Scientists hope to prove we are living inside a simulation

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by Magical Realist, Apr 19, 2013.

  1. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I don't think that I agree that all physical phenomena reduce down to math and algorithms and laws. Scientific descriptions of physical phenomena often seem to take mathematical form, especially in physics. But our descriptions of physical reality shouldn't be confused with the physical realities that they describe.

    As to why and how mathematics applies to reality, and the extent to which reality itself embodies mathematics, those are among the most profound mysteries still outstanding. We don't even have a good explanation of what mathematics is at this point.

    I don't know of any persuasive reason to move beyond recognition of those mysteries to the belief that reality is merely a "simulation".

    But yeah, as you note in the drawing of the 'cave' analogy from the 'Republic', Plato did make that kind of argument. His idea derived from the common ancient belief that true realities must be unchanging and eternal. The Pythagoreans had already turned Greek intellectuals on to the idea that the structure of reality is fundamentally mathematical. So Plato decided that true reality must be a transcendental world of unchanging mathematical forms, relationships and theorems, and the world of constant flux and change that we observe is a lesser image of that higher world of forms projected onto the chaos of matter.

    Again, we need to be careful about equating our conceptual descriptions of reality with the reality described.

    Suppose that the Pythagoreans were right that reality is essentially mathematical. How does that imply that it's a simulation of something else?

    Aristotle basically made that point against Plato. Aristotle recognized the reality of forms, which we might equate Pythagorean-style to the mathematical structure of reality. But unlike Plato, Aristotle believed that the mathematical forms of things were part of the things themselves, part of what this reality ontologically consists of. Aristotle didn't take the additional Platonic step to the belief that this had to be a projection of some imagined higher unchanging world of eternal forms.

    That sounds like the 'demiurge' (craftsman) from Plato's Timaeus, the imagined creator that used the unchanging mathematical forms so as to shape a functional world. But that idea isn't entirely consistent. If the higher reality is an eternal world of unchanging mathematical form, then where does the demiurge come from and where does it reside? Presumably it changes over time so as to act. That kind of thinking led the later Platonists to the idea of a whole hierarchy of higher and lower planes of being.

    In my opinion, the craftsman is another questionable assumption, the idea that there must be some supernatural Intelligence that's responsible for the existence of the reality we observe around us. If we are going to make that creationist/intelligent-design assumption, then why not call the universe-creating Intelligence "God"? Traditionally, that's what it's been called, in the West at least. That's why I said that this 'simulation' idea looks like another argument for the existence of God.

    The more explicitly religious middle Platonists around the time of Christ (along with Jewish Platonist thinkers like Philo of Alexandria) tended to imagine Plato's world of eternal unchanging forms as eternal ideas in the mind of a monotheistic God. These ideas could be expressed in God's 'logos', by the meaning inherent in his 'word', as he spoke reality into existence as the Jews taught. The spoken divine logos kind of became the connection between the remote God in heaven and this world, the thing that flowed out from God on high to shape and form this material universe. (Just as edicts flowed out from the mouth of an ancient god-king, creating legal realities that shaped life in his kingdom.) And as early as the beginning of the gospel of John, we see that idea being identified with the person of Jesus.
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  3. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    A simulation would most likely be based on computation--indeed, a highly advanced level of computation expressive of an abstract realm of pure engineering thought. At the bottom of its structure we'd find a complex program made up of rules and principles that are just given and don't appear to come from anywhere. I was thinking mathematics and geometry are something like this. They don't appear to depend in any way on anything found INSIDE the simulation. The math is iow self-contained. In fact, knowing the fundamental formulae and rules and logic of physics we are capable of conceiving many different alternative realities from our own. Why this predominance of a purely conceptual schematic, which entails an advanced mind to be able to construct it, if reality was just matter randomly interacting with itself? Where else could mathematical order come from but from an ordering "outside" intelligence?
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013
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  5. river

    Is questioning a logical part of engineering ?
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  7. rr6 Banned Banned

    Why do you think a "mathematical order come from" has to come from somewhere, or outside of somewhere.

