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The Universe of Things Is Next

I’m in Love with Rocks

Consciousness is one of those perennial hardy topics, it just won’t go away but we simply don’t know what it means and how it arises. I’ve even had a little peck at it myself but it’s way above my pay scale (“Shouldn’t AI Apps be Just a Little Bit Conscious?” 20 January, 2021). But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t even more esoteric issues to be considered. As you can see below.

Never say never. Now the buzz at the bleeding edge is that even inanimate things are conscious. Yep, you got that straight. There are fully legit philosophy professors and thinkerati who now cogently or otherwise argue that rocks, Van Gogh paintings and thunderstorms are conscious.

BTW this movement is called Panpsychism, just so you can impress your drinking buddies with your pansophical vocabulary. So, it looks like those who argue that we can eventually understand what consciousness is, and exclude rocks and wheelchairs from it, are already on the badly trailing edge. What could they possibly be thinking? Obviously just not woke.

There is a little wrinkle here which has the effect of giving these Panpsychics a get-out-of-jail-free card, in case it looks like they have ventured too far beyond the pale. That is their contention that that the consciousness they are talking about isn’t really at the level of the apparently inanimate thing. That’s just for the prols, dude.

No, it’s at the level of the collective, as in, when looked at from the perspective of the whole universe, or multiverse whatever that may be. You can talk about the thing being conscious because its existence is meaningful at that level, and maybe only at that spiritually elevated sphere.

That is, everything inanimate, be it a thing or molecular doodah, participates in an unimaginably massive, complex network. In ye olden days you probably called that collective, God or Jehovah. These days you could call it the Prime Mover. You can imagine that GigaThing being conscious, multiple orders of magnitude more conscious than us (oh yes, to the extent that we are indeed conscious). The simple version is that we’re all connected, pieces of rock especially.

Six Degrees of Frustration

But how are we all connected? Could conscious beings all be entangled via quantum fields? After all we know that action at a distance allows for simultaneous communication across that universe at any distance.

I’ve had a wimpy crack at that too (“Is our brain really a quantum computer? Idiots savants may know the answer” 25 July 2015). Here’s the interesting thing. The quantum argument has always been seen as applying only to inanimate things like electrons. That’s old hat in the TikTok Era. Nowadays we’re starting to realize that it applies to animate things too, like you and yours truly.

Of course, we already have an Internet that’s supposed to link everything together even though there are countries that want to opt out with their own walled gardens. The Internet has gotten bigger with the push to link it to all those thingymajigs out there like front door cameras, lost keys and smart homes. That’s the so-called Internet of Things, the IoT.

But this IoT network is very primitive using basically old-style digital communications and content, frustratingly slow and prone to hacking. It’s only for inanimate stuff too, very old hat. When will we get a real network that is not open to hackers and covers life and non-life equally, assuming there is even such a distinction?

Let’s call this ultra-gargantuan network a Universe of Things, kind of like a supersized IoT. The UoT (Universe of Things) is an IoT for grownups. We’ve presupposed that quantum fields applied to inanimate objects (except for Schrodinger’s Cat, which in any case was a thought experiment and not real). Now we have pretty good evidence that these fields also include carbon-based life forms. These days it’s been graced with the fancy title of quantum biology.

If that’s the case these quantum fields probably encapsulate any form of life, whether silicon-based, or made out of gummy bears. So, if there’s really an UoT out there, there’s a fighting chance it’s based-on quantum fields, which we know to be universe wide.

Or not, as the case might be. Maybe there’s something else that we haven’t identified yet, maybe a universe-wide Higgs-boson network that also wraps everything in the universe within its clutches. After all, everything seems to have mass so that Higgs boson could be a network candidate.

Or it could be based on chocolate emissions from everything that exists which we haven’t noticed yet coz we’re too busy eating the damn chocolate to have realized it’s really God, packaged to look as if it’s nice to eat instead of being the universal chocolatier.

God or Bust

So, the idea of an UoT might not be so far-fetched, warped and weird as it might appear. After all there’s peeps who denied that quantum fields exist (like that looney-tune Einstein who was obviously correct in his nonbelief because he developed the brilliant theory of relativity). Now that we think we know that quantum fields exist, it’s not such a great leap of the imagination to postulate that there exist universe-wide fields that infect everything, living or not, and even might be the very stuff of which everything is made, be it chocolate or bosons.

We’ve been considering some decidedly outlandish ideas. What good could possibly come of that, let me ask you (and myself).

We now have a IoT which is unbelievably nano compared to its big brother, the UoT. But could the IoT be transitioned into a UoT, maybe bit by bit, one galaxy at a time?

To this point of time, the IoT just integrates inanimate things, using its primitive electron-based digital network. It’s probably going to go quantum in the next 50 years, tops. That’s part of the gap vaporized.

And the UoT is also going to integrate us carbon-based life forms, think Elon Musk’s Neuralink. And after SpaceX gets to Enceladus and we find silicon-based life forms hiding in the underground oceans there, they will get swept up too in the humans’ UoT to allow free and open communication between different life forms and their inanimate associates. The UoT is the ultimate in one-stop shopping, the Amazon of the Multiverse!

So, it might just be that those apparently weird Panpsychics are onto something after all. The network for communication has already been set up in the guise of the IoT, albeit its hasn’t transitioned to quantum communication – yet. And the SETI guys are already working on linking up living minds so that the apparently non-living minds can also join the club.

That’s what they were thinking about all the time, right?





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