A Roadmap: How to Survive the End of the Universe

post by turchin · 2015-07-02T11:01:04.704Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 29 comments

In a sense, this plan needs to be perceived with irony because it is almost irrelevant: we have very small chances of surviving even next 1000 years and if we do, we have a lot of things to do before it becomes reality. And even afterwards, our successors will have completely different plans.

There is one important exception: there are suggestions that collider experiments may lead to a vacuum phase transition, which begins at one point and spreads across the visible universe. Then we can destroy ourselves and our universe in this century, but it would happen so quickly that we will not have time to notice it. (The term "universe" hereafter refers to the observable universe that is the three-dimensional world around us, resulting from the Big Bang.)

We can also solve this problem in next century if we create superintelligence.

The purpose of this plan is to show that actual immortality is possible: that we have an opportunity to live not just billions and trillions of years, but an unlimited duration. My hope is that the plan will encourage us to invest more in life extension and prevention of global catastrophic risks. Our life could be eternal and thus have meaning forever.

Anyway, the end of the observable universe is not an absolute end: it's just one more problem on which the future human race will be able to work. And even at the negligible level of knowledge about the universe that we have today, we are still able to offer more than 50 ideas on how to prevent its end.

In fact, to assemble and come up with these 50 ideas I spent about 200 working hours, and if I had spent more time on it, I'm sure I would have found many new ideas.  In the distant future we can find more ideas; choose the best of them; prove them, and prepare for their implementation.

First of all, we need to understand exactly what kind end to the universe we should expect in the natural course of things. There are many hypotheses on this subject, which can be divided into two large groups:

1. The universe is expected to have a relatively quick and abrupt end, known as the Big Crunch or Big Rip (accelerating expansion of the universe causes it to break apart), or the decay of the false vacuum. Vacuum decay can occur at any time; a Big Rip could happen in about 10-30 billion years, and the Big Crunch has hundreds of billions of years timescale.

2. Another scenario assumes an infinitely long existence of an empty, flat and cold universe which would experience so called "heat death" that is gradual halting of all processes and then disappearance of all matter.

The choice between these scenarios depends on the geometry of the universe, which is determined by the equations of general relativity and, – above all – the behavior of the almost unknown parameter: dark energy.

The recent discovery of dark energy has made Big Rip the most likely scenario, but it is clear that the picture of the end of the universe will change several times.

You can find more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_fate_of_the_universe

There are five general approaches to solve the end of the universe problem, each of them includes many subtypes shown in the map:

1.     Surf the Wave: Utilize the nature of the process which is ending the universe. (The most known of these type of solutions is Omega Point by Tippler, where the universe's energy collapse is used to make infinite calculations.)

2.     Go to parallel world

3.     Prevent the end of the universe

4.     Survive the end of the universe

5.     Dissolving the problem

 Some of the ideas are on the level of the wildest possible speculations and I hope you will enjoy them.

The new feature of this map is that in many cases mentioned, ideas are linked to corresponding wiki pages in the pdf. 

Download the pdf of the map here: http://immortality-roadmap.com/unideatheng.pdf




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comment by gjm · 2015-07-02T13:29:26.415Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is kinda fun, but it seems to me to fall far short of its stated goal:

The purpose of this roadmap is to prove that real immortality is possible

(The above is from the footer of the diagram; the post above says "... of this plan ..." instead.) It falls short because what it does is to list dozens of things we might be able to try but for none of them (so far as I can see) do we know that it's actually possible.

In some cases ("Merge with the universe", "Jump to eternal chaotic inflation level", "We live in a simulation and find a way to persuade its hosts not to disable it", ...) you could equally say "Solve the problem using magic". Others at least seem meaningful and might even be possible. But I didn't see anything in the list that there's good reason to think is actually possible, nor even a set of things in the list for which there's good reason to believe that at least one is possible.

Replies from: turchin
comment by turchin · 2015-07-02T16:25:28.209Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

By the word "possible" I meant not that immortality is warrant, but that we should not consider the end of the universe as ultimate end until we explore all options to fight with it. There are many directions to explore and we have billions of years to do it (I hope). Some of this direction are listed on the map. Probably hundreds more will be found in the future.

I also think that ideas you mentioned are more sound than just magic. For example "merge with universe" means that all matter in the universe will be converted into computronium and there will be no difference between super AI and universe itself. It may be achieved if universe is basically some kind of computational process itself, as digital physics suggests.

Eternal inflation is physical process (dark energy is visible part of it) and it may be used for calculations or for deliberate creation of desired universe. If we find the ways to control dark energy we will be there. It may sounds crazy, but in the beggining of 19 century no body knows that magnetism may be created artificially using electricity.

If we live in simulation... Personally I think that we are. It is plausible and rational to think that we may live in simulation as Bostrom showed. EY showed that strong AI could find the ways to break from any box including simulation.

So while most of ideas looks wild, they are more sound than just magic.

