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Talk:Simulation argument

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Section for possible simulation artifact in superstring equations added[edit]

I've just added a section for Prof. Gates discovery of the internet browser computer code hidden inside the equations of superstring theory. Here are some reference if anyone is interested: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z9tO0D6W-Y http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2012/codes-for-reality/gates-symbolsofpower.shtml — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

I'm wondering if you actually read that article... seeing "code" in physics doesn't particularly say anything. Mathematics isn't magical like that, we have a derivation of the inverse square law that demonstrates it. The equation that governs light reflection off a mirror in the real world is, shock horror, very similar to the one used in Lightwave and 3DS Max for rendering... does that mean we live in a world of computer graphics? No, it doesn't. Shitting Christ this is beyond stupid. Scarlet A.pngpostate 23:27, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
Gates himself said that this could be possible evidence of simulation.

Evidence from the digital physics added[edit]

I've added a section on information-theoretic physics from quantum information theory, and quantum gravity into the "evidence for simulation" section, as well as some of the major scientists in the digital physics field.

Yes you have, but you don't seem to realize that not one iota of what you've written resembles evidence for a simulated reality over normal reality. Why are you operating under the assumption that non-classical behaviour is evidence of a simulation? Why do you think that Special Relativity and General Relativity are non-classical? Do you even understand what classical means in physics? And your belief that glitches in video games are equivalent to quantum tunnelling is hilarious. Blah talk 23:12, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
I suggest you read Brian Whitworth's paper "The Emergence of the Physical World from Information Processing." Also look up "The Cybernetic Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics." There are other more definitive but more esoteric arguments from QIT and QG that matter most definitely does not exist as such, but these are not as intuitive. The quantum tunneling example by itself doesn't mean as much either. However when put into a list of two dozen or so such similarities from modern physics the similarity becomes obvious and silly to deny.
Thank you for the offer, but I'll decline. I have, however, read your 'evidence', which is a confused mess that is not by any criteria evidence for a simulated reality. Blah talk 05:31, 11 March 2012 (UTC)
I think our friend is living in their own simulated reality. Sophiebecause liberals 10:08, 11 March 2012 (UTC)
It must be a nightmare for them, with all these video game-esque 'quantum tunnelling' effects going on they must get stuck in walls all the time. Blah talk 20:12, 11 March 2012 (UTC)
As I've said before, it's religion for people who aren't stupid enough for conventional religion. All that digital physics evidence could be right out of any mediocre theology argument. Scarlet A.pngmoral 20:26, 11 March 2012 (UTC)
With the exception that it's actually the predominant line of thought in both QIT and QG. Remember Seth Lloyd DID prove that the universe is a quantum computer afterall. And as for people still hung up on 19th century atomism, local realism has gone out the window with Alain Aspect's experiments. So yeah there is no spoon. That's just settled science. Virtual reality physics, like what's in this article is just the best way for lay people to understand how this makes sense in a concrete way. And so what if it's "religion for smart people" if the reasoning behind it makes sense? — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs 2012-03-14T01:48:51
That's hilarious. You're trying to say that quantum theory proves we're in a computer? That's just plain gullibility. Quantum theory clear proves that we're all ran by magic pixie folk from the Nether Dimension. Scarlet A.pngmoral 02:08, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
No it doesn't actually "prove" that we are in the Matrix with Sentinels outside. It has proven however that the universe is a quantum computer, just look up the 2011 Science Festival discussion "Rebooting the Cosmos." Whether or not there is an outside to this program or if reality is simply just informational at bottom (like a "natural program") isn't argued here, just that it's very suggestive of something like simulism.You haven't heard of any of the recent advances in digital physics have you? Dude, get your head out of the 19th century.
When digital physics actually helps the guys at CERN do something useful, I'll consider it. The whole "but the universe is a quantum computer" is playing so fast and loose with the definitions it's like saying "my right hand is an absolutely perfect simulation of my right hand, look it's so perfect it's identical to the real one!" Scarlet A.pngnarchist 08:50, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Um, it does. This is the standard theoretical approach being used to construct quantum computers now. It's also what makes quantum teleportation technology possible. It's really quite creationistic to reject it given what we know with Alain Aspect's experiments, Delayed Choice Quantum Erasers, the ADS/CfT correspondence and the like. If you are going to argue against it at least present some evidence.
Oh, so it was in a Science Channel documentary! Well, that's me totally convinced. How does any of quantum theory support simulation? Really? I can't see the connection here. It's like saying a finite speed of light is consistent with a computer, but why? Why isn't an instantaneous speed of light also consistent with it? Why is this explainable only and exclusively with simulation? How does any of this even follow? All you're doing is spouting jargon and saying "THIS IS EVIDENCE" but absolutely no consistent explanation of why it is evidence is forthcoming. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 09:53, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Add it back in when you're capable of a coherent explanation of how the evidence leads to the hypothesis. "Consistent with" isn't evidence nor is it an argument. The evidence for the existence of atomic structure is consistent with magic gnomes dancing on the surface of the nucleus throwing golf balls at each other, it doesn't mean I'm going to be believing the Gnome Argument any time soon. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 09:55, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

