Microsoft has helped theoretical physicists explore the implications of our potentially self-taught universe

Credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Microsoft

Who doesn’t love theoretical physics papers on a Friday? Today, April 9, a voluminous seventy-nine page research paper titled “The self-taught universe” has been uploaded (via tnw). Its authors include physicists from Brown University and the Flatiron Institute.

Signing in to Microsoft is simple. According to the article’s acknowledgments section, Microsoft provided “computing, logistical, and other general support” for the work that made the article possible. Kevin Scott, Microsoft Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Technology and Research, received a personal thank you for his support.

So what exactly was Microsoft helping to empower theoretical physicists to write? Well, to put it simply: the theory that our universe is a massive machine that is constantly learning about itself. Just as we humans understand ourselves, our limitations and our abilities more and more as we age, the idea is that the universe is on a similar journey, evolving its own laws as it goes. as he learns more about them.

Pretty crazy, right? Here is a fascinating passage from page sixty-six of the article for your enjoyment, education, and mystification:

The example of memes in human social structures shows that a learning system that is not constrained by “brutal survival” can sometimes become dominated by “economic network effects” in self-reference. It is interesting to consider cosmological criteria other than raw survival that could give rise to self-didactic structures resistant to disconnection with an environment.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft and the idea of ​​memes as a basis for understanding the world have intersected. Far from there-memes were the centerpiece of an interactive virtual philosophy course called Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, released for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 in 2013. It’s been a while since the impact of memes on our understanding of the universe overlaps with operations from Microsoft, but now, eight years later, it happened again.

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