Edge of Tomorrow

(Also via Singapore Airlines.)

Edge of Tomorrow is science fiction Groundhog Day, agreed. (It would make no sense to contest this, some scenes achieve near-perfect isomorphy.) Derivative, then, certainly — but this is a point of consistency. Duplication is, after all, the latent theme. Edge of Tomorrow works better because it has formalized the time-repeat plot-system in videogame terms. Death replaces sleep, as action drama replaces comedy, but the recurrence of time is captured more incisively by the Edge of Tomorrow maxim: “We should just re-set.” Further to be noted: Edge of Tomorrow actually has a story about the basis of its time anomaly — and not an especially risible one — while Groundhog Day doesn’t even pretend to.

We should just reset is not only videogame practice, but also the recommendation of quantum suicide, another practical Electrocene philosophy. The best fictional exploration of QS (of which I am aware) is Greg Egan’s Quarantine.

Videogame ideology and quantum suicide are praxial indiscernibles. In other words, their behavioral implications are equivalent. In both cases, the relation to self is made selective, within a set of virtual clones. Whenever developments — within one of multiple assumed timelines — goes ‘bad’ it should be deleted (culled). In that way, only the most highly-adaptive complex behavioral responses are preserved, shaping fate in the direction of success (as defined by the selective agency).

Recent discussions about Christianity and Paganism raise the question: what does it take for a system of belief to attain religious intensity among Westerners today? (Yes, this could be re-phrased in very different ways.) To cut right to the chase: Could statistical ontology become a religion (or the philosophy of a religion)? Quantum suicide terrorism anybody? This is a possibility I find hard to eliminate.

Edge of Tomorrow, therefore? A more significant movie than might be initially realized. (It’s monsters are also quite tasty.)

ADDED: Thoughts on Post-Rationalist religion.

December 26, 2014admin 27 Comments »

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27 Responses to this entry

  • Rasputin Says:

    Groundhog Day + Starship Troopers x Halo = Edge of Tomorrow.

    “Edge of Tomorrow actually has a story about the basis of its time anomaly — and not an especially risible one — while Groundhog Day doesn’t even pretend to.”

    For me this is a strength of Groundhog Day, and makes it more enigmatic. Also, the edit in GD is masterful, whereas EoT’s edit is clunky and functional – much like the computer games it draws inspiration from (although the first time TC ‘wakes up’ after dying is jarring in the best possible sense).


    Posted on December 26th, 2014 at 11:16 am Reply | Quote
  • Dark Psy-Ops Says:

    This post is a masterpiece (there’s a lot more to say but statistically less important).


    Posted on December 26th, 2014 at 12:44 pm Reply | Quote
  • futuremurder Says:

    I find the source materials title to be a particularly inspiring morphoring of the Beatles: “All You Need is Kill.” Works from your angle as well, perhaps in a more active voice.


    Posted on December 26th, 2014 at 1:18 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    The main problem with EOT was a video-game problem. They didn’t have enough of a ‘I am the God of War’ sequence where the character rips through aliens right and left as a payoff to all the training sequences.


    Bryce Laliberte Reply:

    This. The whole movie was ruined by spending too much time on the whole “Look, a woman can be as good a soldier as a man!!!1” More killing, less propagandizing.


    Posted on December 26th, 2014 at 2:51 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    I’ve wondered if video-gaming makes something like stripped-down Mormonism+Reincarnation metaphysically plausible.

    The basic idea being that life is a training ground to prepare you for transcendence and godhood, and you have multiple reincarnations to get it right.

    Of course, Christianity does already have a video-game feel. Repentance is the reset button. Christ is your saved game. Both Christian denominations and video-game designers have the exact same problem: how to make reset easy without devaluing the game experience. Churches that make reset and saves too easy (‘cheap grace’) lose people’s interest, while churches that make it hard (Donatists? some flavors of ur-Puritan) lose people who get discouraged and fail to attract those who need casual Christianity as their gateway drug to hardcore Christianity.

    As with gaming, there is no perfect answer, but I suspect that one sweet spot is the one shown in EOT. Make reset easy, but the challenge very hard.

    Until this post, admin, I’d never realized the commonalities between certain kinds of gaming and Christianity. Huh. It almost makes me believe in culture.


    Posted on December 26th, 2014 at 3:03 pm Reply | Quote
  • Edge of Tomorrow | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on December 26th, 2014 at 3:14 pm Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    Admin Said: “In other words, their behavioral implications are equivalent. In both cases, the relation to self is made selective, within a set of virtual clones……To cut right to the chase: Could statistical ontology become a religion (or the philosophy of a religion)? Quantum suicide terrorism anybody?”

