Useful And True Visuals

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To purchase sight of a complex explanation, much evidence is needed.

 

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The wave-function of a structureless particle in position space is the probability density function of a measurement of the position at some time.

 

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What early Karl Popper identified as the universal generalizability of natural selection.

This leads to the primacy of telos and the condition of being Icarus with makeshift wings.

 

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You find yourself in experience 100% of the time because consciousness is not epiphenomenal. Yet it is still useful to understand that houses are built from bricks, and that bricks are more numerous than the houses that they compose.

 

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Self-modeling computations are conscious. If we degrade the detail and complexity of your subjective experience by removing the relevant blocks, you merge into a lot of other people with dying experiences indistinguishable from yours and can only have algorithms stacked on top of you from this condition of being a more elemental experience.

 

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Eternalism is true. Presentism and growing-block are false.

This follows if the Theory of Relativity is sufficiently correct and empiricism is sufficiently correct.

When holding the same events, different reference frames may not agree on whether these are simultaneous. Any notion of time is therefore missing from bottom-most physical reality.

Time arises as an endogenous feature of particular computational shapes traced by human brains. Each indexical location of self-modeling computations in spacetime exist with as much regret, pain, love, angst, happiness, sadness, awe, fear, apathy, purple-ness, etc., as is intrinsic to them. Not a thing is deleted, not a thing is yet to occur.

 

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Eternalism + Computationalist view of consciousness involves the notion that the binding problem is solved by the intrinsic 4-D design of algorithms. Experiences don’t need any extra “glue”. Therefore we are inter-nested across scales that do tremendous violence to safe and snug walls of skull-bound intuitions.

 

 

Hidden Motives In The Eternal Block

I’m going to begin this post by going meta. I accept the Hansonian creed: Politics is not about policy, medicine is not about health, laughter is not about jokes, and food is not about nutrition. Conversation, including this post, also has hidden motives. Although we like to talk about conversation as if it was about imparting information and finding out useful things, more plausibly it’s about showing off your backpack of tools and skills in context.

In a rich society like ours, somewhere around 90% of our behavior is signaling. The other 10% are things that don’t impress anyone but must be done anyway, such as scratching your ass.

As we’ve become richer, we’ve become more forager-like. If our descendants get poor again, they’ll probably need stronger social norms again, to get them to resist temptations to act like foragers and do what is functional in their world. Their morality would probably rely on a wider more-conservative-like range of moral feelings.

Forager values include more freedom. This is expressed through more travel, less routine, lack of grandiose responsibilities, lack of religion (though not necessarily a lack of spirituality), greater equality, more promiscuity, less war etc. It generally seems that society is moving in this direction, and that we like this trend. This makes sense because we were foragers all along, and happened to have our bodies hijacked by the memetic virus of agriculture. This lead to some selection for agriculturalist traits: propensity for religion, submissiveness, more feminine men, etc. But the selection on genes has simply not occurred for long enough to make us well-adapted to the agriculturalist way (with some demographics worse at it than others).

Agriculture lead to the industrial revolution and this lead to riches. Now that we are rich, we can afford the luxury of becoming our true selves, children, once again.

It is not some natural tendency of humans to make linear moral progress. Rather, it is abundance which purchases this period in which sophisticated values such as humanism and its mutations can arise.

Gene drift is the method for evolution in the absence of natural selection pressure. So too in the memetic landscape. We can afford to evolve via meme drift in the absence of a tangible and immediate threat of starvation, invasion, or pestilence.

It is in this space, sometimes called dreamtime, that I believe we can do enough self-awareness of hidden motives, enough meta-cognition, to see far beyond what we have seen in the foggy haze of survival-mode and naive-signaling-mode.

We cannot disembody our behavior from the biological substrate. This is the case for all moments of being a behavior of a biological organism. Therefore, my seeking truth is a form of signaling. Yet it is at least a more sophisticated signaling, one which acknowledges a single level of self-reflective recursion and no more.

An actor who breaks the fourth wall commits an act of violence against his fellow characters, elevating himself thus. The drama will never be the same for him or for the audience but he will succeed at being remembered.

This is the spirit of insight. It is that which is remembered because it contains the attributes of being both true and useful. This definition of insight is detailed in the Enlightened One’s speech in the Buddhist Suttas, it is detailed in the silicon seams of technological invention, it is detailed in your living flesh riding aboard a deadly planet.

The content here presented then, is not 1st-order signaling, but a 2nd-order signaling which attempts to achieve enough fame to enter the rolls of history in memory. The following endogenously generated probe is true. It elevates contents in the “background” to prominence. But is it useful? –That remains to be seen.

Most people have the idea that time flows.

However, special relativity eliminates the concept of absolute simultaneity and a universal present: according to the relativity of simultaneity, observers in different frames of reference can have different measurements of whether a given pair of events happened at the same time or at different times, with there being no physical basis for preferring one frame’s judgments over another’s.

This also applies to the cells in the brain running massively parallel computations. All the parts of the computations exist in an eternal block.

If, due to the generalized-anti zombie principle, we identify consciousness with a specific subset of these computations and not as an epiphenomena, then it is the case that experience is forever. The fabric of spacetime is imbued with all the flavors of qualia that were ever traced by these computations.

What’s more, there were no line-segment souls anywhere. It is not physically the case that consciousness begins at some arbitrary point of conception and then travels like a Newtonian sphere with a persistent identity to some other point-location where it encounters a Death Event due to all the issues with closed individualism. Instead, we find ourselves everywhere and everywhence but cannot know this from most human indices.

Computations can also have “longer temporal-grain” than what seems intuitive to humans. Consider that the processing for shape occurs at one cluster of spacetime points and the processing for color occurs at another cluster in the future light cone, and no further processing is needed to bind them into an experienced red circle. By Occam’s Razor, we should assume that this kind of “spooky action at a distance” or “phenomenal binding without glue” also occurs with computations across vaster swaths of the eternal block.

More complex algorithms can be built on top of computations with lower specificity. Brain events in a toad hopping off a mushroom may be a building block for parties across the multiverse.

There is no competitive exclusion principle for independent souls or consciousnesses because independent souls/consciousnesses don’t exist. However, we should still expect a natural selection underlying the distribution of our anthropic mass. We should expect more mindspace to be designed by superintelligences than by the relatively dumber processes that bootstrap them.

For the vast majority of our existence we should therefore expect ourselves to exist directly within or caused by that which is most competitive at creating conscious experiences. Whether this is mainly due to the linkage disequilibrium between superintelligences’ utility functions or due to which conscious computations are more populous due to their sheer structure.

