Life As A Computer Simulation

Mouldy13

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http://listverse.com/2013/12/02/10-reas ... imulation/

One of my work colleagues sent me this link. t'other night I was relaxing in the bath with a glass of rather nice pinot when i thought if the above contention is true, where does that leave my free will? Can I break out of my "programming"? Have I been programmed to think even this?

Oh dear :shock: :shock:
 

Cherrybomb

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:shock:

That'll keep me awake tonight :oops:
 

rynner2

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There have been many references on this MB to similar ideas. Here are a few, dug out at random:

forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... 64#1256764
...certain string theory, super-symmetrical equations, which describe the fundamental nature of the Universe and reality, contain embedded computer codes. These codes are digital data in the form of 1's and 0's..
forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... 02#1274302
Scientists believe they have come close to solving the 'Matrix' theory
The question of whether we live in a real world or a simulated one has plagued philosophers for centuries - but now scientists believe they finally have found a way to test the theory.
forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... 75#1369375
However [The Matrix] may not simply be science fiction and 'cosmic rays' could reveal that we are indeed living in a simulated universe.
According to Discover magazine, physicists can offer us the ability to test whether we live in our own virtual Matrix, by studying radiation from space.
forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... 27#1377727
A New Scientist analysis - What is reality?
[Several articles: this is one:]

INFORMATION THEORY
A universe of information
What we call reality might actually be the output of a program running on a cosmos-sized quantum computer.
This whole thread:
https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/living-in-the-matrix.6010/
Living in the Matrix

(There are probably many more, but the search keeps sending me off on many tangents!)
 
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PeniG

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The big question is not, Are we in a simulation? but If we are in a simulation, what personal ruleset does the player follow?

I know I'm not in a BACC (Build a City Challenge,) or an Integrated Neighborhood (one which attempts to be entirely self-supporting, with no "money from nowhere), and to the best of my knowledge no one has suffered from vanishing pool ladders or being trapped in an arbitrary death house, but I might be in a legacy, and in that case it would be nice to know who the main family was. Similarly, anybody in an ISBI (I'm Surrounded by Idiots) challenge could benefit a lot by knowing who the controllable sim is.

On a more personal note, I'd like to know whether I'm a townie, or a playable in rotation play, or (shudder) stuck in an "open world" travesty. (Sims3 sux! Sims2 4evah!)

It's pretty obvious when a new Expansion or Stuff Pack is installed, though.
 

Mythopoeika

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Well, I'm fairly certain I'm in a first person shooter, but the game designers didn't give me a gun - so I'm probably designated as one of the hapless victims.
Oh yes, and I'd love to know where all the power-ups are.
 

rynner2

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uair01 said:
That is excellent! I've only skimmed much of it (well, it's late), but it follows the lines I was trying to explain in discussions about Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) ...

In other words, whether dealing with biological intelligence, or machine intelligence, the concept of 'free will' just doesn't apply - there's no such thing! All intelligence is the result of highly complex but deterministic computations, whether carried out by neurons in the brain, or by transistors (or other logic-gates) in an electronic device.

(I suggest that any further discussion of free will should take place on the A.I. thread, leaving this thread free for discussing Matrix-style universes.)
 
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Pietro_Mercurios

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This theoretical physicist's problem isn't really with, 'free will', whatever she seems to mean by that term, which is not clearly defined, but with the role of the observer in quantum physics. It's the grit in the oyster of quantum mechanics and the fish-bone in the throat of determinism.

Once you've eradicated free will from the equation, you don't have to worry about the role of the observer. :lol:
 

rynner2

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We are simulations living in a virtual realm, says Elon Musk. But why do we like the idea?
Julian Baggini
The chances are, scientists argue, human life takes place inside a series of concentric, Matrix-style worlds. Maybe we should try to wake up
Friday 3 June 2016 12.15 BST

Human beings have long been fascinated by the idea that the world as it appears to us is not the ultimate reality. In recent years, however, such metaphysical speculations have taken on a more materially conceivable form. Computer-based virtual reality makes the idea that we could be living in a simulation more than just an abstract possibility; some very smart people even think that this is not only possible, but likely. Very likely.
Many of them take their lead from the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom. His tightly argued 2003 paper in the leading journal Philosophical Quarterly argued that if such a simulation were created at any point in the universe’s history, then we’re almost certainly in one now.

Silicon Valley is a fertile breeding ground for believers, and Elon Musk, the space travel and electric car entrepreneur, has come out as one of them. He says that the chances we’re not uploads in a virtual world are billions to one against. It’s easy to laugh this off. If life is a massive multiplayer online game, how come it’s the only one that never freezes?

The theory is also vulnerable to a twist on the venerable problem of evil: if people like us created this virtual world, why on earth are the diseases so nasty, the poverty so widespread and the television so awful? If you could make a perfect simulacrum of a world, why would you make one so imperfect?

But for me the main interest isn’t in whether Musk is right. My fascination is with the fascination. Some people just find the whole idea too fanciful to even think about. But many other find it terrifying, exciting or both. Why would such an apparently outlandish idea have this effect?

