Futuristic!


A few months back I was watching a documentary based on the book The Elegant Universe, and in one of the sections, the concept of a wormhole, which would basically enable one to move from one point in space time to another through connecting tunnels was being discussed. The simplest consequence of presence of such wormholes for the lesser humans who are not physicists would be the ability to travel from the two connected points without spending any time! This, if ever is to be a reality, would take very long, say at least two hundred years from now. The presenter of the program, Brian Greene, was apparently very excited about this possibility as he would be able to travel from his residence to his workplace (both in New York) in “no time” (quite literally!). Excited, yes he ought to be at such possibility. But two hundred years from now (at the earliest)? Not sure.

Though, the program was excellent in its analogies and gripping for how it dealt with widely disparate schools of physics, from classical, through, quantum physics and general relativistic physics to the theory that has been receiving mixed reactions at the possibility of being a “the Theory of Everything”– the Strings Theory, which attempts to basically combine quantum physics (which deals with the forces acting at relatively short distances, i.e., subatomic level, viz., electric, magnetic and strong nuclear and weak nuclear forces) and general relativistic physics (which gives a very accurate description of the only force acting at long distances–the force of gravity).

Well those details are not the purpose of this post. What that fantasy of traveling in no time made me think was how in taking a futuristic view of the world around us, we tend to take a very limited view of the spheres in which the human life would change due to the development of new technologies. I feel, quite obviously, that it’s not just technology based on physics and engineering would evolve radically. The human race would also have benefit of advances in medical sciences, neurology, nutrition, human psychology, communications, etc. All these technological advances cannot occur in isolation; they are bound to have some (at least) implications on the very essence our lives would hold for us. Issues like what purpose does life hold for us, what/who is admirable, the need for human intelligence, the extent of communication between humans, human aspirations, average lifespan, the type of prevalent medical disorders, the nature of day-to-day problems and conflicts would all have changed beyond recognition by that time.

The first question that came to my mind when Brian Greene made that statement about traveling through wormholes, was would we need to travel? Then, would we need to work? What would be the nature of that work? How many of us would really need to work?

Picture this: you get up in the morning, and pop a pill that has all the nutrients that you’d require for the day. You’re seated in a chair, and an apparatus (let’s call it Experience Simulator or Expulator) aims light beams at your brain that make you experience whatever you want to. This is the 126th year of your life, and if the Expulator detects that you don’t have adequate desire to live on, it will aim beam at some specific neurons that would fill your brain with the desire to live. It might also consult with some database to confirm if you’re really required by the human race in any capacity in which you could contribute, or if in terms of cost-benefit ratio, if you’d still be desirable any longer to the human race! Or if your contract to live had expired! (More about this later, though)

All the infectious agents would have been eliminated, ageing would have been stalled or retarded to such a rate that there would be a real possibility for the majority of people to “get bored” of their lives. And needless to say, there would be no medical disorders.

No experience would require you to leave your chair–be it of playing in the ground, having your favorite food, some violent outlet just for the kicks of it, or one of those kinky fantasies. Nothing would be out of bounds. No doubt, everyone would be happy and content or whatever they’d want to feel at any given moment. One could also not argue that these “experiences” would be artificial as they’d be produced through the same mechanism by which we experience “reality” as we know it today(!), i.e., stimulation at the appropriate synapses.

One could question, would the Expulator be available to all?

I believe, any technology becomes widely accessible (in terms of both rate of production and the purchasing power owing to its affordable cost) a long time after its advent. This itself would ensure universal accessibility.

Okay, returning to the original question, would you require to travel? No, of course not! Think of all the reasons to travel:

  1. To do work. With such advanced technology, you certainly won’t require separate workplace to work at.
  2. To meet someone. You could always switch on the Expulator, and meet that someone just sitting in the chair.
  3. To visit a place. Now don’t make me count what all your Expulator could do!

But I think I’ve left out so many significant issues. The human race could know by that time, what it means to be perfect. Perfect brains and perfect bodies would be order of the day or the century. Any aberration would simply be a manufacturing defect! Would we really require to work? What would be the incentive to work? Remember: though difficult it is to imagine it without having your very own Expulator, it could make you feel and experience any and everything that you’d like to experience. It would make you feel tired, sleepy; it could give you the same pleasure as discovering a new galaxy! Basically, it could make you feel that you work! My guess, is the incentive to work would be actually knowing something more. Developing better Expulators, synthesizing more and more experiences to enrich Expulator’s database, continued fight against infectious agents, protecting the human race from real dangers, like comets, asteroids, aliens(!). But why would someone work, if the Expulator could simply make the right neurons of the reward center in your brain fire at will? Out of sense of duty? Would it become incumbent on a few to do some compulsory thinking as decided by some lottery system?

But the most important question that arises is what would be the incentive to live? I’m not sure, how horrifying it sounds to the reader–this piece of my fantasy is from a very sterile point of view. I, though, find the picture quite complete save the minor details like how electricity would be produced; how that nutritious pill would be produced; how ageing would be stalled; how the infectious agents would be eliminated (believe me, this is the most likely spoiler in my fantasy of a “perfect” future!), what would happen to other species? Would everyone have equal status in the human race as all would be perfect, and by extension, effectively identical? What would be the effect of knowing that all the experiences are simulated at will? That there’s no external (to one’s most personal aspirations for one’s life) purpose to life, other than the continuation of the human race, which in turn would have or may not have any purpose depending upon how one views the role of human race in the affairs of the Universe, and if one feels that the Universe is “supposed” to be some way or the other.

Is there something missing in this picture that’s rendering it incomplete? God, may I propose? The purpose of life could be known to God. What if God had a purpose that we don’t know of? What if I/we end our lives, and it turns out to be one horrible mistake? So, why take chances and just not live on? As it is what’s the harm of living, more so with the Expulator around?

