Sunday SciKu | Digital Universe

From the quantization of everything (including time?) to Fermi’s Paradox, retrocausality, collective consciousness, and subjective perception, there are plenty of observations that suggest all we see and seem might be a dream within a dream—and that was before Hong Qin at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory was able to create a machine-learning algorithm that can predict the motions of planets without knowing Newton’s Laws.

The mathematics of discrete field theory and Lagrangian density is beyond me, so I could be misunderstanding the paper, but what it seems to be doing in layman’s terms is treating the universe as a three-dimensional pixelated lattice of points—rasterizing it, essentially, rather than treating it as objects interacting with each other through the rules of physics. Then he added the positional data of a few planets, and let AI machine-learn an algorithm that could predict any other orbital pathway in the solar system. As Hong Qin puts it: “Essentially, I bypassed all the fundamental ingredients of physics. I go directly from data to data […] There is no law of physics in the middle.”

On a practical level, this looks like the start of a new era of science, where black box AI “knows” more than we do, providing us with extremely useful information, while keeping us mortal humans completely in the dark about why it’s able to make the accurate predictions it does. Something similar was used last year to develop the Bradykinin hypothesis for Covid-19 pathology. Qin plans on using his technique next to help work on plasma fields within experimental fusion reactors—something that could be incredibly useful, as well.

Even more interesting, though, are the implications for the way consciousness projects meaning onto the underlying code of reality. As Qin puts it, “What is the algorithm running on the laptop of the Universe?” What we think of as the physical world is nothing more than a series of adaptive filters we construct, like icons on a desktop or beer bottles to the Australian jewel beetle, in Donald Hoffman’s great analogy. The reason we can’t seem to unify general relativity and electromagnetism into a Grand Unified Theory and why the Lambda-CDM model keeps digging itself into deeper and deeper holes as we fail to find dark matter and dark energy might be because these are only functional programs running simultaneously on a more fundamental operating system that we can’t access. Yes, like The Matrix.

 

a blur of fur
bounding though the open
field theory

 

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