Friday, September 30, 2005

MMO Metaphysics

"Nature itself, even in chaos, cannot proceed except in an orderly and regular manner."
~Immanuel Kant

Metaphysical claims tend to deal with the nature of reality, and by likening reality to an MMO, I've already made a number of bold assumptions which I may or may not be able to justify.

By no means am I claiming that life is another Ultima Online, Everquest, Star Wars Galaxies, World of Warcraft, The Matrix Online, etc. It would be a mistake to equivocate these small packages with the entirety of the universe that we live in. Truly, our world is far more vast and varied than anything that the current MMO genre could have to offer, even put together.

But if MMOs and universal automatism have anything in common, it would be in that both worlds operate on computations at a fundamental level, computations which may or may not be similar, but when activated and set loose in a virtually infinite space with a virtually infinite number of other computations, can create marvelous complexities over time.

What would this entail, perhaps? Here's a couple of things that come to my mind:
  1. The universe was created. By who or what, I do not know. But the infinite combination of computations which we reside in had to have a beginning - a start point from which the various particles and the rules that they behave by could initiate their functions.
  2. We can only describe the things which are possible within our universe. Discussion of anything beyond our universe ultimately fails. We end up projecting our idea of how the universe operates onto something beyond our universe, and make messes in our intellectual shorts. Wittgenstein may have said it best in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus when he opened with, "The world is all that is the case."
  3. I am part of this universe. I am subject to the same constraints as the other things in this universe, and different only in that the collection of computations which currently designates itself as me chooses to abstract myself.
  4. Time is the fundamental computation which governs the updates of the other computations. By this, I don't mean the way I perceive time. I'm referring to the idea that temporality must be a necessary part of our universe in order for any other computation to function. Particular computations may not always update at the same intervals, but all existing computations are in a simultaneous and ongoing process of updating.

These may or may not be accurate, and I'm certain there are other things which I have not considered in the time that it took me to write this, but it's a start.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Welcome to MMOLife

"Nothing in Nature is random. ... A thing appears random only through the incompleteness of our knowledge."
~Benedict Spinoza

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

I am beginning this blog as part of a class project for Philosophy 115: Computers and Reality at San Jose State University, with Professor Rudy Rucker. The class focuses on the philosophy of universal automatism, the idea that everything is a computation.

Computations are not necessarily simple cut-and-dry 2+2=4 recipes. Our world is full of elaborate and complex computations: take genetics for example, in which the correct combination of 4 different proteins, executed within the cells of a living being, can result in drastically different results!

MMOs - Massively Multiplayer Online games - are a simplistic model of such a computational world, in which the execution of thousands of lines of instructions results in a 'persistent-state-world' for players around the globe to interact with each other and live out virtual lives if they please. It's not too unlike some themes in popular sci-fi media: The Matrix, Star Trek's holodecks, the world of Disney's Tron, etc.

There are many parallels between the MMO universes and the 'real world', differing especially in the degree of complexity, as well as the artificiality of the digital realms. However, if universal automatism is correct and everything truly is a computation, then we may be part of the ultimate MMO: life itself.

I'd like to explore some of those parallels here and tease out some of the implications of 'Life: The MMO' as an analogy of universal automatism. I may differ in the degree of complexity since I plan to use some MMO gaming lingo at times instead of precise scientific or philosophical terminology, and if my analogies suffer from reductionism, that is more the fault of a student's learning rather than a flaw in the concept. At other times, I may borrow from other philosophers, writers, and thinkers in order to analyze where my mental journey is leading me.

As a preliminary disclaimer to the rest of this blog, these are not my personal views on the ultimate nature of the universe, but just the impotent mental ejaculations of a philosophically-minded student trying to make sense of an idea. If any seeds planted here come to fruition in your mind, I invite you to comment and help me make sense of this computational world that I am exploring.

On the other hand, if I sound like I'm full of it, I probably am.