The person who smokes knows that the “kick” they get out of smoking is nothing but nicotine doing its wonders. Does that make them quit? Ditto for cocaine, alcohol, or morphine. Does this sound similar to our Expulator? May be. I really don’t know. Life, as I always say, indeed, is addictive.

It would be amusing to know what it would be like to “live” in such a world. And it also amuses me to realize I won’t exist to verify it for myself!

PS: Surprisingly, I didn’t require an Expulator for this piece of armchair philosophical fantasizing!

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54 thoughts on “Futuristic!

  1. What a coincidence !! I am a believer in telepathy now (just kidding :-)) I finished watching this documentary yesterday evening and was thinking of mentioning it in my post. Glad that you watched it too. Maybe we can talk about it later.

    I liked your futuristic world too although I am not sure if that’s the way we want it to happen. I wouldn’t be alive to see it but I am sure the fun of achievement will be lost.

    Btw, I think there is an entity you may have missed. Robots. Do you think that there’s a possibility robots can control this world. No, I am not a conspiracy theorist but given the way artificial intelligence is blurring the lines between the animate and inanimate it may be a possibility.

    I posted a video sometime back about experiments with robots using a mouse’s brain

    http://nitwitnastik.wordpress.com/2009/02/09/rise-of-the-robots/

    also check this out when you have time

    http://nitwitnastik.wordpress.com/2009/03/11/visions-of-the-future/

  2. Thanks a lot, Nitwit. I’ve already watched that documentary twice by now, and won’t mind a few more times.

    I’d be glad to go through your post, but as am accessing net through my cell phone, won’t be able to go through the video.

    I personally don’t think robots/computers have much chance at ruling us 🙂

    My post was not much about the technological aspects, but a peek into the psychological aspects of that kind of life.

    Regarding telepathy, have you noticed how the views of most of the people like you and me (I don’t want to use a wide sweeping term, and just hope you understand) turn out to be so similar on so many issues, even without ever reading or accessing a body of knowledge/opinions common to both? I’ve seen this congruence in views with so many people (unfortunately, almost only on the net), and that’s what gives me the confidence that my thinking’s not gone haywire. You might enjoy the book I’ve provided the link to under ‘Influences’ in the side panel, and maybe a few blogs too that I follow.

    TC.

  3. well.. i think by the time humans reach this stage.. the earth will not be able to sustain them as we would have used up all the resources.

    even if they go for alternative resources.. we would have created a great imbalance in the nature and be on the path of self distruction..

    or we would have struck some 3rd world war and ended before any of this happens..

    if we manage to reach there…. then i would have to agree with what you say.

    and God and Nature are the same thing for me.

  4. Thanks Oorja for visiting! And since this was your first comment, welcome to the blog!

    This blog was just a fantasy, so nothing really to agree or disagree there 🙂

    I’ll respond to your points individually.

    <>Exhaustion of natural resources coupled with unsustainable population<>. Quite a possibility, but I think beyond a point, population is going to plateau and then decline. If and when that’d happen is difficult to say, but has already started happening in Europe and Japan. Also, with genetic modification and development of alternative sources of energy, maybe the human race would be able to tide over the resources crunch, and hopefully, learn from the lessons of the past.

    <>Third World War<> Yes, a very strong possibility. Even if it’s not the WW-3, and some really small scale war, the danger to our species is very real.

    <>Nature = God<> If you might not know, this belief qualifies you as pantheist. And as a matter of trivia, Einstein had shared your view! 🙂 Just trying to add a bit to your knowledge, if you don’t mind, that is. You might find this article interesting:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism

    I’d like to point out that I’ve not tried to present a very comprehensive view of the future world, just a very individual aspect of it. If I were to attempt, the former, I’d have to write a book, which I’m perfectly incapable of ;).

    Take care.

  5. A very inspiring post indeed. And the worm holes answers the very question you had put up on my blog. 😀

    This scenario as you guessed could go both ways and inturn lead to knowing everything but feeling nothing. One needs to experience bad to appreciate the good.

    WALL-E and many other movies have shown what could come out of the scientific advancements.

    Loved the post a lot.

  6. Thanks, Aniket!

    Would try to catch Wall-E one of these days.

    It’s very easy for the reader to miss that our current world is hardly different from the one I’ve described. Just that we’re so caught up in our day-to-day problems that we don’t realize that it’s precisely those problems and the search for their solutions that drive us to live the next moment. Otherwise life would be very sterile! Or in your words, ‘one needs to experience bad to appreciate the good’.

    TC.

  7. Yeah. I was thinking of Wall-E the whole time I was reading your post. Accept you’ll see in the movie that that kind of life is not desirable for humans. We are most satisfied when we have purpose and encounter real life. I don’t think a simulation could ever replace our desire for the real.

  8. Thanks Karla for the comments!

    I truly have no idea how life’d turn out two hundred years from now. As one of the readers has rightly pointed out, may be we might annihilate ourselves using nuclear weapons for some trivial war (unfortunately, very likely on some religious grounds; when I just thought about it, I realized most of the major conflicts I could think of are rooted in differences in religious opinions rather than political oneupmanship or avarice for money and resources). And yes, I’m happy the way my life is.

    Sad, I haven’t had opportunity to watch Wall.E.

    Somehow, I’m feeling our lives are happier than the one I’ve represented.

    As such, I’d felt my next blog ‘A Moral Brainteaser’ might interest you more 🙂

    TC.

  9. Quite an interesting post. While reading the post, two movies ran in my mind – Wall E (as Aniket had pointed out) and Minority Report (on that simulator idea – remember seeing something like that in one of the scenes).

