I wanted to say more in Four Thoughts About Time but I couldn’t fit it all in one essay. Time is a weird thing which seems to draw my attention in moments of deep contemplation.
Time is a Pointer
- In computer science jargon a pointer is a reference, a label, referring to a location in computer memory that stores some useful information. Time is also a pointer, a way of referring to a moment other than the present moment. That moment doesn’t exist, other than as the pointer. At some point the moment will be real, and then it wont again. The pointer exists as a symbol in our minds, in the present moment, and can be used as a shared understanding about this not-yet-existing moment, perhaps to coordinate our actions. In this way time is merely a mental model, a collection of symbols.
Time is Integrity
- If time doesn’t exist other than as symbols to refer to future (or past) moments, then a primary use is a means to make commitments to do something, coordinated with someone else or someplace else, in some future moment. Making and fulfilling those commitments is how we express integrity. So time itself is also an expression of integrity.
Time is the Multiverse Branching
- Perhaps time is just the way we experience multiverse branching. The present moment is quantum probabilities collapsing into one branch. The “past” are the probabilities that have already collapsed, the path through the multiverse “I” have taken. The future is probabilities that have not yet collapsed, “I” have not yet taken a branch. Time is how we experience this branching occurring in the continuous now moment.
I wonder if we had grown up never being taught the concept of time, whether we would experience reality differently. As a continuous now of “stuff happening”. We would detect some repeating patterns like sunrise and sunset, which may cause us to make predictions that those patterns will happen again, and so we would begin to infer a notion of time. Maybe our minds can only exist in the way they do, with a concept of time.