the purpose of humanity? What is the purpose of existing, at all? If an unbounded mathematical equation were to contemplate the blank category of existence per se, what conclusion would it reach? Is it possible to define a highest end (summum bonum)? I think the answer to the question is "yes" but, unfortunately, there is no correct explanation of why I believe that, that I could ever put into words.

    Once more, I will turn to metaphor. Let's start with the simulation-hypothesis. But let's ask "on what does the simulation itself run?" Nobody who believes the simulation-hypothesis ever asks this question, of course. But if you go back to the eternal river of consciousness, above, the answer is obvious - we are what the simulation runs on. Our minds, our hearts, our spirits. Our consciousness is both the sum product and the atomic building-block of all that is, both seen and unseen. You are a neuron in God's brain as he is a neuron in yours. Not physically, of course, because material existence is strictly limitative, it is consciousness slowed and reduced to its degenerate case. Rather, the global structure of the Universe is just a pattern, like numbers are patterns, and this is part of the reason that God is invisible.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by timosman View Post
    I think it can't. The existence of the number pi, a transcendental number, which can not be represented by our computers is the proof.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_number
    Every Pi that rolls around will just be reloaded with, a planted hiccup, in the blink of an eye.... Déjà vu.



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    Last edited by Mach; 02-02-2018 at 11:29 PM.
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  9. #8
    This is the video I meant to link in regard to psychoaucoustic phenomena (try the 3:45 mark):




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  11. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by timosman View Post
    I think it can't. The existence of the number pi, a transcendental number, which can not be represented by our computers is the proof.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_number
    Our brain cannot calculate nor conceive the totality of Pi. Does it matter if a computer is also incapable of doing that? Even our own brains are not able to perceive the entire universe around us and even gives us wrong information about it. But do we need it to? We get by just fine.

  12. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Our brain cannot calculate nor conceive the totality of Pi.
    Can you imagine a circle?


    Does it matter if a computer is also incapable of doing that? Even our own brains are not able to perceive the entire universe around us and even gives us wrong information about it. But do we need it to? We get by just fine.
    Maybe you do, but as we all know you are not very ambitious.

  13. #11
    Anyone ever play with an Emulator?

    Most of the time, games come out close to perfect, but dont quite have the same feel as they do on the old hardware for which they were designed. I know its a bad example to make a digital interpretation of something that is already digital, close but sometimes, no cigar. Kind of like making a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy.

    Copy of a Copy will always pale in comparison to the original.
    1776 > 1984

    The FAILURE of the United States Government to operate and maintain an
    Honest Money System , which frees the ordinary man from the clutches of the money manipulators, is the single largest contributing factor to the World's current Economic Crisis.

    The Elimination of Privacy is the Architecture of Genocide

    Belief, Money, and Violence are the three ways all people are controlled

    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Our central bank is not privately owned.

  14. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by DamianTV View Post
    Anyone ever play with an Emulator?

    Most of the time, games come out close to perfect, but dont quite have the same feel as they do on the old hardware for which they were designed. I know its a bad example to make a digital interpretation of something that is already digital, close but sometimes, no cigar. Kind of like making a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy.

    Copy of a Copy will always pale in comparison to the original.
    It is the result of timing differences between hardware platform and the virtual platform (which is running on another, completely different, hardware platform), such as, how much time it takes to perform a multiplication or to copy a byte from one memory location to another. These differences are inevitable and will always exist, whether perceptible or not, on an emulated platform.

  15. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by ClaytonB View Post
    It is the result of timing differences between hardware platform and the virtual platform (which is running on another, completely different, hardware platform), such as, how much time it takes to perform a multiplication or to copy a byte from one memory location to another. These differences are inevitable and will always exist, whether perceptible or not, on an emulated platform.
    You nailed it. The differences - some perceptible by humans - are the result of less than perfect simulation. Wouldn't simulating a system of much higher complexity - our world - be even more difficult and actually impossible to accomplish?