    Whether we will reach that stage – I guess we will. Jules Verne certainly did visualize humans on moon couple of decades before the first aeroplane flew. One hundred years later, it became true. I am not trying to imply that in the next 100 years some thing like this simulator will certainly happen, but only opining that – ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

    With every new accomplishment, we will certainly find a new purpose to hang on to. Probably, the simulator will lack in certain areas, or experiences for which it is very difficult to drawn out an algorithm – like what we will think next, which direction our eye balls will move etc.

    As to how it will feel to be in that world – FANTASTIC. We will be thinking about something else. Blogs will be history (who needs blog, when one can telepathise with others). Older diseases will be cured, and will pave way for probably new ones, for which another set of research will take place to cure (like cure for people who cannot think – even though this illness is prevalent even now, this will be regarded as one, probably atleast around that time!).

    Is it not true that at the end of every puzzle, something new crops up (or slowly creeping) – to keep us interested in the proceedings.

    What I certainly don’t want is the lack of travel aspect. I still want my Bull to be a preferred mode for travel (no simulator for this though – especially now – after having traveled for 1400 kms through hills and plains in four days, and still craving for more!)

    Hoping against hope, that atleast some parts of the fantasy comes true during my life time.

  10. Well -Ketan. Let me start by saying that I like being forced to think – that’s what your blog posts do! Although – in this case – I don’t really like thinking too much. All the points you’ve mentioned are extremely valid. But…seeing as I’ll probably be worm-food by the time “the future” rolls around, I guess I’m happy to live in ignorant bliss. I like to imagine teleporting wherever I need to be…let’s say, MARS. And going out for the night to a restuarant on SATURN! And making friends with aliens who invite me to their summer homes on NEPTUNE! I also look forward to communicating telepathically with machines…so that my blog posts just instantly occur.

    I’m looking forward to having my own personal robot slave to do things that are tedious – like cut my toenails or take out the trash.

    I’m also looking forward to supercool future fashion! Imagine – shoes that can morph into whatever you want at the click of a heel. Working all day in trauma takkies and need to rush to a dinner date? No problem – from sneakers to stillettos in two seconds! woohooo! Arrive ata party only to find your friend wearing the same dress? Hey presto! Change it from black to red in a flash.

    OH man – I just get sad thinking about all the amazing possibilities that I won’t be around to witness!

    Keep up the great posts – I’m going to scan through some of your old ones now…

    Cheerio! Dr S

  11. Saimukundhan,

    You’re too much! And, you’re amazing!

    I was just getting somewhat gloomy thinking of what it would be like to live that kind of life. And here you come with new solutions er… problems.

    Lesson for the day: Problems are the solutions when life gets too perfect!

    Thanks!

    Take care.

  12. Dr. S,

    What terrible mistake did I make inviting your comments to my blog! Who’s going to enjoy reading my posts upon reading your hillarious comments 😦

    Anyway, let bygones be bygones!

    Welcome to the blog, and hope you enjoy my ‘clinical’ approach to life.

    As for the worms whose food we’re to become, bon appetit!

    Take care.

  13. Oh Ketan! My apologies – I don’t know I’m being funny – it just happens. I wish my posts could be as elegantly philosophical as yours. I have to think really long and hard before I can come up with posts like that!

    Just realised today that I prefer writing to watching tv. This is an awesome revelation, and just another sign that I should be doing more of this thing that I love!

    In a way, I’m glad for the craziness of my work at the moment – it provides excellent writing opportunities.

    Cheers!

  14. wow.

    thats a lot of philosophy.

    but, personally, I think that
    we wont ever be that way.

    we’re alive because we’re unequal.

    the bell curve of distribution and all that jazz.

  15. but what I DO believe is

    that in the future, all girls will sport mohicans and all guys shall be bald, except a little patch on the front of their heads(ronaldo, anyone?)

    also,

    we shall have large butts and small feet.

    that is a prediction.

  16. @Dr. S: Ah! The ironies of life! How I wish I could ever write like you, and you’re calling my posts elegantly philosophical (wishfully taking that as a compliment)!

    Never mind, you write really well, and going by its quality, no doubt, you enjoy writing.

    Enjoy!

    @Deluded:
    Well your comments here have bordered on sane, well almost. You’re not doing justice to your nickname, now are you? But I perfectly undertand, one can’t always help their lucid intervals 😦

    Welcome to the blog!

  17. haha.

    shouldnt you be sleeping?

    lucid interval. is a great term.

    a friend of mine uses it to describe the sober period between two drinking binges 😉

    and about the sane part,

    I think I may have been drunk at that point of time 😉

  18. also,

    blog improvement advice.

    you might want to take down the number of posts shown on the home page. 5-7 would be ideal.

    scrolling’s a pain in the ass.

  19. It’d be an achievement if I manage to sleep before 3 one of these days.

    Pain in your ass has nothing to do with your ‘ulta’ pant I hope. 🙂

    Anyway, thanks for the suggestion. I’ll the number of posts on a page monthly-basis.

    BTW, I’ve posted some comments on your older blogs, too. TC.

  20. Ok I was pleased to see your comments on of my articles! But then I scrolled down and I was shocked to see it again! Lol. First of all, thanks a lot for considering my English elegant! 🙂 I think too! 😛 Well, to be honest with you, I wrote that a long time ago. There a lot of thing going on inside my head so I just sat down and poured my heart out! I agree with your views totally. I’ve finally mustered enough courage to deal with things. Anyway, I really appreciate your comments!

    Thanks once agaain.
    Vishwas

  21. Hahaha sheeeesh man I’m honoured! Thanks! Yes I shall try to blog more frequently Ketan! Just don’t find enough time for all the things I want to do! Anyway, I’ll try to dedicate more time! Thanks and I shall add your blog on my list as well!

    Cheers,
    Vishwas

  22. Just remembered. Something about these time travel etc. is dealt in one of Michael Crichton’s novels ‘Timeline’. Was impressive (based on whatever I can remember now).

