Friday, February 27, 2004

"The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos."

--Stephen Jay Gould

I'm becoming less concerned with the possibility that our reality is a simulation and more concerned with the probability that it's a simulation within a simulation within a simulation within a simulation, etc. We could be virtually anywhere in a near-endless regression of "nested" universes, about as note-worthy as microbes at the bottom of a mineshaft -- and that could be glorifying ourselves considerably.

Are we artificial lifeforms?

The nested universe cosmology makes the future of "The Matrix" seem almost utopian. At least in "The Matrix" a Red Pill brings you face to face with authentic reality, however unpalatable. Assuming our universe is located at random in some regressive "stack" of simulated universes, it's doubtful we're anywhere close to the "top." Chances are we're located somewhere in the middle. But how many higher (more "real") universes encompass our own? How many Red Pills do we need to swallow in order to extricate ourselves? How much truth can we tolerate before our status becomes hopelessly abstract, forever beyond our grasp?

And we're faced with another disorienting prospect: Ultimate reality -- if we should ever come close to reaching it -- may not be amenable to human existence, just as the vast realm beyond the ocean is off-limits to water-breathing fish.

A simulated universe may be a prison, but it may also be the only substrate capable of sustaining us . . .