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Why Is This So Cool?
It Answers All of the Most Interesting Questions:
What is life all about?
Why does the mere act of observation appear to alter reality?
Is there life after death? If so, what's it like?
How is it that objective reality doesn't exist, according to recent experiments in physics?
Why does the universe appear finely tuned for the existence of matter, let alone life?
What is matter? What is dark matter?
Do parallel universes really exist?
If a tree falls in the forest and there's nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound?
What explains quantum entanglement? The quantum Zeno effect? The delayed choice quantum eraser (apparent retrocausality)?
Are paranormal experiences real? How do they work? What are UFOs?
Is it nature or nurture? Or neither? What explains drastic differences between the values and personality traits of identical twins who have the same genetics and were brought up in the same environment?
What is cool about Digital Consciousness Philosophy is that it provides a theory, framework or an answer to all of the preceding burning questions. Details are coming.
It Can Change the World
Are you tired of the impression of the world and society that is imprinted upon us by the evening news? While the preponderance of negative stories are presented in a disproportionate amount relative to the myriad uplifting narratives that simultaneously exist, defenders of the media may argue that misery sells. The press is simply giving us what we want to see. Yet, the bigger truth is that the real crimes of society are underreported — stealth imperialism, war profiteering, greed, government corruption, lack of willingness to care for the truly unfortunate, cruelty to animals, big corporate interests stomping on indigenous cultures and so on.
Interestingly, were we to all have an understanding of and belief in Digital Consciousness Philosophy, things might be quite different. In fact, at the 10,000-foot level, it isn't hard to recognize that these differences represent an evolution of humanity.
For example, external consciousness implies an existence beyond corporeal death. Evidence in the form of collected personal experiences by research scientists such as Tom Campbell and Eben Alexander indicate that this existence is lasting — effectively immortal. Imagine how that would change decisions and priorities made here on Earth. All of the money and efforts toward life extension may be redirected toward life itself. The medical industry might recognize that extending our life expectancy is not an evolutionary directive. Knowing of an immortal consciousness, we may instead focus on curing diseases and improving the overall quality of life, rather than viewing people's health as a profitable maintenance plan that extends life beyond a comfortable limit.
Digital Consciousness Philosophy imbues life with a great deal more meaning and purpose than does scientific materialism. This can give individuals a new perspective on the meaning of their personal lives. Instead of focusing their efforts on winning a hedonistic survival game based on fear and the scarcity of resources, the recognition that our purpose is to learn and evolve our consciousness can lead to significantly greater generosity to fellow humans, and true respect for other species on our planet. When the theoretical game Prisoner's Dilemma is played in an infinitely iterated mode, cooperative techniques optimize the outcome. Applying this lesson to an iterative life process, we would expect to see behavioral differences that result in an overall improvement in the quality of humanity as a whole versus a focus on personal self-interest.
The increasing human population rapidly encroaches upon and destroys habitats for countless species of other conscious life forms, as well as using them for cruel experimental medical research. Recognition that animal consciousness is rooted in the same system that begets human consciousness would most certainly serve to eliminate the cruelty and exploitation. The materialist view implies that we are in constant competition for resources, thereby driving conflicts that cause war. But given the knowledge that we are all interconnected, would wars between groups of people based on differences in dogmatic religious beliefs, arbitrary geographical boundaries or political systems make sense anymore?
The power of intent
The digital nature of consciousness implies a probabilistic system (as evidenced clearly by quantum mechanics), which generates outcomes that can be influenced by intent. The belief that "skillful intention" can change your life, your society and your world could allow people to get out of their belief traps, and actually make a difference.
As the evidence that we exist in a consciousness-driven digital reality continues to mount, so will humanity's collective belief in this idea. Not only can the understanding of this model of our world lead to novel, unifying understandings in science but, more importantly, it can also lead to a more peaceful, harmonious, just and balanced worldview.
A Brief Overview
The detailed description of the digital-consciousness model and the way it works will be presented later in the book. But, to save the reader the angst of having to wade through all of the foundational stuff before the tasty tidbits, an overview is provided here.
Let's start with the idea of "all that there is." We typically think of this in terms of our physical reality, where "all that there is" is everything that exists in the physical universe. However, that has become a very antiquated notion over recent years, as we are now forced to consider things which do not appear to be in our reality, but for which there is ample scientific evidence. Examples include dark matter, dark energy and a huge quantity (some say infinite) of physical matter beyond the Hubble volume (the Hubble volume is that which is accessible to our observation, beyond which observation is theoretically impossible owing to the hard limit of the speed of light).