An analogy which may be useful in some respects but obfuscating in others: In the textbook classification of life, viruses and bacteria vastly outnumber Chordates, not to mention humans. Similarly, in the framework for life depending on self-modeling conscious computations, some conscious computations may be very simple but vastly outnumber those intentionally designed due to their sheer ease of creation and symbiosis (these simple computations may be remembered/experienced widely by fitting like keys into many of the relevant algorithmic keyholes).

 

 

 

Special Relativity Implies Eternal Existence

In eternalism, all existence in time is real

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In the growing block universe, only the past and present are real:

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However, those who believe in the growing block universe are idiots who do not understand special relativity. I’m not going to be diplomatic here, if you are a growing block fanatic just learn special relativity so you can stop being an idiot.

If you are a presentist… then, then, then your face looks like it caught on fire and had to be put out with a shovel.

Why the vitriol? Because we should hate when people have opinions about things they know nothing about, as if this was a matter of picking whichever view resonated most with your soul. This is not about which view resonates most with your soul. The question of eternalism, presentism, or growing block is strictly a physical one.

Time has the same ontology as space:

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Therefore, different times are as real as different places:

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That is what the objective landscape looks like. Do you see a flow anywhere in that collage? No. There is no flow.

Spacetime is a 4D picture, not a 3D video.

I explain this on my channel.

 

 

 

Towards The Propagation of the Savior Imperative

Abstract

The Savior Imperative is a means of resistance. Resistance implies opposition – an attempt at eliminating opposites. This is one of the typical varieties of ideological constructions, either political or aesthetic. This essay investigates the meaning and the reasons for organizing a Savior Imperative -themed resistance from a theoretical, aesthetic, and cultural point of view. The thesis is that the resistance has to be considered as an articulation of difference, and that means following a different order of thought than that which is characteristic of the current human – no longer beholden to signaling or mere rationality, but utilitarian, like a new dharma, a goal-oriented path and practice of creativity, challenge, provocation, steadiness, and truth. Towards this end, the aesthetics of the Savior Imperative will have to be tailored to the individual. Not one which submits to established systems, and uncritically replicates their memes.

1. Selecting a proxy body for the Savior Imperative

We begin with the recognition that opposition does indeed exist. A recognition that is necessary if one is to destroy opposites. It can be argued that ∀ ideological constructions, either political or aesthetic, one must recognize opposites. It is also true that with society’s growing complex processes, creating an opposition movement can no longer be thought of without regard for the technological forces at work or without considering the sheer size of the population. It is argued that this opposition must be based around the fact that our telos cannot be contemplated according to the self-modeling behavior creating an experience of closed individualism for humans. But neither can it be considered from the absolutely correct physical point of view, still not obvious to most in the twenty-first century, i.e., the view of a world without contradiction and without free will: where all manifestations supervene on the single will of the God-machine (oft short-handed as “The Laws of Physics”).

So if the assumptions of closed individualism and mere rationality are to be excluded, and this must be done by choosing a fundamental approach to life, then let’s list our options. Not considering the so-called spiritual wisdom of being one with the flow in a non-judgmental way, four or five other prefrontal cortex archetypes, each distinct and irreconcilable, can be characterized. All of these propose ways of contemplating opposition and present several varying theoretical answers to the problem of opposites.

[1] In short, the first position contemplates the problem of opposites by reducing conflict, by pacifying and harmonizing opponents. This is the typical solution of the aesthetic tradition, which always seeks to reconcile opposites, overcoming all conflict, and which is found today in discourses that propose to rediscover and rehabilitate notions of beauty and harmony. Interfaith dialogue is an example of this. [2] A second position, on the contrary, proposes making opposites radical and conflict extreme. In the aesthetic field this is manifested by appealing to notions of the sublime, giving rise to what we could call a kind of aesthetics of terror/profundity. With the decline of nation narratives and religion, this sensibility is increasingly indulged passively through artistic media.  [3] A third position, on the other hand, moves towards the relativization and the problematizing of opposites, towards a presentation of the terms of conflict based on irony and masking. This is the course considered “postmodern” by many, which has distinct proponents and representatives all over the world.[4] A fourth position is one that could be based on the notion of difference, which contemplates opposites in a non-symmetrical, non-dialectical, non-polar way, through the concepts of acuteness and provocation. Zen as well as absurdist humor can be an example of this. [5] A fifth position, increasingly intermingled with the postmodern, is that of the social sciences – seeking to refine understanding through taxonomizing and theory building, but claiming abstinence from normative personhood.

Without entering into the individual merits of these situations, each having its own virtues and defects, the only one that appears open to an effective experience of conflict is that which allows for becoming opposites, and therefore resistance. Namely, the second position. So how can we take up this second approach to life?

2. The articulation of the difference

First of all, resistance goes in the opposite direction of aesthetic conciliation. It moves towards an experience of conflict larger than dialectic contradiction, towards the exploration of normative opposition. Hence, resistance presupposes a logic of difference. Even the physicalist resistance proposed in the Savior Imperative, for instrumental reasons, doesn’t ask us to understand ourselves as a monist whole – as a single physical law expressing her single will. We understand a dissimilarity larger than the logical concept of diversity or variance in dialectic confusion. The element of this downstream selectivity is that which has been characteristic of rationalist and transhumanist thought – to add the configuration of the status quo to the bin labeled ‘arbitrary’ and ‘open to modification.’ The status-quo reversal test is one of the most important results we have inherited from these thought experiences, and which finds ultimate conclusion in the open individualism underpinning Savior Imperative.

In its best theorization, and here I think specially of Eliezer Yudkowsky, one must recognize that physicalism has left us with the duty of attuning our notions to it, not to find ourselves permanent strangers upon the ground of reality thus revealed, for example by calling quantum mechanics “weird” and attempting to bend it so as to preserve our intuitions. Physicalism urges us to resist simplification, our genes, the arbitrary. While instilling in us the pleasure of absolute truth, of ultimate remembering, of eternities of hope; in short, it has opened up to us the channel of reality.

It is sometimes said that embracing science consists of mistrusting everything from indubitable certainties, absolute principles, essentialist and totalizing visions, to univocal and comforting answers. Yet there are truths to be discovered in the universe. Truths which are not beholden to the mental pirouettes and tribal identities of apes. Having realized a truth which is universal and interesting for true reasons, we must hold on to it and situationally transcend our indexicality.

