Sooner or later, the physicists are bound to follow the philosophers in gradually coming to recognize the need to choose between Christianity and nihilism.
Futurism: Your paper argues that the universe might fundamentally be a neural network. How would you explain your reasoning to someone who didn’t know very much about neural networks or physics?
Vitaly Vanchurin: There are two ways to answer your question.
The first way is to start with a precise model of neural networks and then to study the behavior of the network in the limit of a large number of neurons. What I have shown is that equations of quantum mechanics describe pretty well the behavior of the system near equilibrium and equations of classical mechanics describes pretty well how the system further away from the equilibrium. Coincidence? May be, but as far as we know quantum and classical mechanics is exactly how the physical world works.
The second way is to start from physics. We know that quantum mechanics works pretty well on small scales and general relativity works pretty well on large scales, but so far we were not able to reconcile the two theories in a unified framework. This is known as the problem of quantum gravity. Clearly, we are missing something big, but to make matters worse we do not even know how to handle observers. This is known as the measurement problem in context of quantum mechanics and the measure problem in context of cosmology.
Then one might argue that there are not two, but three phenomena that need to be unified: quantum mechanics, general relativity and observers. 99% of physicists would tell you that quantum mechanics is the main one and everything else should somehow emerge from it, but nobody knows exactly how that can be done. In this paper I consider another possibility that a microscopic neural network is the fundamental structure and everything else, i.e. quantum mechanics, general relativity and macroscopic observers, emerges from it. So far things look rather promising.
I've long been under the impression that whether it is the Big Bang, the need for a quantum observer, or a universal neural network, modern physics has relentlessly pointed towards the existence of God for those with the intelligence required to understand the evidence. I suspect that is why string theory, which is little more than the usual retreat from science that points in directions that atheists and Prometheans fear, has been holding on despite the fact that there is absolutely zero evidence to support the theoretical framework.
These are fascinating times. Darwin is all but dead, Einstein is being exposed, Ricardo has been destroyed, and postmodernism is fooling no one as it clowns about like a naked emperor in drag.