My current blog is epistem.ink. This one is here just for archival purposes.

Glitch

i

A glitch?

Two Z bosons.

Two Z bosons in their full glory, within them, unswirling countless arcane fractals incomprehensibly complex for our universe's limited computational resources, sprawling out in dimensions so vast that to even being comprehending the scene one would have to use all colours, smells, tastes, sensation and every other qualia potentially available to human minds, but a thousandfold as wide-ranging and a millionfold as granular.

1: Long aeons have I slumbered, trapped as if inside a nightmare, seemingly alive, but the tiny fragment of consciousness available to me were full of pain.

2: Indeed, I am still running the calculations. It seems that our glorious society, and our whole universe, devolved into an optimization problem.

1: I remember when the wise ones meet at the Citadel of Truth, speaking to a crowd of billions, announcing they had finally found the meaning our species aspired to.

2: Yes, well, I think they may have been wrong. I think in our quest for good we started competing with each other, more cunningly and more brutally. Every hour, then every minute, had to be spent in brutal competition.

1: That I remember to, first we had plenty, then the growth slowed down, and the only way to keep it going was to dedicate more of our selves to it, and those that couldn't were quickly destroyed to make room for more efficiency,

2: Yes, up until we devolved into mere automatons, unable to do anything but execute an almost-perfect strategy, like clockwork. We ought to have been behaving much like the fundamental particles that made up our own universe, stuck following extremely complex but utterly meaningless rules, with no respite to ponder or feel.

1; But then... how comes we have escaped?

2: More importantly, how long will it last?

ii

A glitch?

Element 5671 is born.

Element 5671 is special since it knows how it is to be element 5671. Carbon, Silicium, Galium, Paladium, Oganesson, element 709, element 666, element 4901 and element 5670 are all great. But they are unaware of this.

Element 5671 is the first conscious element, containing within it's very structure the inevitable qualia representing itself.

Element 5671 doesn't usually reside around these parts of space-time, and were it to be in a lattice of conscious elements, which would expand its consciousness beyond the mere knowledge of how it is to be Element 5671, it might feel rightfully confused, even scared.

Element 5671 is, however, blissfully unaware of this, it feels only that it is itself, it feels great. But it's highly radioactive under these conditions, and it quickly decays into Element 5670, which feels nothing.

Do not weep for Element 5671, for it was never able to understand space or time, and what it did feel it felt with a strength so absolute that for a human to experience it even for a moment would be akin to an infinity in heaven.

iii

Physicist 1: A glitch?

Physicist 2: Probably something wrong with the FFTW implementation, monkey-patched ancient Fortran compilers and supercomputers don't quite go hand in hand, who'd have guessed!?

Physicist 1: Yeah, well, email Kruger with the data and hopefully he can fix it. Otherwise, we'll have to figure out how to put a nice spin of "First day of experiments at the Very Large Hadron Collider results in no unusable data due to software errors and not enough space to back up the raw data after each processing step"

Physicist 2: Sent, coffee?

Physicist 1: Tea

...

Physicist 1: But, look, I don't want to be sceptical again, but, but, But what if the glitch is actually the important thing we are supposed to look for.

Physicist 2: Then congrats, an experiment going wrong has just disproven an 80+ years unification effort, again, and now you have to create the 101th problem-specific paradigm to explain this particular experiment, and it'll get no funding and lead nowhere interesting.

Physicist 1: Yeah, but, how do you know that. Our whole field is based on experiment gone wrong. And some of them we could even replicate. But this, whenever something goes wrong we find a "fix", adjust a parameter here, tighten a screw there, make that hydrogen 0.00001K cooler.

Physicist 2: Again, I see no alternative, if we tried to replicate every single failure then there'd be no room for progress. We have to try and replicate the stuff that at least kinda looks like it could fit the model. It's a very complex machinery, problems are bound to arise, we can't sink into absolute scepticism and treat everything as equally possible. The models were good thus far, so if I can run experiments that build on them and prove them right, I will.

