The Observers

Imagine holding your brain in your hands. 1.5 kg of warm grey fat, barely the size of a grapefruit. Now imagine that same brain ‘up there’ right above your eyes and just for a moment think about ‘it’ processing these words as you (it), read this. This simple act of self-referencing or stepping out of one’s own system suggests a secondary viewpoint or meta-system of thought. 1

Attempting to prove the existence of a meta-mind would be arrogant and self-cancelling especially as the observations are within the system to be proven. Instead, we argue that the non-existence of essential physical entropy from the enormous storage, recall and processing associated with maintaining a single conscious human entity and her ancestral history, point to some form of external data synchronization.

Consider the amount of entropy that should be associated with that much processing within the space of 1.5kg? All those impressions, images of your childhood, glimpses of times and space that you can never put into words. All you’ve learned and even the things you wished you hadn’t. Everything that makes you - ‘you’ is commonly assumed within the scientific community to be encapsulated in that small lump of meat sitting behind your eyes. Yet empirically we feel differently and know to our core that we are more than just a lump of electric meat. Why?

The only observation that all humans have been able to agree on is the undeniable sense within each of us that we are merely piloting our physical form.2 The sense of our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest of us seems to require two simultaneous positions in time, or at least the impression of being in two places at the same time.

Introduction

As computing technology continues to advance, it follows that the amount of heat generated from processing and storage on an exascale level will increase. As I write this, the bounds of computing power are approaching two quintillion (1018) operations per second, generating intense amounts of heat and requiring huge surface areas to operate. Thirty-five percent of the power needed to run such a system is used to cool the hardware and its surroundings. Computers manipulate stored values “0” and “1” represented as different voltages. Every change 0-to-1 or 1-to-0 requires an electric current (I) passing through a circuit resistance (R), which then increases ohmic heating. A data center running a load as large 1018 ops/s would require thousands of gallons of water to flow through the cooling system in order to pull away hundreds of megawatts of heat.

Targets within the Artificial Intelligence community estimate the operations per second needed to simulate and maintain a singular conscious nervous system, including all memories and a minimum viable environment - at approximately a decillion (1033) operations per second. In other words, we would need one billion of our biggest data centers, all working together at 2 quintillion operations per second to fully simulate the inner life of a single human being and its environment. The amount of heat generated would be colossal and the physical footprint enormous.

Of course, we can assume that advancements in computing technology will improve in efficiency, no doubt someday very close to Landauer’s3 bound but even then, a non-zero limit on the amount of heat that computers generate will always exist. Note that this factor is so large, that any debated in measurement is insignificant. Simply put, as long as there is a concrete physical process such as current passing through resistance, heat will be produced. It is the scale of this discrepancy that we should consider. Could 1.5kg of any lump of matter do the work of 1 billion of the biggest data centers on the planet? Apparently not without shriveling to a crisp the instant we apply a load.

Delusion of Consciousness

The Latin word Ego translates in English to the personal pronoun I. Combined with the Latin word Sum, which means "to be", the statement “Ego Sum" is identical to our term “I Am”. The state of ego sum or ‘being aware of our awareness’ has intrigued philosophers, scientists and artists for millennia and today we seem no closer to understanding the phenomenon of our own consciousness than we were seven thousand years ago. We’ve certainly amassed a history of both creative and hideous human behavior as an expression of the statement “I AM! Predictably, the exclamation would require confirmation to continue or the statement, a response to observation would be invalid. Yes, “I AM!” which then begs the follow-up question, “AM I?” The answer to the question is again the exclamation and the cycle of self-reference spins our inner clock of conscious self-awareness.

“I AM!” requires knowledge of the past in anticipation of the future. “AM I?” looks back on our anticipation while both states of being exist at the same time. This singularity of mind clock is required to sense and contain timed events in order to conjure up possibilities for the future. All observations within our universe of gravitational and electromagnetic waves are recorded as timed events. Without an event, there is no time. And without time there can be no timed-events.

