Making maps of reality

A map explains the territory it shows, but the map is not the territory. The same is true will all explanations and ideas.

Science is drawing maps of the world. We’re looking for facts that don’t match, like that hill over there, so we can improve the maps. So we can make better explanations.

The better the maps are, the less they will change as we discover new facts.

But the maps will never be perfect, because reality contains a surprising level of detail. Reality is fractal.

A map that is a perfect match to the territory must therefore be the territory. If all the details are the same, they have to share the same attributes, and take up the same amount of space, and energy.

If we simplify our explanation in any way, we’re simulating reality. We’re making a map again. But if we want to do easy things, a simple map will do. If we want to do harder things, we need better maps.

So we can’t make a perfect map, but we can improve the ones we have forever. Because there’s always more detail to discover. We can make many different maps to understand reality in different ways. One top down, one from the side, and so on for ever.

Every time we make a map more accurate we make it easier for humans to live, thrive, and make better maps.

That sounds like a great endeavour to me, let’s make some maps!