    Thisappears to me to ring of inferring or invoking of a God beyond/outside our finite Universe.

    Energy cannot be created nor destroyed ergo our finite physical/energy Universe exists eternally--- in some shape/form --- and humans discover the finite set of metaphyiscally mathematical order that eternally complements our our finite physical/energy Universe.

    The mathematical order does not come from somewhere, it is a and eternally existent and humans discover various aspects of the mathematical order that include cosmic/generalized laws/principles. Outside intelligence is uneccessary to invoke. imho

  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    It could be part of the engineered simulation, much as shooting aliens is a programmed part of many video games.
  9. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    It "could" be the atomic weight of cesium when encased in lime Jello in a theoretical mold made of non-existonium measured at the center of a Black Hole, but that was not the question!
  10. river

    Seriously ?
  11. river

    Magical Realist

    It seems to me that your referring to Pythagoras ultimate forms, mathematically

    Which is metaphysical

    Which leads to a god implication

    However without the existing forms , geometrically , in this world or Universe , he could never have imagined the perfect shape of any shape

    It should be Plato not Pythagoras , my mistake
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  12. Mathers2013 Banned Banned

    Yeah like the Matrix. If we can develop artificial intelligence...perhaps it's already happened.
  13. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    I have always had a problem with the "Universe seems to be tailor made for life" argument. Its like saying the sperm that created you was tailor made to beat all the other sperm that came with it. First of all their nothing wrong with dumb luck creating rare events: there might be an infinite number of universes of which only a teeny tiny fraction have life, that would still mean there are an infinite number of universes with life! Second is the observers bias that they must exist to question the chances of their existence: guaranteeably you must exist in a universe conducive to life for you to question how odd it is you live here, the chances are in fact 100% not some tiny epsilon! Third: our universe is not actually that conducive to life, as far as we know there is only one tiny blue speck in this entire universe that has intelligent life or any life at all, for all we know there might be universes where ever cubic (or hypercubic) meter of existence is teaming with critters!

    There is no proof or even evidence to suggest our universe is a simulation, sure it could be, but we need proof first. Dark energy and questions physics can't answer at present may be answerable with further data in the future: only when everything else can be removed as a factor should we turn to the simulation theory, Occum's razer people: disprove the simpler theories first!
  14. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Evidence we are living inside a simulation:

    "1. OUR DISCRETE WORLD - It takes an infinite amount of resources to create a continuous reality, but a finite amount to create a quantized reality. The very nature of the computational mechanisms of a computer are essentially the same as Quantum Mechanics - a sequence of states, with nothing existing or happening between the states. The resolution of any program is analogous to the spatial resolution of our reality, just at a different level. In fact, if you carry Moore's Law forward (which has been consistent over the past 40 years), computers will reach the Planck resolution in 2192. Not too far off. However, you don't need to model reality all the way to that level for the model to be indistinguishable from our reality. Let's say you want to examine the guts of a tree. You cut it open, scrape off a few cells and put them under a microscope, maybe an electron microscope. To simulate this computationally, one doesn't have to model every single tree down to the Planck level. Only the OBSERVED tree needs to be modeled, and then only the cells selected, and then only down to a resolution that matches the observational limitations of our measurement devices. The program can do that dynamically. And all quantum effects can be programmatically modeled without building a reality model to the Planck level. So, given Moore's law and the limitations of "observational reality", we should be able to create Virtual Realities that are indistinguishable from our current reality within 20 years or so. The very fact that our reality appears to be quantized may be considered strong evidence that reality is programmed.

    2. THE SIMULATION TIMELINE - Various modern philosophers and scientists have posited that we are likely to be living in a simulation. This is because it is highly probable that we will be able to create ancestor simulations within a few years, when we achieve a trans-human stage. Due either to the number of simulations that will be run, or to the proximity that we are to that stage, it is actually more probable that we are in one than the case where we haven't yet reached that stage. Again, there is no way to tell that we aren't in a programmed reality.