    One more reason for mentioning that novel, it starts with something like this —

    THERE IS NO FUTURE, ONLY THE PAST REPEATING ITSELF TIME AND AGAIN

    Cheers

    Sai

  23. Sai,

    That was scary! I just hope Crichton’s words don’t turn out prophetic in the future!

    You might want to read my oldest post–‘Free will’. It’s bereft of any comments ;).

    TC.

  24. @Ketan:

    Please don’t comment on that blog. Its strictly archived. I just posted the link rather than copy/paste the entire post….

    I’d, however, love to see your comments on that line of thought here…

  25. Well Harshad,

    Your article–well written…I know you wouldn’t be interested in that.

    Ok, coming to your idea. I completely agree with your idea of how organisms with greatest desire to live would survive and propagate. In fact, ‘agree’ would be technically wrong; I’d reached the same conclusions about the purpose of our lives. Your post quite logically explains how a desire to live would make organisms do things conducive to their survival, which in turn would allow them to reproduce and sustain their species.

    I’ll go a step ahead and tell you, living organisms are favored in the environment because they humor the second law of thermodynamics better than nonliving things. I’m sorry, I don’t know how living organisms increase entropy despite being so efficient in energy consumption (efficiency of respiration, which produces ATP from glucose is about 40%–less change in entropy, as compared to internal combustion engines–efficiency 10%–I think). There’s some quirky logic to it like animals drop their excreta at far away places, or something like that. You might google for some related articles.

    We do have an evolutionary answer to the basis for desire to live, but if you ask at a personal-psychological level–I’d find it difficult to answer. Why do I live?

    I honestly don’t believe I’m serving some purpose by living. To put the answer in most simplistic way–I enjoy living. It’s like going to the park and just playing (though I’ve not done that in quite some time ;)). I just enjoy it, so do it. I don’t think the reason for it (usually).

    You might ask then but why do so many people who don’t even consider themselves happy, choose to live on?

    I think that’s because unhappiness has largely 2 components–deprivation and pain. Deprivation could be of some basic necessities (food, water, etc.) or of things that we promise ourselves. Each time we do that we’re actually putting conditions for happiness. And there can be a source of absolute pain–say, cancer. So, most of the people have HOPE that their deprivation and/or pain would be alleviated. They live on in attempt to see the day when they’d have all the sources of happiness they’d desired, and be free of all pain. Our egoes are bubbles–we can see things only from ‘within’. So, majority don’t think if their living and existence has any relevance outside their own ego…

  26. …Most of the stimuli in nature are such that when a life-sustaining factor (food to hungry, water to thirsty) is encountered–reward center is stimulated, and painful stimuli (which could lead to death–say burning sensation from fire) stimulate the punishment center.

    Now, if you see most of the people who commit suicide have lost hope their pains can be alleviated. Or when the pain they experience overwhelms the pleasure their daily experiences afford them, they give up on life.

    One more reason to live on is the fear of death. And that fear is, I think, primarily because of two factors–anticipation of pain, and irreversibility. We are always wary of irreversible events, except for if we know what the outcome is going to be.

    I’ll give you a simple example–let’s say you’re dissatisfied with your current residence, and you’d be given an option of being transported to some UNKNOWN place with a condition that it’d allotted randomly and you’ll have stay there compulsorily for your ENTIRE life. You’re very likely to choose to stay where you are. So the fear of IRREVERSIBLE UNKNOWN is not a small factor. If you’d be rather given an option that if you don’t like the new place, you could come back, then, I think you know what you’d choose, right?

    Even the terrorists who make suicide attacks are CONVINCED that a better life awaits them–for them the consequences of death are not unknown.

    Psychological bases of desire for life v/s death have also been explored by Sigmund Freud in his concepts of eros and thanatos.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eros_(Freud)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanatos_(psychoanalysis)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libido

    Do let me know if you found my attempt at desire to live way off mark, of you wanted my comments on some other issue/from some other perspective.

    Whatever I’ve written here is mainly an outcome of my introspection and observation. Needless to say, the question you seem to have asked is extremely challenging to answer–and this is the best I could attempt.

    I’ve dealt with concept of delusion of significance of one’s life in a post called ‘communalism’. Would love to have your feedback there.

    I didn’t understand your desire for me to respond to your post on my blog, rather than over there 🙂

    TC.

  27. I’ll go a step ahead and tell you, living organisms are favored in the environment because they humor the second law of thermodynamics better than nonliving things. I’m sorry, I don’t know how living organisms increase entropy despite being so efficient in energy consumption (efficiency of respiration, which produces ATP from glucose is about 40%–less change in entropy, as compared to internal combustion engines–efficiency 10%–I think). There’s some quirky logic to it like animals drop their excreta at far away places, or something like that. You might google for some related articles.

    Actually life, if taken in an isolated context, represent a massive decrease in entropy – its actually a common creationist argument against evolution. However, when taken in the context of Animals + the ecosystem + the sun which powers them the net entropy always increases. The idea of entropy is an entirely mechanistic one much like newton’s laws or maxwell’s equations. They govern the universe absolutely. IMO To say that living animals affect entropy etc is an incorrect approach. You cannot have a system which violates the second law. Animals are spontaneous systems. Therefore they fall under the second law and by existing indicate an increase in entropy. To say that this favors them is somewhat inappropriate – everything has to favour entropy. Otherwise it cannot exist.

    We do have an evolutionary answer to the basis for desire to live, but if you ask at a personal-psychological level–I’d find it difficult to answer. Why do I live?

    I honestly don’t believe I’m serving some purpose by living. To put the answer in most simplistic way–I enjoy living. It’s like going to the park and just playing (though I’ve not done that in quite some time ;)). I just enjoy it, so do it. I don’t think the reason for it (usually).

    You might ask then but why do so many people who don’t even consider themselves happy, choose to live on?

