Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by Magical Realist, Apr 18, 2011.

  1. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    Someone explain to me, if we REALLY ARE just living in an ancestor simulation, WHY wouldn't his faulty logic have applied EXACTLY THE SAME WAY to the presumed civilization who developed to the point where they could run "ancestor simulations" in the FIRST PLACE???

  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    The universe is not deterministic precisely because of quantum effects. Quantum weirdness is not deterministic because even given "sufficient" knowledge of the current state of a system, the next state cannot be computed without the addition of a computational dependence on the state of an external system (a random number generator, for instance).

    Even though quantum weirdness happens only at a quantum scale, chaos theory states that these minute occurrences must have a small, but not insignificant, effect on the large-scale events of the universe.

    There is a huge indicator--not a "proof," just a good reason to question the assertion--that the universe us not a computer simulation, an idicator which does require the (actually very cogent) observation about Planck lengths and Planck intervals:

    Humans invented computers, not the other way around. It is a human tendency (for the overly enthusiastic and insufficiently skeptical) to interpret all of existence in terms of the latest scientific discovery. (Poets call this metaphor, and understand that although metaphor is helpful, it 1) has limits, 2) does not constrain reality, and 3) does not constitute logical proof.)

    When Mary Shelley wrote about Frankenstein's monster, the latest widely-publicized discovery was "galvanism," that bodies actually conducted electrical currents--the famous twitching of a dead frog's legs. So guess what brand-new scientific discovery was taken to be the secret of life, so much so that a novelist could imagine even a collection of dead parts could be "re-animated" by the application of sufficient electrical current?

    It is suggestive to notice the resemblance between certain systems in the universe and certain systems in computers. But a reasonable human might ask whether those resemblances do not occur because the computer successfully mimics the behavior of parts of the universe, rather than because the universe IS a computer.
    I never cease to be amazed at the hubris of those who declare the part can fully explain the whole.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    Consider the ultimate size of the mainframe running the simulation.
    With a resolution (and quite unnecessary) down to the quark level (we really did not need to know that; the four elements would have done fine.)
    The computer would just about have to be larger than our observed universe.
    Which of course is rather silly.
    And where exactly is the simulation run?
    Well, I see a blue screen of death in our future then.

    How about this as an argument against a virtual reality - all of the equations we use to describe reality (in the absence of simplifying assumptions) cannot be solved in closed form and exhibit sensitivity to initial conditions when numerical solutions are attempted - this means that small changes to inputs, no matter how many decimal places are used to represent the value and no matter how small the step size, will cause large variations in the computed results in a very short number of steps. It seems to me that if we existed in a simulation, the resulting calculation errors would make historical observed data so chaotic that we would never have been able to have developed physics or chemistry.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    You clearly are assuming a digital computer and requiring very high precision. When these two assumptions are not made your argument falls apart.

    The human brain has more neural synaptic connections than there are stars in the entire universe! It is quite a powerful computer. It makes all of your perceptions. For example in dreams -there is no external input you are processing - The world of your dreams is entirely simulated / generated by this world's most powerful computer (the brain).

    IMHO, your awake perceptions, which are based on external stimulation, are also generated by the brain, specifically in the parietal lobes. -A parietal stroke can make half the world cease to exist in your perceptions (medically called "unilateral neglect" as many times half the world still exist for the stroke victim but is poorly represented and neglected - for example they only eat food on one side of the plate.)

    Hallucinations are another example of fact brain is creating what you perceive. As is "filling in" of the eye's blind spot. -Standard blind spot demonstration makes a small x not be seen. More interesting is when a regular patter (say fine parallel lines) is viewed with one eye - there is no "hole" in the pattern of lines even though part of the pattern is not stimulating any retinal nerves - The brain computer fills in what seems to be needed.

    There are dozens of other reasons to believe that everything we perceive is really produced by creative activity in the parietal brain. I.e. in terms of this thread - everything you perceive IS A SIMULATION of external reality and not always an accurate version, but usually quite good, at least when you are awake and acting on what you perceive - evolutionary selection has made that the case.

    Thus it is rather silly of you to say a simulated world is impossible as the digital computer required would be as big as the universe. We live in the world we perceive. Thus we live in a parietal simulation.

    If you want to understand more of the Brain's simulation of the perceived world look at links below:
    I am certain the POV accepted by cognitive scientists (Perception "emerges" after many stages of neural computation transforms of sensory data.") is nonsense. For how perception really is achieved see: and some posts in a thread on free will, especially this one explaining in more detail my RTS concepts:
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 20, 2011
  8. Pincho Paxton Banned Banned

    Alright, get ready for some sci-fi...