    3. THE FINE-TUNED UNIVERSE - The universe is unbelievably finely tuned for the physical existence of matter, let alone life. For example, universal constants cancel out all of the vacuum energy in the universe to an amazing accuracy of one part in 10 to the 115th power. Also, a deviation in the expansion rate of the early universe of 1 part in a billion in either direction would have caused the universe to immediately collapse, or fly apart so fast that stars could never have formed. And there are many many more such examples. The only explanation that mainstream science can come up with is that zillions (yes, I know it's not a real number) of universes are spawned every second, most of which are entirely useless and throw-away, and via the hand-waving of the anthropic principle, we happen to be in the only perfect one. I'm sorry, but Occam's Razor heavily favors the simulation theory here.

    4. THOSE PESKY ANOMALIES - The huge set of well-studied anomalies facing us in fields as varied as metaphysics, physics, philosophy, geology, anthropology, and psychology can all be explained ONLY by the programmed reality model. The mathematics of coincidence, the perceived acceleration of society, OOPart, the truth about the paranormal, quantum entanglement, black gold - they all fit neatly into this hypothesis. No other theory can make that claim. For one example, quantum entanglement, a complete scientific mystery, can be explained by the notion of "just in time" dynamic reality generation coupled with common programming constructs of finite state machines and random number seeds.

    5. THE OBSERVER EFFECT - In 2008, the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) in Vienna, determined to a certainty of 80 orders of magnitude that objective reality does not exist by itself and only comes into being when consciously observed. Thus, the uncertainty of this result is 1 in 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000, clearly a ridiculously small number. This effectively put a nail in the coffin of the last hope for objective realists, the hidden variable theory. Interestingly, we can establish a very real explanation for this effect by turning the evidence question on its head; thus, "If you were to program a universe-simulation, what kinds of programmatic efficiencies would be needed?" Most important would be to employ dynamic reality generation. In other words, for any space unobserved by a conscious entity, there is no sense in creating the reality for that space in advance. It would unnecessarily consume too many resources. Instead, macroscopic reality may be modeled with an extremely high degree of compression, which I've estimated to be about 100 trillion. But once you decide to isolate a subatomic particle in that macroscopic object and observe it, the program would then have to establish a definitive position for that particle, effectively resulting in the collapse of the wave function, or decoherence. Moreover, the complete behavior of the particle, at that point, might be forever under control of the program. After all, why delete the model once observed, in the event (probably fairly likely) that it will be observed again at some point in the future. Its behavior would be decided by randomly picking values of the parameters that drive that behavior, such as decay. In other words, we have created a little mini finite state machine. So, the process of “zooming in” on reality in the program would have to result in exactly the type of behavior observed by quantum physicists. In other words, in order to be efficient, resource-wise, the Program decoheres only the space and matter that it needs to.

    6. MATTER AS DATA - It was once thought that 0% of matter was empty space. In the early 20th century, scientists discovered that atoms are actually comprised of subatomic particles. If subatomic particles, such as neutrons, are made of solid mass, like little billiard balls, then 99.9999999999999% of normal matter would still be empty space. That is, of course, unless those particles themselves are not really solid matter, in which case, even more of space is truly empty. String theorists say that those subatomic particles are really just vibrating bits of string, possibly with a width of the Planck length. If so, that would make subatomic particles all but 1E-38 empty space; hence normal matter is all but 1E-52 empty space. Gets kind of ridiculous doesn’t it? In fact, if particles are comprised of strings, why do we even need the idea that there is something “material?” Isn’t it enough to define the different types of matter by the single number – the frequency at which the string vibrates? What is matter anyway? It is a number assigned to a type of object that has to do with how that object behaves in a gravitational field. In other words, it is just a rule. We don’t really experience matter. What we experience is electromagnetic radiation influenced by some object that we call matter (visual). And the effect of the electromagnetic force rule due to the repulsion of charges between the electron shells of the atoms in our fingers and the electron shells of the atoms in the object (tactile). In other words, rules. In any case, if you extrapolate our scientific progress, it is easy to see that the ratio of “stuff” to “space” is trending toward zero. Which means what? That matter is most likely just data. And the forces that cause us to experience matter the way we do are just rules about how data interacts with itself. For example, probability wave functions follow patterns described accurately by relatively simple mathematical equations that resemble probability functions that apply to data. Data and Rules – that’s all there needs to be. By Occam's Razor, this is a simpler and more likely way to describe matter and only requires pure data.

