Life is a computer program

Imagine that life and existence were a computer program. I don't mean this literally (necessarily) but as a useful analogy to help us form theories and to think about things in a different way.

Let us also bear in mind video games where a whole world is created according to certain rules.

Let us ask: What if our 'real' world were a computer program?

First there would no longer be an issue of mind and matter. Mind and matter in a video game are the same things. They are the results of a computer program.

In the beginning, a program is written. Rules are made to cover the simple things of the new world. For example, we might have a rule that if we push something, the effect will be proportional to the effort we apply.

This is simple Newton or Einstein's theory.

Now we could have made a rule that the amount of movement is the opposite of the effort we apply. So the harder you push something, the less it moves.

In this universe (or this world), the amount of movement is proportional to the effort, but we could have tried another rule.

Before we even get to the state of these rules, we may have to set up some even more basic rules - dimensions.

Space and Time

We may need to set up space and time.

In our world, we have 3 dimensions to give us space. And we have time which is an array of spaces in one dimension.

So as we move along the time line, then we experience different spaces. However, all the spaces look the same, because there is no change. so although time exists, actually, we are not aware of it, so time will not appear to exist.

It can only exist when we create some objects that look different in different time frames.

So, this time, as we move through the sequence of spaces, we experience different objects. And so we can say that time appears to pass.

Let's get a concrete example. Suppose we draw a little man in the corner of some pages in a book. If we draw the same little man and flick the pages, nothing will change. (Don't make the mistake of considering seeing the pages change - they have already been 'drawn' differently).

man.gif (331 bytes) The lines on the left give the impression of a man moving, even though they are merely crude lines and 3 different pictures. In 'reality' this is just a number of views of the 3 pictures which run into one moving picture. Refresh your browser, if necessary.

 

So in our example, the little man does not change and is in all intents and purposes the same unchanged little man.

So what we do is to change the little man a little so that this time he appears to do something, say run.

Now what do we have. We have a number of pages in some order and as we move through this order, we experience time or change.

Time can here be thought of as an array of pages. And each array element contains one picture. As we move in some way through time, we experience different pictures.

In this case, time is merely another dimension.

The pictures appear to be connected and we experience not several little men, but one little man running.

In a film, we can make more involved pictures, but by using the same principle, we can create the appearance of objects changing. We can associate some parts of the pictures together so that some objects appear connected and either remain stationery, or move.

However, we cannot create an array of 3 dimensional objects (as in our world) and flit through them to create the effect of 3 dimensional reality.

We can only go to 3 dimensions - with the picture as 2 dimensions and our 'time' as the third dimension. We can only experience a 3 dimensional world.

We could create a number of 3 dimensional scenes and make changes in them to give the appearance of time, but we cannot flip through them as we can with the drawing of the little man. This would be like our actual experience of time. We cannot view 3 dimensions and time when we are actually in 3 dimensions and time.

To be able to create the world of 3 dimensions moving through time, we would need 4 dimensions - 3 for the solid snapshot of the world and 1 for the time array. And to experience this we would need to have 5 dimensions!

This is the same question about being aware of our world as it 'really' is. Our world is an array of 3 dimensional objects. We are inside the time dimension and experience the solids as changing. We need one dimension for our viewpoint.

To view this we would need to be in a fifth dimension and be able to experience the 4 dimensional object, which is our world.

If we could do this, then we could stop time, move back in time and, perhaps rewrite the past.

With our pictures of a little man we have control over time and the objects. We can move the pages quickly or slowly. Stop at a page. Or even run the pages backwards. We can look at the last page to see what happens. And we can change the pictures at any time we like. We could, for example, gradually (or suddenly) draw a moustache on the little man. In the end he would have a moustache - even if in previous runs he didn't have one.

We can do this because we can operate in 3 dimensions (and view them from the fourth). We cannot do this in real life because this would require that we experience in 5 dimensions, which we do not normally do.

So to get back to world creating, we need to establish space and time for the game. This may be called the playing field.

There is not immediate reason why 4 dimensions should be chosen, but having chosen 4 dimensions, then this affects the rest of the game.

Cause and Effect

If we were to draw on the corner pages of a book completely different pictures such as a house, a dog, a pair of binoculars, etc. The pages, when flicked, would not look like something moving but just a set of different unrelated pictures.

To create a movie effect, we need to limit the amount of change between the pictures. We need some unity.

We need a rule that any previous picture determines the next picture according to other rules.

For example, we can say the little man can change in the next screen a certain amount according to his ability to move. So he could jump a certain distance but not farther. We can jump up so far, but not farther. We cannot move like superman, for example. So superman could be a mile away from his position in the previous frame, but we can move only a smaller distance. Even in the case of superman, we need a bridging frame with some lines and 'whoosh' to link the pictures.

So each frame is determined by the previous one. There isn't really a cause and effect. We could in the little man example draw him as we wish in the next frame. But if we develop rules (say we want it to look realistic) then the position of the little man in any frame will be linked to his position in previous frames.

So if he is wearing a hat in the previous picture, he must be wearing the hat in the next one, unless some rule is applied. For example he takes it off, or the wind blows it off. The hat, according to the rules cannot just disappear.

