Monday, January 28, 2008

The Truth ( From The Algebraist By Iain M Banks)

I recently read a fantastically well-written book, written by Iain M. Banks and published in 2004 by Orbit. The book is titled, ‘The Algebraist’.
Set more than two thousand years in the future it is a gripping and complicated tale. One of the sub plots that winds gently through the book is a fictional religion that has become the established religion of the period called ‘The Truth’.

This religion is more or less accepted as the most popular religion, with adherents through out this future galaxy. The simple premise of ‘The Truth’ is that their entire reality is held within a huge computer simulation. Ridiculous, I know, but it made me think. Computers are getting insanely powerful. Our entire lifestyle is possible only because of our reliance on our computer power.

It is certain that we will continue with our progress in making more and more powerful computers? Is it possible that we will create a computer program that gives its creations (characters) a sentience that we can only try to imagine? I am not talking about the Turing Test. I am postulating that the characters will be alive in a sense we can fully understand. We have all read books and had the characters come alive. This would be so much more within a huge supercomputer.

To these guys locked in our computers of the future, their reality would be ‘The Truth’. Has Iain Banks stumbled upon a religion that will be needed in the future? Has Mr. Banks given our simulation characters a religion that will give them comfort?
Every society has religion of some sort, why would a society created within a computer simulation not have a religion? These creations would actually have a creation story that could be confirmed, which is a lot more than other religions.

It might be that as our computers start to compile code for themselves that this decision will be taken out of our hands.

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What is your opinion?

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