Stevie

Simulated Universe Theory

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I figured this might be something that would pique your interest, whether y'all have heard about it or not.

 

What the crux of the theory is that: humans have been able to simulate small portions (small enough to rely on scientific notation to be able to write) that are indistinguishable from how the universe actually, physically behaves. To extend that point, what if the universe is a simulation?

 

Some of what I'll link below delves into other points (like simulating individual human brains and therefore consciousness with a powerful enough computer) or into hard science like the holographic principal, but I don't think any of it is hard to digest.

 

Here's an article written by a philosopher at Oxford that goes over the entire theory in depth. This is actually one of the first examinations of the argument.

 

If brevity is more your bag, here's the wikipedia article, a pbs article and another article from space.com.

 

So with the raw information out of the way, what do you guys think? The concept of post-human civilizations having simulated our reality isn't a new idea, I'm sure y'all have at least heard of The Matrix, and there was that South Park episode where the entire Earth was just a complex reality TV show.

 

How does this theory stand in light of religion? Even if humanity were to find out that we were part of a simulation, how would it affect our day to day existence, if at all? I stumbled on this a few months ago and was totally taken with the idea. And consider this: a bunch of us have these mindscapes with apparently sentient beings that pop in sometimes. An imagined plane of existence inside a simulated one? Where does that stand?

 

Now, this is just a theory and like the wiki article says, Occam's Razor kind of discounts it, but I think philosophically there's some interesting ideas there.


We're all gonna make it brah.

 

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The theory has crossed my mind before, but in all honesty, I just don't care. We could toss the idea around, and mull it over in our brains, but without any way to actually prove the idea true or false it doesn't really do any good, and you'll always be left with questions. So in cases like this, I leave my opinions with a relatively open ended "it might exist", and put it aside until there's evidence.

The same principal applies to my practice of religion. Without proof, and with no current ability to obtain solid facts on spirituality it really doesn't matter what I believe. Silly as it sounds I could believe in the Sparkle Lord Pegasus as an all powerful spirit being that spreads goodness with rainbow farts, and it would be just as valid a belief as pretty much any other.

 

IF the simulated reality theory proved true, as a Christian it really wouldn't change much for me. From where I stand God's kind of already the world's programmer. Turning a more mystical reality into a technical one doesn't change anything for me. :P


"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

-Arthur Conan Doyle

 

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This theory reminds me of the open worm project. It's an open source project dedicated to simulating a microscopic roundworm. They're going to replicate every function of each cell of the worm in a computer model and the reason they're doing this organism (Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans)) is because it's biology has been well-studied in the scientific community. A roommate told me about the project, but here's a link. If they actually succeed in doing this, then the simulated universe theory is going to have a lot more credibility.


I have 10 tulpas, but I'm only actively working on Reah, my first tulpa currently.

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So in cases like this, I leave my opinions with a relatively open ended "it might exist", and put it aside until there's evidence.

 

Yeah, I understand that, I don't think the theory is anything I'd put absolute faith in, like almost similar theories (like string theory for example, which has a ton of evidence supporting it) which are more testable and solid.

 

 

IF the simulated reality theory proved true, as a Christian it really wouldn't change much for me. From where I stand God's kind of already the world's programmer. Turning a more mystical reality into a technical one doesn't change anything for me. :P

 

It's funny, a quote in the wikipedia article calls the simulated universe theory one of the most interesting new arguments for creationism. I think the idea of intelligent design isn't too far fetched, but I'm generally agnostic. Oddly enough Chris believes in an unspecified higher power.

 

This theory reminds me of the open worm project. It's an open source project dedicated to simulating a microscopic roundworm. ... If they actually succeed in doing this, then the simulated universe theory is going to have a lot more credibility.

 

This is incredibly interesting. Because once we've replicated things on a small level like a thousand cell organism, there's no reason why in the future, once computers are strong enough to mirror the processing power of a brain, why we wouldn't be able to simulate higher consciousness. And then what does that mean for everything else?

 

_

 

Edit: Found this article while continuing to research this idea. Is a Simulated Brain Conscious?

 

Here's some parts I found interesting:

 

Aaronson takes this one step further. If a mind can be written as code, there's no reason to think it couldn't be written out in a notebook. Given enough time, and more paper and ink than there is room in the universe, a person could catalogue every possible stimulus a consciousness could ever encounter, and label each with a reaction. That journal could be seen as a sentient being, frozen in time, just waiting for a reader.

 

“There’s a lot of metaphysical weirdness that comes up when you describe a physical consciousness as something that can be copied,” he says.

 

It's probable that the silent vacuum of space will be mostly empty. But every once in a while, clumps of matter will come together and dissipate in the infinite randomness. And that means, or so the prediction goes, that every once in a while those clumps will arrange themselves in such a way perfect, precise way that they jolt into thinking, maybe just for a moment, but long enough to ask, "What am I?"

