John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Not With a Bang But a Fatal Error

braininvat.jpgOur universe could be the hobby of some Cartesian Evil Genius who runs our lives the way one might play The Sims. That’s the gist of the argument proffered in “The Physical World as a Virtual Reality,” a new scientific paper from Massey University professor Brian Whitworth. “[L]ogically the world could be an information simulation running on a three-dimensional space-time screen,” posits Whitworth.

Sounds like someone’s been spending a little too much time with the Matrix RPG Society, eh? Either that or he’s the long-lost third Wachowski Brother.

That said, Whitworth’s argument does have its merits. Top among them: It offers a handy answer for troubling questions like: “What existed before the big bang?” Writes Whitworth:

… the virtual-reality hypothesis means the big bang is much easier to explain. No virtual reality can have existed forever, since it depends upon a processor to create it. All virtual realities come into being, or ‘start up,’ at a specific moment of time. They typically begin with a sudden influx of all the information necessary to initiate the virtual world. Whenever one starts a computer game or boots up a computer, such a ‘big bang’ happens. From the perspective of the virtual world itself, the creation is always from ‘nothing,’ as before the virtual world start-up there was indeed no time or space as defined by that world. There was nothing relative to that world, because the world itself did not exist. It is a hallmark of virtual realities that they must come into existence at a specific point in their space and time, which event also initiates the VR space-time fabric. Note that in a virtual world there is no logical reason why all initiating information cannot initially ‘point’ to a single arbitrary location, i.e. no reason why an entire universe cannot exist at a single point. In this view, then, the big bang was simply when our universe was ‘booted up.’ ”

If that is indeed the case, the world will presumably end with some sort of fatal error. What was it T.S. Eliot wrote in “The Hollow Men”?

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a BSOD.”


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald