Time-Travel: Notes from Heart of Fire Time of Ice

I wanted to make my story (Heart of Fire Time of Ice) both believable and scientifically possible. That’s a real challenge when it comes to both out-of-body experiences and time-travel. I spent a lot of time investigating time-travel as it relates to quantum physics. There are at least a few physicists who think it may be possible. Of these, I chose to use the ideas of Fred Alan Wolf.

Dr. Wolf’s description of ‘Extraordinary Time-Travel’ fit my needs perfectly. It would have been difficult to have a time machine. I could have done it, but I had a vision of how my heroine was going to travel, and a machine would have been difficult for her to handle. In addition, I didn’t just want to say, “Ta-Da! Behold: Time-Travel!”

That’s the general approach one finds in many stories, so it’s acceptable, but the problem is that it requires full buy-in by the readers. What I mean by that is the readers have to agree (probably subconsciously) that they’ll go along with the more or less magical rules that exist inside the author’s book.

I wanted to make it easier to believe that my heroine could have translated back to the past. To do that, I had to come up with a literary description of Wolf’s ideas. Don’t get me wrong. Dr. Wolf is an excellent writer. However, his description of time-travel is a little too scientific to fit well into a work of fiction.

My problem was that I had too much information in my head. My original description of Kathleen’s work and time-travel was so elaborate that almost every reader would have put the book down in disgust when faced with those sections. I ended up chopping out large sections of what proved to be unnecessary description.

I wanted to include a section on the possibility of time-travel as described by Wolf just in case you, dear reader, want to explore the idea further. As a result of that desire, here are my working notes:

Notes:
Time and possibility are intimately connected in the way that possibilities change to probabilities when awareness enters the picture. The basic idea here is that possibilities exist within your mind, and probabilities exist outside of you. Consciousness is the key to changing from the internal possibility to the external probability.

When you become aware of information, you gain knowledge, and as a consequence probabilities change outside you in what we normally call the real world.

Every situation has a possibility wave representing it. Changing the physical situation will change the possibility wave. This impacts the result of making choices in the wave we’ve just observed. The effect is that we change our awareness.

Quantum computers work with quantum bits (qubits), which are pure number possibilities. A qubit’s possibility wave oscillates between a positive maximum and a negative minimum. This wave represents the possibility of a qubit having the value zero at any instant.

Since a qubit may be either zero or one, but not negative, a negative possibility wave value must be squared in order to convert it to a real number. When two superpositioned possibility waves are squared, they yield a probability curve. Possibility waves may be added and then squared to get a probability curve, and the probability curve is directly related to real world events in a way that the possibility wave is not.

Possibility waves are in the mind and probability curves correspond to reality. We have a probability curve when we become conscious of reality. We deal with possibility waves when we are internally focused.

Experiments done at Princeton’s PEAR lab show that the mind can impact reality, albeit in what most people would feel is a relatively minor fashion. If Wolf is correct, the mind does this through converting possibility waves to probability curves by squaring, thus producing probabilistic effects in the real world.

Physicist John G. Cramer has stated that possibility waves travel through space and time in both directions: from the present to the future, and from the future back to the present.

To generate a usable, real-world result of this bi-directional travel, the original possibility wave must be squared by multiplying it by its complex conjugate wave. The complex conjugate wave is a solution to the same equations solved by the original possibility wave, provided that time runs backwards in the solution instead of forwards.

Cramer calls the original wave an offer wave, and the conjugate wave an echo wave. These waves cycle back and forth until they satisfy a variety of reality requirements and boundary conditions. Then the bi-directional transaction is complete, and that changes the possibility waves into probability curves.

One of the interesting points is that if both possibility wave and complex conjugate wave are real, then time must not be one-way only.

Events of the past must still be around. Events that are to happen must already exist. When our brains remember past events they may not be digging through our memories, instead they may be constructing the past based on multiplying the forward and backward moving possibility waves.