 

These are the Boltzmann Brains, named after the nineteenth-century physicist Ludwig Boltzmann. These strange late-universe beings will, according to one line of thinking, eventually outnumber every human, otter, alien and android who ever lived or ever will live. In fact, assuming this hypothesis is true, you, dear reader, probably are a Boltzmann Brain yourself. After all, there will only ever be one "real' version of you. But Boltzmann Brains popping into being while hallucinating this moment in your life—along with your entire memory and experiences—they will keep going and going, appearing and disappearing forever in the void.


We're all gonna make it brah.

 

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Well, I'm not really fond of hypothetical 'what if' scenarios as they usually have little practical use. It would get interesting if we manage to find some glitches, limitations or evidence of interference in our universe that support such a hypothesis.

 

Still some points:

 

If our universe is a simulation it's either intriguingly complex or a very good deceit.

Most people don't realize that, as far as we know, the place we live in is not just some bubble of space filled with many galaxies, the universe appears to be an extremely, and I mean really extremely large and complex, possibly multidimensional space, on both very large and very small scales governed by laws of nature which are far beyond of what our senses can comprehend.

Therefore it is highly unlikely that this simulation focuses on our puny planet inhabited by even punier humans. For such a purpose it could be much simpler and would still do the trick.

 

One might argue that it indeed is and that our perception and the results of instruments are simply fooled by a powerful Cartesian demon.

Such creature could also be seen as god (Deus deceptor), or simply an asshole.

Due to the creature's nature we could never figure it out.

 

Which leads me to point 2.

I think this theory is perfectly valid as hypothetical speculation. It however becomes a bit worrysome if you use it to explain certain phenomena. Blaming inexplainable stuff on a higher being, be it God or a computer adds nothing of value and is simply an excuse aka my tulpa the devil made me do it, or cheating when asked to solve a complex equation by adding the variable 'magic' which leads right to the desired outcome.

Why?

Because no matter what higher being you assume, you are only shifting the problem. Given that the simulation's hardware runs in the 'real' universe and was created by equally 'real' beings, the problem the simulation is supposed to solve is simply with them. They must have reached their, undoubtedly much higher level then ours, by 'natural' means and without cheat codes.

 

As you see the whole problem gets even more complicated. As the universe cannot calculate itself as it has finite intrinsic computing power limited by factors like the speed of light, entropy and age, the hardware to run a simulation of our universe has to be locted in a parallel universe which has to be a lot more complex than our own in order to perform such a task.

 

Therefore, I see no way how the simulation hypothesis could help to answer any of the fundamental questions about life, the universe and everything.

 

About the Boltzmann brains, that's a little too solipsistic for me. The theory would be a bit more practical if you assumed entire Boltzmann worlds or even Boltzmann regions in the universe. Such would arise by random recombination of real matter and be vastly more stable than virtual particles which won't exist long enough to let you form even a single thought. These regions would be much more improbable than a brain but given the possible size and age scale of universes, probability is quite meaningless.

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I actually disagree with a lot of the second half of your post, Yakumo.

It seems too presumptuous to assume that, if the universe we know is simulated, that the one outside HAS to exist on the same laws we know in our universe. Many writers have developed worlds with physics that function very well in their own setting, and to the people in that setting, any other kind of physics is inconceivable. To that world it would be like how you talk about magic. It seems like you're limiting your perspective too much to inside our perceived reality.

 

I also don't think it's a leap to say the possibility of the wide universe we can observe and that we speculate on, could just be an elaborate "sky box" set in place. Look up in any next gen video game and the sky is almost indistinguishable from our own now. There are already indie games that run the physics of the universe as a sandbox. It's not a big leap to assume that in a simulated world that's all it may be.

It would be much more efficient to run a simple code for universal bodies, and then copy that code onto another "server" for any other world like for unlike ours) than to render them all and populate them all in a persistent universe.


"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

-Arthur Conan Doyle

 

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Yeah, regarding the 'intelligent design' thing, it really can't be that. As long as you're talking about the "whole universe" being simulated, it's just epiphenomenal, it doesn't change anything as long as they're just running physics as we know. But they can't intervene, otherwise they'd become part of physics, and that would be pretty problematic (not least because things would get a lot more complicated from where we're standing, but it's also a claim about our physics the same as having an in-universe God).

 

About the large universe hypothesis, we know that it's big but we don't know whether it's finite or not, and we really don't know about supposed multiverses. Actually, Yakumo, the simulation itself isn't actually complicated (I suggest), at least given a unified theory of physics. You have the object that carries the state of the universe, which is very big, and you need to calculate its evolution according to the theory, which needs a lot of computing power. But it's not complex in itself, just very big.

 

It's hard to reason about it without speculating about the motives of people simulating us, I guess. The basic argument tends to go like, "It'll be easy, they'll just do it for the hell of it," or something. Either way, it's not clear what they would trade off in computing power for accuracy; whether they'd even instantiate enough detail for substrate independence to be valid, or whether they'd do physics at the atomic scale.

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