I relate very much with your feeling of having come up with the idea of the
singularity on your own. For me the ideas would probably have remained
implicit and rather unorganized without the catalyzing effect of several
writers, but the ground was ready.
I vividly remember the jolt of pure pleasure on first hearing the dialogue
at the end of H.G. Wells' motion picture Things to Come, culminating with
"Which shall it be?" But the singular event (no pun intended) was reading
Arthur C. Clarke's Profiles of the Future and in particular the chapter "The
Obsolescence of Man" some thirty years ago. The experience was like: "Yes.
Yes. Of course.----Click, click, click", and the world was changed forever.
The metaphysics of entity and substance was replaced with one of
information, process and system. I would try to talk about it when
conversation moved in that direction, but nobody seemed to get it.
About your sense of the universe storing all information, I've wondered what
feeling of sheer surprise most people in an earlier age must have felt when
first exposed to the phonograph-that by getting into the physics of it,
something as evanescent as a spoken utterance could be preserved long after
the speaker had died. The surprise is not so much the ingenuity of the
invention, but the discovery that nature contains the mechanism to support
such a thing.
The holograph is a step beyond that, showing that the information storage
can be deeply coded and distributed in a very unobvious way, but again
nature contains the mechanism for decoding as well as coding. I was once
very taken with David Bohm's interpretation of quantum mechanics. His
implicate order, for which our everyday world-the explicate order-was like a
froth on the surface of a vast sea, seemed to match your sense of universal
recording. And like the phonograph and the holograph there was a suspicion
that the recording could be recovered. It would certainly require ingenuity,
but the important thing was that there would be a natural mechanism that
could eventually be discovered.
After reading David Deutsch's Fabric of Reality I was converted to the Many
Universe Interpretation (not that I presume a mastery of the technical
detail necessary for an 'informed' opinion). That seems to put the idea of
the universal recording further away, certainly in any individual universe.
But perhaps the "over-universe" that contains the many universes bears a
resemblance to Bohm's implicate order. So I wonder if there will eventually
turn out to be a natural mechanism to facilitate gathering the bits of data
from multiple universes so that an arbitrary piece of the past can be
recovered-like Mozart, just before he died, or a piece of the real Jurassic
Park, or all our ancestors.
Maybe that's just the ultimate "Pie in the sky, By and By." I really don't
know. But thanks for your e-mail, Mitch. It really struck a chord.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On
Behalf Of Spudboy100@aol.com
Sent: Sunday, August 05, 2001 4:53 PM
Subject: Re: origin of ideas, civilization, reading list
<<Just out of curiosity, I'm wondering how many on this list feel they came
up with the idea of the singularity on their own. I feel like I did, and was
surprised to find an organization based, in large part, on the concept.>>
I am more then a little embarassed about this (and probably should be) but I
have, in the Shermer sense of believing "weird things", have long suspected
that there are/is a mechanism in the universe, for storing all information.
Call it a backup or a system-save or whatever, but I supected it. Basically,
I am still, looking for all facets of this (perhaps nonsensical) idea. Or as
Thoreau once said: "Build your castles in the air, then put a foundation
under it." Which is what I seem to be devoted to. Call it a process on the
way to Singularity.
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