"Why isn't an instantaneous speed of light also consistent with it?" <---Isn't it obvious? A computer will only allow for finite processing rates, and hence finite speeds within the virtual environment. This speed limit however makes no sense within a material "real" universe. That's the why. There are dozens of examples like this that make no sense in a material environment, but make lots of sense in a virtual environment due to the effects of information processing.

No, it isn't obvious. All that section does is argue against a "classical" view of physics... but quantum theory has told us that the world likely isn't classical underneath. This is pretty much theology. Scarlet A.pngmoral 23:29, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

"Bullshitting" =/= Philosophy[edit]

Armondikov, the concept of "bullshitting" or "bullshit" has a very different definition in epistemic philosophy than just philosophy. For a reference, see philosopher Harry Frankfurt's 2005 essay "On Bullshit." The definition of "bullshit" here is defined as argumentation aiming at impressing an audience rather than aiming at truth. Meaning it doesn't have to and can be either true or false, but that truth is not it's primary focus. Philosophy proper however is defined as "love of wisdom," which aims at truth.

"Hey, I don't have any evidence for this, in fact, I'll define it as not capable of having evidence for it, I'll say evidence isn't even needed and just make an equation out of question-begging factors and, well, if we tweak the values to suit my needs without evidence, it's true, because I said so" Absolutely. It's philosophy, not bullshitting. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 20:56, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
This is the point where philosophy starts to blur into theology. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 21:02, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
Blurring? I thought this was just out-and-out teleology except with "God" replaced by "Big Computer". Scarlet A.pngnarchist 21:26, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
Extrapolate Kurzweil's law all the way out to the Omega Point and you just might be right! LOL! -just joking

Evidence for Simulation section is also needed[edit]

We need to have a section weighing the pros for simulation as well as the cons. Being philosophic and not scientific, this is not "quantum woo" as suggested by one of the editors. Additionally arguments for asimulism must explain why simulators would NOT have means and motives radically different from our own -which would necessitate many more premises than the argument that they are not radically different from us, with the means and motives to create simulations.

Remember, simulism has the notorious feature of being able to turn Ockham's razor on it's head. It can be very easily argued that the Bostrom argument requires many fewer premises than the converse argument. If this is the case the burden of proof would be placed on the asimulist position.

