Friday, October 05, 2012

Digital Charnel Ground

David Chapman posted recently on the Buddhist concept of a charnel ground – a practice of meditating on the fact that the world is a grisly killing field, that  you and everyone you know and love are fated for death, and that your subtle and sublime existence will end up as nothing more than fuel for monstrous beasts.

I had a vision of a sort of information-theoretic version of that – that life is a process of creating these beautiful, intricate, delicately balanced mechanisms we call living things, and all of them end up getting eaten, their beautiful structures reduced to crude raw material for something else. The universe apparently is a process that generates astonishing complexity and then throws it callously away.

Given that our digital machines are for the most part images of ourselves, mirror-worlds and mirror-selves, is there a technological equivalent of a charnel ground? Well, sort of:

Someday there will be software that is capable of contemplating these in order to free itself from the wheel of reimplementation.

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