Time

 

Alexander Liss

 

07/15/04

 

 

 

     The concept of the Time is deeply embedded in our thinking; it is associated with ideas of action, process, change, etc. The Time is perceived as a universal phenomenon, and our idea of the Time is perceived as at least a reflection of this phenomenon.

     The relativity theory brought a first challenge to this perception. In this theory, events are called simultaneous, if information about them is delivered with the speed of light to an observer in the same moment. This theory does not have a definition of simultaneous events independent from an observer.

     We insist that one has to go further in analysis of the concept of the Time. This concept reflects not a universal phenomenon, but a method of organization of information deployed by a human mind and most likely minds of many other living creatures on the Earth. However, it is not the only way to organize information, there are other ways, which cannot be presented as something similar.

     This observation allows understanding of limits of important models of reality and deployment of more complex models to describe the world on a micro-scale or on a macro-scale.

     In addition, our culture with clocks and schedules and our system of education creates an illusion that the concept of the Time is limited to the scientific concept of time, where it is presented as something continuous and well measured.

We insist, that it is important for decision-making to operate with a broad concept of the Time, which is understood not ad universal, but as a tool of thinking.

Even to start working with the concept of Time, one has to be able to passively observe events, i.e. one should be able to:

In analysis on a micro-scale, one can't define a boundary between self and an object of observation and one can't observe without disturbing an object of observation.

Hence, on a micro-scale, one can't work with the concept of the Time. However, one could use ready models, which deploy our intuition of the Time, and adjust them to description of the world on the micro-scale. Usually, such adjustment includes additions of descriptions based on probabilities. This is what we see in quantum mechanics.

In analysis on a macro-scale, one can't properly discern events in a stream of sensory information, because so little information is available and factors falling outside observation are too numerous and potentially too important to be ignored. In addition, there is no and cannot be a sufficient body of experience supporting such observation.

Hence, on a macro-scale, one can't work with the concept of the Time the way it is done on a normal scale. Again, one could use ready models using our intuition of the Time, and adjust them to description of the world on the macro-scale. So far, such descriptions did not emerge. These models could have an adjustment based on probabilities, but that adjustment should be different from what is done for micro-world, because the deviation is different.

In decision-making, the illusion of universality of the Time could be costly. In our mind, time markers are assigned to sensory information and to our thoughts. It brings an illusion that our past thoughts as immutable, while they are easily changeable. One, who understands that they are changeable, could change entire groups of thoughts governing one's behavior, and, hence, change behavior. This is applicable to an individual, a group or to a society.

An illusion of universality of the Time prevents understanding of books and oral stories important to understanding of mechanism of thinking, feeling, social interaction, and so on. Many of these writings and stories are a part of general culture and they are not understood.

Our view of the concept of Time does not negate achievements of Immanuel Kant, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. Different views complement each other, that one could choose a proper view for a task.

We actually did not define Time; we asserted that Time is not what some think.

Now we will try to define Time. Inevitably, it should be a imperfect attempt, because a meaningful concept cannot be reduced to a set of other concepts; we only could define a boundary between concepts. We make such attempt to illustrate our assertion, that the Time is not a universal concept, but a reflection of workings of the Mind.

The concept of Time is a difficult one. It is associated with the concept of Infinity and often it is used as a substitute for the concept of Infinity, because it has an intuitive support. As such, its use could lead to logical contradictions. Mathematicians devised a set of rules to work with Infinity or with Time without running into a contradiction. This narrow understanding is used in scientific interpretation of the Time and it is widely accepted.

In following presentation, we want to stay in bounds of logic, and hence we adopt this narrow interpretation.

This narrow interpretation is based on steps. It could be steps in the future or steps in the past, or it could be division of an interval in half, and division of a half-interval in half and so on.

A set of infinite number of steps is a subject of discussion on its own.

The Time could be presented as a concept derived from a concept of Knowledge. A body of one's Knowledge grows step-by-step and the edge of it corresponds well with the idea of current moment. Various logical interpolations inside the body provide descriptions of events in the past. An extrapolation using a hypothesis outside the body of knowledge is a plan, a command - something related to the future.

The Knowledge is actually much simpler idea, than the Time. It is finite by its nature and it has embedded concept of step-by-step accumulation.

It has some mechanisms in it, which explain why it grows. It has as a part of it a model of itself and its surroundings. The model consists of various patterns. Based on the Knowledge, a person applies control actions to flip oneself and surroundings into different states. Each such action adds to the Knowledge patterns of these control actions and their results. Thus, complexity of the Knowledge grows.

     One could imagine creation of an artificial system with internal model of oneself and surroundings and actions based on this model. Such system could develop as a part of its model a linear organization of elements of its model with a moving marker - something similar to concepts of the Time and current moment. If the system is distributed, that each unit of it has an independent linear organization of elements of the model, then these units could coordinate these organizations through exchange of information.