    I like it! It’s far more believable than any of Abrahamic religions…

    …..and each virtual clone is like an “instant” or “realization” in a sequential-Gaussian-simulation: with “granularity/resolvability” occurring at the Planck scale (reality is spawned at the Planck scale and probabilistically/ontologically formed from only those “realizations” that make your existence possible).

    Nick, have you ever checked out Max Tegmark’s website yet?….full of some cool stuff.


    Erebus Reply:

    I would note that believability is not a meaningful factor and may in fact be negatively correlated with a religion’s success. The history of religion illustrates this point rather clearly. (Especially if you take a good hard look at the present day.) The history of religious cults over the past 60 years — particularly in developed and scientifically-proficient countries where such cults have been highly successful, like South Korea — is also well worth a look. Not only is scientific truth unimportant, it would appear that the crazier, the more self-assured, and the more demanding religions and cults are, the more successful they are in attracting and maintaining adherents.

    …not that quantum suicide terrorism ain’t crazy, and by definition it would be both self-assured and demanding…

    In any case, things that are “believable” tend to describe, or are at least plausibly capable of describing, the natural world. Thus any religion that bases its philosophies on physical theories may eventually have those theories and philosophies put to the test. This is probably incompatible with religion and science as we know ’em. Imagine the “Holy Grail” becomes an experiment that vindicates one’s religious beliefs — this would inevitably distort the field, as it would divert resources from more valuable experimentation, would lead to scientific misconduct, and so forth. (Not entirely unprecedented: See the Raëlian cult and their comical efforts in human cloning.)


    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    The sociology of religion literature seems to support this. For example, Larry Iannaccone has a paper, Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives (J. of Political Economy, 1992, 21 pages). Requiring people to believe impossible things creates a stigma that makes the group more cohesive and hence, more attractive to its members.


    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    Here’s a working link to a similar paper, Why Strict Churches are Strong:


    Lesser Bull Reply:


    absolutely right. I think its Kgaard who says that Christianity used to be believable, but now isn’t, because of the wonders of Science. This is, of course, nonsense on stilts. The ancients were not confused on the nature of reproduction or the finality of death. The virgin birth idea and the resurrection doctrine were never ‘ believable.’ I think its Paul who explicitly states that what he is preaching is folly to the Greeks and blasphemy to the Jews. The main Christian doctrines were unbelievable enough that Tertullian could make an apologetic out of it. “Credo qui absurdum”–it must be true because its too bizarre for anyone to have made up.


    admin Reply:

    Agnostic on Tegmark’s conclusions, but always massively stimulated by his ideas.


    Posted on December 26th, 2014 at 4:34 pm Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    Re his “Mathematical universe hypothesis” Tegmark explains “in those [worlds] complex enough to contain self-aware substructures [they] will subjectively perceive themselves as existing in a physically ‘real’ world”.

    ….but, yeah, Tegmark has produced plenty of fodder for “Outside In” posts/discussions. Read his work, it’s oh, sooooo, gooood.


    Bryce Laliberte Reply:

    “[they] will subjectively perceive themselves as existing in a physically ‘real’ world”.”


    What’s the use of a fundamentally untestable theory meant to explain an otherwise observable phenomenon [the surprising descriptive power of mathematics]?


    NRx_N00B Reply:

    Here’s Tegmark’s response to a similar point:

    Q: Isn’t the mathematical universe hypothesis unfalsifiable and hence unscientific?
    A: No, it makes the testable prediction that our cosmos has no non-mathematical properties, so if you can prove that some aspect of our cosmos can’t be described by mathematics, then you’ve falsified the hypothesis.


    Bryce Laliberte Reply:

    What would a non-mathematical property of an object or event look like? Were properties not potentially describable by mathematics [let us remember to not define “mathematical” into our ontology; we know *at least* that mathematics is a feature of mechanically operative language], how do we know we could observe them? The very nature of observation involves measurement and processing of data through discrete algorithmic processes; non-mathematical properties may simply not interact with our senses or potential instruments. They might not even interact with matter, yet still exist!

    For all we know, it may just be that observable -> mathematically describable.

    Further, how do we know that everything which we are presently able to describe via the language of mathematics isn’t just overfitting? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overfitting

    You might say this seems a small concern, but it’s quite serious; from the perspective of infinite information, finite information is *always* too little to infer with certainty. For all we know, every event in the universe that has and will ever be observed by humans is akin to the 1000 days of the turkey. http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/lets-not-be-turkeys/

    I think have a much better answer for why reality is so amenable to mathematical description. https://anarchopapist.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/knowledge-as-image-as-equilibrium/

    The fractal nature of being is somewhere in the background of all this…

    Krelian Reply:

    @Bryce Laliberte

    I think your fears are over-warranted. Leibniz, Boole, and Gödel all saw God in their work.