Sorry, I mistook your first edit for an attempt to shoehorn in an assertion that simulism is true. that said, please remember, we are not an encyclopedia and we have a point of view. If something is rubbish, we say so. It's not RationalWiki's purpose to put differing sides of the argument. Perhaps what you might like to do is register an account with us and write an essay? call it, e.g. Essay:simulation argument and we can discuss it. Sophiebecause liberals 18:08, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
Tell ya what: When "futurologist" types solve the problem of induction and actually start making valid predictions that come true instead of just shouting "Moore's Law!" I'll take this argument more seriously. As it stands now, it's Omphalism for the techno-utopian set. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 18:16, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
Out of curiosity, and I'm not saying I'll add this, but would it be considered "quantum woo" if I included the physics-based arguments given by physicists Lloyd, Fredkin, Markopoulou-Kalamara, and Schmidhuber for digital physics (and simulation in Fredkin and Markopoulou's cases) at the 2011 World Science Festival talk "Rebooting the Cosmos?" (And I'll set up an account, thanks for the suggestion)
It depends what you used their work for, really. This is why an essay is the best place to put your ideas forward. We won't edit it (we'll delete hate speech and bigotry but I don't see that happening in your case), but be prepared for counter-arguments on the talk page. Sophiebecause liberals 18:46, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
Ok, cool, I think I might include a section on digital physics then, probably on Brian Whitworth's paper overviewing the various physical properties expected within a virtual enviroment.
I think this probably applies more to Bostrom's than Drake's equation. Scarlet A.pngbomination 19:25, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
"Philosophic in nature, not scientific" is not an excuse to just make shit up out of nowhere. Scarlet A.pngnarchist 19:29, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
It's not made up out of nowhere, it's made up out of trends in technology, starting from Bostrom's seminal paper. The entire point of the argument is that it is more probable than not that we are in a simulation, so there's no reason to delete a section of the article merely pointing that out.

"Skeptics counterargument"[edit]

Err...how many people think that this is the correct response to Bostrom? If so, it's terribly misguided and sounds like it was written by some flippant logical positivist. Yes, it is unfalsifiable. But that doesn't make it "meaningless" in the way the logical positivists would claim, it just makes it meaningless in terms of predictive power. But it still describes reality in a certain way, and that means it's still important. (I think.) Tetronian you're clueless 04:44, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

The section does not say that the argument is meaningless. One of course must admit the possibility that one is in a simulated reality, just as one must admit the possibility that there is a God; a rather difficult thing for some of our atheists to accept. But these are both entities multiplied beyond necessity, and are about as falsifiable or evidentially supported as Last Thursdayism. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:54, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure if it really qualifies as entities being multiplied beyond necessity, at least not in the formalized version of Occam's Razor. As an example, let's take the debate about the number of galaxies in the universe. According to my (limited) understanding of how we formalize Occam's Razor, we are really looking at the equations governing how galaxies form and operate, not how many there are. We want these equations to be as simple as possible, and any hypothesis that says that galaxies must look a particular way, e.g. "1010100010....very long bitstring describing how they should look...0100101" is obviously way too complex. (This is using the standard definition of complexity, of course.) The point is, what we are really simplifying is our model of the universe, but simplicity is not the same as size. To use a simpler analogy: a 100m3 opaque black cube can be simpler than a 1m3 multicolored cube with writing on it. Tetronian you're clueless 05:07, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
I fail to understand how this relates to the hypothesis of a simulated reality. How is a universe with a lot of exceedingly complex machinery maintaining the illusion that there is no spoon machinery not more complex than a universe where there is no machinery, period? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 05:20, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
Let me rephrase a little: let's say we know the equations describing the formation of the universe and that they have a complexity of n bits. Now, if we assume (as Bostrom does) that these initial conditions will most likely give rise to simulated universes, thus increasing the number of the universes in existence, then there is no additional complexity penalty for these additional universes because they just have to do with the number of universes and thus the "size" of reality, which is not the same as the complexity of the equations governing it - as I said, this number is already fixed at n bits. So we don't penalize the simulation hypothesis because it adds more universes, as the existence of these unrelated to complexity in the formalized sense of Occam's Razor. Tetronian you're clueless 05:32, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
We do not know that the universe would not have to have more complex governing equations in order to support that kind of simulated reality (the speed of light is starting to become a rather annoying limit in that area even now). Also, while the "extra universes" might not be more complex as far as their governing rules go, the machinery needed to simulate them might well be; similarly a universal Turing machine is more complex than many of the Turing machines it can simulate. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 05:59, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
Two things:
  1. Above, my assumption was "the equations describing the formation of the universe have a complexity of n bits...[and] these initial conditions will most likely give rise to simulated universes," this means that we wouldn't have to add additional complexity. As you point out, there are definitely some potential objections to this assumption, but my reasoning above was working inside of the framework of the assumption, in which case it is still true that there are no additional complexity penalties.
  2. The "machinery needed to simulated them" is contained entirely with the equations governing the "basement" universe, so there's no need to add complexity there. To use your analogy: the only complexity penalties we need to dish out are those for the lowest level Turing machine, not any of the ones simulated above by that lowest one. In fact, this is a really good analogy because Turing machines are how we would formalize complexity.
I think we mostly agree on this except for those relatively minor details. Tetronian you're clueless 19:31, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

