The Matrix

I very rarely watch movies or series; only about a handful of times during the past decade. As an ex- movie geek I lost this modern-day habit a decade ago, and it never came back.

Last month I finally watched the movie Matrix! I was surprised by the similarity of some of its scenes to my recurring dreams about simulated reality that I had prior to watching the movie, or any other similar motion picture for that matter.

My time of having dreams about simulations, precede watching Matrix and Avatar, as well as the newer series Black Mirror. During those couple of months, I was steering my lucid dreams to fantasize about the possibility of us all being inside some form of simulation. Every other night there was a new story cast behind my eyelids. I wrote down and posted some of them.

I got super excited about these visuals, and I communicated them passionately to the world. Little did I know that people had already masterfully depicted such fantasies in blockbuster movies. The dream imagery, that I appreciated and presented as novel, might have felt like old news to you.

Was everyone out there aware of this movie genre of simulated reality, except for me, the one person most expressly obsessed about it?

* * *

Anyhow, the similarity between my fantasies and some of those movies’ visual effects is strange. Why would such images be triggered in someone who hasn’t seen them before?

Consider particularly these three landscapes:

1. The consciousness warehouse (The dark room): There was this claustrophobic scene in some of those movies/episodes where all those “consciousness units” despite their differences were stacked up very efficiently as similar items in a “dark room”. This was behind the scene of existence, the kernel of reality and any other colorful happy realization of that was just an illusion experienced by those identical larvas that in reality live in a claustrophobic tight space like a lab, warehouse or a graveyard.

I hadn’t seen a scenery quite like this before, but the dark room occurred to me in several different forms; I experienced humans once as separate folders in the physical drive of a simulation server, another time as lots of tiny hardware modules burried under the surface of another planet after we had destroyed ours. Once again as information-like replicas in a “grid” of a library, and also as dormant larvas aligned next to each other like a graveyards. Think of those teleportation helmets in the Matrix or the transfer booths in Avatar. All these nightmares occured as disturbing and depressive recognition of the nature of true reality until I woke up and double-checked my body, making sure that I am made of real “meat” in the physical space.

2. Augmented objects with aliasing artifact: There was also this other visual effect in the augmented scences in Black Mirror where a simulated object was overlaid on the base reality, but with a slightly different resolution/texture. That also occured to me quite a few times in dreams (and reality!). Like this fantasy that people around me could be actually not in the scene but instead augmented objects overlaid on it; however so seamlessly that I had never noticed any aliasing artifacts in the border of their silhouette until a “glitch in the matrix” accidentally revealed them to me.

3. Object impermanence: The world goes as much as the observer goes. This crazy experimental possibility has a huge potentials to release wild imagination and was handed to me a couple of times in my dreams. Think of each object that you see and then there’s something behind it and let it surprise you in a stream of events that diverge faster than any other technique in dreaming!

On the extreme opposite of the object impermanence lies the object permanence in the mind, that is also a crazy realization. In a couple of breath-taking realizations I had the idea that the barriers around us are not opaque objects that stop the light from things “behind” them to reach us as observers. We are aware of the whole universe around us, but walls, surfaces and physical barriers overwrite our local observations and temporarily delete those further objects from our memory. As if we have full sight to the end of the universe and a sanctioning effect is additionally in place to give us an illusion of separation. That, could be hacked in my dreams, giving the observer ability to remove visual barriers wall after wall.

* * *

The fact that I intuited these landcapes before watching them gives them a universality beyond my dream journals and beyond their Hollywood representation.

Chances are that these images are triggered independently but by a common cause.

1. The dark room scenery can be sparked by the ordinary experience of some day-to-day man-made phenomena. An ordinary dictionary in a sense is a dark room for words, if each of them has an ocean of meaning. The same goes for books stored in a large library or our lost humans burried under a real-wrold graveyard.

2. Any experience with VR and AR can trigger this; The visual artifacts of the augmented objects, the aliasing effect on their borders or the pixelation on their surface.