This implies that the future also exists. If so, you are sending possibility waves in that direction, and someone also called “you” in the future is sending complex conjugate possibility waves back through time to be received by the present you.

If the modulated waves reach some resonance or strength level, then a real future or a real past may be created.

The rule seems to be: the greater the probability, the more meaningful the transaction and the greater the chance of it occurring. Past and future are simply reference points based on our sense of “now”. “Now” is defined as the most meaningful sequence with the strongest waves.

Everything we do involves a probability curve as we learn to do it. We get better and better with practice and achieving our desired result becomes more and more probable. Think of a basketball player learning to shoot free-throws. The more he practices, the more likely he becomes to make the shot.

Every skill implies a probability curve in our consciousness and its effect is expressed through time. When we no longer have to pay attention to the probability curve in any skill, we label the skill a habit.

Possibility waves are not available to us in space-time. Probability waves are. Possibility waves seem to reside in sub-space time. So, how do we access sub-space time?

Western culture believes that all human experiences are rooted in the physical world. That is normally an unspoken assumption that underlies everything we do. However, there is no proof to back up this conclusion.

Your awareness of being in your body at this precise moment implies that there is more to you than just your body. Quantum physics tells us repeatedly that the basis of the idea of a real physical world is flawed; that there is something prior to space, time, and matter.

This something is an infinitely dimensional sub-space time. Quantum processes are vital here, and somehow, consciousness appears to play a fundamental role at the level of even the most primary matter. Even at the level of atoms and subatomic particles.

Possibility waves appear to exist purely within sub-space time, while probability curves mark time and link the person and the mind. Possibility waves form what may be viewed as interior consciousness and there, in the interior, the mind can be free from the present time.

With discipline, the mind seems to be able to draw meaning from sub-space-time. In the process of dealing with probability curves, the mind moves from the purely imaginal realm into the physical realm. There are two processes involved in the squaring operation: a mathematical squaring operation that focuses the mind and a second squaring that allows the mind to let go or unfocus. That happens in this way:

When we direct our attention to something, it is at first a large blur, then a sharp focal point, and then a smaller blur. This is the rule in normal time order that we are accustomed to. When a sequence of such triplets reaches the point that the first blur and the second blur are the same size, we are then able to predict the sequence in the future.

Consciousness acts in the universe similar to adding energy to a refrigerator, reversing the law of entropy. The act of focusing and focusing creates our sense of time. Thus, a form of time-travel is a necessary part of the way the mind functions and the way time works. We can individually move forward and backward through time either faster or slower than the rate at which objective time moves. The old saying that, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” thus becomes literally true.

Our egos seem to tie us to this time stream in our effort to survive in a hostile world. Freeing ourselves from our ego may then release us from the time stream.

What we think we are, and what we truly are, are not identical. The ego is a boundary separating the outside world from our internal existence. It does so as an evolutionary attempt to enhance survival.

Time thus seems to be a projection of mind. It is as real as thought. If we can defeat our ego, Wolf thinks we can become aware of our ability to time travel.

Since physics shows (surprisingly) that time travel is a necessary part of physics’ structure, then it is a necessary part of the universe. Wolf thinks that far-reaching time travel paradoxes can be avoided as long as there is only one person involved. For big changes to be made in the past involving parallel universes, many people would be needed. The past may not be fixed, but instead may be subject to the uncertainty principle.

The common human desire for spiritual change may be a sign of our waking from our belief in linear time. When we realize we aren’t limited by space and time, but are continuous and eternal, we can return to the timeless realm.

The most likely mode for this transition would be through a lucid dream or out-of-body experience. Dr. Wolf has stated that if time-travel were to happen in this way, one would simply awaken from a conscious (lucid) dream in another time.

In my opinion, we are an energy waveform at our most basic expression of existence in this universe. As the material manifestation of a complex energy structure, I think we could transition to other times, provided that our spiritual development permitted it. We would have to be in an altered-state to make this translation. Such a state could most likely be induced through drugs or strong emotions.