  16. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by timosman View Post
    You nailed it. The differences - some perceptible by humans - are the result of less than perfect simulation. Wouldn't simulating a system of much higher complexity - our world - be even more difficult and actually impossible to accomplish?
    It depends on what you mean by "simulate". A simulation is some kind of replication of one thing in another context. So, we can simulate head of cattle with stones, for example, and this simulation might help us add or otherwise reason about the cattle. Such a simulation is obviously not aiming at realism and its purpose is only to replicate a very narrow fact about the cattle (their number). But we can extend the breadth and depth of the simulation - as well as our purposes in running it - to whatever level of detail at which we are able to build a replicating automaton.

    My hunch is that the material world is at an economic (or game-theoretic) threshold where exhaustively simulating a material process (down to the level of indifference, that is, the point at which a human can no longer perceive the difference between the real process and the simulated process) is at least as costly as running that material process directly. So, what makes the material world unique among all conceivable worlds (which we might build in simulators, like modern game titles but more immersive) is that simulating it is at least as costly as running the material process directly. Suppose we figure out the physics of planet-building. But now that we "know how to build a planet", we have to somehow acquire the material resources (harvesting galactic free energy, etc.) to do it. Orrrrrrrr, we could just hop in our simulator and presto-change-oh, we have a "real planet". What I am asserting is that to build a simulator that can accurately simulate the building of a material planet, you would have to harvest at least as much free energy from the environment as you would to actually build a material planet. So, there is no "winning"... if you want to do something in the material world, you may as well just do it, rather than trying to simulate it to evade the costs.

    But this is where the power of simulation really shines. We don't necessarily want to build a planet. What's the use? A gigantic, spherical rock hurtling through outer space. Useless. What we want, rather, is a habitable home and we form our idea of what constitutes a habitable home from the one we already have - Earth. So, Earth may inspire our simulations but we do not necessarily need to replicate Earth, as such. We may be able to build simulations that require far less energy to run but which provide all the "bang for the buck" that we are actually seeking.
    Last edited by ClaytonB; 02-04-2018 at 02:45 PM.

  17. #15
    Perhaps this all depends on the Type of Computer.

    Computers as we know them today operate on Binary. True or False, 1 or 0, yes or no, On or Off. But with QUANTUM computers, we get the introduction of a weird "middle" state, and nearly infinite other possible states. For example, as was why I asked about Emulators, if we were to try to digitize people, we end up with Timing Differences as @ClaytonB pointed out, so we end up with something that is inevitably different than the original due partly to the timing differences and how the hardware is simulated.

    Did you know the Nintendo Entertainment Systems (8 bit NES) main processor was NOT able to do multiplication? They had to literally do iterative loops of addition in order to do the same thing as Multiplication that was handled in 16 bit processors. That fact right there is why doing emulation is quite difficult and what causes many Timing differences between done on real hardware and Emulation. When a person is Emulated and translated to digital, its like comparing a Sine Wave to a Square Wave. The closest that a Digital Emulation of a Sine Wave would look like is to have the overall shape of a Sine Wave, but done in small iterative square steps. Not truly a Sine Wave, but an approximation of it.

    I dont think this is the case with Quantum Computing however, just like a circle in math is considered to be an "Infinite Set Of Points in a Specific Pattern". Quantum Computers could handle all of those individual points as well as much higher level of details that our minds are not advanced enough to realize its fake, even under observation. Thing is, what happens AFTER Quantum Computing? What is the next major step in processors? Perhaps its to dump the On Off states, then eventually Quantum States, and go toward Biological Processors? Multi Dimensional Processors (more than 4 dimensions)? One thing is for sure, what exists in the near future can barely be foretold, and the distant future, technology will be so advanced it will remain in the realm of pure fantasy and speculation until we truly get there.

    Point being, if the world can not be digitized today, it may be possible to do in the future. How far in the future will remain to be seen until we actually get there, and that is IF we can even get there. And yes, the world may well be The Matrix, just that The Matrix isnt how we imagine it to be.
    1776 > 1984

    The FAILURE of the United States Government to operate and maintain an
    Honest Money System , which frees the ordinary man from the clutches of the money manipulators, is the single largest contributing factor to the World's current Economic Crisis.

    The Elimination of Privacy is the Architecture of Genocide

    Belief, Money, and Violence are the three ways all people are controlled

    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Our central bank is not privately owned.



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