3. The sceneries with hacked object impermanence may also be triggered by any experience in programming for CAD graphics. Having a history of placing objects in different layers of front or behind each other with respect to an observer, etc. Those real-life experiences could also be some hidden signals that had come back haunting me in dreams, though this time putting myself on the stage of the simulation.

Apart from these real-life experiences that can inspire our dreams to a Matrix level fantasy, what else can be in the play? That is my main question here.

Is there a deeper universality to those experiences that we tap in to subconciously every now and then as dreams, hallucinations or the work of art? Are there some visual archetypes in the collective mind of the mankind that extract those landscapes out of a common intuitive treasure? Like some neurological explanation that lies behind some common experiences such as out of the body or near-death experience. Say some brain circuitry creates similar funny illusions and trigger same visual effects in independent cases.

An alternative to all these explanations is pure coincidence, unless…

Unless we live in the matrix and we can tap in to its kernel every now and then!

* * *

Interesting similarities anyway! Please next time my dreams resembled a movie, do me a favor and mention the title in the comments!

All have a good day in the simulation.

Dream: Celestial Backgammon

Rainbow

Part 1 (Clouds):
I had a dream that I was standing on some green hills with a bunch of amatuer astronomers and enthusiasts who were waiting for an astronomical event.

We were looking at a nice blue sky and thick small cotton-like clouds were presented. They had high contrast shades of white and black like Oslo’s Spring sky. It turned out that gods are communicating with us through clouds and humans have the chance to decipher and reveal their messages. Clouds were coming and going like a normal pub quiz and at a quick rate and we couldn’t take our time to interpret them properly. People were happily discussing what those shapes mean and answering and I was lagging behind.

I thought of a shortcut and suggested that clouds are too ambigious to interpret, so instead we may look at the lightnings because they are connecting them to earth and to us. Actually the ligtnings were clearly readable, but there was no lightning unless I would look at any of the clouds. A piece of cloud would discharge and speak itself through purple/blue/pink lightnings only when I looked at it.

I realized we have a semi-active choice in reading messages. Not how to shape the lightnings, but to ask which cloud to query from. And I was wondering if others also see it that way or its my subjective reality.

When I realized that I am in a dream at the last chance that I had control over the narrative, I aimed for something meaningful to quickly take with me to the real world and share it with others.

* * *

Rainbow

Part 2 (Lucid phase):
Then the sawthooth mountains in the horizon opened up and shaped a regular jagged pattern. Moon and other planets re-arranged to be seen with the same size (some of them were weird non-solar planets). Then they landed like board-game pieces in between the mountains right above the horizon. The celestial sphere turned in to a spheric backgammon board, where gods wanted to play with us. Like it was a new game.

I hate backgammon but I got curious how the pieces would move to the other side of the board without crossing path. Like how they don’t hit each other when they rise and fall and pass through the sky’s north pole.

And when I tried to look above in to the north pole I looked in to the point of singularity and woke up without the answer. Answer to a question that apparently was the most important question of all times!

PS. Forgot to mention the trigger. Before sleep I read that you can not read time from a face of a clock when you are dreaming. So I was committed to imagine a clock and try to read the time from it during my dreams. And the cloud scenery appeared when I finally saw a clock and tried to read the time from it. I suggest you do the same thing and share your experience!

Consensus

Everyone knows that common sense is a reliable source for the truth. Everyone is wrong.

– Myself!

Now can you bring up a particular truthful belief, that the majority of the human society agrees with it? Something that you can confidently claim that the majority of your species – finally – got it totally right.

The most complicated (least trivial) comment wins all. I’ll start the thread:

“The earth is not flat.”

Dream: The Inner Book!

Just had the strangest dream in a long while.

There was a divine voice representing the universe who gave me a very rare chance:

Ask any question and you shall know the answer. If you want to know only one thing, any thing, what that thing would be?

Not to lose the chance I replied without hesitation:

If you could tell me everything in one sentence what that sentence would be?

Then the scenery changed, there were lights and clouds and I flew through them. I went inside a book and in there even more clouds and lights and in there another book opened and sucked me in.

This went on and I knew it’s a dream. So I was worried that time will run out without me ever getting the answer. And luckily in the last book right before I fully wake up it transpired:

With no data you can still know everything!

