juan_enriquez's picture
Managing Director, Excel Venture Management; Co-author (with Steve Gullans), Evolving Ourselves


Life. To be elegant, beautiful, or deep something must be alive, especially the inanimate or non organic.

A marble statue may contain more humanity and emotion than any daily tableau because it freezes, focuses, captures, and makes life immortal, as does a great poem, story, or moral. Elegance, beauty, and depth are unintelligible without movement, without life.

Static universes, dead stars, black on black-no variant paintings kill the soul. Planets with no orbits, suns lacking spots and flairs, galaxies without movement and time, may exist but they are completely alien to a view of the universe based on movement. Our most beautiful equations bend time, describe water flow, move heat and cold, break light into color...

These equations are dreamed up by those who know food, literature, wine, and art with no spice, no flavor, no layers, no variants, kill the heart. Everything we see, do, think, feel, is seen from, and framed in, the context of something being alive. We reflect this fundamental bias in everything we see, do, say, observe, admire, desire, and describe.

Even in chasing absolute zero, we have yet to understand, or see, absolute lifelessness, a world with no movement. It is something completely alien to our experience, our existence. It is something that has never happened in our known history of the universe.

Our fascination and gradual understanding of the quantum world drives us in exactly the opposite direction, towards worlds where different simultaneous forms of movement, life, existence, prevail. We increasingly conceive of, and project, states where beings and objects are multidimensional, multi layered, simultaneously complex. We are bored with one life, one state, one time, across a few dimensions.

Our primordial need to survive, grow, reproduce, extend reflects on every aspect of our daily life and our biased understanding of everything. We are transfixed by Live Action on TV, feel far more in a theater than on a screen, implicitly trust the now far more than the edited was. We respect, and give far more rights and privileges to the living, and the more complex and layered the living is the more interesting and protected it becomes.

As we invent and expand worlds of 1s and 0s the primary criteria for success and viral replication is whether we can breathe life into their virtual realities. Be this a direct reflection of daily life, a la Facebook, multi player massive worlds, or a replicating, self reinforcing network reproductive logic. The digital world accelerates expansion, survival, virtual life through mutant hyper growth. It becomes a fast forward caricature of what we have strived to build throughout centuries of breeding and agricultural practices, of building layer upon layer of civilizations in great cities.

Our version of the universe is a story of complexity and concentration of power, our history is one of anthropomorphizing everything we see around us into the context, logic, and structure of life. But this need to perceive and deal with difference, to describe change, movement, and history is so universal, so fundamental, so ingrained in our very being and atoms that perhaps it may be precisely what now prevents us from understanding, conceptualizing, and seeing the majority of the universe, that three quarters of everything that is made up of dark energy and perhaps powered by dark matter.