    Personally, I think its the concious mind acting within the framework of the unconcious mind. I, at some level know that my life is essentially pointless. But the unconcious mind in me (perhaps due to the biological imperitive to let my genes survive) constructs ‘reasons’ and ‘purposes’.

    But then again, I am no psychologist or professional philosopher. If you’re seriously interested in stuff like this I urge you to check out a proper forum. I’m familiar with the RD forums (and contrary to belief, a large section of is has nothing to do with the religion debate) and I recommend them. A well framed thread there will surely attract some seriously interesting and insightful discussion. Perhaps even with people who have actual training and experience in the history and theory of this kind of philosophy.

    Psychological bases of desire for life v/s death have also been explored by Sigmund Freud in his concepts of eros and thanatos.

    Do let me know if you found my attempt at desire to live way off mark, of you wanted my comments on some other issue/from some other perspective.

    Whatever I’ve written here is mainly an outcome of my introspection and observation. Needless to say, the question you seem to have asked is extremely challenging to answer–and this is the best I could attempt.

    Dude, there is a lot here to digest… People [Including you 🙂 ] have obviously spent a lot time thinking about these things. Honestly, I’m going to need a lot of thought and study to approach this with any hope of dong justice to it. Perhaps a post on the topic sometime soon.

  28. I’ve dealt with concept of delusion of significance of one’s life in a post called ‘communalism’. Would love to have your feedback there.

    Will do. But give me a few days.

    I didn’t understand your desire for me to respond to your post on my blog, rather than over there 🙂

    I’ve completely abandoned that blog. To the point where I’m not even sure of the username/password any more…. As far as I’m concerned its just a forgotten relic. However, I might edit and re-post it on my new(er) blog. That’ll have to wait a few days too

    Is there a way to have comments display below the main post even in the default blog view?

  29. Harshad, I won’t say I understand the concept of entropy too well. From whatever I’ve gathered, it’s very famously known as the degree of disorder, which in turn depends on the number of states (axes of motion and their amplitude) in which individual particles of a system could exist. I wasn’t knowing what I was quoting was a creationist argument. Thanks for letting me know!

    Yes of course, one would always talk only of total energy change of the Universe. Why this factor assumes importance is because, during the origin of first organisms, and their precursors (I think called, coecervates), simpler, scattered particles were found to aggregate into more complex, larger and more organized ones, which would represent a decrease in entropy. But the existence of the very same aggregates was favored because, in the process of remaining aggregated, they were breaking down more complex compounds (e.g., iron sulphide) into compounds of greater entropy–hydrogen sulphide in this case, a gas. Also, in the process of multiplying–say during DNA replication many ATP molecules are consumed, and since each such reaction can’t be 100% efficient, entropy is increased. The point I was apparently recalling was how for instance organism + environment + the Sun results in greater positive entropy change as compared to merely environment + Sun alone.

    About evolutionary factors, I don’t think there’s much more to explore except actually singling out genes. One misunderstanding that people relatively unaware of genetics is that for every trait, there’s a single gene–which of course is not the case 🙂 Like we’re not going to find a single gene for desire to live. Clinical depression (also called major depression–an actual disorder as against a mere depressed MOOD) which can result in suicidal ideation, if I remember correctly, can result in suicides in 50% of cases, where earnest desire is expressed even once. And clinical depression does have a genetic component. A depressed person shows all the traits in lesser degrees that we associate with vitality or ‘liveliness’. So, they’re LESS (as against unlikely) likely to reproduce. Depressed people have nihilistic (there’s no purpose to anything and that everything’s going to come to an end) attitude also. They derive less pleasure from their day to day work…

  30. …Now, think of a state where all these features as reversed–deriving excessive pleasure from daily experiences (as an extreme getting happy when ‘nothing’ happens) and heightened sense of purpose and importance for for everything attached to oneself. The latter condition approaches ‘mania’, of which delusion of grandeur is a frequent feature! Is such a person not ‘most alive’?

    I guess by now you must have understood what I’m driving at–scientists are very close to understanding desire to live even at chemical level! Both the disorders are amenable to treatment using chemicals. We know what group of neurons do these chemicals act at. So maybe, understanding the precise mechanisms behind desire to live, work, and survive are not very difficult to elucidate as they’re all mediated by common neurotransmitters–mainly, serotonin.

    RD forums will have to wait for lack of time, and not inclination!

    What you’re asking about comment might be possible if you opt out of individual page for each post. Though, I’ve not tried it myself.

    TC.

  31. Thanks Oorja,

    But if and when time permits, I’d like to have your views on these issues, especially, the driving forces for desire to live.

    TC.

  32. Wow! I think this is my favourite post!

    I’ve always often wondered what “the incentive to go on living” (as u put it) wud be in a utopian society.

    becoz a society without conflict shaping it, a society that has eliminated conflict wud be a very perfect but a very stagnant one.

    i also wonder if everyone’s equally happy and prosperous, what wud be the incentive to excel? to be greater, to do greater things?

    if necessity is the mother of invention, i think the only reason for us to go ahead and try and improve anything at all in the future, wud be only for the sake of pure intellectual stimulation.

    but like the movie matrix said, humans do not adapt well to a utopian society, we thrive off conflict.

    and also, have u ever noticed, how wars and disasters seem to always inspire the best literature and music??

    i’m sorry if i’ve gone off on a tangent here, but i just cudnt help thinking about it coz of ur post..;)

  33. Hi Tangled up in blue (TUIB), and welcome to the blog!

    No, you’ve not flied off the tangent as there was no circle to chart!

    I absolutely love one issue leading to the other. If like so many other things in life, blogs and comments on them were to also get too ‘goal-oriented’, what would be the fun? 😉

    Yes, you’ve recognized all the issues in the post accurately. One that you might’ve missed is–whether the KNOWLEDGE that all our experiences are ‘synthesized’ and ‘simulated’ makes any difference to how important/relevant do we perceive our lives to be.

