Saturday, January 25, 2014

Brain Food

No, this isn't an endorsement for health food to improve cognitive functioning, just a report on something I read which really got me to thinking.  First, the back-story.

When I was a kid, I was told I was the "brainy" one, which would be fine except my sister was always referred to as the "pretty" one.  That left me with the impression that I must have been adopted.  Then, when I hit puberty, I began to consider the proposition that I was probably a minor character in a third-rate novel.  At least I was beginning to be a bit more creative to explain my status in life.

I was reminded of these feelings when I came across a very provocative article by Zeeya Merali in the December edition of Discover magazine.  In that article, Mr. Merali examines research into the idea that was explored in the movie "Matrix."  Do we live in a universe that was artfully constructed by some super-being(s) for their amusement?  If so, would we want to know about it?  And what does such a universe mean for the concept of free will?

Here's the part that intrigued me the most:

Unfortunately, our simulators may instead have programmed us into a universe-size reality show -- and are capable of manipulating the rules of the game, purely for their entertainment.  In that case, maybe our best strategy is to lead lives that amuse our audience, in the hope that our simulator-gods will resurrect us in the afterlife of next-generation simulations.

At least under this scenario we are more active participants than in my earlier theory of the third-rate novel, or should be.  And, at least theoretically, our actions may have an impact on the simulation itself.

This ought to keep my mind busy for the rest of the weekend.


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