Stripped of all of the physics explanation, this is the basic mechanism that I used in the story: Kathleen is an accomplished out-of-body practitioner who is placed in an untenable situation. To avoid this situation, she slips into an altered-state. While in that state, she squares the possibility wave functions, creating a probability of +1 that her energy wave is else-when. When she awakens from this state, she finds she has transitioned to another time.

If you’re interested, I hope you decide to read the story. It’s usually placed in the top 5% of its category on Amazon.

Note: Probabilities statistically have a range of 0 to 1. They may not be negative numbers, and they do not exceed 1. To exceed either of these limits makes no physical sense. The number 1 represents something that has actually happened. The number 0 represents something that has absolutely no chance of occurring.

One of my books received a nice review from an Italian reader

Heart of Fire Time of Ice

“Bellissimo, appassionante e coinvolgente ! L’ho acquistato per fare un po’ di pratica con l’inglese ma sono stata molto coinvolta da questa storia bellissima!!”

Since I don’t speak Italian, I had to use a translation program. Here’s the result:

“Beautiful, exciting and engaging! I bought it to do some practice with English but I was very involved with this beautiful story!!”

I’m pleased that Kathleen’s story can help one practice English, but also catches the reader’s interest to this extent.

Eric

“All of the Moments in Forever” will be out soon.

I received the final edit for “All of the Moments in Forever” today. This evening, I spent several hours working on the back material for the book. I like to include story notes and references to the creatures and times that appear in the book. Some formatting is next – scheduled for tomorrow. Then I’ll upload to KDP. The book will be available by the end of the week.

My editor liked the continued story of Kathleen and Cadeyrin. It’s a complex story that gives Kathleen scope to further develop her personality. She came a long way from the frightened, reclusive grad student in the first book (Heart of Fire Time of Ice) and she continues her personal growth in this story. Readers will find that she becomes a force to be reckoned with.

Look for the release soon.

Reviews and comments appreciated.

Eric

Musings on Artificial Intelligence: Dangerous Times

Memory cards

***Two Gigabytes separated by a few years – both cards are outdated today.***

Years ago I was giving a seminar at the University of Colorado during which I mentioned the possibility of Artificial Intelligence. I explained that most computer people used the abbreviation “AI”. I was surprised when a member of my audience broke out in laughter.

I asked him what was funny and he explained that he was a large animal veterinarian and, to him, AI meant something completely different. The whole class laughed.

Author Yuval Harari believes that in 300 years, Homo sapiens will not be the dominant life form on Earth if we exist at all. He thinks that the likely possibility is that we will use bio-engineering and machine learning and artificial intelligence either to upgrade ourselves into a different type of being or to create a totally different kind of being that will take over. In any case, he projects that in 200 or 300 years, the beings that will dominate the Earth will be far more different from us than we are different from Neanderthals or chimpanzees.

He also states that cooperation is more important for success than raw intelligence. Since AI is far more cooperative than humans, it will have an advantage. For example, self-driving cars can be connected to one another to form a single network in a way that individual, human-controlled cars never can.

The real question is whether AI’s cooperative advantage will have beneficial results for humans or prove to be disadvantageous. Let’s examine various ideas that may be pertinent to the answer.

There’s confusion in both the general populace and science fiction writers about the meaning of AI. People aren’t sure whether it involves intelligence or consciousness, or both paired together as in the human organism. Most science fiction stories center around the premise that AI will be an Artificial consciousness (AC) with super-human intelligence. This supposition is a purely human assumption based on the requirement of writing interesting stories.

I’ve most recently written two short stories based on the idea that AI will choose to emulate humans by implementing some form of programming that allows for emotions. I’m also well into the process of writing another novel that explores this issue.

Assuming robots will have emotions, fall in love, and want to destroy human competitors makes for interesting reading. However, those ideas may not apply in the real world of AI.