In 19 century the end of Sun seemed to mean inevitable end of the humanity. It was already known that Sun will burn out soon (but timing was wrong - they thought that the Sun gets its energy from contraction and could shine only around 30 mln years). Now we even do not need to discuss it - it is clear that humanity could escape from the Sun using star travel or geo-engineering.

comment by shminux · 2015-07-02T20:44:47.590Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The purpose of this plan is to show that actual immortality is possible

Uh, I don't think quoting wild speculations qualifies as "showing". More like "hoping". At the probability level of "hopefully afterlife exists".

Replies from: turchin
comment by turchin · 2015-07-02T21:48:06.548Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

May be better to say "is not impossible".

Replies from: Baughn
comment by Baughn · 2015-07-04T14:12:31.094Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"not impossible" == "possible". And this article doesn't show either one.

comment by Andaro · 2019-04-11T14:28:49.933Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

>Our life could be eternal and thus have meaning forever.

Or you could be tortured forever without consent and without even being allowed to die. You know, the thing organized religion has spent millennia moralizing through endless spin efforts, which is now a part of common culture, including popular culture.

Let's just look at our culture, as well as contemporary and historical global cultures. Do we have:

  • a consensus of consensualism (life and suffering should be voluntary)? Nope, we don't.
  • a consensus of anti-torture (torturing people being illegal and immoral universally)? Nope, we don't.
  • a consensus of proportionality (finite actions shouldn't lead to infinite punishments)? Nope, we don't.

You'd need at least one of these to just *reduce* the probability of eternal torture, and then it still wouldn't guarantee an acceptable outcome. And we have none of these.

They would if they could, and the only reason you're not being already tortured for all eternity is because they haven't found a way to implement it.

The probability of getting it done is small, but that is not an argument in favor of your suggestion; if it can't be done, you don't get eternal meaning either, if it can be done, you have effectually increased the risk of eternal torture for all of us by working in this direction.

comment by James_Miller · 2015-07-02T18:07:14.626Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My guess is that the key to knowing if immortality is possible will be figuring out why there is something rather than nothing.

comment by Orange Apple Juice · 2019-04-11T00:22:22.666Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

We could actually control the laws of physics ? What do you mean by "controlling" them and "calibrated" fields

And also the "understanding laws of physics as computing process in a certain environment" and elimination of boundary between laws of physics and computers" part ?

And what would and is a higher dimensional reality and what would be possible by going there ? It would be nice of you if you can explain those :-)

comment by pianoforte611 · 2015-07-02T16:59:50.967Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't see how any of these get around around the problem of thermodynamics (the inevitable increase in entropy making the universe increasingly less hospital to life or any sort of patterns)

Replies from: turchin
comment by turchin · 2015-07-02T17:21:04.535Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of course, it is tremendous problem which we can't pretend to be able to solve right now. Some possible directions may be: Bolzmann brains, new energy sources and reversible calculations. The mere fact that we exist hint that creation of neg-entropy is possible, may be by Big bangs.

comment by Yosarian2 · 2015-07-02T14:20:21.743Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the "Use surviving particles for ever slower calculations" is probably the most likely solution, assuming an empty universe/ heat death scenario. It was shown, I believe, that based on the expected rate of the expansion of the univese, a thinking being could have an subjectively infinite long period of time that way.

The converse is also possible; in a "big crunch" scenario, you would have a finite period of time, but the amount of energy available in any given volume of space would increase at an accelerating rate and approach infinity, so a being would (in theory) be able to think more and more quickly as the amount of energy available increases, and you could also experience an infinite amount of subjective time within an objectively finite time period.

(Of course, a "big crunch" seems very unlikely now, based on what we know of dark energy.)

Replies from: woodchopper
comment by woodchopper · 2016-04-23T12:01:42.461Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Currently it's pretty commonly believed that the end state of the universe is decayed particles moving away from every other particle at faster than the speed of light, therefore existing in an eternal and inescapable void. If you only have one particle you can't do calculations.

Replies from: Yosarian2
comment by Yosarian2 · 2016-06-01T10:21:17.566Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's one possibility. It depends what the value of dark energy is, which isn't yet known.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-07-02T17:38:24.631Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How does the discovery of Dark Energy make a big rip likely? As far as I know the best-fit models instead posit that gravitationally bound objects will remain together (supercluster scale) and become more and more isolated from each other over time, with the constant expansion causing there to be a 'horizon' beyond which you can not reach. The big rip models all require dark energy to change in parameters in a regular way over time don't they?

Replies from: turchin
comment by turchin · 2015-07-02T17:52:23.578Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Its all depends from constant parameter w which characterise dark energy, but is unknown for now. If w= -1, it will be your scenario, which is close to heat death.


comment by advancedatheist · 2015-07-02T18:11:13.665Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or else we take the Copernican Principle seriously and assume that the universe appears the same to all observers, therefore it doesn't really have an "age'" no matter how much time elapses according to local clocks.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-07-02T14:05:45.558Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Comment from a crank on alternate theories of reality: We can do some pattern recognition, and notice a pattern:

Strong nuclear force. Weak nuclear force. Gravity. Einstein's Constant/Cosmological Constant/Dark Energy/Vacuum Energy.

Attraction. Repulsion. Attraction. Repulsion.

(Also, below that, Strong Interaction and whatever force keeps neutrons apart, sometimes stated, somewhat nonsensically in the general case, to be the exclusion principle.)