The argument relies on two basic premises:

  1. a set of assumptions about the future, about what technologies will be developed in the future, and what human attitudes will be towards those technologies (will and how will they want to use them? will society try to impose legal restrictions? if it does, will it be able to effectively enforce those restrictions?)
  2. a principle of probabilistic reasoning, which goes something like this: If there are N simulated universes, and 1 actual universe, but I don't know whether I am in the actual one or one of the simulated ones, I should conclude the probability of me being in a simulated one is N/(N+1).

The first basic premise should, from a logical positivist perspective, be fine -- its definitely verifiable -- if these technologies are developed, and if when they are developed, society's attitudes towards them are as the assumptions claim, then the assumptions are verified. Being open-ended claims about the future, they are technically not falsifiable. However, they could still be effectively falsified. For example, if the rate of scientific/technological advance in certain areas began to slow, that would contradict these assumptions. Likewise, if a major catastrophe occurred, and humanity was reduced to a few survivors, and the survival of our species appeared to those survivors to be seriously doubtful, that would also contradict these assumptions. This is not falsification in the sense of absolute disproof, but rather in the sense of possible future events which if they occurred would dramatically reduce our estimation, relative to the present, of the likelihood of these assumptions being true.

As to the second premise, it is not a claim about the world -- its claimed as a principle of probabilistic reasoning. Now, logical positivists never claimed that principles of reason, of logic or mathematics, should be verifiable or falsifiable.

Bostrom isn't trying to prove we are in a computer simulation right now. He is simply trying to prove, that if certain unproven but not unreasonable assumptions are true, we almost certainly are. So, he is trying to argue the conditional probability is close to 1, but we don't know whether the condition is actually true or not. He has said (informally) that he thinks the probability we are in a computer simulation is about a third. But the overall probability is going to vary from about zero to almost one, depending on what probability one assigns to the assumptions about the future.

The claim we are in a computer simulation could be verifiable under certain conditions. For example, if the simulators chose to reveal it to us. Or else, if we created countless simulations, and those simulations contained countless simulations, to ever greater degrees of nesting -- that would make one seriously question whether we might not be just another nested simulation too. The latter is not verfication in the strict sense (it does not actually prove we are in a simulation), but it is verification in the sense of being possible observational evidence which if observed would lead us to consider the hypothesis much more likely than we would had that evidence not been observed.

Of course, the theory we are in a computer simulation is quite literally unfalsifiable -- what could ever disprove it? But I think an important point here -- the logical positivists claimed that unverifiable claims were actually meaningless. Popper proposed falsifiability as a better criterion than verifiability, but he never actually claimed that unfalsifiable propositions were meaningless in the sense that the logical positivists claimed. Popper's point is that unfalsifiable propositions are unscientific -- they aren't properly scientific theories, and they don't contribute in any way to the advance of scientific knowledge -- but he never proposed they were meaningless. (Actually, an unfalsifiable proposition could contribute to scientific knowledge if it was actually verified -- but until and unless that occurs, it can't.) But, Popper's objections are kind of irrelevant, since no one is proposing this is science -- it isn't science, and it doesn't claim to be, it's philosophy. Bostrom published his paper in Philosophical Quarterly, not Nature or Science.

