OK, so we’re starting a new year. Does that possibly have any significance? I’m even questioning whether or not time is linear, or is the past, future, and present all happening simultaneously? And I want 2016 to be a year of progress, evolution, confidence, and feeling GREAT. But I want to know the “truth” about my life and the path I’m on. Don’t we all? Does this have anything to do with running? Well, anything you do as a habit over and over and over, well….it better have some meaning. And if it’s just thoughtless action, well….that’s pretty dumb!
I ran across an article that started out with the question “suppose this journey was/is just an elaborate cosmic experiment of which you are caught in the middle…what would your plan of action look like in order to extricate yourself from the experiment…?” True to my nature, I googled “human life is an elaborate cosmic experiment” just to see what would come up. Oh my. If you have any notion to “think outside the box” I beg of you to do the same. The stuff that comes up is absolutely fascinating. My favorite was “10 Reasons Life May Be A Computer Simulation” (listverse.com). There are obviously 1000’s of people out there working on this very issue. And it breathes new life into some of those classics I watched years ago (Star Trek: Next Generation – “Ship in a Bottle”) (Inception) (Matrix) etc.
So, dear runner/walker/skier/thinker/doer….what DO you think about when you’re out there hitting the trail? Does it matter at all? It got my ire up to think I might be part of someone’s experiment – wanting to see what happens when certain factors are programmed into humans (me) – “let’s see where the silly humans go with this?” Grrrrr. Is someone really pulling my strings? Let me summarize a few of the notions of how simulations can go. And I know I’m WAY behind the curve, since the current generation is so well versed in simulation games. The article even quoted “Grand Theft Auto” – something I’ve learned to loathe.
Computers are getting faster and faster. We know that. And they can program what history will look like into the future: “Harvard’s Odyssey supercomputer can simulate 14 billion years in only a few months” (think Isaac Asimov’s trilogy “Foundation” which developed “psychohistory” to predict exactly what would transpire in the future). So, whole universes can now be created inside a computer. “If a simulation is advanced enough, those inside needn’t recognize it as a simulation at all.” Watch out!! The Human Genome Project did its work by breaking down all information into a binary code, and that begs the question, “would we even know if we were just living in a complete simulation”? The Anthropic Principle asks why did the conditions here on earth come about to be so perfect for us to exist? This is where the vast lab experiment comes into play. These conditions are way too perfect to be happenstance. So, it was all done deliberately (one theory). And those behind the simulation needn’t be human at all. “Perhaps alien life knows how to manipulate the computer program and can make themselves invisible to us.” Parallel worlds (multiverses)? Could “the simulation’s creator plug in different variables to test different scenarios and observe different outcomes?” Then there’s the Fermi Paradox – where is everybody? Why is it we seem to be all alone (so far)? So, this universe we’re in just puts us alone to see how we react….this universe was created just for us…. “The simulation made various populated planets each wrongly think themselves alone in the universe. Perhaps the simulation aims to test the effects of ego-boosting on civilization?” We know that a programmer can create worlds out of a binary code. So why were we encoded with the “desire to worship our creator”? That caught my eye. That would explain why mankind has always had this innate feeling of having been created. And this all leads to multiple layers of simulation – which scientists are having a hay-day with. To send us all off on an exciting new year, here’s a final quote (Nick Bostrom, Oxford philosopher): “The post-humans running our simulation are themselves simulated beings; and their creators, in turn, may also be simulated beings. Here may be room for a large number of levels of reality, and the number could be increasing over time.” OK. Catch your breath. Go out for a little run. Come back, relax, warm up, and sit in front of a fire and ponder….”what did I just do?” “Did I really go out for a run, or was that just a simulation to make me think I had gone out for a run?” Have a great pondering new year!!!! - David Summerfield
David Nutter Summerfield
The following blogs were first published in The Windrinker, a running newsletter published in Bozeman, MT (www.Windrinkers.org). There is a constant attempt at viewing the foibles of long distance runners in a humorous light so we don't take ourselves too seriously.