WTF was that!

On the future of Newstainment

Addicted to Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, etc? Based on my weekend experience I reckon that it’s quite a tempting habit to lean back and let them entertain us. A lot of fun in fact.

I however refuse to undergo this type of addiction. And I will resist it so long as I can. And will not prefer it to any other type of digital hook, be it computer games, Facebook or other social media, and even porn. It’s far more dangerous, and here’s why:

* * *

Netflix was an only-distribution company up until they started to use Big Data to predict and recommend the success of the actors and the roles they could play. After machines could successfully predict the success scenarios to maximize the popularity of the shows through in-debth content analysis, they were not only distributing contents. They started to make their own!

At the time there were a few eyebrows raised about how far they can go to use algorithms in creating in-house contents and what scary potentials this new paradigm holds. I think it was in 2012/13 with their “House of Cards” and those concerns were mostly ignored or looked down at, as paranoid conspiracy theories. I doubted those critics myself.

Now I think that not only such concerns were relevant and spot on, but also not enough of them were expressed.

* * *

Netflix is a data-driven company. Entirely. It doesn’t use AI only to recommend, rank or price contents. They don’t only look at search, browse or click behaviour. And they don’t stop at the completion rate of the movies or the retention rate based on the time between two episodes of a series. They are now into using algorithms to create contents. And we should understand what it can potentially do.

What they know about our taste, the technology they own and their vision put them (and their competitors in the entertainment industry) in a very powerful position that no state or corporate has ever been before.

For half a century thinkers have written about social engineering and mass manipulation through media outlet, the uniformification through the print culture, manifacturing consent and so on.

Forget about them. The power of traditional news corporates compared to what these new firms can potentially do in subliminally hijacking our minds is close to nothing: The power of in-debth content analysis and manipulation in the information warfare.

* * *

So far it’s tech magazine rumour and common knowledge that Netflix looks into when you pause, rewind or skip. Or that they match their recommendations with local events, seasonal trends and weather so that contents suit our moods. The estimated social class and demography based on zip code and the device we use, etc., are of course among the basics. Every firm does it these days and it’s not an edge any longer.

As time goes by and they sample the subscribers longer, faster and deeper, creating a digital profile of every one and their estimated psychometrics is not really sci-fi. They would be bad at their job if they don’t already do it, while they can.

Now looking at the fast pace of their interdisciplinary growth and where they can be in five years from now, should this start to get us worried? Worried not about the potential power of such companies, which is obvious, but about their intent: Their willingness to shape public opinions in the ways never possible before.

Of course we should!

* * *

Here I would like to cite mr. Murphy with a little modification:

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong…

… if there’s enough money at stake!

And there’s enough money at stake. Lots of money. Can you imagine any business more profitable than manipulating people’s minds?

If you have the most optimist world view about human individuals, you should still be skeptic about the outcomes of the human collective behavior and its mallicious emergent properties.

When persuing shareholder profit is the main rule of the game, and this realm is not [and can not easily be] regulated, what else do we expect? For the boards of the corporations to be nice and cute, and to regulate themselves away from manipulating their own customers when much more profit is there to be made? Perhaps that they should stop showing guns or violence because it’s not good for the kids?

With the current rules of the game if you appoint the most caring, descent and honorable humans to the board of advisors and directors of these companies they will still soon enough attempt to do all of these: shaping public opinions, rigging democracies, justifying wars, gamifying exploitation of resources, igniting and guiding conflicts, and anything needed to lead the world population to a desired direction that pays off.

It’s natural for these trends to happen and it’s naive to think otherwise.

* * *

And if you think such companies will never use their potential to inject suspicious political agenda, or that they will never attempt to take political sides in controversial bloody conflicts or co-branding with potentially terrorist groups and so on, I would like to remind you that The White Helmets are still featured on Netflix!

I don’t have any first or second hand information about what’s taking place on the ground in Syria. I just smell something fishy when I see their content featured among a load of entertinment. To me it’s a red flag.

And I expect more of this to appear on our screens.