Finally, I don't see Ockham's razor as relevant here. Ockham's razor proposes not to multiply entities unnecessarily when trying to explain things. The simulation argument is not trying to explain anything. The hypothesis "we are living in a computer simulation" is not put forward as an attempt to explain any observed feature of the world. Rather, it is put forward as a likely consequence of possibly true assumptions about the future, assumptions which themselves can't be objected to on the basis of Ockham's razor. --Maratrean (talk) 07:50, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

This is partly why the argument is labeled as bullshit instead of a fallacy. Leaving aside the defects in the probabilistic reasoning, it is true that if there are n synthetic universes and one real one, the probability that one is in a synthetic universe is very high; but that, to my mind, is about the same as someone in the 15th century arguing that if the moon is made of green cheese, there would be no need for lunar dairy-farmers — a valid but unsound argument.
I am inclined to agree about Occam's razor, but would maintain that it could be used if somebody crossed the line and started arguing that we were in a simulated reality. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 08:24, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't think we can compare the argument's assumptions to "the moon is made of green cheese" -- that is pure fanciful nonsense. The assumptions of the argument are extrapolations about the future based on our current scientific understanding. As extrapolations, they may well be incorrect in various ways. But, they are not in the same league as "moon made of green cheese", which was completely unrelated to even 15th century science.
Your reference to the 15th century is apt in that, if the requisite technology is ever developed, it may well be several centuries from now until it is -- in which case, we would be to its day what the 15th century is to us. But I think, if you compared 15th to 21st century science, 15th century science didn't just not know about a lot of things, it also got a lot of things just plain wrong. Whereas, comparing 21st to 26th century science, I reckon although we'll surely add a lot of knowledge, the proportion of 21st century scientific beliefs disproven in the 26th will be a lot less than the proportion of 15th century scientific beliefs disproven in the 21st. We have a much better hold on the fundamentals now, even though there are heaps more details to be worked out. So, although predicting the future is always frought with difficulty, I think 21st century people will do a much better job of predicting the 26th century than 15th century people would have done at predicting the 21st. (Which is not to say that 21st century people won't surely get heaps of things wrong...)
Ockham's razor only applies to explanations, not to conclusions. If you have observation O, and two possible explanations A and B, Ockham's razor suggests to choose the 'simpler' explanation over the more complicated one. So yes, if someone put forward the claim "we are living in a computer simulation" as an explanation of some observation, Ockham's razor could be applied. But if rather than an explanation, they proposed it as a conclusion, then Ockham's razor is not relevant. --Maratrean (talk) 08:54, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
"sounds like it was written by some flippant logical positivist." Call me a flip logical positivist then. I can pull any bunch of vaguely plausible assumptions out of my butt and say "Hey, it could happen." Can't prove a negative, so we have to make some allowance for the possibility. Any actual evidence? If none, then bullshit. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 19:58, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
The problem with logical positivism is that it considers unfalsifiable statements meaningless. While unfalsifiable statements can pretty much be ignored in practice, they're still meaningful in some way because they still describe reality. Science is mostly about predicting power, but it's not entirely about that - we are also searching for explanations, not just predictions. This is why we have to look at the logical consequences of what we know (see my link in the first post). Tetronian you're clueless 20:02, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't see how the photon example is analogous. That's something we have a lot of empirically verifiable information about, enough to make a reasonable extrapolation about. And the evidence aside from some plausible assumptions for us living in the matrix is...? Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 20:31, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
The article gives a number of reasons why this could be so. I don't find them most of them at all convincing and I'm guessing you don't either, but the point is that the simulation argument is essentially the same as the photon example even though the photon example is obviously a lot more probable. Both are inferences about reality that we can't directly test so we have to use inductive inference. The only difference between the two lies in how valid the inference actually is. That's why yelling "unfalsifiable, therefore bullshit!" at something that already clearly labels itself as a philosophical claim rather than a scientific one, is wrong. Tetronian you're clueless 21:32, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
Logical positivism never said unfalsifiable statements were meaningless. They said unverifiable statements were meaningless. Popper introduced the notion of unfalsifiability. But unlike the logical positivists, he never claimed that unfalsifiable statements were meaningless. Popper was opposed to belief in unfalsifiable theories -- but although he opposed belief in them, he never claimed they were actually meaningless (in the sense in which the logical positivists said they were.) --Maratrean (talk) 08:03, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
Brain-in-a-vat, Descartes demon, whatever. All the same to me. Sure, if you said assign a probability I'd pick the Matrix before some kind of demon controlling our sensory input, but as of now both are unfalsifiable. So maybe my response is more accurately, "Okay, so what?" The basic argument isn't even anything new in philosophical terms -- it's closer to "Dude, what if we were like, inside a computer simulation? Think about it, maaaaan" with some addenda attached. Welp, being a philosophical party-pooper is my job. :P Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 22:30, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
No, there's a little bit more to it that that. Let's imagine the counterfactual case in which Bostrom's arguments are extremely convincing. In this case, we would be forced to assign a high probability to the simulation hypothesis. That would be something that would have profound effects on other areas of scholarship, especially philosophy and science. We would be forced to adopt the kind of "anthropic reasoning" that Bostrom explores in his other works, and our worldviews would be fundamentally different.
My point is this: this only thing that prevents this counterfactual case from being true is the fact that Bostrom's arguments aren't convincing. Note that this is different from, say, solipsism, which can't really be argued for or against and kind of just sits there on the side of the road, philosophically speaking. That's why the simulation argument is more interesting than other skeptical hypotheses, because it has the potential to be convincing and thus game-changing. Also, its a skeptical hypothesis that exists within a materialist/reductionist/physicalist framework, which is a novel philosophical idea. Tetronian you're clueless 22:42, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
Sure, I'll buy that, but it's still a "So what?" for me. It is interesting in the fact that it's potentially testable rather than in not even wrong territory. But at base all you've said is, "If his arguments were convincing, we'd have to rethink everything." But they're not, so we don't. I guess this just registers as a "meh" for me because I've heard a number of nearly identical arguments like this one before.
In a word, yes. We don't actually disagree about anything, we just feel differently about it. Tetronian you're clueless 23:47, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