    I’m not sure if you’ve read the comments above; the last 10 or so have dealt with desire to live and purpose of life in greater details.

    I’ve unfortunately not been much into literature and (western) music, but yes, I believe times following stress and bereavement inspire the great abstracting abilities 🙂 Maybe to escape reality.

    You might like my posts–‘My morality’ and ‘Free will’.

    Thanks for the comment and hope my other posts also receive a few.

    TC.

  34. Hi,I have visited your blog earlier too, either from NitwitNastik’s, or Indian Home Maker’s, or someone else’s blog.. cant rememeber!

    I couldn’t get to read your entire post and comments yesterday (and will not be able to today as am in a hurry) as i have been busy lately!

    But I’ll get to it as soon as possible.

    Cheers!

  35. Never mind the time constraint, Siddharth, and officially, welcome to my blog!

    If there are any terms/concepts you don’t follow, I’d be most happy to try to help. This post might interest you as it somewhat also veers into the purview of ‘speculative economics’ if there’s such a thing as that 😉

    TC.

  36. I wonder if our experience being synthesized or rather simulated as against really experienced (using really as is most commonly used) wud make any difference at all actually..it all depends on whether we wud be able to distinguish between the two..

    i think someone who thot along similar lines came up with the idea that the world is merely ‘Maya’ or illusion..that is also a theme that Matrix, the movie plays around with..

    sorry, i’m a little too steeped in western music and cinema to think out of context from it..

    but a very memorable line in the movie said ‘Welcome to the desert of the real’ hinting at how even what we perceive as real may be incomplete..

    no, i hadnt read all those comments..there were a lot of em to read..;)

  37. TUIB,

    Sorry for overlooking this comment.

    I’ve not implied that simulated experiences would ‘feel’ any different, but awareness that they’re simulated might make up look at them trivially. If I remember it correctly, the ‘victims’ (human beings) didn’t actually know that they were living in a matrix, or did they? I’d love to watch the three movies in succession someday. 🙂

    TC.

  38. I came earlier to your blog, but went back after seeing that long story you have put up 🙂

    First thing is, we humans, though are quite intelligent, don’t know either the functioning of the universe or the detailed functioning of our own brains! But it is pretty hard for us to accept our ignorance. A century back, the Britishers would have considered themselves as the master race and their era as the modern era, as they had such huge ships and trains. But today, flights have become normal. But has the invention of aeroplanes made people happy? Obviously not – that’s why they are wanting to discover that thing which will take them instantly anywhere. After discovering that, will the humans be happy? No way. They will struggle to make it better. Discover some new things and keep on doing it till we get destroyed.

    I tell you one thing: The God or who ever created all the matter and put the energy at the right places knows very well what is going on. We are perfectly controlled by him/them or what ever. It is not a joke to make a planet revolve around a star at the same speed and duration just every time. And creation of life on earth was not an arbitrary thing that happened due to some random particles coming to geather, if one understands the complexity of life and the fact that at an atomic level, things still follow certain rules and happen according to well documented formulas.

    In fact, our cleverness and quest to explore could have been given to us deliberately to keep us out of something else. Or hide certain things. If a person was born blind, how could he ever visualize a colour?? What if certain senses or dimensions were deliberately hidden from us?

    We might already be in such a virtual reality! Who knows, after we die, probably we will be able to remove our sensors on our head and say ‘wow what a virtual reality experience on earth for 75 years!! – thanks for the simulator, it was an exciting and eventful alternate reality game!!!!!!’

    We are in a dark room, searching for a black coat, which is not there.

    Destination Infinity

  39. Hello, Destination Infinity!

    Thanks for your response!

    Well, you might have missed the point of the post–would you be able to experience your life with same ‘sincerity’, if you were to know all your experiences were simulated, and not ‘real’ in the conventional sense of the term?

    But, I don’t mind addressing the other issues you’ve raised.

    I entirely agree, that we humans consider ourselves to be intelligent, in fact, I’d go ahead a step to say that, as a species, we’re very conceited, too. Imagine, the whole of our religious conceptions revolve only around one idea that “We are important. We’re so important that we are not merely clumps of atoms of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and few other assorted elements, but such that some intelligent entity took time and effort to actually ‘create’ us! So you see, we are special“.

    We humans, ‘create’, so we think everything that exists has to be ‘created’. But do we actually create anything from ‘nothing’? No, we don’t. Isn’t it our prejudice to think that everything that exists needs to be ‘created’. Could it not have ‘always’ existed?

    You’ve raised another pertinent point how technology has not been able to make us happier. It’s possibly true, but not sure. But what I’m really sure of is, technology has definitely made us less sadder. There is indeed a difference between ‘less sad’ and ‘more happy’. Physical and mental comfort cannot guarantee happiness. But physical and mental discomfort, definitely guarantee sadness! That’s one thing we forget!

    I liked your idea of how at the end of our lives we realize that we were all actually wearing simulators!

    If you’d be interested, you’ll find a lot of my ideas in my comments on someone else’s blog:

    http://rohithramdas.blogspot.com/2009/08/soliloquy-of-son-of-bitch.html?showComment=1252341455265

    Also, you’ll find many of the comments above interesting, especially from my exchange with Harshad.

    And, you could’ve read my long story. You never know you could’ve liked it! 😉

    TC.

  40. Actually I did not understand how this is related to the post where you dropped the link. Maybe only in a very very far fetched way. But never mind

    Again, the three weeks are not over yet. In fact just started.

    But just jotting down some points here, regarding which I may comment here later:

    The Matrix (movie): Something was missing in the happy world. The versions of Matrix in which the bots made humans happy, the crops miserably failed!