    We live in a simulator by Pincho Paxton

    And so it began in Heaven, a race of beings growing, and evolving. The beings called themselves humans, and they traced back their evolution to a form of light which they called the membrane, or halo. Heaven was a planet, it was in orbit around a sun, it was enclosed in a Universe, and the Universe was infinite. Mankind created technology in Heaven, and created order. Then it created its destiny! The date in Heaven was 4056 AD, and mankind created eternal life. The ageing process was stopped. And so man sat around for many years, he watched his films, and listened to his music, and made love a billion times.. and went quite mad. Man was imprisoned forever in life, and could not find enough to satisfy his endless need for stimulation. There was only one thing for mankind left to do.. dominate other men, steel property, pillage, and rape. This was the only entertainment left, and mankind fell into a pit which he called Hell. Prisons were not a solution to endless boredom which created crime, because a prison was a place of endless boredom, and so prison became a paradox. The Government of Decisions was in control of a person's destiny, called GOD for short. "We must forget our past to create a new future for ourselves." And so a simulator was built to replace the prisons. And as the designers sat down to create the simulator they decided on how to adapt it so that a person could settle back into Heaven upon awakening after death in that simulator. Graphic designers, and programmers got together with writers and the Government of Decisions. They built a number of trial runs, and they repeatedly failed. It took many years to get to where we are today.. Simulator Earth.

    We live in simulator Earth, a product of Heaven, created by designers, and the God. Each part of the simulator is carefully planned to introduce you back to Heaven. Each part of the simulator is designed to relieve you of boredom, and to introduce you to entertainment, and technology. The years of testing led to certain conclusions...

    1/ Mankind must have his memories removed.
    2/ Mankind must be led by parents.
    3/ Mankind must have a history that we can adapt to Heaven's history.
    4/ The introduction to technology must be carefully implemented, and spoon fed.
    5/ The introduction to entertainment must be slow, and evolve over time.
    6/ Man must be afraid of his death so as not to make Earth itself a form of reward for crime in Heaven. Earth must have a fear factor.
    7/ We must be careful to hide the truth of Heaven in the simulator of Earth, and yet somehow we must mention Heaven, and God without giving the game away.
    8/ We must introduce evolution, but somehow avoid Heaven's evolution, so it might be an idea to introduce some creative thinking... Dinosaurs!
    9/ We must have a set of written rules which we shall call The Bible.

    So designers carefully created a simulator with hidden truths. And slowly introduced us to entertainment...

    1/ TV should start off black and white.
    2/ Music should start off with the evolution of Rock n Roll in Heaven with Elvis Presley, and the Beatles, and vinyl records.
    3/ We must introduce the first computers.
    4/ Computer games must be introduced on tape.
    5/ cooking must be introduced from stove to oven to the first microwave oven.
    6/ Somehow we must situate life in a safe time, and avoid wars, and conflict. We will put those in the past history.
    7/ Then introduce CD,DVD,Blu Ray, and evolve entertainment gradually.
    8/ Movies must evolve from Hitchcock to CGI so that we can introduce mankind to our holographic technology as the next step.

    And so slowly we are introduced to the first of everything from digital watches, Microwave ovens, and computers. And introduced to entertainment so that we are less likely to commit crimes in Heaven, and our death is to scare us into not committing any new crimes by making Earth a scary place to go.

    So that is my sci-fi. The odds of us existing in my sci-fi world are 46 million to 1. But it is the case that we live that exact existence. The perfect scenario has been our lives. I find that very interesting.

    Then you might say... "you can do that with any time of Earth's history, or future." Actually, it only works from about 1960 till today. That is a very big coincidence.
  9. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    Let's look at a emulator as an example, DOSBox.

    Prior to the windows95 operating system (and even during) a number of games and simplified (BASIC) programs run under the MS-DOS operating system. One of the main problems of that period was bootloading the right drivers to fit within the allocate memory space of approximate 510k (While indeed some systems had higher footprints, if you couldn't get the right drivers to run in the space, you'd end up not being able to run programs that attempted to use the remaining space)

    This meant that those older MS-DOS games, if you wanted to run them on a current day PC, you would need drivers for, drivers that were no longer writen for new peripherals for that old OS. Also since PC's have become far greater in harddrive space, processor size, memory size etc. The old OS again wouldn't be able to run directly on the current architecture, so this required the creation of an Emulator.

    What the Emulator does is it bridges the new hardware, architecture and speeds with limitations that fit the old architecture. It allows the creation of pseudo-drivers to assimilate running how they would have run in the old MS-DOS environment and allows old MS-DOS programs to run. Obviously occasionally there are a few "glitches" where various things aren't proportional in scaling, however when such bugs occur the emulator development team (to my knowledge) attempts to refine their programming to remove the glitch.