It’s not as though it would actually change anything about daily life if it were true. Your joys, heartaches, pleasures and pains feel the way they feel, whether they’re experienced in silicon or carbon. The Buddha’s teaching that life is suffering is no less true if rebirth is really a reboot.

Musk himself provides a neat example of the strange power of the theory to change everything and nothing. He is worried about the unintended potential bad consequences of artificial intelligence (AI), such as machines making us their slaves. So he has donated $10m to the Future of Life Institute to run “a global research program aimed at keeping AI beneficial to humanity”. What is odd about this is that his theory implies that he himself is a form of artificial intelligence, and it doesn’t seem to have done him any harm.

Even more mind-spinning is that if Musk is right then we are actually about to see AI being produced within AI. There could be no end to these worlds within worlds. When the Taoist Zhuangzi woke up after dreaming he was a butterfly, he should have written: “Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was a man dreaming of a butterfly, or a man dreaming he was a butterfly dreaming he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly ...” And so on, in ad infinitum. But no matter how long the chain goes on, we’re still left at whatever level of the dream it is where we find ourselves wondering.

Perhaps the very fact that the theory changes nothing is part of its attraction. You get all the thrill of believing something wild without the downside of having to fundamentally change the way you live. It’s a bold intellectual leap that leaves you exactly where you jumped from. This is the safest possible way to enjoy the exhilaration of upheaval, for there surely is something intoxicating about turning ordinary life on its head, even when it’s terrifying.

Soldiers often find that war is both sickening and the thing that makes them feel most alive. Many who watched the 9/11 attacks live on television will admit, if honest, that amid the terror was a kind of guilty thrill that they were witnessing something momentous. Anything cataclysmic, from an alien invasion to a natural catastrophe, also makes life seem more than just mundane, and so also somehow more meaningful.

There is one way in which the simulation hypothesis might offer more than just a change in how we see this world. It might also open up the possibility of a kind of eternal life. In an age when fewer and fewer of us believe we will ascend to heaven, limitless uploads to a virtual afterlife would be the next best thing. Who wants to accept that Game Over really can be end?

What these explanations of the theory’s appeal have in common is that they speak to a common desire for there to be more to life than the interregnum between cradle and grave. Desire for a virtual life grows from dissatisfaction with the real one we have. This desire can surely only increase, the more disconnected we become from the natural cycle of life and death, and the less able to accept it.

Technology helped create the problem, and now it offers itself as the solution. A better response would be to loosen our attachment to all things digital and neat, and spend more time trying to embrace the analogue but messy mortal, natural world.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/03/uploads-universe-simulations-virtual-world
 

eburacum

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Another, even more comprehensive idea than simulationism is the possibility that our universe exists merely as a set of numerical equations; in fact all possible (computable) universes already exist, but only in numerical (simulated) form, and we are only aware of the one we are in. Just as the equation 1+1=2 exists whether or not we have a calculator, all possible mathematical worlds can be said to exist without needing a computer to run them on.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_universe_hypothesis
 
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Mythopoeika

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As I see it, the big problem with the idea is...how many layers of virtual reality are there?
Also - ultimately there has to be a layer of reality, otherwise we are just shifting the explanation along the chain. What form does that reality take?
 

eburacum

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Tegmark suggests that it is pure mathematics. That runs into Godel's incompleteness theorem, unfortunately, but the set of possible universes should still be very large.
 

Mythopoeika

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Ha! That's exactly like the God hypothesis.
 

rynner2

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Eburacum says, "...the possibility that our universe exists merely as a set of numerical equations;"

Myth says, "...the big problem with the idea is... how many layers of virtual reality are there?
Also - ultimately there has to be a layer of reality, otherwise we are just shifting the explanation along the chain."

Wow! This takes me back to the days of Continuous Creation v. The Big Bang!

Is 'simulations in a virtual world' a profound philosophy, or just a mind game...? If it's a mind game, whose mind is it?

I think I'm starting to get a head-ache...

Perhaps the fact we use words to describe these ideas adds to the confusion, which is why I tend to lean towards the mathematical equations explanation...

And yet it has been shown that no system of axioms in maths can be complete, which always leaves some questions undecided. Here and now is not the place to go into this in detail - this is the best I can manage:

The Principia Mathematica (often abbreviated PM) is a three-volume work on the foundations of mathematics, written by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell...

PM was an attempt to describe a set of [URL='https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom']axioms and inference rules in symbolic logic from which all mathematical truths could in principle be proven. As such, this ambitious project is of great importance in the history of mathematics and philosophy,[1] being one of the foremost products of the belief that such an undertaking may be achievable. However, in 1931, Gödel's incompleteness theorem proved definitively that PM, and in fact any other attempt, could never achieve this lofty goal; that is, for any set of axioms and inference rules proposed to encapsulate mathematics, either the system must be inconsistent, or there must in fact be some truths of mathematics which could not be deduced from them.[/URL]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principia_Mathematica


So, language is too vague - but mathematics is no better!
 