* * *

And if you are still subscribed to Netflix, watch “Black Mirror”‘s episode “Men Against Fire”.

My point is that manipulating people to see other beings as zombies or roaches in order to guide conflicts doesn’t require cheap implants!

Wireless organisms?

Can there be wireless organisms connected with wireless nerves? Can we imagine an organism that some day evolves somewhere, with its parts being movable/portable? Something that lives on as a single organism, transfers data between its detachable sensory, motor or processing parts, yet function as a whole single organism in a sense that its parts live together, or die together?

Simply put, nerves transfer information within the same organism, while senses do so in between organisms. Nerves are “wired” since electric signals need a immovable/unportable medium. But could it potentially exist an organism that uses wireless signals (light, sound, fragrance) to communicate between it’s detachable and portable parts? Something that uses electromagnetic waves, vibrations, chemical compounds or what else nature can provide?

Just imagine you could wirelessly send your hands to pick food for you and meanwhle sense and contol it, given that your hand doesn’t have a brain of its own. Then you would be something like a superorganism that is made of different portable alive parts that share a single central nervos system. Is such a creature imaginable somewhere in this big universe?

If yes, why our earth didn’t evolve any such wireless feature inside an organism? This is a bit counter-intuitive to me because such a mutation, implemented via any imaginable medium that nature would come up with (electromagnetics / chemicals / light / vibration) seems to me a kick-ass winner in any game of adaptation.

Here are few quick alternatives I can think of:

1. the issue of bandwith regulation:
Was it a difficult technical challange for nature to solve frequency interference? Regulating interference can be as limiting as much as motor acts are limited in the space. And then we know of one single dimension of data that is typicall carried by a wave (amplitude, frequency, etc.), while spatial dimensions are three! So organs better claim space than dedicate a frequency to themselves?

2. The problem of coverage:
Could it be caused by other technical issues like such as network coverage in distance?… When your hand gets to far from you for example!

3. The problem of becoming food!
May be the detached pieces without a complex scalable-by-size central nervous system can not move. It is argued that organisms need brains to move and that’s why brains are for. So would those little parts be eaten immediately and cause death to the full organism?

Educational Youtube Links

This is a list of the best educational channels I found on Youtube.

Categories are fuzzy and some channels are not as excellent as the others.

Pick one that you like and enjoy the weekend!

– Humanities/Philosophy:
1. The School of Life
2. Wireless Philosophy
3. Academy of ideas
4. RSAnimate
5. Big Think

– Math:
1. 3Blue1Brown
2. Numberhile

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– Physics:
1. The Royal Institute of Great Britain
2. Veritasium
3. PBS SpaceTime
4. Minute Physics

– Nature:
1. BBC Earth
2. Atlas Obscure: https://www.youtube.com/user/atlasobscura

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– Chemistry:
1. The Spangler Effect: http://www.youtube.com/TheSpanglerEffect
2. Chemical Bouillon: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx6IrJIvDl1LKw_yIhzHT0Q

– Biology:
1. The Brain Scoop

– General:
1. Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell
2. TED-Ed
3. Vsause: https://www.youtube.com/user/Vsauce
4. AsapSCIENCE
5. Sci Show
6. Head Squeeze (Recently joined BBC Earth Lab)
7. It’s OK To Be Smart
8. SmarterEveryDay
9. PBS Idea Channel

Dream: Farming life in your galactic neighberhood!

This is not quite a dream, but inspired by one:

Today we are going to show the fastest ways to farm life around your nearby star systems. Say you wanna try to farm some life form in the dead parts of your galactic neighberhood. How would you do that?

Posting the actual life is extremely slow and inefficient. Seeds of life may be practical to transfer elswhere in your own planetery system, but they’re super slow to send to other stars. Life is just information, so you can just send its data.

Say you wanna plant a tardigrade with a bunch of bacteria to a dead planet 40 light years away, aiming at harvesting Internet or some Dyson sphere shit in few billion years.

Using the fastest and most reliable services such as Space FedEx this will take a couple of million years to send the seeds, that long time only to initialize the process.

