"Reality simulators are future generators."
The subject straps himself into the machine, which is programmed
to present the environment of a baseball park. The subject finds
himself at bat. The machine presents visual and auditory
sensations to the subject which suggest that the pitcher is
winding up. The pitch comes. The subject, interacting with the
synthetic environment, eyes the pitch, and swings the bat. (The
subject is of course strapped into a chair.) The computer
analyses the swing in terms of the neural data provided by the
subject, and determines that the subject has connected with the
ball. The computer displays the ball as hit, subject to rules of
impact, and motion, with which it was provided. The subject sees
the ball fly up and out of the ballpark, concludes that he has
hit a home run, and begins his ceremonial run around the bases.
The sequence of events described aboveeffects following upon
causes in the context of known physical lawswas the creation
of the machine. Given a slate of initial coordinates, and input
from a participant, the machine created new coordinates, and
re-displayed them to the subject as a real world in motion,
proceeding forward in time. In machine-driven cyberspace, the
machine is charged with the task of creating the future.
This is time travel into the future, at the default rate.
Non-default settings for the temporal constants with which a
reality simulator is programmed will produce, in machine-driven
cyberspace, a march into the future at rates inferior to, or
greater than, that which characterizes normal veridical
experience. The former will serve the self-indulgent, and
scientists wishing to take a "closer look" at phenomena which
ordinarily pass in a twinkling of an eye. The latter will
produce an accelerated unveiling of future events, which is the
"time travel into the future" of the science fiction writers.
The prediction of future events is the essence of interactive,
machine-driven reality simulation.
Science already has considerable expertise when it comes to
relating the state of a system to an earlier or later state of
that same system. The latter is the activity of forecasting, in
which we attempt to predict the future on the basis of the
present. The weatherman, the earthquake man, the man who
predicts what a "nuclear winter" might be like, or how high the
oceans will rise if fluorocarbons are not eliminated, and the
ice caps melt, are all forecasting future states of a system (in
this case, ecosystems) on the basis of current knowledge of that
The former is not prediction, but retrodiction, by which we seek
to infer what things must have been like in the past, in order
that the present state-of-affairs be explained in the context of
known physical laws. The "Big Bang" theory of creation of the
universe is an example of a retrodiction. So is the assumption
that a spouse must have left the car windows open, despite
threatening skies, in explanation of an automobile found full of
rainwater the next morning.
Computer simulations of future (and past) states of a system,
based upon current system data, are already commonplace. The
machine shows us how the cancer will grow, and how the petals of
the flower will open. It anticipates next year's GNP on the
basis of current economic indices, and shows how clapboard
siding might be expected to decay. It shows us where the hockey
puck will be one second later, on the assumption that someone
knows where it is now.
These same techniques, applied to the data used by reality
simulators in their presentation of synthetic perceptual
environments, will allow the anticipation, and "premature"
display, of future states of those environments. This is
Being-there, later, in cyberspace.
© 1993, Gilbert Scott Markle.