Frasier Buddolph

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Sorry. I'm afraid I find the whole idea completely uncompelling, a new wrinkle on Solipsism. Sure, you can think "Wouldn't it be neat if...", but would it change anything if it were true? The best that can be said for the idea is that it's completely unprovable or undisprovable, like the existence of God. Also, I think there's a logical inconsistency in subjects in a simulation becoming aware of the simulation; I mean, their perception is limited by the parameters of the simulation, right?

Of course, my opinion doesn't matter if I don't really exist...
 

eburacum

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Also, I think there's a logical inconsistency in subjects in a simulation becoming aware of the simulation; I mean, their perception is limited by the parameters of the simulation, right?.
Absolutely. Of course you might become aware that you are in a simulation, if the parameters of the simulation allow this. But then the simulation might itself be embedded in a simulation, and so on up the scale; somewhere you'll probably reach a limit beyond which you don't know the truth.
 

special_farces

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I think there's a logical inconsistency in subjects in a simulation becoming aware of the simulation; I mean, their perception is limited by the parameters of the simulation, right?
Unless you are designing a system where you want to explore how AI 'units' relate to, explore and develop theories about the game engine you have carefully crafted. An AI that can create an organised civilisation or at least comfortably accommodate itself to such an environment when initiated is probably going to be useful when exposed to other tasks. Also, designing AI's that have the potential to work through problems in mathematics and physics to the point where they can 'prove' they are in a simulation could be the goal of the experiment.

Perhaps we are near the point where the desired outcome as laid out in the funding bid will be reached.

Suddenly 'One by one the stars were going out' comes to mind!!
 

gellatly68

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The thing is.....once you've set the parameters of your experimental universe, you then can't interfere with it OR OBSERVE IT without affecting the outcomes you're trying to measure, so any given simulation must be a closed, unobservable system! Imagine the look of, first surprise, then unfolding horror when the progenitors of UniSim 1.0 end their experiment and an infinity of infinite data sets come spewing out, like some wild rose unfurling its blooms unendingly!
 

gellatly68

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.....and another thought: If we succeed in creating a simulation of the universe, we a) won't know that it's successful until we turn it off to peer in, because of the non-interference and non-observation required, and b) we have to assume that we have created an infinite number of simulations running within our simulation. This then raises an ethical question: should we stop the experiment, considering that it is highly likely that there are likely to be an infinite number of sentient species living within an infinite set of simulations?
 

special_farces

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The thing is.....once you've set the parameters of your experimental universe, you then can't interfere with it OR OBSERVE IT without affecting the outcomes you're trying to measure, so any given simulation must be a closed, unobservable system!
In my imagining of a simulation, the sky can be changed to polka dots on a whim. The sims purpose is tracking behaviour and responses, not quantum events. New or Special Classes can be invoked to augment or overrule the physics and game engines and confound the AI's. Reality can be mixed up with time paradoxes, levitating monks and vanishing dogs, perhaps for fiendish experimentation, or for no better reason than 'well we thought we'd poke it with a stick to see what would happen'.

Then again...

an infinity of infinite data sets come spewing out, like some wild rose unfurling its blooms unendingly!
... if it the sim were a Copenhagen Situation, it's vast sprawling iterating dataset would probably bankrupt the faculty, lead at the very least to a public enquiry and a storm of abuse on whatever passes for social media in the progenitor universe.

Unless.

There is only one observer. One AI. A single point of experience. The beauty of that is the meagre resources needed to run it and the modest amount of data created. You don't need a universe. Just the view port, with everything else off in the library. New York? Stored away as a set of splines and textures until the SPE gets off the flight and the pipeline feeds the render routine. Putting the SPE on the beach at Applecross on a clear winters day, and want some extra sharp rendering of the sea and mountains? Just spin up some reserve computing power.

You don't even need build a true quantum platform, classical physics will work just fine. In fact, introducing quantum theory to the SPE is part of the test. 'It' is fed reading material, television and film references about this really weird idea that matter is made of tiny smears of energy that act in paradoxical ways not even the greatest minds can understand or explain. And add in all the other stuff, about monks and dogs. The SPE probably ends up thinking the universe is a farce.

It also means the Universe is probably built in Flash Professional 28*.





(* I know, I know - its called Animate CC - but not in the source universe. There, Adobe did not mess up version 9)
 

GNC

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The Wachowskis say The Matrix was actually about their experiences as transgender people, so does the above mean 47% of people are actually a different gender than the one they were physically born as?
 

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The Wachowskis say The Matrix was actually about their experiences as transgender people, so does the above mean 47% of people are actually a different gender than the one they were physically born as?
The way I read those figures is that 47% think that the chance of a virtual world is less than 0.1%.
28% think that there's a 10% chance.
 

MorningAngel

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Does the road being clear until you want to cross when walking or come out of a junction when driving add weight to this? It always seems like the Truman Show.
 
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