Reality from the Perspective of a Human
Sometime throughout my years on this rock called Earth, I made a creeping discovery.
Reality has a precisely-defined structure, just like a computer program.
To explain, let’s start with a question:
What is a human?
Well, that is complex, but this is the question to ask because each one of us is human. We experience being human every single day. Our reality is this experience and it can be defined and understood.
So, back to the question:
What is a human?
To give you a hint, one interpretation is that a human is information. But let’s explain that from first principles.
From a physical perspective, a human is just a configuration of atoms. The same atoms that make up everything else.
Before life existed here, there was just a big rock.
The atoms on this rock would move around for various reasons. Mostly random meaningless reasons. For example, a meteorite impact or wind.
In the beginning, the atoms had no goal and every action was based on their physical history of actions.
However, at some point, you can start assigning goals to the actions of atoms.
From randomness, the first cell is created. An organism is born.
Each and every one of these organisms use energy to perform actions. They perform actions in order to accomplish some goal. Even single-celled organisms. Maybe the organism isn’t conscious of the goal, but there is definitely a goal despite that.
With a goal at hand, things are now less random. There’s a logical reason for the actions performed by the atoms. It’s not just meaningless action.
Skip forward a bit and it’s the same thing with fish. They perform actions with the goal of survival and reproduction. This is how it is for most creatures that appear less conscious.
At some point, as consciousness increases, the goals become desires.
You can clearly see cats and dogs differ from fish. Go watch dogs play at the dog park. Seems like they play because it’s fun. My childhood dog used to bark at me until I would get off my butt and play with her. She WANTED to play. She desired it.
You could argue that there are deeper reasons than dogs just want to play for fun. Maybe they need fun for survival. Despite that, I can guarantee if a dog could talk, they wouldn’t say they want to go play because of impending death. They want to have some fun.
In fact, we humans are not very different from dogs in this scenario. Main difference is that our reasons for actions are much more complex.
Why did you go out drinking with friends? Clearly alcohol will make you die quicker, so it’s probably not for survival.
You can make the same argument that human X took action A because fundamentally it has to do with survival. Maybe that’s the case, but it doesn’t FEEL that way as a human. If it does, you’re probably not happy.
Humans, more than any other known creature, seem to perform actions because of desires.
I went and got a drink because I was thirsty and wanted a drink. Consuming this liquid prevents me from dying, but the reason I consumed it was simply because I wanted to.
I went to college because I wanted to gain more life experiences. This could be broken into several sub-desires, but I think you get the point.
We humans want things. Due to that, we are a pile of atoms that perform actions.
To continue, you need to know what raw input is and you need to know what an observer is.
Raw input is anything you observe using your senses. Even though it feels like the raw input is external to you, everything you experience is a certain configuration of your mind.
Maybe the raw input was generated from something external, but in order for you to consume the input, your mind has to create a representation of the input in your own unique language.
At this moment in time, you cannot truly know anything that is external to you. However, you can know the representation that your mind creates for that external entity.
Okay, raw input is everything that is observed by you, but what is this thing that observes?
An observer is YOU at the most fundamental level. Ask yourself the question, what am I? Well, your thoughts, emotions, and body all change over time; sometimes dramatically. However, one thing stays the same. You are always observing the events of your life. You observe the sun rise in the sky. You observe a thought appear in your mind as you lay in bed at night. You observe a physical sensation when touching a hot coffee cup.
At some point, the sack of atoms gained the ability to observe and that doesn’t mean eye sight. It gained the ability to intake raw input and store the external world as a representation in the mind.
This changed things dramatically because it allowed a non-physical world to explode. The amount of representations keeps increasing. It’s almost as if the representations in the mind have become the most useful raw input.
Continuing on, let’s define data and information.
Data is raw input that is stored in memory as a representation.
It is not true or untrue. It just exists. Every moment, you are taking in data. In fact, your ego is data. You can tell because you can easily observe your ego. Lay down and close your eyes. You’ll be able to observe randomly-appearing thoughts and maybe emotions too if you’re currently experiencing any.
A lot of times, ego data is going to feel like information.
Information is just USEFUL data. In order for something to be useful, you need desire. You want something. What actions can be taken to get what you want? Information will help you find the way to an answer.
If you think about it, data never existed until there was an observer with the ability to persist that raw input across time as a representation.
Creatures that are probably not even considered conscious, started to store data at some point. They used the data to help perform actions that accomplished goals. They had no desires, so the data was not useful, even though it may seem that way to us due to anthropomorphizing.
Then came along the conscious creatures that had desires. They wanted things. So, they stored information in order to get what they want through action.
Okay, let’s summarize.
In the beginning we were just random meaningless atoms…which is weird to think about.
Raw input, data, and information did not exist at this point.
Then, the atoms became less random and more organized. Not exactly sure why; but funny enough, it was probably random that organization happened. The atoms formed the first cell and began performing actions to accomplish goals.
At some point, these more organized atoms gained the ability to observe. Maybe due to the new physical ability to store raw input as a representation in a brain. Probably more complex than that though.
There’s a good chance that fish, cats, and dogs all have this ability to observe.
As the ability to observe increases, the more the sack of atoms begins to desire or want things. Dogs want things. Humans want things.
With this new ability to observe came new aspects of reality. Raw input, data, information, and time. Maybe they were already there in the beginning, but simply couldn’t be unlocked until an observer existed.
Having an observer means that the sacks of atoms can now learn. Atoms can take in other atoms or waves as input and store the data over time. These atoms became aware of what they are.
Humans continue to store more and more raw input of the external world as representations in the mind.
At this point in time, we need to keep asking questions. We need to keep trying to figure out what we truly are. We should ask ourselves:
What information is the most useful?
What information is most useful at the individual level and the collective level?
What information promotes health for all?
What information will help us make death optional?
What information will optimize for innocent fun that doesn’t feast upon others?
The most useful information of reality is what humanity is.
The most useful information stored in a single brain is what a human is.
As we see with the Russian government, sometimes a single brain can bring down the collective with information that is individually useful, but not useful for humanity. One single mind that needs a software update to optimize for better information.
Despite that, I have hope. Just like data and time, I often wonder what aspects of reality will be unlocked as humanity progresses. Exciting to think about!
Honestly, I had planned for this to be a fictional story about a reality structured in a way that can be replicated by computer code, but I ended up sharing the information stored in my mind representing my own observed reality.
I hope something in this text clicked with you and best wishes on whatever life journey you are on.
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