QR2.3.3 Specifying Time

A time like ours must support the following properties:

1. Sequence. Events occur in a sequence.

2. Causality. Earlier events cause later events.

3. Unpredictability. Future events are not entirely predictable.

4. Irreversibility. Events cannot be reversed.

A virtual time that acts like ours must support sequence, causality, unpredictability and irreversibility.

1. Sequence

Sequence means that one event follows another, as in a movie. Movies achieve this by storing the sequence but storing quantum states in a database has two problems:

a. Size. The quantum states in our universe at any moment are innumerable and its cycle rate is unimaginable, so the storage needed is beyond belief.

b. Inefficiency. Why fill a database with quantum events that almost never happen? Why even store physical events, as no-one wants to read a “history” of World War II as atomic events? Or if only what is important is put on the record, how are the events to be stored selected? If the physical world is a quantum simulation it does not make sense to store every event when one can just run the simulation again.

Storing quantum events isn’t possible because quantum processing doesn’t allow the static storage that physical computers use, as concluded earlier. But in quantum theory, quantum events do occur in sequence as the quantum wave evolves, so it may be that the physical world the quantum world’s solution to its storage problem as a physical event is a selection from many quantum events. A physical event is in essence a report – we query quantum world to get the status update we call physical reality. This present report also contains the past, as neural memories exist now and dinosaur fossils exist today to tell us about what happened long ago. DNA “remembers” not just our ancestors but all life on earth. Genes (Dawkins, 1989), memes (Heylighen, Francis & Chielens, K., 2009) and norms (Whitworth & deMoor, 2003) survive by their generative power while that which lives for itself alone passes away. Regardless, the sequence of quantum wave evolution that quantum theory describes ensures that one physical event follows another, as quantum states:

… evolve to a finite number of possible successor states(Kauffman & Smolin, 1997) p1

2. Causality

Causality is the lawful connection between a sequence of physical events.

We know that quantum reality is also lawful when quantum waves evolve in step-wise cycles, as processing does. These waves collapse to physical events only where quantum laws permit so if the quantum world is real, physical lawfulness follows from quantum lawfulness. If each quantum event causes the next lawfully, the physical events they ultimately cause will be the same. Physical causality thus arises from quantum causality, as described by quantum theory.

This doesn’t imply that causality in time derives from information processing:

Past, present, and future are not properties of four-dimensional space-time but notions describing how individual IGUSs {information gathering and utilizing systems} process information.(Hartle, 2005) p101

It is correct to say that processing creates time but quantum processing can’t be based on physical information, as McCabe observed, as information can’t cause the physical events that cause it. In contrast, quantum processing isn’t based on the physical states it generates, so it can generate the physical causality we see.

3. Unpredictability

A choice by definition has a known “before” and an unknown “after”. Before there are many options but after there is only one, the choice result. In quantum theory, a photon approaches a screen as a wave of options that then collapses to the point where it physically hits. That point is randomly chosen from many options in a way that no physical history can predict. Even knowing every physically knowable thing, we can’t predict quantum collapse because no prior physical “story” can explain why one option was chosen and no other. Quantum theory adds that every physical event involves a quantum collapse, so if our world is a machine, it is one with:

…roulettes for wheels and dice for gears.(Walker, 2000) p87

If quantum waves are processing waves, quantum collapse is a process restart. When many network nodes report an overload error, where the process restarts is a server choice made elsewhere. If the physical world is a virtual reality created by distributed quantum processing, quantum collapse is a server choice made outside the virtual reality so it is random to us. The result of quantum collapse is a physical event that always has a lawful causal history but also always contains an element of unpredictability.

4. Irreversibility

All the laws of physics are time reversible and reversing time doesn’t break any laws of physics so if objects exist in a time dimension, why can’t we reverse time? If quantum events create physical events, the question becomes why is quantum collapse irreversible? Physics has no answer but in computing, a node reboot is irreversible. Rebooting a computer restarts its processing from scratch, so any ongoing work is lost – unless you saved it! Processing is always sequential, as one step leads to the next, but one can’t undo a reboot because the restart loses the previous event sequence. The sequence before the reboot is gone forever and the same is true when a quantum node reboots. Physical events are irreversible because quantum collapse as a successful node reboot is irreversible. Quantum collapse creates the arrow of time.

Quantum processing spreading down every network path until a node reboot restarts it in a physical event gives a time that is sequential, causal, unpredictable and irreversible, just like ours.