Our universe is a ridiculous place. This is where all the dumbest things we are aware of happen. And the most important among the stupidity is the crazy idea of time.
Do not get me wrong, the metaverse is a strong second. Especially Facebooks Meta’s painful dysfunctional approach to building it.
But time is even stranger than changing the name of the world’s most famous technology company to something that literally means “self-referential.”
Time is the opposite of self-referencing. If it exists in a tangible, physical form, then we may be living in a simulated universe – our own tailor-made layer in the metaverse. It may sound strange, but it’s actually quite intuitive.
In this scenario, for whatever reason, someone or something created a simulated reality and put us into it. This reality is made of discrete chunks of space-time. From our point of view, this space-time is the basis of our universe. From the creator’s, it’s the bits that make up our data.
All this raises the question: what if time does not exist? What if time is only a measurement and we live in a basic reality? If that were true, we would have to figure out what reality is really made of.
And this is where physics concepts like string theory, parallel universes and dark matter come in. They are all theoretical ways of explaining away the need to describe the universe in the kind of terms we can intuitate and recreate.
However, it is a much more interesting article if we take a leap and assume that time exists.
What time is it?
We have covered the concept of time as discrete chunks extensively here at Neural.
Here are some recent articles on the subject:
However, let us suffice to say that there is no empirical definition of time that would satisfy our desire to determine its place in our universe.
We need to see the concept of time from one more measurable frame of reference.
Let’s imagine a video in a second of a dandelion swaying in the wind.
Although a second is very short duration, it is still plenty of time for our eyes and brains to pick up every movement and find out exactly what is going on.
Go ahead, try it: close your eyes, and try to imagine a swaying dandelion while counting the whole “a thousand” in your head. See? It is possible.
If your imagination was a standard, typical HD TV, it would be to show that video at a refresh rate of 60 Hz. And if the video was recorded under the most common settings, it would either be displayed at 24 frames per second. second (FPS) or 30.
Let’s add two more facts to the mix before we gather it all and explain what these numbers mean.
If we assume that the universe consists of discrete chunks of space-time, we can theorize a maximum frame rate.
unfortunately we currently have no way of estimating how many FPS the universe or the basic reality is running on. We can speak in terms of measurements, such as the speed of light or the size of a Planck unit, but we can not be sure that any of these perceived extremes represent true boundaries of the universe.
No matter what, we are stuck in assumptions because of our limited perspective.
What does this have to do with the meta-verse?
We are fish in an aquarium trying to understand our relative position to the outside world. From our point of view, the universe follows at least two different sets of rules – Newtonian physics and quantum physics. But what if we only see a small fraction of the whole picture?
Spyridon Michalakis, the physicist who consulted on Marvel’s Ant-Man film, recently discussed the concept with Vox’s Alex Abad-Santos:
Let’s say we only perceive 100 images per second, something like that. We may be aware of our lives and the choices we make, but then the frame rate in the universe, where you could flicker between different timelines, is 40 orders of magnitude above that. It’s one with 40 zeros.
Then we make the best approximation.
We all try to figure out the plot of the universe by simply seeing the beginning and end of the movie, the first and last picture. We just reconstruct that in between as best we can. This is where the multiverse hides; it hides there between the frames. Honestly, I think the frame rate of the universe is really infinite, not even limited, very, very large. And we are so far away from that.
It’s the last line that has piqued my interest: “And we are so far away from that.” How far away is “so far?”
Because I remember when video games looked like this:
Now they look almost photorealistic. Have you seen some of the early Unreal Engine 5 demos? They are breathtaking.
In another 30 years, it may be impossible to distinguish between VR and reality without some sort of buffer to indicate which one you perceive.
Right now, millions of players are paying premium prices for monitors and graphics cards that are capable of running games at frame rates above 120FPS and at refresh rates above 120hz, despite the fact that there is no indication that the human eye or brain can perceive movement at these rates.
Why? Because we can. Someone has probably demonstrated some sort of secondary benefit of increasing frame rates that made it easy enough to market these gonzo systems to overzealous gamers.
At some point, if we keep pushing the limits of FPS and refresh rates, we will develop systems capable of displaying graphics at resolutions and frame rates that no human could ever perceive – which is very similar to recording an entire music album. in tones and frequencies we cannot hear.
But these systems could be useful in teaching AI to detect nuances at the quantum level (or in the “quantum realm,” as Ant-Man would say) that humans could not – even if they shrank themselves.
Here is the payoff: one day, maybe 30 years from now … maybe 300 … it’s possible that our efforts to build the most robust metavers possible – an immersive experience that goes far beyond just fooling it human visual cortex – will give us the truth about basic reality.
If time is really discrete chunks, the architects behind the metaverse could eventually train an AI to set the universe’s frame rate and literally see the individual chunks.
And by then rebuilding the metaverse out of digital chunks that mimic the universe’s time pieces in size, speed, and mass, we would create a one-to-one model of our universe inside our universe.
This would almost certainly indicate that our universe is either part of a physical multiverse, or that it is a simulation. And the multiverse we created? It would be a simulation inside a simulation. You can see where it’s going.
Then again, these would mean that you have to spend for these processes. If so, then all this talk about FPS and resolution is covered. If there are no chunks, there can be no gaps between them. And that means there can be no framework.