    Basically an Emulator in this instance is a Virtual recreation of a system that would only run on a Legacy architecture. While the interface to the emulator is GUI and allows for people to tweak it how they want to fit what ever application they apply, it in essence is a DOS box within another OS's shell.

    You also have to take into consideration that the Emulator in this instance allows you to run Legacy media like it would have been run on Legacy architecture. This isn't something that would occur in a Simulator.

    Simulators come in many forms, for instance you can suggest that a chemistry lab will use a simulation to support a hypothesis, however they still have to collect and process data to create the simulation, which doesn't necessarily have everything included. (sometimes there are extreme instances where some value isn't considered or other values are inputted wrongly) Simulations in some respects are therefore a cut-down version.

    There is also the factor in philosophy of querying "What is Real?", if we conclude that some games are "Simulations" that involve the needless death of the virtual peons, understanding the world to be a "Simulation" might conclude to some that nothing is real and therefore why should they care if people die. This could obviously result in traumatic occurrences were some idiot picks up a gun and starts blapping away at his classmates.

    So in some respects it needs to be understood how to distance this virtual confusion so that such people don't become radically confused about what consequences exist in the world. They need to understand that the world is "real", even if it is an "emulation". Like I have pointed out using DOS box, an emulator can interface with the "real" world and use "real world data", so terming the world an Emulation as opposed to a Simulation is just to try and save some people from suffering psychiatric breaks that could be dangerous to others.
  10. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    To my knowledge (which is based on two cross referenced pieces of trivia), Nick Bostrom had been working over in Switzerland on creating a simulated brain (or at the very least a neuron cluster). I assume it was simulated in the sense that he created from how he would assume it should work, rather than actually having a neural cluster in a lab, taking exact outputs through various scans and observations and then recreating based upon real world data. After all if he took a working neural cluster link to a cybernetic node similar to the ones that Prof Warwick has mentioned in various seminar's involving rat brains, then you'd be dealing with a potential to build an emulated state as opposed to just simulated.

    In any case Bostrom's work hasn't just been about "hypothetical's", luckily because of his position and direction he's actually been trying to take it a little further than just pulp-science.

    (Incidentally there are many reasons as to why Switzerland, for instance in the Sprawl series by W. Gibson and other assorted authors, Switzerland is depicted as the place that any artificial intelligence equating sentience become "Citizens" of due to their neutrality which extends to intelligence.

    There is also the other factor that a virtualised intelligence can become a Laplace Daemon, which is extremely handy if you are trying to piece together questions about "Who, what, why's and when's of the universe" at certain laboratories that have been collecting vast amounts of physics data but require a non-planar perspective that can "transcend" that data and perhaps piece things together.

    CERN also had lots of multi-government funding for the number of computer systems that were prepped to simulate the big-bang from the data received from the LHC, which prior to firing required being built, tested and engineered to be capable of handling that application.)
  11. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

    That is kind of interesting . Yeah I think it has merit . You think about how life is pressed onto us from birth . Generation to generation we are told how it is . Very slow progress but like evolution the longer the time laps the more evident the changes become . The new spin is the old spin with modifications . Then once in a while large leaps are made in small sectors of endeavors. Cascading effects from the one conclusion . Filtered until inseminated completely. Then it becomes routine and is past down to the next generation
  12. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

    The argument against Laplace is flawed . Cloud like is determinable. It starts with differential , You can measure humidity. I think the big thing is seeing the whole picture. Accuracy is dependent on how far you take it . It is like close enough . It depends on the tolerance you work with . How far you brake up the clock work that is . So if you consider it smooth like a cloud or like gas and that covers everything with out clock work you could ( I would think ) pick out what ever clock work you want , But the thing is like a circle you will never reach the infinity of it being cloud like so there will always be a veritable you don't have in the arsenal . That gives rise to it all looking like randomness
  13. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    Big thanks for links, I'll read them thoroughly.
  14. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    Scientists did not detect binary codes of 0 and 1 in the real universe like in classic/quantum computers/super-computers. So real universe can't be computer simulation.
    Yes, they have some properties of quantum mechanics, but they are not made of binary codes 0 and 1, this is obvious rock-solid proof that universe is not a simulation.
    What do you think?
    However, emulation having real universe data is something to consider.
    But how would you prove/disprove that entire universe is/isn't a emulation?
  15. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    I wanted to ask you for just one more opinion:
    Scientists did not detect binary codes of 0 and 1 in the real universe like in classic/quantum computers/super-computers. So real universe can't be computer simulation.
    Yes, they have some properties of quantum mechanics (like quanta which look like pixels, but that doesn't mean they are pixels-what do you think?), but they are not made of binary codes 0 and 1, this is obvious rock-solid proof that universe is not a simulation.
    What do you think?
    However, emulation having real universe data is something to consider.
    But how would you prove/disprove that entire universe is/isn't a emulation?
    Big thanks.
  16. Pincho Paxton Banned Banned