<nitpick> I'll address the rest of this soon, but for right now I just want to talk about one little thing that's driving my attention-to-detail reflex up the wall. Maratrean said above that "If there are N simulated universes, and 1 actual universe, but I don't know whether I am in the actual one or one of the simulated ones, I should conclude the probability of me being in a simulated one is N/(N+1)." Actually, it depends on the number of observers in each universe. For example, if there are only two universes, X and Y, and there are more observers in universe X, than there are in Y, then there is a greater chance that you are in X. </nitpick> Tetronian you're clueless 17:40, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Yes Tetronian, you are entirely right on that point, the actual probability is proportional to the number of observers in each. Or even precisely, observers like ourselves. --Maratrean (talk) 08:03, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

Scientists finding evidence?[edit]

Check this out. Anyone want to chime in, or is this just "evidence to fit a hypothesis" rather than a hypothesis being tested? -- Seth Peck (talk) 16:51, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

Without reading more than the abstract I'd guess they did little to rule out other possibilities. Just because something can be simulated using some particular model of computation doesn't mean that's how it actually happens. So this hardly increases the probability the world is a simulation. -- (talk) 19:15, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
There is a fucking MASSIVE difference "there is a isomorphism between the universe and a mathematical simulation" and "the universe is a simulation (exists within a computer in another universe)". Scarlet A.pngpostateModerator 20:54, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

Is "not sufficient computing power" true?[edit]

The article states that we don't currently have the necessary amount of computing power to simulate a universe as such. Is this really true? Remember that a simulation doesn't need to run in real time, it might take a day to simulate one microsecond, but it makes no difference to the simulation.

I would say the two things we are lacking are: a) a sufficient model of a suitably complex universe; and b) possibly enough memory to store the simulation state. For the latter, however, bear in mind that it doesn't need to be RAM or any other kind of fast storage, since the simulation does not need to run in real time. For instance, storage could just be a bunch of rocks.