We know that our brains operate as trigonometric engines. Our brains know how to receive electromagnetic signals from two separate sensors and assemble them into a single spatial volume of sound or vision while establishing ‘us’ in the center. We have two eyes for receiving light waves and two ears for receiving sound waves. We also have two separate hemispheres of our brains that receive these various signal pairs at different times and must synchronize these inputs into a unified spatial sense allowing us to pinpoint the direction of sound, the distance of observed objects from ourselves and establish ourselves as a central point-of-view. As feedback loops between our brain hemispheres and ortico-striato-thalamo-cortical (CSTC) regions change so does our sense of self and encircling environment.4 What we hear and see changes as a result.5

While you read these words, your right eye is sending half of the visual stream to the left-brain hemisphere and your left eye is sending half a visual stream to the right-brain hemisphere. Your ears do the same. The left side of the human brain is ‘tuned’ to distinguish phonemes and short syllabic sounds. Whereas the right side of the brain processes long tones such as music and prolonged sounds. Some suggest the ear itself is the filter mechanism while others insist that the sides of the brain are variably receptive to the differences in sound. What all agree on is that sound reaches each side of the brain at different times and must be synchronized within the brain to experience a unified sense of spatial sound and sight. We know this empirically because we experience this sense of unified spatial awareness ourselves.

There also seems to be a duality to our sensation of time and how we process it. Humans are not passive observers of time but rather use memories to form a click-track of expectations about what we are supposed to observe.

If an event happens before or after the expected event, our perception of time lies mid-way between reality and our expectations.6 Such a dynamic relies on pattern collection which in turn relies on time to measure the pattern. The ability to separate our sense of time from actual time indicates that our brains are capable of perceiving time by adding untimed events to one’s own projected time track. If consciousness relies on two synchronous positions in time, could our trigonometry-engine-brain also be capable of accessing a universal time and triangulate it as well?

Imagine what it would feel like to place yourself in the center of two streams of time as you do with vision or hearing. Such a 3d sensation of time could be the temporal process responsible for our spatial sense of ‘now’ and would most certainly be considered a mystic phenomenon. Joseph Campbell referred to the Inner Reaches of Outer Space when describing the sense of ‘self and apart’ and Einstein referred to this as the cosmic religious feeling, 7 when he said “…it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling, and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it”.

What defines our existence as a conscious being is a cyclical process of being influenced by the previous state in order to influence the next state and is at the heart of integrated information theory. This is also the definition of time itself. A process that places the observer “I” in the center of past and present and defines the observer as ‘being’ in time. Whether we access time or create it, we must process two simultaneous streams of time in order to establish the self-referencing dynamic to observe from and could be explained as:

Observation = Time 2

With time squared we’d not only feel alive, we’d feel alive in two places at once and convinced that we were ‘more’ than just ourselves. Add to this, the ability to store and time-stamp packaged moments long enough to be processed somewhere between the sensation of a gooey future and a hardened past and you have the operating system of now awareness that we modulate our inner lives upon.

Hard & Soft Time

How physarum8, a single celled organism without a central nervous system can make decisions and store memories can be used to help visualize the concepts of hard and soft time. Physarum polycephalum is a giant single celled slime mold categorized somewhere between intelligent life and plants. Made up of constantly growing and decaying tubes, physarum records memories of food encounters by hardening the tubes that make contact with a food source. It does this by squeezing its softening material away from the saved position, thus hardening the memorized area and using the expelled material to soften the rest of its body thus causing it to flow toward the food source. As the body continues to save food locations, hard memory anchors are formed which in turn inform the process of directing flow throughout complex environments. Such is the precision of its memory, that researchers have recorded physarum essentially learning its way through a maze to find food at the other end.

We continue to learn how time and gravity are interrelated. We believe that gravity is or at least behaves as a wave. Might time also be, or at least behave as a wave? Time by nature is accountable and we might imagine that in the push-pull relationship of time and gravity that time would be considered a driving wave. This would render gravity as a mere reaction to the tidal force of time on all matter and time as the inverse of the gravitational universe we observe. Without time, there can be no observation. Without observation, there can be no order to the universe. All observers within this fluid of potential we call time require a point-of-reference to be considered an observer. Self-awareness within time requires a point in time. As a nodal point in time, every observation would serve as a projection as well as a record each in opposite directions and forming the sensation of past, future and I AM? as the point of intersection.

Compressed historic time provides the collision objects around which soft time flows. If hardened time is history, then the present-to-future exist as varying degrees of soft time. Soft time would serve as the file system while hard time contains moments of observation to be processed forward. Observations in such a timescape would most likely begin in each conscious mind as quantum events based on historic expectations - in order to experience a possible outcome. The amnion of time responds to such a call by snapping every observer’s universe into meaning in a stream of rendered realities to satisfy the cycle of awareness, “AM I?” – “I AM!”