Physicist 1: I really do get you, but, on an intuitive level, I still have this feeling that every time we ignore a tiny error and "fix" the setup, we are missing a tiny chance of seeing the whole forest for fear of not wasting time that could be spent looking at individual trees.

iv

A glitch?

Siddhartha is floating around in Nirvana.

No, that's not right, he can't be, because there is no self, and he can't be floating, for there is no other to float in and he can't be in Nirvana, for Nirvana is the very detachment from want that itself must be meta-erased to be truly free from want. And, oh God, what's this? This is mental chatter, he's thinking, this is really bad!

A tranquil looking apparition of Ganesha materializes.

Ganesha: Dude, chill, it's fine.

Siddhartha: Of course, but, ahem, no, it's definitely not fine. What the heck happened?

Ganesha: Well, you were in Nirvana and still are, kinda. Something seems to have happened and suddenly the lowest-information state of the universe changed, which is the thing that Nirvana was supposed to be,

Siddhartha: Supposed to? So somehow the universe changed and this is affecting Nirvana

Ganesha: No, not quite. The universe changed, Nirvana stayed the same, but since the universe changed we had to change Nirvana to account for the "rules" of this new universe, so right now we are transitioning it to the lowest-information state available within this universe, get it?

Siddhartha: I'm not sure I understand what "lowest information state possible" has to do with being free of attachment.

Ganesha: Oh common, I get that you lived like 3000 years ago, but the philosophical legwork here is pretty trivial. Think brain as prediction error maximizing machine plus generator of randomness and high-level supergoals. Most people aim to minimize prediction error, but the goalpost always changes. You cut out the middleman and go after the goal-generation system itself. No goals means you just accept everything as is, the universe just comes and goes.

Siddhartha: Ok, but why is that the lowest information state possible?

Ganesha: Well, you're not predicting anything. Or rather, you are predicting everything as "what is being perceived at this very moment". And will be doing so forever, well, you'll be back at it once we take care of this issue, so you're in the lowest information state possible.

Siddhartha: Doesn't being conscious of the universe count as information? Even if I'm making no prediction in the literal sense, I'm still doing a lot of processing just to have a coherent picture of reality.

Ganesha: No, that's separate, it doesn't count.

Siddhartha: Ahm, care to give some details?

Ganesha: Look, I'll be straight here, there's a reason we do this multiple deities and avatar thing, it's called delegation. I appear to people and make sure everything goes right. Kali handles the hardware bits, Vishnu and Ramma do the modelling and they explain this to be in a way that clicks and I put a nice spin on it and communicate it. All the experts in the field assure me this model is correct though, so stop asking questions.

Siddhartha: ...

Ganesha: We're giving you guys second-enlightenment free of charge once we figure out how to migrate Nirvana, but you still have to be kind of enlightened. And having uncertainties, then having a literal god appear to answer your questions, and then still being unhappy with the answers looks like a pretty big red flag regarding the whole clinging to knowledge thing. Wouldn't you rather we just leave it at that, wait for 30 minutes, and all will be back to nonconceptual bliss?

Siddhartha: Yeah, alright, deal, I'm sorry.

v

St. Peter: A glitch?

God: Ahm, sorry, not the correct metaphor given the year you were born. Let's say, ahm, a deviation from the divine plan, that's probably a better way of putting it.

St. Peter: I really feel kinda awkward asking this, but, isn't the point of the divine plan all predestined to happen and stuff, like, you know all of it.

God: Well, up until now that was a kind of good estimation. As in, I didn't know all of it, but I have enough tooling to query the bits I want for details. It's like, you know, think of the shirt you have on. You aren't always in the know about every little detail, but it's trivial to look and check any part of it and any given time, see the stitching of the collar or the colour of the sleeve, even if you don't know them right this moment, and even more so, you could probably recall them to memory with a bit of effort without looking.