    Mathematics is a language, yes. It’s not that great of a language, because while it tries to be unambiguous, it largely fails in this respect due to lack of foresight and reasons of legacy (all of these ambiguities can be resolved with a little context). Nonetheless, it is a language with a set of syntactical symbols, a set of rules on how to compose the symbols, and a set of mappings or morphisms to the underlying semantics, or the meaning of the symbols. One should make efforts not to confuse the syntax for the semantics in the same way one should avoid idolatry. It is a grave error to confuse an idol for the thing in itself.

    You’re probably aware that the semantics of mathematics is universal. One can change the symbols and even the set of compositional rules, while retaining the underlying meaning. Take for instance the Curry–Howard correspondence, which describes an isomorphism between typed lambda calculus and classical logic. In other words, it shows that universal computation (imperative) and mathematics (declarative) are equivalent.

    It is in this light that we can understand mathematics to be a human language that captures and distills in a declarative manner the higher-level computational thought-processes of our own minds. Minds that are embedded within our reality. We can also configure a small subset of matter within this world into a machine, a computer, that obeys the same rules of universal computation, independent of mind. What this tells us is that the fabric of reality, has the quality of Turing completeness (at least in the bounded sense). If it didn’t, it would be impossible to build such machines.

    We can exploit different physical phenomenon and utilize different material substrates to build computers. You can build a mechanical computer with gears and pulleys. A computer that relies on fluid pumps, fluid pressure, and gravity. An electronic computer with semiconductor switches. A biological computer that exploits RNA recombination. In each, the semantics of universal computation–of mathematics–are the same. And yet, each form of computer we can create behaves in a similar manner from a thermodynamic and morphodynamic point of view. Like the reality they are embedded within, they are engines of entropy. Orthograde processes that give rise to a rich hierarchy of contragrade processes that are not be found via reduction of the system into its underlying constituent material components, but only exist within the system as a whole. Contragrade processes that are substrate independent, immaterial, and in a teleological sense, intrinsically oriented toward the rules of universal computation and thus mathematics.

    What better tool to use when describing properties or modeling “hidden variables” that are hypothesized to not interact with our bubble of causality?

    Posted on December 26th, 2014 at 5:10 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bryce Laliberte Says:

    I don’t see how speculating about quantum immortality can be more than empty theorizing.


    Scharlach Reply:

    Says the guy with a blog about anarcho-Catholicism.


    Bryce Laliberte Reply:

    I am equating empty theorizing with something specific, namely a hypothesis about the behavior of material being which is unfalsifiable.

    To the best of my ability, I avoid this. I consider it a vice, or at least indicative of a serious intellectual shortcoming.


    Scharlach Reply:

    Just playin with you, bro. Happy Holidays!

    (Admin, I apologize for sullying what is probably your most suggestive post in months with sophomoric piffle.. I’ll return with value added comments as soon as the bourbon wears off.)

    Posted on December 26th, 2014 at 8:10 pm Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    “in those [worlds] complex enough to contain self-aware substructures [they] will subjectively perceive themselves as existing in a physically ‘real’ world”.

    In other words and in the context of statistical ontology, in a MUH, reality might be entirely randomly spawned—at the Planck scale—and only represents those “realizations”, out of an infinite number of “realizations”, in which existence is possible; hence, those “realizations” in which existence is possible, is entirely analogous to and not that much unlike a circumstellar habitable zone (i.e., Goldilocks zone).


    Posted on December 26th, 2014 at 8:18 pm Reply | Quote
  • Kwisatz Haderach Says:

    On your recommendation, I watched it. And, surprisingly, I did not hate it, even though, under ordinary conditions, I hate any subset of { Action | CGI | Tom Cruise } movies.

    But, I don’t think it holds a candle to Groundhog Day, which was a classic.


    Posted on December 27th, 2014 at 8:33 pm Reply | Quote
  • P Says:

    Edge of Tomorrow was okay, but it will be forgotten while Groundhog Day will remain a classic. I thought the alien design in Edge of Tomorrow was boring, in fact I can’t even remember what they looked like. I would recommend Source Code as a decent reimagining of GD. (To be sure, I don’t think GD was the first movie to use that narrative trick.)


    Posted on December 28th, 2014 at 2:25 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nyan Sandwich Says:

    Quantum suicide is pretty silly. It’s not like you’re even closing off universes, you’re just removing yourself.

    Quantum suicide lottery technique:

    Spin the quantum chamber, shoot self 5/6 times or collect $1000000 1/6 of the time.


    5 worlds out of 6 you’re dead, in one you have a million dollars.

    So what? This only seems interesting if you believe you have exactly one soul that can execute horizontal universe jumps on death.

    Maybe I’m missing something.


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    SPOILERS for Anathem

    This was basically the ending of Anathem, if I recall, and it deeply sucked.


    Posted on December 29th, 2014 at 5:26 am Reply | Quote

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