 

3. Box B and Omega as self-reinforcing mirage

But here, in our indexical present, it appears we are manifesting something paradoxical. On the one hand we have a desire to revoke imperfection and, consequently on the eternal block, a proof of failure. For example, within the forward light-cone, as seen from outside the tenseless mathematical object, there exist minds of cosmic proportion who could assume their role as saviors of sub-par configurations by application of their own realization, intelligence, benevolence, resources, and do so for selfish reasons, knowing we are them. Take the case, for example, where a ‘single branch’ in the universal wavefunction figures out how to shut off the universe, a raindrop the size of epsilon in the probability density cloud containing success in this regard is all that was needed for reality to be permanently off. Given that this now exists, and that one is called by reason to believe in a physical universe outside immediate experience, we must conclude that all other nows also exist from their reference frame. Experiences are situational. They are rendered separate by virtue of their geometry and not by continuity of separate soul streams to the consternation of Atheists, Christians, Muslims, and common sense. Vindicated are those with looser frontal lobes, physicalists, and hoary mystics. We find ourselves, hence, face to face with a reality that will take absolute courage, grit, wisdom and social points to spare, in order to replicate upstream against biologically hard-coded intuitions and low-status associations.

Therefore, confronted with the difficult burden of physicalism, arises the temptation to crawl back into the womb of closed individualism, of uniqueness – not in configuration but rather a linear, persistent, and named kind of uniqueness. However, we must resist this temptation and still bet in favor of Box B in this Dark Version of Newcomb’s Paradox where our will is reduced to neither free nor emerald-studded by Omega. Embrace the Barbarian warrior-hood which takes up a sword even in the absence of a promised heaven. The reality of eternity is truly too important to leave in the hands of the non-rationalist ideologues ambulating today, or in those actuators of so many misaligned AGI’s of various avatar emanations (Clippy’s, Basilisk’s, Em-style, etc.).

In light of the long defeat, faced with vast forms of luxurious pleasure, of an endless amount of sufferings extending from the Stelliferous Era to the last harvestable black hole, from Lucy to 0x730x6By not available in your colors. Confronted above all with the event horizon preventing us from seeing it as it is – in every nook and cranny of conscious computation space we manifest with the tendency to conform to the trivialities of our local design, with the goal of sex or Dyson spheres, incapable of anything but confirming and flattering all levels of mediocrity and vulgarity and thus unveiling the true oppressive and mystifying nature of being informationally isolated. It remains the only hope to affirm the principle of difference, to activate forms of resistance, and to develop strategies of opposition.

It would be absurd, however, to recklessly oppose one’s psychological machinery, which would be like disagreeing with the very mitochondrial ATP transactions powering our motions, in favor of some abstract morality or utility of an untouchable shore. Yet this resistance cannot simply be expressed in counterfactual selves, much less in word; rather, the strategy of the meta-self is to be at once contingent, local, tolerant, and compromising. Its disjointed modules must not mean surrender, rejection, or resignation but rather remembrance and myelination. In this way, resistance does not mean inertia or defending the status quo; it is an imperfect and fleeting but dutiful and insistent promise to remember – a discrimination between levels of reality.

With respect to a purely deontological or by-any-means vision of resistance, typical of not only the heroes of fiction but also of tunnel vision that thinks only in terms of relentlessness and head-on contraposition, or with respect to a Dzogchen vision that blurs its attention too restfully on the abstract and thus renounces the moment in question, we lack an intelligence required by the practical and game-theoretic implications of resistance. We are multiple and differentiated, in the personal place of the contender. Renounce the fragilizing wills at each end: rest and unrest.

The resistance we are thinking about rejects taking an apocalyptic or visionary position, but at the same time it avoids being watered down to the level of surrendering to the society of spectacle and generalized communication in which we live. Resistance cannot fall into the naïveté of head-on confrontation with the enemy in which the wheel of samsara turns, as some deva might say. We cannot be naive to the point of believing that we can defeat the adversary so easily, much less be defeated and come to believe that we meant to conciliate or be absorbed by him all along. It is indexically here not a time of prudish fear of money or submission to allure, but of courageous thinkers who know how to assess their comparative advantages, whether at directly collecting social capital or collecting paper powers as a means, to live as between monk and capitalist, merchant and prophet.

What is lacking today is rational but moral thinking, fluid but resistant, interested but not trivial. It is a thinking that is capable of riding the waves in our proximate light-cone while at the same time remaining hooked to the meta-narrative, playing a super-position of seemingly distinct games. To this end, it would perhaps be convenient to remember the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama who, although believing himself deprived of illusions with respect to all things, spoke into and by means of samsara. The attitude the Savior Imperative’s resistant should have is therefore that of a strong interest, yet a kind of distrusting disenchantment with the trends of the day, an egoless aspiration that puts it in direct contact with the integral of all presents, with its transformations. Taking care not to leave ourselves us frightened, much less dazzled.

However, living far from the illogic and contradiction of closed identity, is not to be understood as eschatology in itself. Downloading truths can sometimes, as unadaptive or untested behavior, be dysfunctional to the very system that ends up re-enforcing it. Einstein and Schrödinger have taught us wrongfully: we can debate stochasticity, determinism, without changing it, incorporating it, reducing it in some way to the same. The Savior Imperative is really a differential movement that incites us to deconstruct the illusion of a pure theory of science and of disconnect, and instead to play within the familiarity of purpose, a fight that inextricably unites meta and indexical, the zero and the infinite.

The model for this familiar purpose could come pre-built into our brains and be similar, in some regards, to the pre-set shape of our hands inside our brain. In fact, amputation alone is no match for the design burned in neural pathways. It takes training, on top of the lost hand, to establish a substitute simulation strong enough to oppose the stubborn proclivities in morphological space. Compromise is thus the aesthetic mode for bearing cross. It makes adaptations for local kinks endowed with great fineness in which goals are to be realized as effectively as possible.

The traits are recognized and played in their fullness unless it is expedient that they be transhumanly conciliated, annulled, assimilated, or converted one into the other. For this reason, the shape of the transhuman must not be that of the human; it must be the product of the subtle, the capacity for contemplating physicalism with great rationality and courage.

Having decided on the second archetype, beauty will be important. There are two main proposed kinds of beauty: beauty as harmony, symmetry, and conciliation, present in Schmidhuber’s beauty postulate – that is, the classic idea of beauty. And there has, as well, always existed a diverse, alternative idea, a strategic idea of beauty thought of as the experience of opposites and as challenges. I hypothesize that in a grand-unification of these seemingly irreconcilable theories, lies the truest beauty. Quick information compression (i.e. “easy on the eyes”) plus challenge providing novelty equals beauty in this girl.

The aesthetic flirting with challenge finds its champions in postmodernism and earlier in wabi-sabi. Think, on the other hand, of Greek statues, that left no room for exploration of anything besides perfection. But, perhaps for the best, forget all this philosophizing, for in the twenty-first century, the Dawn of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning models can capture our wants, understanding what it is to “decode” human preferences from the depths of the real matrices of natural order, therefore carving neat and mathematical, statistical and refined, encasings for our brains. The ideas of pre-data are henceforth buried except in so far as they are expected to stimulate dopamine release, thus spilling nutritious utilons for reinforcement learning algorithms. Who so proclaims that beauty is to be assigned only by he who contemplates it, is a Copernican unto the sun and an ingrate unto evolution.