    7. EQUATIONS CREATING REALITY - One of last year’s surprises was the negative frequencies that are solutions to Maxwell’s equations and have been shown to reveal themselves in components of light. So when we were told in physics class to throw out those “negative” solutions to equations because they were in the imaginary domain, and therefore had no basis in reality. But apparently, this is not true. Consider the implications for the bigger picture. If our reality were what most of us think it is – 3 dimensions of space, with matter and energy following the rules set forth by the “real” solutions to the equations of physics – one might say that reality trumps the math; that solutions to equations only make sense in the context of describing reality. However, it appears to be the other way around – math trumps reality. Solutions to equations previously thought to be in the “imaginary domain” are now being shown to manifest in our reality. In other words, the data and rules don’t manifest from the reality; they create the reality.

    8. OTHER COMPUTATIONAL CONJECTURES (courtesy of Brian Whitworth) - In Brian Whitworth's paper "The emergence of the physical world from information processing", he outlines several additional examples of circumstantial evidence that our universe is a simulation, including:
    - Randomness and apparent lack of hidden variables - It never made sense to Einstein, nor many other scientists, that particles would behave randomly (e.g. radioactive decay) as opposed to following deterministic rules. However, in a computational model, random number generators are a simple concept even in today's systems, and can easily be used to drive apparently random behavior.
    - Probability waves are easy to create - Related to the point above, the probability waves that describe all matter and are responsible for the real effect of quantum tunneling, have no basis in objective reality, yet are easy to construct programmatically.
    - The apparent lack of a prime mover of the universe - While the big bang theory purportedly arises from nothing, which has no grounding in objective reality, a virtual reality can easily "boot up" from nothing.

    9. THERMODYNAMICS AND THE INFORMATION CONTENT OF THE UNIVERSE - There is an uncanny similarity to Boltzmann's formula for entropy (S=k*ln(W)) and Shannon's formula for information entropy (H=E(-ln(p(X))). In thermodynamics, it says that entropy is proportional to the logarithm of the number of states that matter can be in. In information theory, entropy is proportional to the logarithm of the probability mass function of some random variable. This doesn't necessarily imply that matter is information, just that they behave similarly at a macroscopic level.

    10. GRAININESS OF REALITY - The GEO600 anomaly. TBD

    11. ADRINKAS - TBD"
  15. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    Mr. Magical Realist, this is in reference to your Post #59.which you seem to state :

    Evidence we are living inside a simulation:

    I read and re-read your Post #59 and the linked page.
    May I be allowed to ask how posting what is copied from a web page and a link to that web page, which seems to consist of a single persons apparent views/perceptions/conjecture on a subject be considered presenting evidence - especially when those views/perceptions/conjecture present no evidence or concrete accepted facts to support them?
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013
  16. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Caslav Brukner and Anton Zeilinger have proposed (below) that the randomness could result from a kind of "memory" overload, a storage limit for information. Apparently an endless task of providing rules / data for every microphysical state / event would be ludicrous, merely for making it all hang together properly at a level where such doesn't even matter.

    If the future invented a virtual universe, it would especially seem insane [setting aside impossible] to toil over perfecting a bottom substrate for that realm -- as opposed to the "simplicity" of allowing it to be less regulated ("gambling" allowed), and less kept / retained. Any intellectual inhabitants might be completely ignorant of such and far from prying into it for generations, anyway; depending on whether they were generated as an advanced show "already in progress" or their world literally had to be a grand, overall unfolding process of development and evolution playing through billions of years. Perhaps not so long relative to us, but even those future posthuman creators might be introspectively "living on computer time" themselves by then (apologies to Danny Flowers, Eric Clapton, Don Williams, etc).