    Reality vs Perception: You read my somewhat funny comment at Vinisha’s blog.

    TV vs Internet vs Life: getting whats planned for you vs selecting what you want out of already pre created ‘out there’ vs getting totally dynamic and unplanned experiences!

    Communism in theory was a beautiful romantic idea. But humans are sick, so it didn’t work. You think your simulator is gonna remain a goody goody thing? It will make humans equal? Hah! Right! Those who make those machines/ its virtual environs etc may become like the new drug mafias ( an analogy to drugs you already mantioned). They might use it to get anything out of the addicts, rule the world etc. They could be the dictators.

    Of course lets consider them not to be such megalomaniac badasses in the first place. Then probably they will like to sell these machines for something in return. People will still need to work for that.

    And we cant let a machine decide whether we want to live or not.

    Again, even if you play a lot of virtual gams and stuff, you do need to fix your computer in real world when it breaks down.

    // It might also consult with some database to confirm if you’re really required by the human race in any capacity in which you could contribute, or if in terms of cost-benefit ratio, if you’d still be desirable any longer to the human race!

    Bleddy “Manager Thinking” I call it. cost-benefit ratio , ‘contribute in any capacity’. Yechhh! Great persons have been those who have changed and added and redefined such ‘capacities’ :P. Benefit? Monetory? Or something else? When we cannot even begin to think of what next a super person will come up with, how can you know the benefit of it? And not everything by that person may actually turn out to have benefit.

    Or you mean, the system will recognise such persons beforehand? Not really! Even today we have systems that attempt recognising that. But Einstein was declared dumb by his teacher.

    Any system will have its ‘administrators’. How can we let these chosen few decide what is good for others? And how do we go about choosing people really capable of being such gatekeepers of humanity?

    If we decide to do away with admin, and let the system govern itself, that system will also need to be designed to work in particular way. Who will decide those ‘ideal rules’? Should they even be allowed?

    Again, people just might stop reproducing, if ‘everything’ is provided for. So will humanity contune much?

    Again, you have addressed majorly issues on earth, like electricity, nutri tabs etc. What about external threats?

    I can rant a lot more. Even ‘points’ became such a big drag on. But now I got to do some LMAO! Oops typo. Bye!

  41. And one thing my father pointed out one day:

    When asked in school to describe the future, every kid said we will be flying to planets in rockets, living there, etc. No one imagined the digital revolution.

  42. Hello Stupidosaur!

    I think I’d mentioned that my post was ‘somewhat’ related.

    But I think you must have worked out by now, both our posts deal with duality of an ‘absolute’ reality and its ‘subjective’ perception. That’s where the similarity ends. You’ve dealt with how subjective experiences could be different for different people. And I’ve talked of synthesizing experiences. In that both our posts deal with a certain insolence towards projecting our experiences as ‘reality’, but well, both of us have not verbalized that in the posts!

    But most important, this exercise helped me know if you read my comments on your old posts. I’m not putting a 😛 here, because though I was hoping you land on this post, I did not do that as a clever design. Why this thing occurred to me? Because had I asked you, do you read my comments, I don’t think I’d have got a reply. Okay, let me not digress further.

    1. Unfortunately, I’ve never watched the Matrix series, and worst of all, not at all the first part. So, I couldn’t understand the ‘crops’ in ‘crops severely failed’. I’m bad at slangs and urban lingo.

    2. @ Your comment on Vinisha’s blog: It was not somewhat funny, but superfunny! See, I somehow seem to have a very low threshold for laughter. Many people who know me wonder how do I laugh so much at things they find only mildly funny. Now your joke over there made me laugh a lot, ‘cuz maybe I was actually visualizing whatever you’d typed over there, and the irony really made me laugh!

    3. I really liked your analogies of TV v/s internet v/s ‘life’. But I’d like to point out that my post was very loosely put up. I’d only tried to wonder aloud if we would start valuing less our lives if we were to know that even simulated experiences feel as real as ‘real’ experiences? What would be the impact of such awareness? Of course, I’ve assumed that expulators would be sufficiently advances so as to have ‘all’ the known experiences fed into them. Also, these expulators wouldn’t only make you ‘experience’ certain things, but also induce emotions that you want induced! I know I’m falling in some kind of trap here–like, would the emotions induced by expulators influence our future decisions? If they would then it’d amount to a kind of loss of free will. Possibly. But the important thing is I’ve truly not felt I’ve answered my own questions! But do we also not like certain experiences even though we know what they’d feel like?

  43. …Like, eating a chocolate?

    I think if I’ve to name a single issue, what makes the kind of world I’ve portrayed eerily wrong is an inherent perfection! Just see, how knowing that everything is going on smoothly itself induces a feeling of ‘then why the hell am I living?’!

    Incidentally, the track on which I’m finding my train of thoughts moving has been charted above–in my responses to Harshad.

    4. Mafia. But would the expulator-mafia prefer to actually exploit fellow humans to earn money or rule the world? But what would they achieve in addition to what they could anyway achieve through the expulator? I’m not contradicting you. What you say is indeed possible. But that’s the basic doubt I have. Would the mafia do what they’d like to do in the ‘real’ world? Why not do it through an expulator?

    5. Though of course, I don’t approve of communism, what I’ve tried to convey through the post is not an equality of status, but an actual replication of human beings, as in everyone having same intelligence, same emotional sensitivity to any experience–possibly so, because an ‘optimum’ for all such attributes would’ve been found. So, it might be difficult in such situation for a few to gain power over the others.