    It is possible to break the Universe down into binary code. Electron on, electron off. The Universe does that all the time. Photon on, photon captured, information stored. That even happens in the brain. Binary just requires two things to happen that lead to a higher level of things. Each particle has an anti-particle, black has white, concave wave has convex wave, hot has cold, solid has hole.. etc. The universe has enough opposites for it to work in a binary fashion. It is hard to tell at our magnification what the smallest causes are doing.
  17. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I don't think the (physisical) universe is a simulation, never suggested that it was. I think you did not understand my post: I assert that each human lives in a simulated world of his own creation - made in parietal brain.

    This internally created world is usually closely tied to the real physical world when you are awake and acting on what you experience / perceive in the ONLY world you have direct contact with - the one being simulated in parietal brain. (Not always a good representation if you are seeing a pink elephant a run from it and fall over a cliff.) I.e. Evolutionary selection has made the parietal simulation quite a good representation of the physical world, for most, most of the time.

    When you are dreaming the parietal simulation does not need to an accurate representation of any real physical world, and often is not, because you do not act on what you are only dreaming about.

    SUMMARY: Everyone does live in a (parietal) simulation. More details and evidence for this in my prior post and the links given there. Thus the answer to thread's question is: Yes. (The human brain is by far the most powerful computer that exist.)

    PS Not that it is important for my point, but just because "digital or not" seems to be important for you, I note:
    That nerves either fire or not - No such thing as analogue action potential (neural discharge traveling down the the nerve's axon or "firing"); However, the information is analogue as it is contained in the RATE of firing. For example the very same set of nerves firing more rapidly (in part of brain called V4) may cause you to see something as red, but firing more slowly makes you see it as green. (Or conversely - I forget which color corresponds to the higher than white light firing rate.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 21, 2011
  18. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    This whole issue is rather meaningless, because (independent of whether this proposition makes any sense and weather it is the case) the thing is that even that computer simulation must run on some hardware, so it simply means our world would be embedded in a super-world, which in turn could be itself a simulation in yet another super-super-world, etc, so it would be an infinite regress of simulations embedding simulations.
    Which in my opinion makes the whole issue meaningless or not worth considering.
    Likewise the case in which it is assumed the world is some creation of some deity, as also in that case it would lead to a same infinite regress of a deity created by a super-deity, and so on.
    It would be more sensible to accept the world as it is, and for which the question as to what the ultimate nature of the world is, is a useless question and/or is for ever in the domain of unknowable things.
    We better look for extending our knowledge in domains of things which can be known, and also have practical use for living our lives. Like it would be very good to know right now how we can sustain economic development without using carbon based fossil fuels and/or not-yet-safe nuclear technology, and enhance living possibilities for future generations based on sustainable/renewable ways of production and economic development.
  19. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Fortunately it's not an either/ or situation.
    Therefore your "objection" comes down to a personal preference.
    You're not interested in this question.
    What are YOU doing about fossil fuel dependence etc?
  20. Pincho Paxton Banned Banned

    I don't think it does have infinite regression, because at our stage we have no simulators running, and only in the next stage do you actually have a simulator producing the Earth.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2011
  21. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    But, it does have infinite regression, if this entire universe is a simulation than it needs outside of the universe programer, but than the universe may be running in a manner analogous to a quantum computer. However, it cannot be a simulation by definition. A simulation requires something to simulate.
    A simulation can't simulate itself. By definition, the universe contains everything.
    In order for your question to make any sort of sense, you must tell us what the universe is simulating. That something must be
    outside the universe.
  22. Pincho Paxton Banned Banned

    That's not infinite regression, you have only explained two stages.. hardly infinite is it... 2? And one of those two stages doesn't use a simulator, so actually you have only reached stage 1.

    For it to be infinite regression Earth's scientists should be simulating another universe with life in it, then Earth itself is a simulation, and then outside of Earth would be also a simulation.. infinitely.
  23. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    That's not what I was saying. I was saying that if this universe is simulation than the hardware and the programmer that created this simulation universe is also a simulation. If you have computer which can simulate infinite number of universes, their laws of physics and everything else, it still means that hardware which would require immense hard drive memory, and programmer would again be a simulation of some bigger universe and programmer who live in that universe.

Share This Page