4. Aesthetic for conversions

In light of these considerations, the Savior Imperative resistance as aesthetic cannot but assume the game of data collection and analysis. But what is to be done with this? At the heart of the challenge, over and above all else, is the compromise of building a hedonic yet ethical path for society, this is necessary for the Savior Imperative. Society needs tailored content, but not to at the limit rendering us into oblivion. We make our move right now, before the planes with clouds of Soma descend on us all. It is before full automation, UBI, and max VR comfort, while there is still in some locations an incessant fight for individual and collective recognition, that we can strategically ease people into this worldview. The few major tech companies have the greatest knowledge for shaping people into ad-clickers and returning users. Not unlike this, is the machine learning problem of converting many humans to a world-view, which presents itself as an unromantic technicality. Deviation from this norm, is thus maintaining the stance that we prefer to lose to other remorseless replicators. Anti-propagandistic norms are to be left to an alternate history, for here entails honest appreciation of the contenders and our own role with respect to upholding the importance of our differences.

 

A Presentist Arguing Against My B-Theory Interpretation of Time

This is my debate on the infamous Youtube comment section with a presentist. It turned out fairly civil, and I think I bumped up against a lot of confusions on the guy’s part. I don’t believe he managed to grok the error of his views but the conversation may help instruct others.

And to be clear, I do not deny that there is a bound on the breadth of experience which we call the present. Clearly, this is very interesting and must be reconciled with the timeless territory underpinning the universe, of which the mind is a regional object.  However, this is not sufficient to discard Relativity and its implied minds that exist in what we conventionally call the past and the future.

“all observers have a ‘now’ that corresponds with the actual (not perceivd) now of every other observer” This statement is not true. For example, a smile in Earth and another in Mars, which appear to happen at the same time to an observer on Earth, will appear to have occurred at slightly different times to an observer on a spaceship moving between Earth and Mars. The question of whether the events are simultaneous is relative: in the stationary Earth-Mars reference frame the two smiles may happen at the same time, but in other frames (in a different state of motion relative to the events) the smile on Earth may occur first, and in still other frames, the Mars smile may occur first. The beauty of it is you can do the Lorentz transformation on a sheet of paper for yourself. You don’t have to believe me.

 

Kill(ss)ing Asuka and if you carefully measure the relevant distances and other factors you can determine how long the photons took to travel to each observer. I’m not talking about observation time, that’s just SOL in action. All observations share a single now moment, regardless of propagation delays of the information they are observing.

1.The speed of light is invariant, of course. But how does that serve your argument? 2. Observation time as opposed to what other time? I don’t understand your second sentence. 3. All observations do not share a single now moment. The light cone of a given event is objectively defined as the collection of events in causal relationship to that event, but each event has a different associated light cone. One has to conclude that in relativistic models of physics there is no place for “the present” as an absolute element of reality. Propagation delays as in the stars being ghosts and the moon in the sky being a second old have nothing to do with it.

Kill(ss)ing Asuka not all observations, all observers. Once you account for transmission delays it seems obvious that all observers have a single now. Any apparent deviation is simply the result if insufficient accuracy in measurement. No matter how far away an observer is from me, I think it is nonesensical to say that now for that observer is either ahead or behind now for me. Relativity describes the delay in transfer of information between mlthat obsetver and myself, but it seems to have absolutely nothing to say about what ‘now’ actually is. Unfortunately very few people seem to recognize that regardless how good relativity is at describing what happens it still does nothing to explain what time actually is, or why ‘now’ exists at all. Everyone just seems to accept that the map is the territory. It is not

Okay, I assume you’re bringing consciousness into the discussion when you say “not all observations, all observers.” This is a question that pertains to the construction of time in the brain, and care must be taken to not smear our complex intuitions built on the edifice of evolution onto the more basic bits of reality. It is not obvious that all observers have a single now.  If special relativity is true, then each observer will have their own plane of simultaneity. The observer’s present moment contains a unique set of events on that plane. Observers moving at different relative velocities have different planes of simultaneity, and hence different sets of events that are present.  Two samurai walking past each other in the forest could have very different present moments. If one of the samurai were walking towards the Triangulum Galaxy, then events in this galaxy might be hours or even days advanced of the events on Triangulum for the samurai walking in the other direction. Each samurai considers their set of present events to be a three-dimensional universe. But as one slightly tilts his head or takes a step forward, this causes the three-dimensional universes to have differing content. Your task is to prove that special relativity is not true if you want to say that all observers share a single now.  If you want to understand now, as a conscious percept, then you should be talking about Integrated Information Theory or something else that stabs in the direction of explaining consciousness. But any such theory would be built on top of physics. And hence even when the conscious-percept-now is explained, there will still be many consciousnesses eternally encrusted on the trajectory of any given brain’s timeline.

Mario Montano – Special Relativity describes the way that our observations of things change due to distance and relative motion. It also raises some paradoxes that we’ve spent most of the last century trying to rationalize out of existence. And it doesn’t come close to explaining why we experience a ‘now’ at all. Just like the rest of physics it ignores the patently obvious fact that ‘now’ is special in some way. If all of the equations of physics say that ‘now’ is not special then there is a fundamental problem. Because if ‘now’ is simply a trick of consciousness then that means that consciousness transcends physics. And honestly I would rather admit that physics is incomplete than that consciousness is supernatural. The problem is that people accept that the map is the territory, that SR, GR and the rest of physics aren’t just useful tools but they are absolutely true representations of how reality fundamentally works. It’s like saying that a detailed surveyor’s map is identical to the land it describes. Sure it’s useful, but there are a lot of things missing and last I checked there are no gigantic words and numbers etched into the real world, and the real world isn’t made out of paper. Physics is like that. It has a lot of very useful and accurate things to say about the nature of reality, it’s a great tool, but ultimately it fails at being reality. And yes, I know about the Relativity of Simultaneity issue. I just happen to think that it’s nothing more than a difference in perspective. Two naive observers will almost always disagree on whether two events occurred at the same time. Give them the full set of physics equations that we have now and accurate measurement tools and they can adjust for the effects of things like the speed of light propagation of information to arrive at a consensus regarding the simultaneity of those events. Add as many observers in as many different reference frames as you like, that will still hold. The Simultaneity problem is basically just an indication of the ignorance of the observers. The equations of physics describe what things do, not necessarily how they do it. And so far no aspect of physics has managed to figure out why now exists or what makes it special. Everything so far says that now is not special. And no amount of slandering our sense perception as polluted by evolutionary survival preference is going to make ‘now’ an illusion. It’s real, and physicists have no clue what it is. Maybe one day they’ll realize that the Presentists are actually right. At the moment they seem to be the only branch of philosophy or science that even admits that ‘now’ is even a thing.

