Continuation of the supertheory: prediction and its methods.
If you want to build a computer that can predict the course of time, obviously you would need an infinitely powerful one. While in practice this is obviously not possible, infinity does exist in theory and thus in principle, it can be assumed possible for such a thing to exist.
Whether this assumption is true or not is irrelevant right now. Let’s assume that we want to build this hypothetical computer.
Let’s say you want to make this computer “consider” a single atom. Seems like a simple task, but might not be. Not only does this atom have a mass, it has an immense amount of information about it: It has a “spin”, it has electrons and thus electric charge, it even has gravity. It is connected with nearby atoms to form molecules. Speed, location, outside influence such as magnetic and gravitational, these are all just things from the top of an uneducated mind. The information an atom can store could very well be impossible to perceive. So how would our supercomputer store this information if it wants to calculate its future?
You could solve this the old-fashioned way: analyze and calculate, as computers today do. Each factor is stored individually, binary, and keeping all these things in “mind” (being RAM memory) it can perceive the concept of an atom. But that’s only one atom, and you need a whole computer to grasp something of which an inconceivable amount float around in space. You can’t use the same principle for each one of them, you would literally need a computer larger than the universe itself.
The most efficient way to store an atom’s information, would be to create an atom with the same properties. And voila, we managed to cram all relevant information into the smallest possible space. We can’t make any smaller representation because size happens to be relevant, as well. Maybe we could make a sort of ‘scale model’ but sadly, that happens to be impossible.
So if we make a 1:1 model of each atom in the universe, what we end up with is a duplicate universe. A computer that is a universe. But then we’ve only gone as far as grasping, conceiving, understanding a still life of reality. It isn’t frozen in time, but animates with the same speed as what it represents, and so, serves no purpose. If you want to use it to predict the future, you would have to speed it up.
This is where we end up in a bottleneck. What is time? Is it just another bit of information about the particles that follow its course? Or is it, as Einstein suggested, merely an illusion and can we skip our model to any given point in the past or future at will? Since both are figuratively set in stone, that would actually make sense.
But then what is the use of a scale model?
We need two separate timelines. If you go forward and then back in time, you can’t take any information with you because you haven’t been there yet. I really don’t think it’s possible to “look” into the future through any other means than logical prediction, which I just explained: a parallel universe that we can fast-forward so that its future “lines up” with our present. Then we technically wouldn’t be foreseeing our own future, but the future of a universe that just happens to match ours flawlessly.
If time is no more than an “aspect” of our dimension however, that’s a different story. For starters, since “speed” is no more a simple question of distance divided by time, it would become irrelevant. How would that work? You can’t divide a car by the fact that it’s green, you can’t divide a particle by its own information- at least, not that I know of.
This would be where shit gets a little too complicated for my feeble mind, so I’ll take the easy way and choose to ignore it. If anyone feels like enlightening me, please do so.
One could argument that currently, the weather is being predicted through logical means, by computers considerably smaller than the weather itself. That is indeed true, but those computers make a lot of mistakes. With all information irrelevant, a lot of factors are discarded that shouldn’t have been. What computers give us is an approximation. They don’t consider particles individually, but their effect on things as a whole. What is interesting however, is that they do manage to think forward into time, to fast-forward their model in mind to a point in the future, which they then display in the present. Is that proof that time is an illusion? That it is preset and can be accurately predicted through logical means?
It might be possible, as weather computers do, to make a less-than-perfect approximation of future events. To “compress” information to that most relevant and consider the rest a “chaos factor”. Weather computers nowadays manage an 80% accuracy, which is stunning considering all the influences on the weather. A single bird singing on a twig, or a butterfly’s wing (sound familiar?), all have effects on the clouds above. Just not a relevant effect.
Saturn’s gravitational pull can be discarded when it comes to predicting a single individual’s behavior, although it undeniably has an influence. More and more over the course of time, making it harder to accurately predict the person’s future decisions.
So in practice, it seems that the chaos factor can never be fully solved or ignored. Subjectively, there will always be at least a small part about our future that will remain a mystery. The smallest influence can have great consequences, so surprises (as in the weather) will always occur.
Someone recently mentioned human’s “free will” as a factor. Perhaps we can categorize it under this denominator and soundly claim that, at least in practice, we have our future in our own hands. The illusion of free will (not to be confused with politics) is honestly a wonderful thing that we could not live without. I for one, am endlessly grateful for it and accept each surprise, good or bad, that comes with it.
Because in the end, whether all this is true or not, subjectively it is irrelevant. Personally, the single goal in life is to be happy. I would choose the illusion over truth any day of the week, because it not only allows me the fascination of trying these educated (or uneducated, as the case may be) guesses at what reality beyond the obvious might be, but gives me the chance to be happy at the same time. To be proud of my choices or actions. To hope for better days. To cherish the past. To love the opposite sex. To live for the next happy moment. Because this? Is actually what you take to the grave. This is what composes your life, and it is all we have up to the day we die- the hour zero. Truth and knowledge are just… secondary. Extremely important, but not essential.