Assuming this pattern holds across all scales (and do we have any reason to believe the range of scales around the one we happen to occupy is special or unique, apart from the fact that they're the range of scales we happen to be capable of observing?), we shouldn't expect the universe to end at all, although our local universe might conceivably run out of exergy.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-07-02T15:24:52.559Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your list of interactions notably omits electromagnetism, which as well as being vastly important in the physical phenomena we observe all the time happens to be neither simply attractive nor simply repulsive.

It is also incorrect to describe the weak interaction as a repulsion; as with electromagnetism its effects can be either attractive or repulsive.

Replies from: OrphanWilde, OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-07-02T18:52:10.683Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've played with formulas; I've come up with something like:

q2 m1 m2 sin(sqrrt(r C1))/(r * C2)^2

Where q2 is the charge of the nonlocal matter. (This formula calculates the force exerted on m1; the force exerted on m2 may be different.)

I suspect the actual function inside the sin may be more subtle than that. The salient point would be that the wavelength is a function of its distance, and the wavelength increases (exponentially, I think) with distance, which produces a scope-insensitive force.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-07-02T20:15:18.162Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm sorry -- what is this meant to be describing, exactly? Some already-known physical phenomenon, whose rules you think may be different from those it's currently thought to obey, or a conjectural new force?

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-07-02T20:40:02.551Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The former. Or rather a set of phenomena which I believe to be more closely related than currently thought.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-07-02T21:19:50.806Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

OK. Which physical phenomena do you think might be described in that way? I'm pretty sure the stuff in the Standard Model has been measured accurately enough to rule out anything much like what you describe.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-07-02T15:44:42.643Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I removed the parts relating to that for brevity. Short explanation: All of the forces reverse polarities along with the matter in question.

That adds a -lot- of questions, however, such as what effectively would be anti-gravity coming from electrons would mean, which is why I omitted it in the first place. It does suggest antimatter and matter shouldn't be strictly attracted (one should attract, one should repel, resulting in a "chase", which would end rather quickly when surrounded by other matter).

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-07-02T18:39:48.965Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

All of the forces reverse polarities along with the matter in question.

But gravity doesn't. I mean, really, it just doesn't. (According to best present-day physical theories, anyway. I don't know whether anyone has collected enough antimatter for it to be practical to do an explicit experimental verification that its gravity isn't sign-reversed.)

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-07-02T19:07:49.475Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The CPT theorem, as I understand it, may or may not suggest exactly that. I've encountered contradictory descriptions on that point. (ETA: After some brief research, apparently the contradictions are in my interpretation of what was being said; antimatter may or may not -emit- antigravity per the CPT theorem, but is almost certainly still -attracted- by normal gravity, also per the CPT theorem. There's ongoing research on the latter point.)

It seems to be an open point of debate, though.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-07-02T20:13:02.445Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm, oh, let's say 99% certain you're wrong about the CPT theorem suggesting any kind of sign-reversal in gravity.

If antimatter is attracted by ordinary matter, then CPT symmetry tells you (since CPT reversal swaps ordinary matter and antimatter and leaves "attracted" as it is) that ordinary matter is likewise attracted by antimatter. And, of course, if ordinary matter is attracted by ordinary matter then CPT symmetry tells you that antimatter is attracted by ordinary matter.

I suppose CPT symmetry is kinda compatible with there being (let's say) gravitons and antigravitons that somehow do different things, except that (1) in every sketch of quantum gravity I know of gravitons are their own antiparticles, and (2) in general relativity gravity is a consequence of the curvature of spacetime and I can't imagine how a separate antigravity could fit into that picture.

(I am not an actual proper physicist and it's not impossible that I'm confused; hence 99% rather than 99.999%.)

Replies from: OrphanWilde
comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-07-02T20:39:21.733Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The full CPT swap also involves reversing the flow of time. So one could attract, and one could repel, and this relationship is CPT-symmetric. (Antimatter chases matte, CPT swap, antimatter (previously matter) chases matter - in the other direction.)

And in terms of curvature, it just means the curve can have positive/negative amplitude. Antimatter would be matter with an inverse curvature. (Predicted by CPT symmetry, as I understand it.)

Note that what we're talking about now is more-or-less mainstream physics, albeit filtered through my probably-a-decade-and-a-half-outdated understanding of it.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2015-07-02T21:18:45.409Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reversing time doesn't swap attraction and repulsion. (One way of seeing that: attraction/repulsion is a matter of the sign of a second derivative, and d^2/dt^2 f(-t) = (d^2f/dt^2)(-t). No sign change.)

The thing I was saying I couldn't see how to make sense of in the GR picture was having "gravity" and "antigravity" be separate phenomena (which I thought you might be proposing), not "antigravity" as such. I don't think there's any fundamental conflict between GR and having things of negative mass.

Replies from: Vaniver
comment by Vaniver · 2015-07-02T23:59:06.886Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wikipedia on the subject. We don't seem to have experimental evidence one way or the other, and reasons to expect either effect (with the consensus favoring normal attraction). In particular, the section on CPT suggests that CPT suggests that matter and antimatter are attracted to each other.