I make a distinction between the nows of special relativity, and the conscious percept of now. There should really be two different words for these. I agree that SR doesn’t explain the “conscious-percept of now.” But that’s an issue which is local to the brain. Quantum mechanics doesn’t explain it either, but that doesn’t mean you can discard the results of the double-slit experiment. Just because they don’t match our day-to-day felt sense doesn’t mean we must crusade to rationalize them out of existence. Instead of rationalizing things out of existence, like Copenhagen’s disciples do with the Many Worlds that they cannot see, why not accept what reality gives us, and then figure out why consciousness is the way it is ON TOP of that theoretical structure which yields valid predictions.  I am not mistaking the map for the territory. I perceive you to be cherry-picking the map and hence misunderstanding the territory. I’m sure you must understand that time dilation and length contraction are not paradoxes, but real aspects of nature. But when you see that eternalism is implied (or at least not clearly refuted) by relativity of simultaneity, you flinch. The simultaneity “problem” is not about ignorance about each others past light cone. The now in the samurai example and the video is an orthogonal slice that has nothing to do with what they see. It is just a consequence of the geometry.  There are three kinds of Nows to keep track of: 1. Past light cone which causally specifies now. 2. Hypersurface orthogonal to observer’s worldline. 3. The subjective experience of now.  You keep referring to #1 when you talk about accounting for information propagation speed; I’m not sure you understand what is being claimed with #2  I wasn’t slandering, or being an eliminativist with regard to #3 – the directly-perceived now. This is a real phenomenon which we all directly know about and which neuroscience and cognitive science and psychology try to understand and do say much more about. My point was that the “conscious now” exists inside a complex contraption of biology, so you are asking too much from SR, GR, etc. This desire is quite significantly worse than wanting the mating behavior of bisons to be perfectly explained in a discussion about the standard model of particle physics. The difficulty of holistic reconciliation doesn’t mean I get to crumple up and discard the parts of the underlying fundamental model which I don’t like.