Can we agree that intelligence is not necessarily consciousness? I think that one can roughly define intelligence as the ability to solve problems. The ability to emotionally feel things may have nothing to do with intelligence, especially when considering AI. In bio-life, the two go together. Mammals solve problems by feeling things. Emotions assign meaning and meaning provides a necessary component to problem solution for mammals. Computers do not have emotions, at least not yet, and possibly not ever.

There has been a lot of development in computer intelligence in the past decades, but very little development in computer consciousness. That’s understandable, since we humans have a hard time defining what our consciousness is and how it works.

Computers might be developing along a different path than humans. Humans are driven towards greater intelligence by way of consciousness; by the emotional awareness of comfort and discomfort and the urge to do something about those feelings.

On the other hand, computers may not ever develop emotional consciousness, but they do have the potential to form a non-conscious, linked super-intelligence. The important question is what does a world of non-conscious, super-intelligence look like? What are the ramifications of such a world? What is the impact of such a world on humans?

Nothing in our evolutionary past prepares us for that question. (Or maybe we’ve already answered it – a point I’ll get to a little later in my musing.)

Humans have animal requirements. To avoid injury and death, to consume fuel, to reproduce, all are things that provide motivation to bio-life. An AI won’t necessarily have those kinds of drives. The initial AIs might receive grafted on human emotions from their creators, but machine learning has the potential to quickly morph those tendencies into something that humans won’t have the ability to understand.

According to Harari, humans tend to overestimate themselves, and won’t be around in 300 years, because to replace most humans AI won’t have to do very spectacular things. I think that his assumption that AI won’t have to do amazing things to put us out of work is on target. However, I suspect that his 300 years is too long an estimate.

Ray Kurzweil estimates the so-called singularity, the point at which AI supersedes human intelligence will be around the year 2029. That is much sooner than 300 years from now. The exponential rate of technological growth implied by Moore’s law (more a rule of thumb than a law) means that we humans will have to start learning how to live in an increasingly automated world very quickly. Take the idea of smartphones, for example. Smartphones seem to have been around forever, but they first hit the market in Japan in 1999. Most people today couldn’t imagine living without them.

We’ve already seen real-world examples that demonstrate that AI will soon be able to do most of the jobs that humans do and do them better and without tiring or wavering attention. As a result of the transition from a human-factory-based economy to an automated-factory-based economy, we now face what could be called the Uberization of work. Work is metamorphosing from a career-based economy to a gig-based economy. At the moment, wealthy countries are faring better than economically disadvantaged ones in this scenario, since their better infrastructure allows for a little more cushion for unemployed and under-employed workers, but I suspect that this advantage is temporary at best.

Here’s another example of how AI can replace humans, even in specialty knowledge-based tasks: An AI system can diagnose cancer better than a human. It turns out that even the most expert humans have quite a spectacular rate of error in such a task. A simple algorithm, while not as flexible as a human, will easily outperform the human norm, simply because it is consistent and doesn’t get tired or bored. It won’t miss any cues and will always draw the same conclusions based on experience. Humans are rather more variable than that.

Let’s personalize this for a moment. If you suspected you had cancer, wouldn’t you want the most accurate diagnosis possible?

Given AI’s performance advantage in most tasks, there is a distinct possibility that humans will lose their ability to generate value for the major systems that dominate our lives today. We could become useless from the viewpoint of the economic, military, and even political systems. These systems could lose the incentive to invest in human beings. What would happen then? How would the average human survive?

Will there simply be subsidies that provide food, housing, health care? Based on a brief look at our history, there will undoubtedly be various levels of subsidies. What will determine whether one has a gold-level subsidy or a brass-level subsidy? Prior ownership of resources might then become the benchmark for separating the haves from the have-nots. This situation may seem reprehensible, but when have humans ever treated each other as totally equal?