Well instead, you can scan the organism, transfer its data with the speed of light and 3D print that life form right where your printer locates.

Of course, the problem at the first place is how to post that universal organic printer to another star; A machine that turns dust into a given uploaded life form.

For that you have two options:

1. Invent that printer and post it to a remote planet, then use it.

2. Wait for it to evolve on its own. Then communicate with it, hijack and use it to print your uploaded life forms.

Chances are that one of these two happen before the other one, even if you don’t do anything.

Whatever you do, don’t be a blind printer for other life forms. It’s galactic slavery.

Value-Fact Distinction?

There is this thing called “value-fact distinction”; it points out to the difference between “what is” and “what ought to be” (in Persian: «باید و نباید» vs. «هست و نیست»).

* * *

1. As a child I was not aware of this distinction. I think it is quite natural (a default setting) to experience the reality based on emotions and values and judge the world based on how it benefits us, as opposed to objective investigation out of mere curiousity.

That is, morality is – wrongfully and as a default mindset – assumed to be as objective as rationality.

* * *

2. As I grew up I started to spot relativity in our ethics and morals. I was convinced that factual statements are objective and can be evaulated as true or false, but ethical statements are subjective and right vs wrong is a matter of taste or perspective.

True/False and Right/Wrong duality may “feel” alike, and we apply both to our decision-makings in life. But we should not mix them while investigating the world: If we set out to inspect the objective reality, we should stick to the facts staying away from the subjectivity of ethics. Mistaking right or wrong for true or false is a trap.

Or facts are objective; values are not.

* * *

3. The weird thing is that the distinction between facts and values is fading again for me. They are coming together like when I was a child, but this time in a different way.

I ask what if facts and values are both a matter of perspective, in a fundamental way. That both rationality and morality are subjective?

Kids may know some things better, prior to their culturally biased upbringing.

Dream: Dead on Earth? Or burried alive under Mars!

I have decided to quickly draft my trippy dreams. Here comes the first one of them:

It was a couple of centuries later. Mars projects had succeeded to start to inhabit the planet and more and more people were moving to spend the rest of their lives there. Things were according to the plan up until a gigantic storm in the hostile atmosphere of Mars destroyed most of the infrastructure and cut several colonies off from each other and from the resources. The geologic planet swallowed those who were going to transform it and colonizers died a sad death without being able to recieve help from Earth.

The project failed and all the budgets were cut and reallocated to overcome environmental disasters on Earth and to advance other technologies including simulating humans and their lives. The aim of that project was to assure that in the event of the climate nightmare that the earth was awaiting, some data from our life and our civilization could survive. The project made a good progress and people started to run simulated copies of the world, and in many different variations. In fact the future data archelogists even simulated their previous generations (including us) based on the data points that was collected from us and found in the rescued data centers. They had looked inside our lives, what we had written to each other, pictures and so on to interpolate the unknown events in between. [Here the resemblance to Black Mirror’s episode “Be right back” is a coincidence, as this dream was seen before me watching the series]

Anyhow after many years someone comes along to revive the idle knowledge and the abandoned technologies of the old Mars projects, but this time with a different purpose: To burry the simlation data centers under the surface of the red planet. So if things on Earth go terribly wrong the simulation can keep going. It must be deep and secured under the Mars’s surface to be kept safe from meteors and geological changes there.

And they succeeded.

Now if such a future scenario for us is imaginable, we may ask: Which one are we? The physical bodies that think we are? Or the Digital ones burried under the surface of Mars, still alive as code while long-dead physically on Earth?

P.S. Also with an accidental resemblence to Black Mirror’s “Playtest” (as well as “White Christmas”) where everything takes place in a fraction of a second, there was also a reference to shorter time constants in the simulation compared to the much longer times things would take in the real world. In fact the most striking revelation about the dream was regarding an “echo-effect”, where people in the simulation also faced their own ecological boundaries and had to make simulations inside that simulation, of course even faster. And that cascade could go on forever in a way that total time series would converge, explaining a “great leap”; perhaps similar to the main idea behind McKenna’s time wave zero! Whatever. Just a dream!