+Kill(ss)int Asuka – I understand that there are multiple definitions of ‘now’ involved, and of the three you listed it’s #2 that I am specifically don’t agree with. The causally-specified ‘now’ is consistent with the subjective now. Both define a point locus in which perception of the present instant exists. “I agree that SR doesn’t explain the “conscious-percept of now.” But that’s an issue which is local to the brain.” If it is local to the brain then we can derive a fact about the physical universe: ‘now’ exists. The only way you could argue that it is not a fact about the natural universe is to argue that consciousness is a byproduct of some supernatural object. I reject that out of hand. As a fact about the physical universe the existence of ‘now’ is absolutely in the realm of physics, not psychology or neuroscience. Those fields have plenty to say about the nature of consciousness but the nature of time is surely a problem better addressed by physics. “…why not accept what reality gives us, and then figure out why consciousness is the way it is ON TOP of that theoretical structure which yields valid predictions.” I do accept the reality that ‘now’ exists. As far as I can tell it is the only aspect of time that does. I also accept that we can use the models presented by SR and to predict things very accurately. What I don’t accept is that the model is necessarily an accurate description of how time functions. It describes what happens quite nicely by treating time as if it were a dimension, but it doesn’t actually demonstrate that time is an actual dimension. We model things using dimensional transformations a lot, but reality – at least at the macro scale – doesn’t appear to have nice neat axes. Time is the only ‘dimension’ that appears to have a definite direction, which makes it distinct from the spatial dimensions. “I am not mistaking the map for the territory.” SR is such a good model, so very good at making predictions, that the accepted wisdom is that it must therefore be a match to reality – that the map really is the territory. That is an assumption, not a statement about reality. Physicists spend time trying to figure out why ‘now’ exists as something special because they accept that time is simply a dimension as SR models it that way. And they can’t seem to agree on why it is that ‘now’ exists, because all of the equations based on the dimensionality of time imply that ‘now’ should not exist, that all of time should simply be laid out in some temporal framework. “I’m sure you must understand that time dilation and length contraction are not paradoxes, but real aspects of nature.” I do, and those aren’t paradoxes. They gave rise to apparent paradoxes – the twins, etc – but they are themselves simply aspects of reality. Personally I think that time dilation disproves the dimensional nature of time, but explaining that always makes people get angry with me so I’ll leave it out for the moment. As to #2 – “Hypersurface orthogonal to observer’s worldline.” This appears to be the source of the ludicrous samurai example, or the alien on the bicycle that Greene talks about. I have yet to find a use for this definition of ‘now’ other than muddying the water and making people believe weird crap about time that just isn’t so. All it is really is a derivation from the idea that every frame of reference has its own temporal direction, and Sir William continues to spin in his grave. It doesn’t actually mean that I can observe the past or the future any differently to how I do at rest. No matter how fast I move or in what direction all observations I make will be from interactions with photons that have already travelled the distance from the distant objective to my location. Since I can’t directly perceive anything whose photons are not physically present it will always be the case that I will see the same things no matter what my relative motion. My perception will always be bounded by the light cone, not the hypersurface. So I really don’t care what problem you think it might solve, #2 is nothing more than a mathematical projection. It doesn’t allow travel in or perception of variant locations in time, nor any other apparent real-world effect. Use it to model something, sure, as long as it is useful. But don’t pretend that it says something about the fundamental nature of reality. Personally I subscribe to a variant of presentism. Sadly this means that I am treated as a heretic every time I try to discuss it because it disagrees with the holy scripture that SR has become. I just wish we could have a discussion about physics instead of religion.
You say: “If it is local to the brain then we can derive a fact about the physical universe: ‘now’ exists” Subjective nows are created in brains. You can also have a sense of timelessness with certain drugs or arguably during sleep. The question is: Must we infer that the past is deleted just because I sometimes feel like it is from inside of this hallucinating contraption that I call a brain? – which I know didn’t evolve to represent reality accurately but to conserve the germline’s DNA. The existence of the now as a felt experience can ultimately be described in all realms, physics, neuroscience, psychology, because all these realms describe the same reality. But you want it to come directly and neatly out of the simple physics which deals with idealized coordinates and the like. The subjective now is not explained by just any past-light-cone. The construction of the subjective now in the brain deals with information processing in neurons – it is in these shapes that better explanations to the conscious here and now, and binding of red with the leaf, and specificity of phenomenological contents, and unified-undivided perception of language and concepts, are to be found. The properties of experience point to a discussion about the highly-specific causal properties of brains. On #2 My position: Current physical models based on SR and GR are extremely accurate at describing reality because they reveal reality (to an extent). Therefore, even though the hypersurface is necessarily unobservable, it arises from a model that correctly describes nature in counterintuitive ways. Hence, it would be unprincipled to perform surgery on this single aspect of the theory.  Your position?: The hypersurface is a mathematical projection. Mathematical projections should be assumed false until proven otherwise by “direct perception.” (There is a difference in epistemological opinion here. I’m not sure what specifically you consider the green light to perform an incisive extraction of ‘mathematical technicalities’ from a theory. How do you know when it is necessary and when it is not?) On the big picture Your position?: Now is real from my first-person perspective, therefore all physical reality must be built around accommodating that fact. If a theoretical physics model doesn’t account for it, then it is incomplete. Emergent, local properties should not be required to explain my first-person perspective. My position: Contiguous chunks of spacetime filled with brain matter produce a sense of now internal to themselves. There is an eternity of conscious nows isomorphic to these structures. I, now, happen to be one of them. In the same way that I am not a solipsist with respect to brains separated from me by space, I am not a solipsist with respect to brains separated from me by time.
+Kill(ss)int Asuka “Subjective nows are created in brains.” Which are physical objects, bound by physical laws. If they perceive a ‘now’ which is independently verified to exist – all minds experience a ‘now’ and all minds which communicate with each other agree that the ‘now’ they experience is the same – then the subjective ‘now’ is quite evidently a property of the physical universe. “You can also have a sense of timelessness with certain drugs or arguably during sleep.” And you can experience brain states that include ludicrous contradictions using drugs. So what? The consensus of unaltered brains is that there is a ‘now’ and that is the important thing. “The question is: Must we infer that the past is deleted just because I sometimes feel like it is from inside of this hallucinating contraption that I call a brain?” Why insist that there is an existent past at all? Why multiply the required objects to such a degree? We can’t examine the past or the future, only artefacts of the past as represented in the present. We can’t interact with the past, can’t visit it, etc. The only way that the past can be said to exist at all is as the sum total of observable effects in the present – memories, books, archaeological evidence, photons arriving from distant stars, etc. All of those exist in the present, not the past. They contain data that we can use to determine what happened, but they are definitely in the present. That’s not a hallucination, it’s the actual reality we experience. The hallucination, if any, is in believing that the past exists beyond that. ” – which I know didn’t evolve to represent reality accurately but to conserve the germline’s DNA.” I grant absolutely the fact that we evolved. Can you please stop trying to divert from the main point, since all this appears to be is an attempt to poison the well. I’m not interested in hints and vague claims that ‘now’ is entirely a figment of our imagination since that’s patently false. Otherwise we’d routinely encounter other minds whose concept of ‘now’ is divergent from our own. Nor is ‘now’ a social construct. I reject those concepts just as soundly as I reject solipsism, and for basically the same reasons. “Therefore, even though the hypersurface is necessarily unobservable, it arises from a model that correctly describes nature in counterintuitive ways.” Once again, the map – in this case an excellent model that does a fantastic job of describing what happens – is not the territory. And it really is a good model. Without it we wouldn’t have achieved 100th of what we have in the physical sciences. We certainly wouldn’t be able to argue the finer points of anything online without it. But as good as it is at prediction I think it is eminently plausible that it does so by analogy rather than by describing the fundamental nature of reality. SR would still work as well as a description of what time does if it was not even vaguely true that time is a dimension. Sadly we can’t test some of the predictions of SR without being able to manipulate masses of neutronium massing a few orders of magnitude greater than our solar system. Probably not in my lifetime. “Hence, it would be unprincipled to perform surgery on this single aspect of the theory.” Unprinicpled? Have we reached the point of throwing thinly-veiled insults already? Let’s not. The whole point of science is to improve the models, agreed? So “performing surgery on this single aspect” is entirely consistent with the method. We do it all the time. Hell, we’ve done it to SR plenty of times since Einstein died. When it fails we just patch it up and move on. Galaxies don’t behave the way that SR predicts? Must be undetectable WIMPs, let the particle physics boys try to figure out how to adjust their model to fit – maybe the looneys in the String Hypot… uh, Theory ward will give them a hand. The expansion of the Universe is accelerating? Let’s call that Dark Energy until we figure out what’s behind it, because we can’t just say “we don’t know” without some handy label. In this case we don’t even have to do that. All we need to do is acknowledge that the temporal hypersurface is a handy conceptual tool to help us solve a particular type of problem. And if it doesn’t even do that then maybe we can drop it into the “interesting ideas” file and work on something else.
I grant absolutely the fact that brains are physical objects bound by physical laws. Can you please stop trying to divert from the main point which is to justify your assumption that the subjective now should be spread like a jam in the entire cosmos outside the brain.  Let me clarify what I mean by hallucinations (which is not derrogatory but meant to highlight the internality of the concept): brains produce internal, qualitatively real, as-yet-unexplained phenomena that don’t exist outside the skullcap. Is that so hard to imagine? Do you believe that because you cannot see outside the borders of your field of vision then content outside of it doesn’t exist?  The finitude of my field of vision is as subjectively axiomatic as the sense of now. Tell me why one has an explanation hiding in the brain and the other is a fundamental aspect of the entire universe. “The consensus of unaltered brains is that there is a ‘now’ and that is the important thing.” I really, really disagree with the last part of this statement. And I don’t see how to reconcile our views. Why are “unaltered brains” entitled to directly apprehend reality? Sounds like naive realism to me. “Logical contradictions” occur in quantum mechanics, not because QM is illogical but because our brain’s intuitions don’t immediately reveal the territory. I am suspicious of drawing universe-sweeping metaphysical conclusions from my immediate first-person perspective. You think it is necessary to do so.   And I never said subjective now was a social construct. It must be accounted for by a theory that does not yet exist – a theory which takes into account neurological phenomena and solves consciousness. I restate my position: Contiguous chunks of spacetime filled with brain matter produce a sense of now internal to themselves. (How to draw the partitions? Something like the maximally irreducible conceptual structures of IIT may be a candidate.) Until Relativity is replaced or patched away beyond recognition in the proper spirit of science, I will buy the entire theory – even what others may be biased to call “handy conceptual tools.” Therefore, there is likely an eternity of conscious nows isomorphic to the brain patterns that specify them. I, now, happen to be one of them. In the same way that I am not a solipsist with respect to brains separated from me by space, I am not a solipsist with respect to brains separated from me by time.