    Bob Swarup: . . . Together, they realized that many weird quantum features could be explained by thinking about the information contained in a quantum system, just as computer scientists look at how information is encoded, stored, and transferred in bits. According to their approach to quantum mechanics, the most elementary quantum system, the qubit, carries one bit of information.

    Information theory, says Brukner, is the key to showing how plausible (or indeed implausible) it is that a deeper classical reality underlies quantum mechanics. It reveals that even within the simplest quantum system—an electron spin—classical realism is extremely resource demanding. That’s because it would take infinitely many hidden variables to encode all the instructions needed to explain the results of all possible measurements of the electron’s spin.

    Brukner argues that the total information that can be carried by an electron spin is finite. That means, by necessity, the system’s answers to some questions will contain an element of randomness. Thus, Brukner and Zeilinger realized that the observed quantum behavior could be explained by nothing more mysterious than a lack of storage space for sufficient information.

    Information theory can also be easily extended to naturally explain quantum entanglement—or "spooky action at a distance," as it was dubbed by Einstein. Entangled particles are inextricably intertwined, so that measuring one of them immediately changes the state of the other. This strange phenomenon has been confirmed many times in the lab, in quantum optics experiments.

    Brukner and Zeilinger have analyzed how information can be stored in an entangled system. For example, it would take two bits of information to jointly encode entanglement into two particle spins, so that they are parallel to each other. Once those two bits have been exhausted, there is no more storage space to encode extra spin information into either of the two entangled particles individually, says Brukner. As a result of this lack of extra encoded information, measuring the spin of one of the pair must yield a random value, while the spin of its partner will be immediately fixed, regardless of distance.

    Brukner’s work suggests that weird quantum properties such as superposition and randomness are here to stay—any theory that tries to get rid of them will fail to overcome this information limit. So, does that mean that quantum theory is the final theory? Should we now stop hunting for anything deeper? Not necessarily.

    "One of the most exciting questions for physicists is: what is our next theory?" says Brukner. "The entire history of science has taught us accepted scientific theories are superseded by new ones, of which the old are special cases. It is therefore hard to believe that quantum theory is our final theory."
    --The End of the Quantum Road?
  17. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    If I didn't already know that you were an atheist, I'd be inclined to think that this thread was a creationist-style argument for the existence of God.

    My reply to your question is to ask a couple of my own:

    Why can't mathematics just be an aspect of being in this universe, its formal structure in other words? Why must we believe that mathematics has to come to this universe from a different and higher universe? (That's essentially the objection that Aristotle made about Plato's higher world of forms.)

    And why must we believe that it has to come from an "intelligence" in that higher universe? (That 'intelligence' assumption was a fixture in medieval Jewish, Christian and Islamic Platonism, in which Plato's higher world of forms was reconceived as eternal ideas existing in the mind of God.)

    Replacing the word 'creator' with the word 'simulator' doesn't really change the nature of the arguments very much.
  18. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    I propose that to create a computing system capable of simulating an entire universe would require
    A) A computer that is bigger then our universe
    B) Our simulate universe not to operate anywhere close to real time
    C) Hypertemporal computer that can complete operations by sending information back in time to its self and memory in temporal flux such that outputs come out before input that have been received, such a computer could simulate a universe in potentially a very small space and little energy usage (unlike option A) and compute away forever in yet an instant of real time because it can operate in infinite time loops.

    The bigger question though is can we PROVE that our reality is in one of those options? Sure quantum mechanics and holographic theory make a simulation of reality plausible, but that is not proof.
  19. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member


    It has nothing to do with a creator per se. If physical reality is just a simulation, then nothing we know is really created. And then there will presumably always be an outside reality where the simulators reside that can just be in the given sense that you attribute to physical reality. What this has more to do with is the existence of mathematics itself. Either we are going to have to posit a mind generating that kind of non-physical abstract order, something totally consistent with our own experience. Or we are going to have to assign this abstract realm a timeless given reality in itself just as Plato did. Which seems more likely?
  20. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    You attribute there is an outside, have you not considered that perhaps it's a system of recursive simulations where there is no "outer" universe to "be real", in fact the only limitation for recursion would likely follow an inverse square law, where by only a finite number of recursions can be seen from one universe.
  21. rr6 Banned Banned

    #7 As Repretive Cosmic Simulator

    Aka N / 7 = repeating/recursive/recycling of same set, ex;
    ..7.857142 857142 857142 857142 857142...
    ..also take note that the first cycle that includes rational #7 ends at the 7th integer place/position...