The question the article poses is not so much can we run the simulation, but are we in one. Judging by the computing power we currently have as a species, we have a hard time conceiving that something on such a scale as the universe of space and time. But that's just us. (Assume I buy this for the following) Those who made the simulation would have to have run it some 13 Billion years (or longer, if your assumption is true) which would take huge amounts of computing power we just don't have at this time. Zero (talk) 14:56, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Also, to get to the meat of your statement, runtime isn't the biggest difficulty. You're correct that we lack a fully complex model of the universe, and that we lack physical memory. Keep in mind that a simulation of the universe has to simulate every single particle and energy packet, as well as the complex interactions between all of them. Sure, you can save time by grouping together non-interacting particles and adding cut-offs to the forces, but at the end of the day, you need available memory to store information about everything in the universe, and then you need available memory to store information about every different type of interaction. - GrantC (talk) 15:03, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
For more information, see here: http://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/8895/how-many-bits-are-needed-to-simulate-the-universe. Note that if you had access to a quantum computer, this might be slightly closer to possible (but probably not). Also, quantum physics excitement abounds, as Peter Shor himself is active on that thread! - GrantC (talk) 15:06, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
What if we didn't have to simulate the things we don't see? Kind of like, only what we observe actually needs to be simulated and only at the specific point in time when we observe it. But that I imagine would be an entirely different topic that also veers off into brain-in-a-jar territory, which is not what the article is about, I don't think. Nullahnung (talk) 20:33, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
More or less, as you say, that gets into "brain in the jar" territory. Where issues would still arise is in quantum effects. When quantum effects have a measurable result on the world around us (a surprising number of places, actually), the required memory for any potential simulation jumps exponentially (provided you're using a classical computer; with a quantum computer, it wouldn't be so bad). Even simulating simple quantum systems can take oodles of computing time. For example, if you're looking to simulate the Hubbard model on a 2D lattice, you're limited to very small lattices indeed (forget macroscopic systems).
Of course, you could theoretically hand-wave that away too. There usually exist semi-classical models that produce effects that look quantum on a macroscopic level. The Landau-Ginzburg theory of superconductivity, for example, produces fairly decent macroscopic results, but utterly fails to explain microscopic effects (including the Meissner effect, which is sort of a big deal). Of course, at this point we're so far into "brain in a jar" territory that we might as well start arguing that the simulation just makes up the "laws" of physics as we go! - GrantC (talk) 20:44, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Hmm, yes. I've just thought, though: You would think that since what goes on in the brain is an accurate representation of pretty much everything a human being can observe, in as far as the information that was input through the senses and processed in the brain, that you could present an accurate enough simulation for everything with just computational power on the level of brains. But yeah, now we're straying too far into said silly territory. Nullahnung (talk) 20:50, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
(EC) Right, but I think there's a problem with that. I feel like the established laws of physics are too complex to be delusions. The simulation could simply control what we observe and think, but on the other hand, our observations of physical phenomena still do match up with complicated theories (like quantum mechanics). Would the simulation be able to mimic that without actually defining these theories at some point? I guess the simulation could just make certain physical phenomena entirely random and just make us think there's a pattern, but I can't shake the feeling that to simulate us "discovering" some phenomenon would require similar resources to simulating the phenomenon itself. At the end of the day, after all, the human brain still learns, and something capable of learning has to learn from something. - GrantC (talk) 20:55, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
That seems reasonable. Nullahnung (talk) 21:00, 27 September 2013 (UTC)


This shit sounds like a conspiracy theory to me. I mean damn, are you crazy? We play videogames, but we do not create actual people in the videogames, that's the difference. It implies that god or aliens or the big computer is a malicious being, why the hell would they creare someone that thinks, when the can live in their own reality? This is why I'm atheist. Life would be very different if we lived in a godlike universe. And still, maths is a way of describing how reality is, not exactly what it is.


Gianga23 (talk) 14:58, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Simulation and Escalating Existential Risks[edit]

Anyone want to add a section on this? http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/torres20141103 The argument is that, on Bostrom's reasoning, most simulators will be simulants. This entails the existence of a hierarchy, with more simulations accumulating at the bottom. The further down one is, though, the more possibility there is of inheriting annihilation from above. Might be worth adding.

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