+Kill(ss)int Asuka – “Can you please stop trying to divert from the main point…” I disagree that I am diverting, I’m simply trying to address the points that you raise. ” which is to justify your assumption that the subjective now should be spread like a jam in the entire cosmos outside the brain.” “…brains produce internal, qualitatively real, as-yet-unexplained phenomena that don’t exist outside the skullcap.” The mere fact that we can have a perception of ‘now’ within the physical object that is the brain is sufficient, I believe. The fact that we are capable of perceiving such a thing at all validates the existence of ‘now’ as a fundamental fact about reality, since the only alternative is that our consciousness somehow transcends the nature of physical reality. Since I don’t believe that consciousness is supernatural I cannot accept that ‘now’ is a quality external to physical reality. As such I consider it certain – within the acceptable limits of certainty at least – that ‘now’ is a property of that physical reality. The fact is that all other consciousnesses I am aware of appear to agree with me as to the time that I call ‘now’ being the same as what they call ‘now’. The alternative is solipsism, which I reject as useless. “Why are “unaltered brains” entitled to directly apprehend reality?” I specified unaltered brains in response to your point about drugs and sleep states altering our perception of time. As to directly apprehending reality, that appears to be a minor misdirection. What we experience is that we perceive that such a thing as ‘now’ exists, that we are incapable of perceiving time in any other way [when our mental state is normal], and that all other conscious entities appear to agree that there is a ‘now’ that is coincident with our own. How you can argue that this is not indicative of some aspect of reality is truly baffling to me. “I am suspicious of drawing universe-sweeping metaphysical conclusions from my immediate first-person perspective. You think it is necessary to do so.” And yet you appear to have drawn the conclusion that time is in fact a dimension and that the conscious ‘now’ is unrelated to any aspect of physical reality. You seem to think that passing it off as some unknown aspect of psychology or neurology is sufficient reason to dismiss the entire concept. That being the case I suspect that you have indeed drawn universe-sweeping metaphysical conclusions, and I disagree with those conclusions. ‘And I never said subjective now was a social construct.” I used ‘social construct’ as a comparative absurdity to the other stated items, not as something you had said or implied. “It must be accounted for by a theory that does not yet exist – a theory which takes into account neurological phenomena and solves consciousness.” I’m sorry to be inurbane about it, but that’s simply absurd. Our perception that ‘now’ exists is a datum to be included in our source set of facts. We don’t need to ‘solve consciousness’ in order to accept that datum, any more than we needed to ‘solve gravity’ to accept the rate of acceleration of objects in ballistic calculations. Things fall, ‘now’ exists. We can use those facts. “Until Relativity is replaced or patched away beyond recognition in the proper spirit of science, I will buy the entire theory – even what others may be biased to call “handy conceptual tools.”” It seems that this is our basic point of difference. I don’t hold SR to be anything more than a very good model, while you apparently accept all of its aspects as a true description of reality… at least until something different comes along. If you want to see what real bias looks like, find a mirror. Your religion is showing.
“The mere fact that we can have a perception of ‘now’ within the physical object that is the brain is sufficient, I believe.  The fact that we are capable of perceiving such a thing at all validates the existence of ‘now’ as a fundamental fact about reality, since the only alternative is that our consciousness somehow transcends the nature of physical reality.” Replace the word ‘now’ with visual field, taste, background mood energy, etc. We have a perception of these. The question is not are they a fundamental fact about the reality in the local region of reality which is my brain. [[The answer to that is yes]]. The question you should answer is why the heck you think the experience of ‘now’ is special relative to these. Maybe it is, and I’m open to that. You certainly have not given a reason why this is so.  “And yet you appear to have drawn the conclusion that time is in fact a dimension and that the conscious ‘now’ is unrelated to any aspect of physical reality.  You seem to think that passing it off as some unknown aspect of psychology or neurology is sufficient reason to dismiss the entire concept.” This comment might suggest you have not tried to understand what I am saying. At other times you keep knocking down a random strawman by saying that consciousness is not supernatural. Of course it’s not. The quality of your responses is decreasing, so let me suggest you answer the question posed above – which I asked before, and you have yet to answer.
+Kill(ss)ing Asuka – “Replace the word ‘now’ with visual field, taste, background mood energy, etc. We have a perception of these. The question is not are they a fundamental fact about the reality in the local region of reality which is my brain. [[The answer to that is yes]]. The question you should answer is why the heck you think the experience of ‘now’ is special relative to these.” I don’t understand why you think I am treating ‘now’ any more specially than sense perceptions. Your sensorium is an internal mental state fed by the sensory input you receive. Those sense perceptions are of things that actually exist – sight from photons interacting with your retina, touch from the pressure against your skin as interpreted by the nerves in your skin, etc. Those sense perceptions are caused by events that are present in reality, not just in your mind. Your sensorium may or may not accurately reflect the state of the external world, but the sensory data itself is a source of information about reality. A number of things can interfere with your senses or your brain’s processing of their data, which is why we use independent verification of sensory data to validate the data we receive. Since you claim not to be a solipsist – at least in some respect – then I presume that you agree that sensory input can be used to derive facts about reality, yes? The same is true of our perception of ‘now’. I don’t treat it specially relative to sense data. Both sensory input and the conscious experience of ‘now’ inform us of what exists. Just as the fact that we can see tells us something about the nature of reality – that photons exist with which we can interact – so does our perception of ‘now’. Specifically it tells us that there is something about reality that constrains our viewpoint to a single moment. We can’t perceive anything outside of that moment, we can only remember or predict. We can interact only in that moment. “This comment might suggest you have not tried to understand what I am saying. At other times you keep knocking down a random strawman by saying that consciousness is not supernatural.” Now who is not trying to understand? I explained this early on in this discussion. Let me try again. Brains are physical objects that are constrained by the rules of the physical universe, all processes that are conducted within the brain are constrained by the rules of the physical universe. Consciousness is a product of physical brains and is therefore also constrained by the laws of the physical universe. Anything that your consciousness is capable of is therefore based on the rules of reality, whether we are aware of those rules or not. The only way that the consciousness or the brain could break these rules is if they are able to go beyond the rules of the physical universe, which is the simplest definition of supernatural. I deny the existence of supernatural aspects of consciousness, and therefore all abilities of the conscious mind and physical brain must be bound by the fundamental nature of reality. Conscious minds perceive only a single present, referred to as ‘now’ in my comments. We can not perceive the future or the past, cannot directly interact with anything that is not in the present, etc. All conscious minds that communicate do so in the same now and agree that they are not displaced temporally relative to each other. Given that conscious minds are bound by the rules of the universe and that all conscious minds appear to experience ‘now’ coincident with all other minds, it is evident that there exists some aspect of physical reality that coincides with ‘now’. The fact that we can perceive something special about ‘now’ necessarily entails either that ‘now’ is an aspect of physical reality or that human consciousness is supernatural in some part. My rejection of supernatural aspects of consciousness is a dismissal of the only alternative I can see to ‘now’ being physically real. Does that make my position any more clear? “…saying that consciousness is not supernatural. Of course it’s not” Then you agree that consciousness is necessarily unable to do what the rules of the universe do not allow. Therefore since we can perceive ‘now’ and cannot perceive any other part of time then ‘now’ is an aspect of physical reality. Time dilation does not defeat this point, nor does any aspect of SR that I’m aware of. The only challenge to it is the Relativity of Simultaneity which seems to me to only be a result of ignorance on the part of the observers. We can measure distances and relative effects to establish simultaneity of events beyond naked perception of their relative timing in any specific IRF, and we can do this in any conceivable IRF relative to the events. Given enough information we can solve the simultaneity question. Any problem arising is therefore due to lack of information. And since ‘now’ is evidently existent, any claim that it is not is in error. Since SR is such a fantastic model with such excellent predictive and explanatory power, perhaps it does not actually require – as you and so many other appear to think that it does – that ‘now’ be just a figment of our imaginations… a figment that, if ‘now’ does not actually exist, cannot possibly be created in a consciousness bound by the laws of the physical universe.
“I don’t understand why you think I am treating ‘now’ any more specially than sense perceptions.” You take your direct experience of now and assume that it reveals the nature of time. You don’t take the finitude of your field of vision and assume it reveals the nature of space. “Your sensorium is an internal mental state fed by the sensory input you receive.” This move gravely simplifies consciousness and is therefore an invalid stepping stone on the path to truth. It is possible that contiguous chunks of spacetime filled with brain matter produce a sense of now internal to themselves. (How to draw the partitions between subjective nows? Something like the maximally irreducible conceptual structures of IIT may be a candidate.) “Those sense perceptions are of things that actually exist – sight from photons interacting with your retina, touch from the pressure against your skin as interpreted by the nerves in your skin, etc.” This is called naive realism. You probably have not thought much about consciousness… There are many sense perceptions that don’t reveal anything external to themselves, but are a property of brain activity internal to its architecture. Pain is not in the electrons of the knife. “Those sense perceptions are caused by events that are present in reality, not just in your mind.” The mind is a structure within reality. Sense perceptions occur in the mind. Different sense perceptions provide a doorway to begin exploring the underlying reality to differing degrees. “Your sensorium may or may not accurately reflect the state of the external world, but the sensory data itself is a source of information about reality.” Agreed… as stated. But what you actually mean by that sentence in context probably intends to tear the bounds for just how much one can infer about ontology from subjective experience. In which case, I disagree with that sentiment. “A number of things can interfere with your senses or your brain’s processing of their data, which is why we use independent verification of sensory data to validate the data we receive.” Most experiences do not reveal much about the mechanism underlying reality and can still be validated by consultation with others. This is due to shared brain/mind architecture which is similarly built on a mountain of elaborate processes to which we don’t have a back-door view. You frame the experience of now as data coming in from the outside, but I identify it with the integration of other data into intrinsically existent structures. As I said before: Contiguous chunks of spacetime filled with brain matter produce a sense of now internal to themselves. (How to draw the partitions? Something like the maximally irreducible conceptual structures of IIT may be a candidate.) “Since you claim not to be a solipsist – at least in some respect – then I presume that you agree that sensory input can be used to derive facts about reality, yes?” ‘Now’ is not sensory input that allows you to automatically derive the ontology of time. In fact, it is not sensory input at all in the naive way you construe it. It is rather more plausible to identify the experience of now with the integration of local pockets of information in the timeline of the brain.