We should also consider things that may have less scientific evidence, but do have a good deal of rational philosophical and scientific thought underlying them, such as parallel realities and the so-called multiverse. And finally, there is that which is even beyond the theoretical physical, but for which there is ample anecdotal and scientific evidence, such as non-physical realms, the afterlife, the "in between" lives and the "astral plane." I hope to demonstrate convincingly that this latter category is not to be ignored, but is as real as the book in your hands. So, let "all that there is" be the sum total of ... well, all that there is. In our model, let's use a big gray cloud to represent this.
But this is not a collection of the physical stuff that we might think it is. Instead, it is both pure data and pure consciousness. Although it is an expansive system, it is not infinite, but of a size that is far beyond our comprehension. Physicist Tom Campbell calls this "Absolute Unbounded Manifold" (AUM). Others have referred to it as the "Global Consciousness System."
If you are right-brained, think of it as a blank canvas, on which we can create anything — minds, experiences, thoughts, cars. If you are left-brained, think of it as a programmatic substrate, upon which we can "program" anything — minds, experiences, thoughts, cars. It is data in the sense that, at its deepest level, it is organized as bits, as binary elements. The physical nature of it is not important, both because this is simply an introduction to the concept, and because it is theoretically impossible to know its true nature. This is because it is far more fundamental than we can ever have a hope of exploring experimentally. Indeed, the idea of exploring its nature with the coarse tools that exist in our (much higher level) virtual world doesn't even make any sense. It would be like probing the atom with an imaginary sledgehammer.
I am going to refer to this as "All That There Is" (ATTI) going forward. It is tantamount to being "God," in a certain sense of the word. This "God" will be discussed later in the book.
You, the reader, have a consciousness. Your consciousness is a very small component of the consciousness of the whole System, but it is bounded. I represent this individuated consciousness (IC) by a little sub-cloud within the larger one, ATTI (obviously, not to scale). See Figure 1.1.
We all have ICs within ATTI — humans, dogs, ticks, fleas. The size of the sub-cloud would be relative to the complexity of the consciousness.
Another part of the system is what I refer to as the "Reality Learning Lab" (RLL). (Note: some have described life as a "learning lab" or "school" and Tom Campbell has described this reality as a "virtual reality learning lab.") Think of the RLL as a piece of virtual reality software running on the ATTI "system." The RLL contains everything that we think of as physical — galaxies, planets, cars, humans, brains, cells, atoms and subatomic particles. None of it is truly physical; rather, it is virtual data representations of those things. That's right, consciousness is separate from the brain. It does not "emerge" from complex brain functions as material reductionists would have you believe. As we shall see, the evidence supporting this is overwhelming.
Instead, consciousness is fundamental — it is the stuff of which everything is made. Putting this all together, Figure 1.2 demonstrates the nature of reality in Digital Consciousness theory (DCT). Jim and Brandon are two individuals who exist as ICs in the global consciousness system, aka ATTI. They each have an information connection to the RLL subsystem where, along with the other ICs of 7 billion people on the planet, 500 million dogs, 30 trillion gnats, etc., they interact with each other, as well as the other artifacts in the RLL (cars, rocks, graduation hats).
It is perfectly analogous to the experience of playing a multiplayer video game. The conscious entity is the player, but the projection of that player's reality in the game is his or her avatar plus the rest of the artifacts in the game, just as is shown in the figure.
Is it really that hard to believe? Another analogy would be a dream. Have you ever awoken in the middle of the night from a nightmare with your heart pounding? Why would your body react that way if your mind didn't believe that what it was experiencing was real?
Essentially, both the video game and the dream are projections. So, why do we think that dreams aren't real but the waking state is? There are two reasons:
1. Temporary State of Being: When we wake from the dream state, we recall the pre-dream state of the waking reality that we had yesterday. Hence, we feel that the dream is transient, a temporary excursion of our mind amidst another more permanent state of consciousness. However, as we shall see, we ultimately realize that our "normal waking state," "physical reality," "life here on Earth," whatever we want to call it, is also just a temporary state sandwiched in between a more permanent state of consciousness. Therefore, the mere fact of not having this realization or understanding is not a valid reason to believe that physical reality is concrete.