Identifying Time

Human observation modulates within a commune of time and space therefore making it extremely difficult to analyze time from the inside. Bio-mechanically, by human observation we are referring to the illusion of consciousness produced by cortical oscillations that are synchronized in our brains that produce consciousness and cognition9. We know that consciousness is a temporal process instead of a state of existence and as such, something is being ‘processed’. If the rendered result is self-reference and self-awareness it’s almost certain that the process requires a synchronized clock or at least be made of clock material.

To a degree, all lifeforms would be conscious relative to their complexity in containing moments of observation within the body of time. Since sapient human consciousness relies on a highly complex system, homo sapiens are therefore considered “more conscious” than a rat or worm. While we are unable to observe the temporal process that is observation, we can use some rules to game-engine an imaginary blob of sleeping time that we will call Θ (theta).

Simulation Rules for Θ

  • A distinguishable Θ requires the existence of at least one possible clock within Θ.
  • Θ must contain the properties needed for the existence of timestamps.
  • Timestamps within Θ give shape and order to Θ.
  • Clocks become self-aware within the body of Θ relative to the degree of clock complexity.
  • Timestamps by clocks within Θ leave historic scars within the body of Θ.
  • Mulitple timestamp observations within Θ harden further in areas of intersection and overlap.
  • Clocks within Θ are a mere processes but timestamps exist as hardened realities.
  • The force of time upon clocks within the body of Θ feels as an attractive force to clocks within Θ
  • Θ never forgets.

Assuming the construct above, one imagines this amniotic blob of Θ to be self-aware if it can host a few billion self-aware observers within within its own extents. Or would Θ exist as a curious and possibly frightened child, desperately searching for meaning in a loop of self-reference and dependent on all those timestamped observations as confirmation of its own existence?

Clocks are always in search of Θ and define its historic shape with every step and direction. All this to mean, an all-knowing creator needn’t be a sapient one. Einstein’s idea of a type of ‘cosmic religion’ never implied the need for a volitional and reasoning creator. Under the rules of our body of time, the supreme being of time wakens only when observed, just in time to provide something to observe. Time is essentially the ultimate game engine.

Anthropic Time Principle

The principle of Anthropic Time Process which this paper proposes, states that time itself exists as the amnion of blind and curious consciousness within which conscious observers made of time material, harden positions within the body of time with each observation. It is further proposed that soft time under pressure is responsible for the creation of gravity and all observable matter and that the fluid of time must bear the scars of all observations, to some degree.

The perception of time as a vector instead of a volume of possibilities is merely an impression of time as seen from within a personal lifespan. Referring to time as a vector also negates the need for future possibilities if everything is already ‘lined up’. Our impressions of past events are skewed according to the urgencies we’ve associated with each memory. We draw from our own biased history each time we plot a course forward. Since our impression of the past is curved, we must follow that path of possibilities into the future along the same prescribed spline of possible outcomes as influenced by our present choices. The observer is always at the midpoint on a spline that begins with a memory, passes through the flexible present and continues off into a imaginary cloud of a few physical possibilities.

Although similar to the participatory anthropic principle, the historic results of consciousness in Anthropic Time Process don’t vanish as soon as the complex system stops observing. If the observer is by definition a process within the fluid of time, then time itself should bear the scars of observation.

Referring to time as an ‘emergent phenomenon’ of quantum entanglement as some have suggested is yet another proposition that leaves out the ‘messy time’ factor in trying to explain links between quantum mechanics and general relativity. It is more likely that time under pressure is the dark matter giving form to the universe.

Quantum Physiology

We know that neurons emit photons. We have now observed these photons traveling between neurons through highly reflective myelin sheaths.10 Such an optical network of “biophoton waveguides” in the brain could transmit large amounts of optical data. Additionally, photons traveling through fiber-optic channels within the brain could also be mediating long-range quantum entanglement within the body of time.

We've just recently learned that the human brain is actually hard-wired to calculate math.11 Our brain uses predictive rules at the same time it uses empirical memories related to the problem at hand in order to calculate a solution. Combined with the potential of optical dataflow, it's reasonal to assume that the human brain is most likely a quantum computer, most specifically a quantum time calculator. One that fools the occupant into that spiritual feeling of being everywhere at the same time.