    #7 has finite STOP-like function as seen in various mathematical operations, ex;

    7 primary rotational axi of Universe 3-fold, 4-fold and 5-fold--3, 4, 6, 6, 10, 12, 15

    7 axis of 14 surface planes-- 6 squares and 8 triangles ---of operating system of Universe ak 4-fold Vector Equilibrium( VE )

    7 surface coloring-coding of torus

    7 + 1 integer places of prime #31 staying prime--33 33 33 31

    7 as hepta/septagon is first polygon to give irrational internal angle 128.57 14 28 6

    7 is the first happy number and the first prime happy number

    7 rational product of the initial set of 56-- 7*8 = 56 ---primary axi ergo initial set of 56 primary great/equaltorial circle planes

    7 classes/catagories of cyrstal structure

    7 sphericals close-pack to define the regular hexagon composed of 6 equalateral triangles

    7^3 343 and this following is a stretch of association for some so hang on to your brains

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    the above mentioned operating system of Universe--- the 4-fold Vector Equilibrium, in its toy-like model of the jitterbug, will twist-contract either left or right on four seperate axi ---and its first configuration is that of quasi/semi-existent 5-fold icosahedron and the icosahedron has 3 distinct axis sets of its own, that come in left and right versions, so when I first saw the 7^3 343 i thought of the 4 axi that define the VE, and the 3 left and 3 right axis sets, that are derived from the icosahedron ergo; 3-left axis sets 4-axi 3-right axis sets.

    Please recall previously higher above, 7-axi associated with the 14 surface planes of VE listed previously above.

    7 faces of the truncatied tetra(4)hedron i.e. a rounding off of the nodal vertexial events and the vectorial lines-of-relationhsip of the tetrahedron leaves 14-faces ergo 7-axi and again the 3-fold tetrahedron intimate association to the 4-fold VE and its 14-faces.

    Biological "nodal" and gastrulation process of egg.

    ...."Nodal signaling is important very early in development for mesoderm and endoderm formation and subsequent organization of left-right axial structures. In addition, Nodal seems to have important functions in neural patterning, stem cell maintenance and many other developmental processes.".....

    ..."Although gastrulation patterns exhibit enormous variation throughout the animal kingdom, they are unified by the five basic types of cell movements that occur during gastrulation: 1) invagination 2) involution 3) ingression 4) delamination 5) epiboly."....

    Here above I would add the term 'inversion'.

    ..."This breaks anterior-posterior symmetry and is regulated by nodal signaling.".....

    ..."During the early stages of development, the primitive streak is the structure that will establish bilateral symmetry, determine the site of gastrulation and initiate germ layer formation.".......

    This latter above is in association with 6 cells--- recall above where 7 sphericals define 6 polygonal( 2D ) cells/triangles.

    It MAY be, that neural tube is the nuclear 7th spherical that moves from center to peripheral/circumferential.

    Actually the nuclear 7th may act initiate inverson( gastrulation ) of egg towards the 7th center, and the 7th center moves out to become the neural tube and eventually the 31 left and right spinal nerves.

    Last edited: Aug 24, 2013
  22. rr6 Banned Banned

    Another interesitng 7

    Not a cosmic 7-ness but a friend just turned-me onto this internet jewel-- heirachy to be more exact ----and I love it.

    OSI( Open Systems Interconnections )

    7) application

    6) presentation

    5) session

    4) transport

    3) network

    2) datalink

    1) physical

  23. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    Indeed TCP packets (And even Stacks) are good examples of a finite bound which can interact within a recursive system.

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