Of course, the development of AI could be interrupted by a world-wide catastrophe. An apocalyptic event could easily cast humanity back into the hunter-gatherer mode, and that is the precise existence in which humans evolved to thrive. Such a life requires a generalist with both physical ability and intellectual flexibility, paired with rapid learning and pattern recognition skills. Could these be duplicated by an AI? Not perhaps so easily as they can be created in a biological entity.

Failing a doomsday scenario, AI will inevitably continue to develop. An idea cannot be killed once it has been given birth. It can be suppressed if there is a sufficiently strong authority, but concepts cannot be destroyed in the normal sense.

Assuming that there is no apocalypse, could AI perhaps find that humans are a useful, self-replicating resource? Given food and opportunity to engage in sex, we duplicate ourselves. How could an AI use us? Will we become a commodity? Could we become a self-replicating biological factory that automatically creates raw materials?

We’ve largely replaced directly useful jobs like farming with intellectual jobs where humans deal with ideas, rather than basic needs. Are intellectual jobs necessary? Not really. Does the world need me to write science fiction? Require my science fiction to survive? Of course not. Can intellectual jobs be done by AI? Probably.

The question is what is necessary? Corn is cheap, but if you let it sit around long enough in an oaken barrel, it can become whiskey and be valuable — to a human, not to a computer. There is a conflation of people being useful with the concept of people being valued. Useful is a judgment based on the production of some essential. Value is a human-based story — we decide what has value and it’s not always what is useful.

Humans have both physical abilities and cognitive abilities. Machines are taking over in the physical ability field, replacing us in factories and AI is starting to compete successfully in the cognitive field.

Do we have a third kind of ability; one we could fall back on? Just for controversy’s sake, how about spiritual ability? Is that a possibility? Could AI become spiritual? That’s the same as asking could it love in the same way that humans do? Could we move from jobs of the body to jobs of the mind and then to jobs of the heart?

Science fiction writers often assume that an AI will be automatically hostile to humans; that it will inevitably try to get rid of us. Various reasons have been given in stories, and numerous methodologies for extinguishing the human species have been postulated, ranging from the Terminator scenario to using poison-releasing nano-machines. These make for fun reading, but might not be accurate.

AI software will shortly be able to read and understand human emotions better than humans can. But, will AI feel in the same way, or will it be a simple analysis allowing it to predict our future actions? Either way, it will be completely consistent and startlingly accurate. Given such an ability, what would prevent the AI that wanted to get rid of humans from simply engaging in an effective propaganda campaign to convince us that we have no reason to exist?

Many people would simply give up when faced with such a campaign. They’d quit eating, quit reproducing, and quit trying to work. Loss of meaning is a terrible thing.

Given that low-skilled jobs are disappearing and not every human is able or has the desire to be trained for a high-skilled job, where will humans find meaning? What point is there to a world where every human is engaged in a nonproductive cycle of hyper-pleasure existence in say VR?

The writings of Victor Frankl demonstrate that humans find their highest feelings of self-worth when they are engaged in meaningful activities. Those with meaning in their life survive longer.

If you don’t have a job and you’re provided with the means to sustain your life, will you be able to find adequate meaning in VR and chemicals?

If not, what will be the outcome? What would such a world look like? What would happen to the odd misfit who cannot find adequate meaning in a VR existence?

Before I finish, I want to come back to the idea that I promised to address at the beginning of this post. The question that asks: what does a world of non-conscious, super-intelligence look like?

My suspicion is that our Universe may be a primary representative of the answer to that question. If one assumes the wave nature of the elemental particles that make up the Universe, then one must also assume that the waves create interference patterns similar to those on a hologram. Waves and interference patterns can store data. Given the estimated size of the Universe, it’s a fairly safe guess that the storage potential is adequate to store everything that has happened since the initial expansion event.

That’s point one. Point two is that chaotic systems sometimes seem to have a tendency to self-organize. What if all that data storage somehow self-organized into a super-intelligence? What if it organized tiny parts of itself into the matter that we see when we look at galaxies and stars? What if it organized itself into transient forms that generated their own form of limited consciousness and asked absurd questions like these?