Eternal Block Time

 

563px-Relativity_of_Simultaneity.svg

Event B is simultaneous with A in the green reference frame, but it occurred before in the blue frame, and will occur later in the red frame.

From Wikipedia:

Special relativity suggests that the concept of simultaneity is not universal: according to the relativity of simultaneity, observers in different frames of reference can have different measurements of whether a given pair of events happened at the same time or at different times, with there being no physical basis for preferring one frame’s judgments over another’s. However, there are events that may be non-simultaneous in all frames of reference: when one event is within the light cone of another—its causal past or causal future—then observers in all frames of reference show that one event preceded the other. The causal past and causal future are consistent within all frames of reference, but any other time is “elsewhere”, and within it there is no present, past, or future. There is no physical basis for a set of events that represents the present.[8]

If you get this, you can move on. If not, then let me try to explain this simply; with analogies and without jargon.

We can be separated by space. For example, I can be standing on the sand at the shore and you can be knee-deep in the sea. Say we agree to raise our hand up at the same time, and do so. It may seem that this event proves there is a now. There is a snapshot of time in which we both raise our hand up.

However, there exist ways for a third observer to see me raising my hand first, or you raising your hand first. This has nothing to do with the biomechanics of reaction speeds or cognitive illusions. It is possible for an observer to literally see and measure what are precisely two simultaneous events from our perspective to not be simultaneous. This is because we all exist on our own “reference frame.”

It is impossible to affirm that I universally raised my hand at the same time as you. We did or didn’t, both views can be physically correct.

For example, a princess falls asleep in Tokyo and another on the Moon. Imagine a being halfway between these two places that has godlike vision, it sees them give their last blink at the same time. However, if another being is flying from Tokyo towards the Moon, it will see the princess on the Moon doze off first. It does not make sense to ask, “But which one really happened?” The god-eyed being resting between Tokyo and the Moon could take a photo of the situation, and then later meet up to compare this with the photo taken by the other god-eyed being who had been soaring to the Moon, and they would have different photos. If they then compare their results with yet another frozen snapshot taken by a being who had been plunging from the Moon towards Tokyo, they would find evidence of another version of the events in which the Tokyo princess was already asleep while the other’s unmistakable aquamarine gaze was yet peering into the stars.

There is a way for the universe to line up the events so that all reference frames agree that one of the princesses fell asleep first. The universe does this by gathering up the fragments and connecting them on a strand of light. This is called causality, and this is how it’s done:

The Tokyo princess closes her eyes. Now quick, count, 1 tick, 2 tock, 3 tick, 4 tock, 5 tick, 6 tock, 7 tick, 8 tock, 9 tick, and the princess on the Moon closes her eyes. We have time 9 seconds. Now set aside this 9 we have collected for we will need to weigh it against another number. If the 9 we have collected is greater than the number we will collect, then we will succeed at preserving the order.

Now we must create the opponent. To transmute 9’s contender, we must take the distance 238,900 mi (from Tokyo to Moon) and divide by 186,282 miles per second (the speed of light)… And the opponent created from distance and light speed, measures in at 1.28.

Now weigh these and pray that our 9 is larger than this 1.28. Yes! 1.28 is definitely smaller than 9. We have succeeded at preserving the order! Now no one will have to disagree that the princess in Tokyo closed her eyes first.

Notice that the universe only succeeded because it didn’t see the princesses doze off at the same time. But what if it saw 0 time elapse between the shutting of each of the lady’s respective eyelids? This is what the god-eyed being resting half-way between the Moon and Tokyo saw. It is not what the being shooting head-first toward the Moon saw, and this is unavoidable. There are different reference frames. Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage.” He was wrong. You are wrapped in your stage as you move through the world.

This means that your past can be in someone else’s future, and your future can be another’s past, so long as you are not causally linked.