The previous picture appears to affect the present one, but what is really happening is that we are using rules.

The players

Having established a playing field, we need to populate it with players or objects. To make a world with time, we need something in the world to change. Otherwise, there will be no appearance of time. Everything will look the same.

The objects we use to populate the world will change according to certain rules. So living things change more than non-living things. People change more than some trees.

Rocks change much less than trees. In a 'dead world' nothing seems to change.

In our little man example, the little man will appear in the next picture changed in some way according to rules.

This does not mean that the future pictures can be 'worked out' in advance. The reason is the number of objects affecting each other and the small 'errors' that creep into the results so that what happens in the end can be very different from what was planned or expected.

Changing time

We can change the speed at which the little man moves as we flip the pages of the book. We can stop, move back, or change a picture.

The little man, however, cannot make these changes.

He can, according to the rules we have invented, move or change in different frames or pages. He appears to have some control over what happens in the future (or subsequent pages). And if this were computerised, we might not know exactly where these rules would lead.

But he cannot change the movement of the pages in the book. So he can, or may appear to be able to change the subsequent pages, but he cannot affect the time part.

In the same way, we cannot change our time element in that we cannot move back in time or to stop time. In this theory, these are possible, but we cannot do it.

If we operated in 5 dimensions, then we could move time back to a period when we wish we had made a different decision, move into that period and make a different decision. We could do this many times until the results were what we wanted.

We could test out various scenarios and try different things so that in the end, things turned out as we wanted.

No one would be any the wiser! They wouldn't know it had happened.

The Program

Although we have used our little man example to try make more concrete our ideas, what we are exploring here is that life is a computer program.

A computer program can be one dimensional. It is a sequence. We don't mean a computer program written on paper (or something) but an electro-magnetic phenomenon (EMP) according to rules like a computer program.

The EMP phenomenon operates through time but it is not necessarily dimensional. What is certain is that our experience of the phenomenon is dimensional. EMP in the brain could have a multi-dimensional effect, but in itself it is a sequence of electro-chemical events.

If we existed in 5 dimensions, we could start the program and observe the the sequence of  'solid frames' from beginning to end. But we could not experience the whole thing at one go. For this, we need 6 dimensions.

That is, we need one dimension for our own time line. One dimension for the observed time line. And 4 dimensions to view 3-d solids all at once.

Under these circumstances, we might also be able to be aware of other sequences of solids working out in a different way.

With 7 dimensions we could be aware of all sequences of worlds simultaneously and instantaneously.

Movement and change

In 5 dimensions, we could observe the computer program running, but the later frames depend on the earlier ones and because of Chaos Theory, the results would not be predictable. So one minute when we look at frame 19768013218733291 it would appear in one way, and later on it could look very different.

Suppose we had an infinite billiard table. And we sent a billiard ball to a pocket at the other end. At the same time we placed a large number of balls over the table, and put some of them in motion according to some law (in this case the laws of physics.)

Could we say where our initial ball would end up? One answer is no. However accurate we were in setting the balls and the movements, we could always be more accurate.

And these minor 'errors' over large distances would magnify and after various collisions through time, we could not say exactly where our ball would be after a certain period.

Therefore with various tries, we would get different results. The ball would not end up in the same place every time. 

Point of view

In order to view, we need a point from which to view. To view a sequence, or to view time, we require a sequence of points.

To understand the movement of the little man, we need to be aware of the pages of the book. We do not see only the current page, but we can see the other pages too.

The scenes are 2 dimensional and we see also our time as the third dimension. This makes the time-space world of the cartoon character a 3 dimensional solid.

We can view 3 dimensional solids, so we can see what is happening with our little man.

When we experience our own world we see a solid around us and our world appears to change as we move from point to point on our time line.

It is rather like a camera moving on a track through a scene or number of scenes. The camera does not show itself, and cannot photograph itself. When we watch such a picture then we see various images but we do not see the camera. The viewpoint, in this case the camera, records but cannot record itself. In this example, if it passes a mirror, it could photograph an image of itself. In our world, our camera or viewpoint is moving through a fourth dimension, so it cannot see or be aware of itself. It cannot even catch sight of itself in a mirror!

We can try to make this clearer by using an example in 3 dimensions. The camera can move only in a line and record in one direction. The camera moves along a line taking pictures of items on a wall. The pictures may be little men in various stages of movement. As the camera moves along its line, it produces a picture that appears to be a little man moving. It records, moves and records at a suitable rate so that it appears to be recording a little man moving.

camera.gif (2541 bytes) The camera moves and takes photographs the pictures or scenes. It cannot change its viewpoint and it can move only in one direction. In this way it symbolises our time.

In this demonstration, only 3 pictures are shown and the camera goes back to the start after picture 3.

The image we wish to convey, however, is one that moves from picture to picture, perhaps for ever.

The camera, according to our rules, cannot record the last picture until it reaches that position. And if it is like our experience of the world, it cannot move back.