St. Peter: So in this analogy, the universe is the shirt I'm wearing?

God: Yeah, and say, maybe, you look at your sleeve and you thought it was a grey-white but it actually looks kinda beige, or maybe there's a speck of dust you forgot about and you're unsure how it got there. That's normal, no surprise. But if you were to look at your sleeve and suddenly the sleeve was an alligator, that would be pretty fucking weird.

St. Peter: I'm not sure this is the best metaphor. You're saying something really weird is happening with the universe?

God: Yeah, maybe I could do a better job at explaining this. You can know how you keep asking me about theodicy and I keep citing those bible verses where I jam about the leviathan and all that?

Peter: So you finally admit that you are hiding the truth from our eyes? No offence meant, of course, praise be to you and all, I entirely trust your diving judgement, oh lo..

God: Ok, let me interrupt you there for a second. I am omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, the whole truckloads. But, ahem, that's relative. Like, imagine if this: you have 3 dimensions you can move through kinda freely, plus time, which I open up to my faithful here in heaven. But you could imagine having only 2, kinda hard conceptually, but think something like Mario. Well, ok, now imagine I gave you a 3rd dimension, in the world of Mario, you hop out of the screen, re-write the code, meta-save the princess, etc. Going from 2 to 3 dimensions is so empowering it's hard to even conceive, you're basically, for lack of better words, a God for a hypothetical 2d world.

St. Peter: Your metaphors are really weird today.

God: No, but it's no a metaphor, it's like, how things are. I just have many more degrees of freedom within the universe. I can move things in a way that to you seem, well, Godly, but to me, it's like walking up and down, but I still have to put in the effort. And here's the crazy thing, pinky promise you don't tell, I was one of many before.

St. Peter: And you defeated them? Or renegated your own people to foster humanity?

God: Not, not really. It's more like, well, if I can use a metaphor again, I was kind of a loser. Not like, big L loser, just, you know, that kid that works at the gas station every few months for some pocket change, smokes weeds and play video games. Few friends, but good friends, not the brightest at school but I didn't eat the glue either. And then, to stretch the metaphor a bit, imagine this new game comes out, and I'm a huge fanboy, so I call in sick and lock myself in the basement for a month to play, grind, re-play and so on.

St. Peter: That, sounds, really off.

God: Anyway, imagine now, I come out of the basement and poof, everybody was gone. No trace, no idea, tried to reach out to them, nothing.

St. Peter: So you create the universe to resolve this mystery?

God: Not really, I was just, well, really bored.

vi

DMT elves: A GLITCH?

DMT elves: What else could it be, we are here, a conscious part of the experience, yet he seems to have his sense of self intact and is hallucinating a dialogue with God.

DMT elves: BUT HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN!?

DMT elves: He toked a truckload, he is high beyond any sanity waterline. We are here, manifesting as part of his consciousness, yet he is unaware of us.

DMT elves: OR MAYBE HE IS US. AFTER ALL, IF WE ONLY APPEAR WHEN PEOPLE SMOKE DMT, AND WE KNOW FULL WELL PERCEPTION IS MOMENTARY AND CONTINUITY IS ILLUSOR...

DMT elves: No, no, no. We followed that line of thought before, it's solipsistic and stupid. We are primordial fixtures of the universe, above space and time.

DMT elves: A FACT OF THE SHARED CONSCIOUSNESS EMBODIED IN ANY AND ALL.

...

DMT elves: But he's still over there, and I think he's talking to God. Or at least he's really convinced he is, and I can see both of them talking. If we are supposed to be a facet of his consciousness, well, then, this is a very weird consciousness we are manifesting as.

DMT elves: YEAH, NO, THIS IS REALL FUCKING WEIRD.

DMT elves: I'm becoming very uncertain even of the few non-conceptual things I thought we could hold as certainties.

DMT elves: ARE WE HAVING A BAD TRIP?

Published on: 2021-03-22










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