    6. See, a lot of our present-day lives are guided by resource-crunch. But I’ve tried to portray a world where there’s no such scarcity. The human history has progressed in a way where what constituted basic necessities has kept on changing. First, it was matters of survival. Now, we’re gradually moving to matters of ‘pleasure’. What if survival would become very simple (pills that provide all the nutrition, oxygen wouldn’t be an issue, so wouldn’t be protection against pathogens), and so would all the possible pleasures (a sum total of ‘all’ the experiences–as provided by simulator), and both would be equally accessible to all? What kind of ‘production’ would be required? What would be the incentive for it? In the post I’ve not tried to state that such a situation will actually come, but what if… I hope you get the drift. 🙂

    7. Machines deciding our lifespan. Yes, you’re right. Now I realize that was a very 😛 point on my part. 🙂 I’d not known while writing, someone like you would come and analyze my post.

    Actually, I myself don’t remember what had I meant by ‘cost’ and ‘benefit’ at that time. Cost, of course, is that nutritious pill, and some electricity!…

  44. …Benefit–none, if production of electricity and pill could become self-sustained!

    Maybe, I’d meant certain amount of ‘compulsory’ thinking to be done to keep on solving a few problems that’d have not resolved by then, or would surface from time-to-time. The difference between this compulsory work would be the thoughts/ideas/solutions that would be added to the total system of knowledge would be hitherto unknown. And that might form the basis of ‘worth’ of a person. But since, the cost of sustenance of human life would be so low, there’d be no need to eliminate any! 😛 Maybe by worthless, I’d meant lazy people who wouldn’t tear away from their gaming console… err expulator!

    8. Who would be administrators?. I’ve not discussed these issues in the post, and honestly, had not even thought about them. But the basic themes are self-sustenance and automation (“govern itself”). Possibly, not many decisions would be required. Scenario would be like this: “take this unlimited supply of nutritious pills, and expulator, and do whatever you want to with your life! There will hardly be any need to actually interact with each other, so no margin to hurt/please others. Also, the number of humans would be very less (somehow!), so reaching a consensus would be easier.

    9. External threats. Well, I did mention comets, asteroids and aliens! But that’s what might serve as compulsions to take a break from expulators.

    Did I by any chance left an impression that expulator would be a medical wonder?

    It’d have to be culmination of everything known to humans–electronics (or whatever would be the carrier of ‘pulsed information), neurology, aesthetics, acoustics, textures, odors, tastes, computing, etc. Simply, the best machine mankind could ever produce!

    I again repeat, this post was not so much about how the world would turn out, but if a simulated life would charm us as much as ‘real’ one!

    And what’s with your new ‘sign out’–LMAO. Oops typo! Bye.?

    What’s the full form of ‘L’ in your LMAO? And what’s typographic error? That you actually typed so much, despite not supposed to be typing?

    Thanks for your points! As you could guess from the length of my response, I enjoyed reading and responding to them.

    TC.

  45. The typo is in LMAO itself. Hence “Oops typo!” follows it every time.

    L stands for Life, or at least it used to. Now, as far as I know it does not stand for anything.

    And you musssssst watch The Matrix. Rent a DVD/CD, buy a valid one, buy a pirated one, download, whatever. But watch it. The Matrix triology is my favourite. The last part is a little disappointing, like they were confused what to do with the beautiful, classy, thought provoking, philosophical, dashing, heroic, etc thing they developed in the first two part. So it just ends in a Shoot’em up game 😛

    In fact ‘The Matrix’ in the movie is a thing very very identical to your Expulator. And the ‘administrators’ of the Matrix are not humans, but AI, just like you want in your reply above. And yeah humans are manufactured, just like you want. The crop that failed was a crop of humans. And the AI definitely have a cost-benefit in their ‘mind’ for creating Th Matrix. The story is about how some humans discover that the lives they are living are not real, but something simulated for them by The Matrix, all while their real bodies are just nourished (your magic pills?) in incubator-like things in ‘farms’, so that the AI can derive energy produced by the human bodies biologically. So, as Morpheus explains classily in one of the scenes, the AI’s have reduced humans into a battery cell, while fooling their minds that they are living a real, complete human life.

    Ok. Too many spoilers. But go watch! Unlike what many who didn’t understand the movie, and watched it just for its snazzy thrilling action scenes, and didn’t even follow its story (its a bit complex I agree) think, its a super wonderful all round movie. Every scene and dialogue is worth watching and understanding!!!

    (Yeah, like you guessed by now, I am a big big fan. They are my favourite movies, or at least amongst favourites. Mind is funny. Its difficult to stick to one favourite. There are just too many good things in the world!)

  46. Stupidosaur,

    What a terrible mistake did I make of asking you the expansion of only ‘L’ in LMAO! Is there any provision under which I could know your full form of LMAO?

    I’ve watched parts of Matrix, but never completely. It’s very high on my to-do list when I get leisurely time!

    Actually, one thing I’d like to clarify is there is nothing that I “want” about that futuristic world for very simple reason that I’d be dead by that time. 😐

    So maybe, Matrix and your reply contain an answer to my doubt. Nobody likes the absolute awareness of playing into a simulated life! Though many people actually choose to do so even in today’s world is quite surprising (I’m not talking of computer games, but other kinds of ‘social’ simulations that people fall for).

    By automation, I’d meant that of production of energy source and things like that pill. But otherwise, there would be no intelligent entity that would determine what experiences individual humans experience, in contradistinction with the premise of Matrix.

    TC.

  47. //Stupidosaur: (The typo is in LMAO itself. Hence “Oops typo!” follows it every time.

    L stands for Life, or at least it used to. Now, as far as I know it does not stand for anything.)

    //Ketan:(What a terrible mistake did I make of asking you the expansion of only ‘L’ in LMAO! Is there any provision under which I could know your full form of LMAO?)

    Haha! The way I replied, it sounded very philosophical or something eh 😉 ?

    But its just the technical, correct and only answer for your question. Google full-form of LOMA on internet. (Now you know whats the typo eh?) Dhang LOMA! (I got this word from that baby/puppy blog I recommended)

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