Our world appears to be changing and we appear to be moving through it in time. We cannot go back in time, and we cannot see the next picture until the camera reaches that position. In our world, we are the camera and we are moving from point to point in the fourth dimension.

Individual viewpoints

As individuals, we see the world through our own senses and process the information in our brains. We can look in 3 dimensions. We can look ahead and we can look back.

This is NOT the fourth dimensional viewpoint we have been discussing.

This viewpoint can experience in 2 dimensions only.

Let us illustrate this with the cartoon character. The little man can look around his frame and perceive in 2 dimensions. He can see what is behind him and what is in front.

mountain.jpg (94018 bytes)

Imagine that this is one viewpoint at a particular point in time. The person viewing can turn around and see what is around. Of course, time changes when he or she does this, but for our example, we take it that time changes little. So the viewer can see around then in a series of two dimensional pictures.

Here there is a freedom to look back or up or down. The viewer can focus on something close or something distant.

Imagine that the viewer is inside the picture of 2 dimensions. He or she can look up or down or left or right in the picture. In this world they are limited to the 2 dimensions. As we have 3 dimensions we can look at the next picture, or even the last one. Because we are looking at the picture, we can see the items in the picture, whereas someone in the picture,say behind the house might not be able to see the trees.

From our viewpoint we can see that the picture is one in a series.

The individual in the 2 dimensional picture can move around and his viewpoint follows. This viewpoint is in the second dimension and the things viewed are 1 dimensional. The viewer can view in directions, but cannot see the picture as a whole, as we can. We can see the picture as a whole because we have an additional dimension.

We can perceive in 2 dimensions as our viewpoint moves around in the 3 dimensional space. This is the me or self.

This is a different viewpoint from that which moves through the fourth dimension and give us the impression of a three dimensional world moving through time.

Our body and brain operate within the 3 dimensions and give us a personal viewpoint. However, the viewpoint that gives us the impression of time exists in the fourth dimension.

Identity

In the little man example, there is not one little man who is moving, but many pictures (or a few). Each picture is independent of the other. Changes to one do not affect any of the other pictures. The little man running exists only in our minds. That is, the animation occurs in three dimensions and we conceive of the little man running from a (minimum of) three dimensions.

Similarly, our concept of ourselves as a single being moving through time is a fourth dimensional concept.

Beings do not exist in three dimensions, but only in four.

The above statement applies to our world and not to other worlds. The concept of the identity of the little man, for example, exists in three dimensions.

We can look at the movie of the little man and we see an individual running.

We can do this because we can see the succession of images.

In our world we cannot see the succession of 3 dimensional worlds through which we pass. We can only experience it. From a fifth dimensional viewpoint we could see identity.

In our world we notice that things appear to change with time. We stand on the side of the road and watch a car approach and pass. We are aware of the change but we do not actually step back and notice the succession of worlds.

As human beings we are born and grow and grow old and finally die.

The old person and the baby are quite different. And, perhaps, no one could recognise the old person from the new born baby. The youth might be unrecognisable as the old person. The actual appearance is quite different at different times, yet we consider that this is the same person. The person is not visible in the world as something that does not change.

In a film starring baby pigs, for example, the starring baby pig at the beginning of the film is not the same baby pig starring at the end of the film. The film takes a number of years to shoot, but baby pigs grow up many times in that period. So there is the apparancy that there is one baby pig starring throughout the film when unreality there is no identical baby pig throughout.

When an actor dies during a film, the part may be created using computer graphics. So the person acting at the beginning might have died and the person in the latter part is a computer image.

In both cases we see one actor throughout the film, whereas in neither case is there truly one actor.

With our three dimensional viewpoint we can compare the film with 'reality' and discover that the actors are not the same throughout the film and that there isn't really any identity.

In our 'real' world, we have no such ability to check. We would not know if items were substituted in our world.

To be able to check on this, we would need to be able to operate in 5 dimensions.

Abstract ideas

Abstract ideas are fourth dimension concepts. An abstraction cannot be perceived in our world. We are aware of abstractions, but we cannot perceive them.

We have the concept of  'dog' but we cannot 'see' this abstract dog although we know how to use it to recognise dogs, as such.

Computer programs to recognise things - especially to recognise humans - are notoriously difficult. The problem is they have to recognise an object from many different positions, angles, distances, etc. Human beings are more difficult because they have many different appearances depending on their emotions, tiredness, body position, etc.

We have a concept of each particular person we know but we cannot actually 'see' this concept. It is an abstraction of millions of viewpoints. It is fourth dimensional.

We can try to express fourth dimensional concepts in words. Law, for example tries to define things, but it is often approximate. A computer program can try to define something and in principle it may be successful.

But we cannot directly perceive an abstraction. We can only be aware of it. We can even know it. But we cannot know it in the sense we can know a particular concrete object.

In the same way we are aware of time, but we cannot directly 'see' time.

Symbols

We use symbols to represent abstract ideas, fourth dimensional concepts. Symbols are ways we can use to handle fourth dimensional concepts or abstractions. These are not fourth dimensional but represent or remind us of fourth dimensional idea. Gods and devils have been used to represent ideas.