17 April 2018

James Joyce, Schrodinger, Multiverses and Virtual Reality

In 1939, James Joyce of Dublin released Finnegan's Wake, a stream of consciousness novel that suggested that each mind was it's own little universe and a community was collection of these parallel universes briefly connected by shared events and then almost immediately fractured again into tiny, independent streams by the different narratives we give to these same events.
In 1952, Schrodinger was in Dublin and after warning his audience that what he was about to say sounded lunatic, he said that his equations suggested that there were a variety of histories that had all happened, which David Duetsch suggests in The Beginning of Infinity was the introduction of the idea of multiverses.
It sounds fanciful but quantum physics suggests that there are parallel universes. Each time there is a choice point - you call either Mary or Prudence for a date - what actually happens is that there are now two universes that branch off from that choice; in one we trace the ripple effect of Mary rejecting you and in the other we trace the ripple effect of Prudence saying, "Yes! I will marry you!" And of course each of those paths has its own set of infinite ripples.
Virtual reality might result in a world where Joyce's notion of personal consciousness as its own virtual world would be given a new dimension. You don't just imagine a different world; you experience it.
Perhaps in that world one person lifts his hand to swing a sword, another to caress a lover, another to pick an apple, and each move is nonetheless synchronized as the players are unwittingly all working the same factory line even while they think they're in their own world. In this particular multiverse, the person who best understands how to create the technology that simultaneously maximizes coordination and individual initiative is the person who has the most wealth and power .... but of course what she will do that wealth and power that makes her feel any more special than her many minions slaying dragons in their world while assembling parts in hers is hard to guess.

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