Altera: Appearance and Reality
Is there any knowledge in Altera that is so certain that no reasonable Nook could deny it?
Lets begin with Nook’s sense of sight. They see the weights of the discrete objects surrounding them. Can they be certain of their sensory knowledge?
In our world, we describe the appearance of objects using vague language. We say an object is red, but what we mean is the object is red under usual lighting conditions. Apart from describing our personal sensory experiences, it is difficult to state much about the “color” of the physical object. Precisely describing the object’s color and appearance would require knowledge of our current scientific theory.
We sense particles in our universe slowly and in aggregate. This may be because our minds and sense organs are constructed out of particles too. Perhaps, to achieve the complex structure required for conscious sensing, our minds and senses must operate above the dimension of particles.
The Nook’s sense of sight is simpler than ours, and it is embedded in the Alteran physical laws. The complexity of Nook minds can increase without requiring them to increase in space or using more resources. For this reason, it is possible that highly evolved, concious Nooks would still be aware of their bare sensory input.
It is also possible that they would not be aware of their immediate sensory input. Perhaps, like is likely in our universe, it is not evolutionarily beneficial to be aware of small details like this, and their minds abstract and condense their sensory input for their minds to consider and react to.
Since Nook’s physical size is fixed, I suspect that even highly evolved Nooks will continue to be aware of the discrete locations in Altera, but I can imagine their minds blending many individual sets of 9x9 weights sensed at each timestep, into larger views. This would be similar to how our eyes, visual cortex, abstract objects. Optical illusions occur when these abstractions occur at a low level in our sensory chain, causing us to perceive things that are not there.
If this sort of abstraction were to evolve inside a Nook’s mind, the
- senses abstracting low-level inputs; we are unaware of the individual neural inputs; we are also unaware of individual quantum events. Not necessarily because we couldn’t be (our eyes may be able to detect single photons), but because our relatively vast size makes individual particles less interesting or relevant to our survival. We require a lot of food to keep the apparatus going, if we thought and operated on the level of individual particles, we would never aggregate enough food to sustain ourselves at the timescales we need to.
- the fundamentally discrete nature of our universe, and Altera, both anchor the size of things (although differently bc Nooks prob stay at the bottom while we are just far enough up to support the correct level of complexity); imagine a universe where the laws of physics did not provide any size-anchoring (i.e. they are scale invariant); you could got infinitely smaller or infinitely larger. You could shrink humans to 1/10th of their current size.