A team of theoretical physicists working with Microsoft today published an amazing pre-print research paper describing the universe as a self-learning system of evolutionary laws.
In other words: We live inside a computer that learns.
The big idea: Bostrom’s Simulation Argument has been a hot topic in science circles lately. We published “What if you’re living in a simulation, but there’s no computer” recently to posit a different theory, but Microsoft’s pulled a cosmic “hold my beer” with this paper.
Dubbed “The Autodidactic Universe,” and published to arXiv today, the paper spans 80 pages and lays out a pretty good surface argument for a novel, nuanced theory of everything.
Here’s my take: Based on my interpretation of this paper, the universe was either going to exist or it wasn’t going to exist. The fact it exists tells us how that worked out. Whatever contrivance (law) caused that to happen set the stage for whatever was going to happen next.
The paper argues that the laws governing the universe are an evolutionary learning system. In other words: the universe is a computer and, rather than exist in a solid state, it perpetuates through a series of laws that change over time.
How’s it work? That’s the tough part. The researchers explain the universe as a learning system by invoking machine learning systems. Just like we can teach machines to perform unfolding functions over time, that is, to learn, the laws of the universe are essentially algorithms that do work in the form of learning operations.
Per the researchers:
For instance, when we see structures that resemble deep learning architectures emerge in simple autodidactic systems might we imagine that the operative matrix architecture in which our universe evolves laws, itself evolved from an autodidactic system that arose from the most minimal possible starting conditions?
It’s poetic, if you think about it. We understand the laws of physics as we observe them, so it makes sense that the original physical law would be incredibly simple, self-perpetuating, and capable of learning and evolving.
Perhaps the universe didn’t begin with a Big Bang, but a simple interaction between particles. The researchers allude to this humble origin by stating “information architectures typically amplify the causal powers of rather small collections of particles.”
What’s it mean? If you ask me, the game is rigged. The scientists describe the ever-evolving laws of the universe as being irreversible:
One implication is that if the evolution of laws is real, it is likely to be unidirectional, for otherwise it would be common for laws to revert to previous states, perhaps even more likely than for them to find a new state. This is because a new state is not random but rather must meet certain constraints, while the immediate past state has already met constraints.
A reversible but evolving system would randomly explore its immediate past frequently. When we see an evolving system that displays periods of stability, it probably evolves unidirectionally.
In illustrating these points, the researchers invoke the image of a forensics expert attempting to recreate how a given program came to a result. In one example, the expert could simply check the magnetic marks left on the hard disk. In that way, the results of the program are reversible: a history of their execution exists.
But if the same expert tried to determine the results of a program by examining the CPU, arguably the entity most responsible for its execution, it’d be much more difficult to do. There’s no intentional, internal record of the operations a CPU runs.
You’d have to examine how every particle that interacted with its logic gates during operations changed in order to begin to paint the historical picture of a computer program through internal observation of its CPU at work.
The consequences: If the universe operates via a set of laws that, while initially simple, are autodidactic (self-learning) and thus capable of evolving over time, it could be impossible for humans to ever unify physics.
According to this paper, the rules that governed concepts such as relativity may have had functionally different operational consequences 13.8 billion years ago than they will 100 trillion years from now. And that means “physics” is a moving target.
Of course, this is all speculation based on theoretical physics. Surely the researchers don’t literally mean the universe is a computer, right?
Per the paper:
We are examining whether the Universe is a learning computer.
In today’s techno-context this is an apt metaphor. However, the “the theme of creation” has been more accurately delineated in a modern spiritual context by a spiritual “Perfect Master” (and imo, the spiritual authority of our current age), Meher Baba. In his tome “God Speaks” he explains the evolution of consciousness “from unconscious Divinity to conscious Divinity” thru the evolution of individuated cosnsciousness. And it isn’t based on metaphor or theory. Ininite Intelligence and Infinite imagination are creating, through us, the phenomenal universe, i.e. the grand illusion (“maya”) of “false phenomenal” reality… a grand paradox that includes current illusions both… Read more »
Your Meher Babas is just another anti-Christ among many. “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matthew 24:23-24. Why not read the Bible? https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/
But explain that to the confused who are walking from “big bang”, “we are coming from an ape”, “it just got there like pocket wool”, and now “we are all self evolving stone cold hearted supercomputer freaks”.
They will never arrive there to the superior level, the bible.
This is what happens when atheists begin running things.
Mechanistic technocrats are intellectually myopic and stuck in material reductionism. The idea of other levels of reality and the nature of the individual Spirit will always elude them. It’s a problem with these reincarnates … same psyche … life after life … a SLOW process and they’re blind to anything other than what they’re used to. Once they progress, they will see it differently, but for now, they’re an experiential pain in the butt for others. I’d like to see what they think when they move forward in their evolution and have incarnations (spirit using a body to gather experiences)… Read more »
“The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane” – Nikola Tesla I like how this origin story involves the interaction of two particles, despite physicists knowing that particles are just made up of a form of electro-magnetic frequency, so clearly the particles did not start the universe. This scientific paper seems more like a re-write of the Kabbalah than a scientific endeavor. Is the changing of physical laws just the retelling of the story of Mars and Jupiter defeating Saturn? The fall of… Read more »
Well, we have come a long way. When I was much younger I learned that the universe rode on the back of a giant turtle. And, when someone curiously asked about the giant turtle’s whereabouts, it was explained that the giant turtle rode on the back of another giant turtle and so on and on and on. Now, our new insights have shown that, no, this not correct. Instead, we have learned that the universe lives in the bowels of a computer simulation. And, of course, it is obvious to all that the computer simulation exists inside another computer simulation… Read more »
What an extremely boring and cement grey world view. I really feel pity for these people, that are missing the real thing.