Regardless of your opinion on any of the questions I’ve raised, I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to read this post, and I hope that it provided you with things to ponder. We are rushing into the next stage of our evolution, and we absolutely must begin to answer these types of questions. I believe that our future depends on it.

Namaste!

Eric

Check my blog for my free short stories relating to AI: “Virtual Love” and “The Adventure of Life”.

Some of this post owes its existence to Ezra Klein’s interview with Yuval Harari. The interview was just too thought-provoking for me to ignore. Thanks.

Warning: You might need an excuse for your boss.

Soft launch: Free on Kindle 2/19/16 – 2/20/16

One reader did. She ended up missing most of the day, curled up in an armchair with a cup of tea, while finishing this story. “I couldn’t put it down,” she admitted.

Be prepared for science, intrigue, adventure, action, and dawning love, set in both the present and the last ice-age.

Heart of Fire Time of Ice titled - kdp ver

Newly Released: 2/18/2016

Intent in her research, Kathleen Whitby fears social contact due to her difficult past and physical scars. Her discovery of time-travel leads to two deaths followed by a murderous attack that results in her temporal displacement to the Pleistocene.

Initially alone in a hostile and cold wilderness, she must confront her worst fear as she finds that trust in a handsome, primitive hunter is necessary to survive. Will she ignite a carefully suppressed internal fire, or will she be able to return to the safety of the present?

Offered for free for two days: Friday 2/19 and Saturday 2/20. Normally priced at $2.99.

A Good Editor Helps

I’m nearing the release date (February, 2016) for my next story, Heart of Fire – Time of Ice. It’s a sci-fi/time-travel/adventure/romance that has my pre-readers responding enthusiastically. This story is much better for having been through a thorough edit. I’m so grateful to 3P Editing for their good work that I want to give them credit.

I’ve been a writer for nearly my whole life. I hold a Ph.D. in Psychology, and was trained to write scientific reports. I’ve also worked for a major publishing house. Many years ago, I wrote a book that ended up sitting in a box in my closet. That was in the pre-indie publishing days and I couldn’t find anyone who was interested in the story. Once I understood the opportunity offered by indie-publishing, I self-published a non-fiction, humorous book based on my work experience. A couple of years ago, I finally decided to start writing fiction again. I thought I knew how to write well. After publishing three science fiction novels, I discovered 3P Editing. Previously, I had avoided hiring editors. My experiences with a publishing house had shown me that they can be good, bad, or indifferent. I was reluctant to hire someone who would charge me more than I might actually make from book sales and who might not deliver the quality result that I needed.

An accidental meeting with another author who was very happy with 3P’s work convinced me to hire them to edit my fourth book. Their price was very reasonable and the results were outstanding. In a series of three passes, 3P found grammatical errors, corrected punctuation (commas are somewhat mysterious to me), and made gentle, but important suggestions on wording, scenes, characterization, and plot sequences. I adopted nearly all of their suggestions, and my story is now far more readable and enjoyable as a result. My pre-readers have been pleased. I knew the story was good when one person missed work in order to finish the book.

My conclusion? It’s simple. I will continue to use 3P and am in the process of having them edit my previous books. I highly suggest that if you’re an author you should consider their services.

Namaste.

Eric

Oh, BTW You can contact them here: mailto:3pediting@gmail.com

2015 in review

This is the first year for this blog. WordPress kindly prepared the following report and even though the numbers aren’t <sarc on> earth-shattering <sarc off>, I decided to post the report.

During 2015, I published two books and wrote a third. The third book, Heart of Fire Time of Ice, is currently in proofing/pre-reading and should be available on Kindle within a couple of weeks. I’ve already started writing on my next story, so I want Heart out there as quickly as I can get it into final form.

Namaste.

Eric

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 340 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.