is the universe a holodeck?

11 to boldly go

The crew of the USS Enterprise (The Next Generation) will be able to choose all manner of holodeck programmes to escape duties or idle away their down-time in space.*

Author and artist Frank Schaeffer offers: ‘Our brains have evolved to seek patterns.  We test these patterns and discover useful ways of perceiving what’s around us.  Our perception is not reality.  We create a narrative.  We want to see where we fit.’**

The universe allows us to do this.  Maybe life as we’re discovering it is the most amazing thing to come out of the universe’s billions of years of evolving – I appreciate, this a Human projection.  It’s as though it’s beholden on us to be imaginative and creative in a plethora of ways: maybe the meaning we give to planets and raindrops is what it’s all about.

In this way, the universe is a great big holodeck we programme with our meanings, both individual and collective, handling them all simultaneously.

Humans are strange creatures among the many species, having to search for meaning and happiness in whatever part of the world we find ourselves in … and, one day, among the stars.

Somehow we know there are better “programmes” than others.  We know the programme Nobel Peace Prize-winner Mulala Yousafzai has chosen for her life (working for the rights of children to education) is a far better one than the one the Taliban gunman who tried to take her life two years ago.  We also know many people will join her in this.

This suggests an interconnectedness between all the programmes: we need each other to run our individual programmes and others we will share in creating more amazing and complex ones.  I know the universe can’t smile, but if it could, it would.

I am guessing the best programmes will be those which allow us to continually and increasingly explore – people, our planet, who we are – rather than building systems with towering walls protecting us from what lies beyond.  Nassim Taleb captures this well, believing, ‘one needs flâneur-like abilities to keep capturing the opportunities that arise, not stay locked up in a bureaucratic mould.’

It all happens in this vast holodeck; go programme and prosper.

(*Future tense used because it is set in the 24th Century.)
(** Check out more from Bruce Hood in The Self Illusion on how this relates to the Self.)



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