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Digital philosophy is a direction in philosophy and cosmology
advocated by certain mathematicians and theoretical physicists, e.g., Gregory
Chaitin, Edward Fredkin, Stephen
Wolfram, and Konrad
Zuse (see his Calculating Space).
Digital philosophy grew out of an earlier digital physics
(both terms are due to Fredkin), which proposes to ground much of
physical theory in cellular
automata. Specifically, digital physics works through the
consequences of assuming that the universe is a gigantic Turing-complete cellular automaton.
Digital philosophy is a modern re-interpretation of Gottfried
Leibniz's monist metaphysics, one that
replaces Leibniz's monads with
aspects of the theory of cellular automata. Digital philosophy
purports to solve certain hard problems in the philosophy of
mind and the philosophy of physics, since,
following Leibniz, the mind can be
given a computational treatment. The digital
approach also dispenses with the non-deterministic essentialism of the
Copenhagen interpretation of
quantum theory. In a
digital universe, existence and thought would consist of only computation.
(However, not all computation would be thought.) Thus computation
is the single substance of a monist metaphysics, while subjectivity arises from computational universality. There are many
variants of digital philosophy, but most of them are digital theories that view all
of physical reality and mental activity as digitized
information processing.
Digital
philosophers
- Rudy Rucker. In
his book "Mind Tools" (1987)^{[1]},
mathematician/philosopher Rudy Rucker articulated this concept with
the following 'conclusions' about the relationship between Math and
the universe. Rucker's second conclusion uses the jargon term 'fact-space' ; this is Rucker's
model of reality based on the notion that all that
exists is the perceptions of various observers. An entity of any
kind is a glob in fact-space. The world - the collection of all
thoughts and objects - is a pattern spread out through fact-space. The
following conclusions describe the digital philosophy that relates
the world to fact-space.
- The world can be resolved into digital bits, with each bit made
of smaller bits.
- These bits form a fractal pattern in
fact-space.
- The pattern behaves like a cellular automaton.
- The pattern is inconceivably large in size and dimensions.
- Although the world started simply, its computation is irreducibly complex.
- All information must have a digital means of its representation.
- An informational process transforms the digital representation
of the state of the system into its future state.
- If Fredkin's first fundamental law of information is correct
then Einstein's theory of general relativity theory is not entirely
correct, because the theory does not rely upon digital information.
- If Fredkin's second fundamental law is correct then the Copenhagen interpretation of
quantum mechanics is
not entirely correct, because quantum randomness lacks a digitally
deterministic explanation.
- Below the Planck
scale, there is an informational substrate that allows the
build-up of time, space, and energy by means
of an updating parameter.
- The updating parameter for the multiverse is analogous to time
via a mathematical isomorphism, but the updating parameter
involves a decomposition across alternate universes.
- The informational substrate consists of network nodes that can
simulate random network models and Feynman path integrals.
- In physical reality, both energy and spacetime are secondary features. The most
fundamental feature of reality is signal propagation caused by an updating
parameter acting upon network nodes.
- The multiverse automaton has a model consisting of
informational substrate, an updating parameter, a few simple rules,
and a method for deriving all of quantum field theory and general relativity theory,
- The totally finite nature of the model implies the existence of
weird, alternate-universe forces
that might, or might not, be too small for empirical
detection.
Fredkin's ideas on
physics
Fredkin takes a radical approach to explaining the EPR paradox and the double-slit experiment in
quantum mechanics. While admitting that quantum mechanics yields
accurate predictions, Fredkin sides with Einstein in the Bohr-Einstein debates. In "The Meaning of
Relativity," Einstein writes, "One can give good reasons why
reality cannot at all be represented by a continuous field. From the quantum
phenomena it appears to follow with certainty that a finite system
of finite energy can be completely described by a finite set of
numbers (quantum numbers). This does not seem to be
in accordance with a continuum theory, and must lead to attempts
to find a purely algebraic theory for the description of reality.
But nobody knows how to find the basis for such a description."
