Essays, Analyses and Meditations

Back to my essays | Back to the Philosophy pages | Author

Millennium Questions

  • A particle that has no mass, the photon (i.e. light), is the medium that allows us (objects with mass) to perceive the other objects with mass that populate this universe. What kind of medium can help us perceive other universes that are based on different physical laws? A thing that obeys no physical law?
  • If i build an exact copy of your body, molecule by molecule, atom by atom, is it "you"? Are there two "you"`s at this point? If yes, what happens when i kill the original? Are "you" still alive? If yes, why does it have to be an exact copy? Your body changes more than 90% of its cells every year and, in particular, millions of neurons and billions of neural connections. How close does the copy need to be in order to still be "you"?
  • Life is a search for happiness. We strive to find a way to feel good. Some do so with family and children, some find it in work, some find it in study, some volunteer to help others. Increasingly, we also depend on artificial pleasure: entertainment and drugs. Entertainment now accounts for 5% of GDP in both the USA and Japan. Opiate use worldwide from 1998-2008 increased 35%, cocaine 27%, cannabis 8.5%. More and more people need to get high more and more often. Would it be ok to just plug you into a device and inject substances in your body that make you feel good all the time without any need to actually live your life and with the guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong? You will never experience sorrow nor pain.
  • For millennia human cultures have been diverging and diversifying. Languages, customs, musical styles, arts and all sorts of behaviors multiplied all over the planet. Recently, the globalization process has dramatically reversed that process. In just two decades the process of increasing cultural diversity has been turned into a process of increasing cultural uniformity. Cultural differences from the Western standard are increasingly viewed as unwelcome (primitive, anachronistic, savage, detrimental to the individual and to society as a whole). Hence the trend is likely to continue and accelerate, eventually yielding just one pervasive uniform culture. Will this make the only surviving gobal culture very strong or very weak?
  • Odin sacrificed an eye to acquire wisdom. What are 21st century people willing to sacrifice in order to acquire wisdom?
  • We have three dimensions of space, but only one of time. Is that the way it is, or just the way we made it to be? Could humans perceive two or three dimensions of time some day if we changed the way time is used? Our current concept of time comes from medieval times, when clocks became the rulers of human life. This created a gap between the time measured by the clocks and the time measured by our body and mind. Our body is a collection of dozens of highly imperfect clocks whose oscillations vary with health, age and even the weather. "The" clock (as experienced by our watches and phones and cars) that runs our life is universal (the same for everybody) and constant (absolutely the same every minute of every day of every year). There is a fundamental difference in the way we measure space and time. To measure the distance between two points we simply use an object of a standard length and count how many times it fits in the distance. To measure the distance between two instants we use the synchronized repetition of some mechanism or material and count how many times its cycle repeats between those two instants. Any object is good for measuring a distance. Only regular (very regular) oscillators are good for measuring a duration. Would it be better to use non-regular oscillators in the age of multi-tasking?
  • We view space but we are in space. We view time but we are in time. The subject and the object of the "I" cannot be separated. However, we now entered a new universe, the dataverse, that we can view without being in it. We are in it most of the time but we can also decide not to be in it (although it is getting more and more difficult to do so). Can our senses perceive a universe without the interference of us being in it?
  • There is no way to prove that the past really happened. When we look at a photograph, watch a video or read an entry in our diary, all we are seeing is the present. These are objects that exist here and now. There are people who can corroborate those stories, but their brains too exist in the present: here and now. It could well be that the photograph was created by a chemical accident, and the video was assembled by the secret services for obscure purposes, and our diary was written in a delirious moment, and every brain including ours was altered by a cosmic radiation; and by accident all of these events hinted at a consistent story of what happened in the past, when in fact nothing of that sort happened. What we do know is that our memory, and everybody else's memory, is sometimes (often?) wrong and even forgets. Is there any way to prove that the past really existed other than trusting today's objects and an unreliable brain?
  • If free will exists, does a newborn already have it or does it develop later in life? If so, are you sure that you already have it?
  • We assume that each body has a different person inside. However, it is possible that we are all the same person, that all those bodies contain the same conscious being: you. Imagine that there has always been only one person: you. They are all you. We are different because our lives are different. We speak different languages. We remember different episodes. We are surrounded by different people. Therefore our memories and our attitudes are different. But "we" are just one person. The question "how does it feel to be me?" has a simple answer: it feels exactly like being you. You are the only person who ever existed. You have been born and died millions of times. You are being born and dying every day thousands of times. Is it possible that inside each and every body there is the same "I" and that "I" is you? that the only person who ever existed and who will ever exist is you, for the simple reason that no other person could possibly exist, for the simple reason that there is only one possible consciousness?
  • If we played all the laws of physics in all possible combinations for an infinite time, what state would never be produced?
  • If i replace all the neurons in your brain with electronic chips that perform the exact same function, are you still you? (This is coming)
  • If we ever create a machine that is a fully-functioning brain totally equivalent to a human brain, will it be ethical to experiment on it? Will it be ethical to program it?
  • Is the product of evolution always good? Are Hitler and malaria good? (If Hitler had won and if everybody had malaria and lived well with it, we would say yes)
  • Using the vast amount of information left by people on social media, will we be able to resurrect the dead as digital zombies?