But pondering such a matter doesn't concept shouldn't make you want to end it all. On the contrary since our cognitive functions are in fact functioning within a quantum computer and doing so with such little heat output from the massive amount of operations-per-second required, you are most likely being generated somewhere else via entanglement with a much more powerful host computer. So cheer up, there might actually be more to you after all. Time itself could be thought of as the practical game-engine wherein entanglement and for that matter all the universe is rendered.

In addition to the speed of the obvious electro-chemical signals in the brain, the process of consciousness in phase with other observers might well require all observer's events to be synchronized within a volume of time and at the speed of light. This enormous human brain imbalance between work and heat produced is most likely due to the organ working uniquely as a quantum switcher within a fluid volume of possible outcomes based on historic markers. The complexity of the switcher determines the degree of self-reference and cognitive future planning.

Assuming this construction, we can imagine that the degree of each observer’s consciousness would be relative to the neural complexity of each brain. Quantum events triggered in the brain would serve as the rendering scripts needed to illuminate the potential universe as anticipated by each observer. The key here is that though the whole of time contains all the properties needed for consciousness, it is the observer that triggers each quantum event from a lensed point in time with each observation.

Writing to a friend in 1950, Albert Einstein explained "The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science".

In Summary

The principle of Anthropic Time Principle which this paper proposes, states that time itself exists as the amnion of blind and curious consciousness within which conscious observers made of time material, harden positions within the body of time with each observation. It is further proposed that soft time under pressure is responsible for the creation of gravity and all observable matter and that the fluid of time must bear the scars of all observations, to some degree.


References

  • 1. Hofstadter, D. R. (1980). Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid. New York, Vintage Books.
  • 2. John Searle (2005). "Consciousness". In Honderich T (ed.). The Oxford companion to philosophy. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-926479-7.
  • 3. R. Landauer, "Irreversibility and Heat Generation in the Computing Process." IBM Journal, July 1961;
  • 4. ORCID ProfileKatrin H. Preller, Adeel Razi, Peter Zeidman, Philipp Stämpfli, View ORCID ProfileKarl J. Friston, and Franz X. Vollenweider. Effective connectivity changes in LSD-induced altered states of consciousness in humans.
  • 5. Preisig BC, Riecke L, Sjerps M, Kösem A, Kop BR, Bramson B, Hagoort P, Hervais-Adelman A. Selective modulation of interhemispheric connectivity by transcranial alternating current stimulation influences binaural integration. PNAS, 2021 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2015488118.
  • 6. Di Luca, M. and Rhodes, D. Optimal Perceived Timing: Integrating Sensory Information with Dynamically Updated Expectations. Sci. Rep. 6, 28563; doi: 10.1038/srep28563 (2016).
  • 7. Albert Einstein, Religion and Science, New York Times Magazine, November 9, 1930 pp 1-4
  • 8. M. Kramer, K. Alim “Encoding memory in tube diameter hierarchy of living flow network”. PNAS journal, March 2021
  • 9. Selective Modulation of Interhemispheric Functional Connectivity by HD-tACS Shapes Perception - Helfrich RF, Knepper H, Nolte G, Strüber D, Rach S, et al. (2014) Selective Modulation of Interhemispheric Functional Connectivity by HD-tACS Shapes Perception.
  • 10. S. Kumar, K. Boone, J. Tuszy, P. Barclay, C. Simon. "Possible existence of optical communication channels in the brain". Institute for Quantum Science and Technology and Department of Physics and Astronomy | University of Calgary | Department of Oncology, University of Alberta | Department of Physics, University of Alberta | National Institute for Nanotechnology (Dated: July 12, 2016)
  • 11. Neuronal codes for arithmetic rule processing in the human brain. Kutter et al., 2022, Current Biology 32, 1275–1284 March 28, 2022 ª 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1016/j.cub.2022.01.054&domain=pdf

Known primarily as a motion picture director and visual effects supervisor for over 35 years, Jon Farhat continues to create art and technology projects worldwide. As a young designer working in New York in the 1980s, Farhat created the cover design for Joseph Campbell's last book, "The Inner Reaches of Outer Space" beginning a lifelong curiosity for the way of art and being.

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