2. Consensus of Experience: When we dream, our experiences appear to be our own. There is generally no consensus established about those experiences with other conscious individuals. However, in the waking state, we have significant consensus of experience. When we are standing on the street corner with friends and a blue car drives by, we can all agree that we saw a blue car, identify the brand, the number of passengers, the speeds of the vehicle, etc. Hence, the experience feels more real and concrete, because of the experience consensus that we have with others. However, there are two flaws in this argument. First of all, the dream state is not always and completely consensus-free, as mutual lucid dreaming studies strongly demonstrate. More fundamentally, however, experiments in many fields of science show that this consensus is not 100 percent. The results of many psychological experiments indicate that we all perceive the world slightly differently. Hypnosis can cause people to not perceive things at all, while the rest of us accept them as "being there." And finally, the field of quantum mechanics has now demonstrated conclusively that objective reality does not exist. The evidence for these claims shall be presented later.
It is easy to see how this model has tremendous explanatory power. Those experimental results that imply a lack of objective reality or a lack of conscious consensus now have a foundational explanatory construct. The power of belief and the placebo effect suddenly make sense, because the act of believing and intending is separate from the apparent physical stuff with which we interact. In fact, since that "stuff," like our bodies, is not concrete but malleable, it is easy to understand why our beliefs can mold it.
Even so, despite the incredible explanatory power of Digital Consciousness Philosophy, it is unlikely to gain immediate acceptance. This is because it typically takes 30 years or so for radical ideas to evolve from theory to acceptance. The next chapter will explain why and identify the journey that this concept will take. We can then all sit back and enjoy the ride.CHAPTER 2
The Evolution of Radical Ideas
"All great truths began as blasphemies."
- George Bernard Shaw
"Theories have four stages of acceptance:
1. This is worthless nonsense.
2. This is an interesting, but perverse, point of view.
3. This is true but quite unimportant.
4. I always said so."
- J.B.S. Haldane, geneticist
George Bernard Shaw and J.B.S. Haldane were well aware of a natural human tendency to resist change. Social psychologist Robert Zajonc is noted for his development of the "mere-exposure effect," which asserts that people have a tendency to prefer things with which they are familiar. The corollary to this effect is the tendency of all organisms to exhibit a fear/avoidance response in the presence of a novel stimulus.
It isn't surprising that we might fear change or react negatively to new elements in our environment, including new ideas. After all, human evolution passed through many periods where playing it safe was the best way to pass on your genes. The risk-takers — the one who challenged the saber-toothed cat, the one who ventured out of the cave at night, the one who ate the bright red berries — would get weeded out of the evolutionary tree. As a result, we have evolved to be skeptical and to resist change. It's in our DNA.
The Expert Effect
Unfortunately, this creates a behavior pattern that discourages the acceptance of new ideas. This is especially true in the academic community, owing to the "expert effect."
"The expert knows more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing."
- Mahatma Gandhi
"rocks don't fall from the sky"
- The French Academy of Science regarding reports of meteorites in the 1800s
"No one will need more than 637KB of memory for a personal computer. 640KB ought to be enough for anybody."
- Bill Gates
"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home."
- Ken Olsen, founder of the now defunct Digital Equipment Corporation
The Scientific Method
The "Scientific Method" is a structured methodology for developing hypotheses and theories. The elements of the currently accepted method are:
1. Define a question
2. Do background research
3. Construct an explanatory hypothesis
4. Test the hypothesis by doing experiments that produce empirical data
5. Analyze the data and draw conclusions
6. Publish the results
7. Retest, ideally by impartial peers (aka "peer review process")
I say "currently accepted" because, like everything, the scientific method is in a constant state of change or flux. It is incorrect to think that the scientific method, as currently understood, is a final "best practice."
Continuous Improvement is a business concept whereby an organization undergoes a process of continuously inspecting their processes, products and structures, and making adaptive incremental changes to improve those processes, products and structures. The idea can easily be applied to other types of entities, such as schools, teams, governments (wouldn't that be nice?), families and individuals. As such, it is erroneous to assume that the existing processes are the best they will ever be. Has there ever been a product that couldn't benefit from some improvement? A person? A team? A country? In fact, in my humble opinion, the phrase "best practice" should simply be removed from the language. It implies that there is no further room for improvement and may influence people to become blasé about that process.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Digital Consciousness"
Copyright © 2017 Jim Elvidge.
Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Why Is This So Cool?, 3,
2 The Evolution of Radical Ideas, 12,
3 This Radical Idea, 22,
4 Philosophy, Science and Theories of Everything, 35,
5 Evidence — Digital, 51,
6 Evidence — Consciousness, 82,
7 What It Is, 151,
8 Everything Explained, 187,
9 The Final Proof, 252,
10 Making Sense of Everything Else Spiritual Experiences, Cellular Automata and Everything In-between, 258,
Notes and References, 269,