Einstein's hope is a purely algebraic theory, but Fredkin attempts
to find a purely informational theory for the description of
reality. However, physicists find some vagueness, problems with Bell
theorem compatibility, and lack of empirical falsifiability in
Fredkin's expression of his ideas. In "Digital Philosophy (DP),"
Chapter 11^{[3]},
Fredkin raises the question, "Could physics have a strong law of conservation of information?"
Fredkin answers his own question, "If so, we have to rethink particle
disintegrations, inelastic collisions and Quantum Mechanics to better understand what
is happening to the information. The appearance of a single truly
random event is absolutely
incompatible with a strong law of conservation of information. A
great deal of information is obviously associated with the trajectory of every
particle and that information must be conserved. This is a big
issue in DP yet such issues are seldom considered in conventional
physics."
Fredkin's "Five big questions with pretty simple
answers"
Accordin to Fredkin ^{[4]},
"Digital mechanics predicts that for every continuous symmetry of physics there will be some
microscopic process that violates that symmetry." Therefore,
according to Fredkin, at the Planck scale, ordinary matter could have
spin angular momentum that violates the equivalence principle.There might
be weird Fredkin forces that
cause a torsion in
spacetime. The Einstein-Cartan
theory extends general
relativity theory to deal with spin-orbit
coupling when matter with spin is present. According to
conventional wisdom in physics, torsion is nonpropagating, which
means that torsion will appear within a massive body and nowhere
else. According to Fredkin, torsion could appear outside and around
massive bodies, because alternate
universes have anomalous inertial effects.
Are
Fredkin's ideas compatible with M-theory?
- Fredkin uses many metaphors and confusing analogies in
attempting to convey his ideas. Straightforward interpretations of
Fredkin's ideas seem to violate Bell's
inequalities. However, careful consideration might reveal
considerable merit underlying Fredkin's metaphors.
- Let us imagine that our universe consists of the following 5
components:
- a one-dimensional antimatter clock that measures the flow of
information running backward in time;
- a one-dimensional matter clock that measures the flow of
information running forward in time;
- a six-dimensional directional-measuring device that measures
the flow of information with respect to curvature and torsion of
spacetime;
- a three-dimensional volume-measuring device that measures the
amount of information with respect to volume;
- an alternate-universe engine that runs the 4 Fredkin
measuring-devices with respect to information.
- Let us assume that the 'alternate-universe engine' is basically
similar to the model described in Wolfram's "A New
Kind of Science," Chapter 9. How might the remainder of the
"Digital Mechanics" philosophy described in (1)-(4) possess a
meaning in terms of M-theory?
- Matrix string theory formulates M-theory as a random matrix
model. M-theory might have
a good approximation by a theory that has a gauge group consisting
of U(N) for some large N. If such an approximation is valid, then
the group U(N) might describe the 4 Fredkin measuring devices. The
6-phase clock described in Fredkin's "Digital Mechanics" might be a
counting mechanism for the 6-dimensional directional-measuring
device that measures the curvature and torsion of information flow.
Note that all 4 of these hypothetical Fredkin measuring devices
assume some sort of weird notion of absolute space, time, and
information that would depend upon the 'alternate-universe engine'
for any empirical validity.
- Fredkin's concept of the multiverse as a finite automaton with
absolute space, time, and information might be isomorphic to a
sheaf uniformization axiom. Such an axiom might establish a sheaf
structure that supports uniform mapping of Einstein-Hilbert
actions and Feynman actions across alternate universes.
See also
References
- ^
Rucker, Rudy; Mind Tools - the five levels of mathematical reality
- Houghton Mifflin (1987)
- ^
[1] Fredkin, E.;
Finite Nature. Proceedings of the XXVIIth Rencotre de Moriond
(1992)
- ^
[2] Fredkin,
Edward; Introduction to Digital Philosophy (Current Draft)
- ^
[3] Fredkin, E.;
"Five big questions with pretty simple answers" IBM Journal of
Research and Development Vol. 48, Issue 1 (Jan. 2004)
External
links