Smart SpaceTime – Mark Burgess

I’ve had Mark Burgess “Smart SpaceTime” for a year or more, but was prompted to pick it up and read just last week when I noticed a long Twitter thread by Mark:

Mark was a theoretical physicist:
– who migrated to computer systems and became interested in the metaphysical (presumed axiomatic) fundaments of physical reality.

I’m a mechanical engineer:
– who migrated to computer systems and became interested in the metaphysical (presumed axiomatic) fundaments of physical reality.

Like so many before us – Eddington for example – we can’t escape the feeling that the physical is at least as mysterious, if not more so, than the mental.

The book is clearly chock full of stuff I found interesting, but in order to “critically review” it I need to understand Mark’s objective. Plenty of stuff I could say “that’s not how I see it” but a great deal more where I could agree “yes, that reinforces how I already see things”. A lot of common experiences in there. Whether differences of detail presentation and expression matter, depends on both our objectives.

In a sentence:- I already happen to think – a network representation of information persisted and processed at “agent” locations – with arbitrary internal complexity and external simplicity of “promissory +/-” communication relations with adjacent agents – at all sampling rates and scales of aggregation & abstraction, from individual sub-atomic “bits” to intelligent conscious individuals – is my preferred view of physical reality. Our everyday views of space & time, motion & causation simply being emergent from this underlying “metaphysics”.

Mark describes all of these things in great detail with examples from his experience in both physics and computing, but doesn’t seem to make the ontological commitment? He is holding-up analogues between these spheres: a many-layered and distributed (cloud) network model vs a Cartesian / Euclidian space-time grid model and suggesting each throws light on understanding the other.

“The purpose of this book [is] to better understand some wide-ranging concepts that involve space and time.”

Can’t argue with that. And he succeeds. Like him, I hope more orthodox physical scientists are curious to learn beyond the received wisdom of our space-time world.

For my own purposes,  there doesn’t seem to be any stronger thesis? As ever I have a great deal of annotation and highlighted examples, but which of these I should try to document and share … depends.

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