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GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Mike Marynowski10-Feb-17 11:04
professionalMike Marynowski10-Feb-17 11:04 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Foothill10-Feb-17 11:37
professionalFoothill10-Feb-17 11:37 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Mike Marynowski10-Feb-17 11:38
professionalMike Marynowski10-Feb-17 11:38 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Mike Marynowski10-Feb-17 6:39
professionalMike Marynowski10-Feb-17 6:39 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Eddy Vluggen10-Feb-17 7:43
professionalEddy Vluggen10-Feb-17 7:43 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Foothill10-Feb-17 8:34
professionalFoothill10-Feb-17 8:34 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Eddy Vluggen12-Feb-17 0:26
professionalEddy Vluggen12-Feb-17 0:26 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
StatementTerminator10-Feb-17 9:42
MemberStatementTerminator10-Feb-17 9:42 
OK, let me come at this from a more philosophical angle.

Which came first, energy or matter? AFAIK, current mainstream cosmology would have to say that energy came first, at least if you hold with the Big Bang Theory. You can convert energy to mass and vice-versa, but when you look closely enough matter is fundamentally a product of energy (think of what an atom truly is). So is the everyday material world even "real" then, if solid matter is merely an "illusion" created by tiny energy clusters sparsely distributed through vast quantities of empty space?

Well, it's as real as real gets, from the experiential viewpoint, because there's no "more real" world that you can visit. However, that doesn't mean that matter is the foundation of reality itself, it's just the foundation of our experience of reality. But what is it that experiences this reality?

There is one truly undeniable statement in philosophy, one statement that is more certainly true than anything else that can be said. It was famously stated by Descartes as "I think, therefore I am." In other words, the fact that I am able to contemplate being proves that, in fact, being is a thing and that I exist. Importantly, the only thing that we can be so certain that exists is consciousness. Consciousness is the only thing that experiences reality, and so in some sense reality is always defined in terms of consciousness (even for materialists, who have to deal with the sensory problem). You cannot, in good intellectual faith, ignore the question of consciousness if you seek an accurate understanding of reality.

[I'm going to beat on Daniel Dennett a bit here because his book Consciousness Explained has become like a bible for naive materialists, so I have to deal with him in order to argue my case, because a lot of people think that the title of this book wasn't a lie.]

But science ignores the question of consciousness all of the time, mainly because it's so hard. When scientists do consider it, many of them go with a tortured materialist explanation a la Daniel Dennett. But when they do so they have to wrestle with the problem of mind/body dualism (Idealism doesn't have this problem, but Dennett seems ignorant of that and considers an assault on mind/body dualism enough to dismiss all non-materialist views). More importantly, materialists have to explain how consciousness exists at all in a materialistic universe. The idea that consciousness is an emergent property of matter is mystical magical BS, the very thing that materialists work so hard to steer clear of. It reminds me of that Far Side cartoon where a scientist has written a long formula on a chalkboard with "and then a miracle happens" in the middle.

Dennett tries to side-step this with a hilariously convoluted theory of consciousness though evolutionary biology, never mind the fact that we can't see any evidence of consciousness or its evolution in biology at all: it's not in the fossil record or DNA or anywhere that we can examine it. Nevertheless, Dennett uses his imagination to come up with an evolutionary explanation in the absence of evidence, and then concludes this theory by arguing that consciousness is completely illusory and unreal, a mirage created by material biology, and therefore only the material universe is real and we can safely ignore consciousness because there's no such thing. This is his biggest philosophical mistake: it's equivalent to saying "I think, but I am not." That's about as logically wrong as wrong can be. You can say that consciousness isn't real, but the very act of doing so proves you wrong.

So where am I going with this? Well, it could be that the missing piece of the puzzle in physics is the one bit of the universe that physicists largely ignore: consciousness. Could it be that the material universe is a product of consciousness, rather than the other way around?

