Are we subject to the laws of physics or are they subject to us? The so called 'ultimate future of the universe' theory as postulated by Frank Tipler, combined with his ideas on the 'anthropic principle' engage with some of the fundamental questions of existence, matter, intelligence and space.

The main idea is that the inevitable and unavoidable purpose of intelligent life is to permeate the entire universe (or multiverses depending on which side of the fence you sit on in the 'theories of the end of the universe' debate) and populate it with data or representations of data.

Intelligent life is destined in fact to become computational power and fulfill its' only function which is to endlessly run advanced simulations of every culture that has ever been, past or future. This computational power will eventually run so fast as to render our perceptions of time irrelevant and outpace the end event itself, thereby effectively providing a mechanism for immortality. This point in time and space is called the 'omega point'

The so called 'final anthropic principle' which Tipler has been writing about since 1986 holds that:

'Intelligent information-processing must come into existence in the Universe, and, once it comes into existence, it will never die out.'

That would seem to imply an unstoppable force of increasing ability and sophistication that not only fulfills itself endlessly but must also expand to fill all of logically knowable space and time. Heavy stuff.

Some say that the Omega Point theory exists merely to provide theoretical justifications for some of the laws of physics and avoid their violation, as such that would seem to render it a peculiarly cultural construct whereby theoretical physicists and cosmologists protect their intellectual space. Where it gets interesting is when you start to think about context. Controversially, Tipler has proposed a moral context for his work and draws deliberate parallels with judeo-christian theology, describing the omega point as 'God'. As ever with this kind of assertion the question would be: Does religious belief belong in science at all? Does the cultural context of some American Universities give rise to Christianity-compatible theories of the universe?

Another fascinating factor in these arguments is cognitive bias. How can we ever know that our theories are not simply a result of our perhaps flawed observations? are they all self-fullfilling prophecies? Paradoxically one of the most intriguing responses to the anthropic principle is that everything we think we know about the universe seems to suggest that through a provable and observable process of natural selection, life shown in physical, fossil and genetic evidence has adapted to the prevailing conditions of the universe and not vice versa.

Frank Tipler willl be at TEDx Brussels on December 6

1 Comment