If you look closely at physics you find strange things that defy our common-sense view of the world, especially in quantum physics. But quantum physics is the bedrock of our understanding of the material world, isn't it? So if strange things like entanglement and the observer effect defy our ordinary understanding of reality, wouldn't it be right to say that quantum physics has the more accurate picture and that our ordinary understanding of the physical world is skewed and wrong in its assumptions?

This all makes sense if you view the material world as a product of consciousness. Now, I don't mean individual consciousness, this isn't about solipsism. If consciousness is the bedrock of reality then it exists in not just people, but is the actual fabric of the universe itself. If this is true, then we will never have an accurate picture of the universe until we understand consciousness.

But how in the world can science get at consciousness? The very difficulty of it is the main reason why scientists steer clear of this question. But if I'm right and consciousness creates the material universe (in real time), then there must be some intersection, some interaction between consciousness and the material world at a fundamental level. Where might we find this? I'm hopeful that as quantum physics digs deeper into the mystery of the fundamental nature of reality, it will actually find consciousness as a measurable entity that can be observed through its interaction with matter, much in the same way that we can detect dark matter by its effects even though we can't observe it directly.

So why is this important for technology and the future? If the material universe is a product of consciousness, then it might be possible to develop technologies based on an understanding of consciousness that can interact with the universe at the most fundamental level. This would be the ultimate in technology and would potentially allow us to do absolutely anything that doesn't truly violate the fundamental laws of the universe (there are obviously some pretty hard-and-fast rules to reality, otherwise it would fall apart when gravity changed its mind about how to work).

Tl;dr: The missing piece of the puzzle in physics may turn out to be consciousness, and if physics can crack that nut then all things possible through technology may become possible. Matter may not be able to move through space faster than the speed of light, but that's not the only way to get from point A to point B. In fact, consider the possibility of transferring consciousness faster than the speed of light, physics has no prohibition on that (yet) Smile | :)
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Foothill10-Feb-17 10:28
professionalFoothill10-Feb-17 10:28 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
StatementTerminator10-Feb-17 11:04
MemberStatementTerminator10-Feb-17 11:04 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Bassam Abdul-Baki8-Feb-17 5:40
professionalBassam Abdul-Baki8-Feb-17 5:40 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Jeremy Falcon8-Feb-17 6:58
professionalJeremy Falcon8-Feb-17 6:58 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Eddy Vluggen8-Feb-17 7:42
professionalEddy Vluggen8-Feb-17 7:42 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Bassam Abdul-Baki9-Feb-17 0:49
professionalBassam Abdul-Baki9-Feb-17 0:49 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Eddy Vluggen9-Feb-17 1:50
professionalEddy Vluggen9-Feb-17 1:50 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Bassam Abdul-Baki9-Feb-17 1:58
professionalBassam Abdul-Baki9-Feb-17 1:58 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Eddy Vluggen9-Feb-17 2:01
professionalEddy Vluggen9-Feb-17 2:01 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
enhzflep8-Feb-17 13:24
Memberenhzflep8-Feb-17 13:24 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Brady Kelly8-Feb-17 22:02
MemberBrady Kelly8-Feb-17 22:02 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Eddy Vluggen8-Feb-17 23:25
professionalEddy Vluggen8-Feb-17 23:25 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Kirk 103898219-Feb-17 3:46
MemberKirk 103898219-Feb-17 3:46 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Eddy Vluggen9-Feb-17 3:53
professionalEddy Vluggen9-Feb-17 3:53 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Daniel Pfeffer8-Feb-17 0:41
professionalDaniel Pfeffer8-Feb-17 0:41 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
W Balboos, GHB8-Feb-17 0:55
mveW Balboos, GHB8-Feb-17 0:55 
GeneralRe: The future is impossible Pin
Daniel Pfeffer8-Feb-17 1:47
professionalDaniel Pfeffer8-Feb-17 1:47 

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Straw Poll

Do you feel you fully understand the vision and purpose of the software project you're working on?
Sure you can be told the "what", but do you have the "why"?
  Results   55 votes