Are We Living In A Computer Simulation?

Megalith

24-bit/48kHz
Staff member
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
13,003
If this is true, our administrator gods must really like idiocracy.exe.

…members of an advanced civilization with enormous computing power might decide to run simulations of their ancestors. They would probably have the ability to run many, many such simulations, to the point where the vast majority of minds would actually be artificial ones within such simulations, rather than the original ancestral minds. So simple statistics suggest it is much more likely that we are among the simulated minds.
 

Dwango

Gawd
Joined
Feb 23, 2011
Messages
682
I think this theory has passed through a few permutations since the paper Nick Bostrom published in around 2003. Basically he asserted that if an advanced civilization had any interest in running simulations of a universe it was virtually certain that we live in a simulated universe already. And we may, in fact, live in a simulation that's several layers deep (i.e. a simulated universe that exists as a simulation inside another simulated universe). This used to be one of those things that was laughed off by the "real" scientists that some have been taking more seriously of late.
 

leeleatherwood

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
1,582
Not to start a religous argument but the "Living in a simulation" theory is far more believable than a god type being. (Although you could argue the creators of the simulation would be gods).
 

evilsofa

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jan 1, 2007
Messages
10,078
Have any of the more scientifically advanced citizens of Tamriel been able to devise experiments telling them that they may be part of a simulated world?
 

Mut1ny

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Apr 4, 2013
Messages
1,854
Not to start a religous argument but the "Living in a simulation" theory is far more believable than a god type being. (Although you could argue the creators of the simulation would be gods).

This has always sort of been my thing. If people ask "do you believe in a god" the best I can come up with is that IF there is such a thing I certainly don't believe that it's some cosmic deity that comes from divinity that's always been and shall always be. To me a higher power would simply be a more advanced being. Based on or created in the physical reality that, over time, would have evolved to something that exhibits all powerful abilitys. Sort of like the Q Continuum from Star Trek.

So having said that and seeing that, clearly, something like an entire virtual Universe could be possible (even based off of even what we can do NOW) I see no reason why this couldn't be a possibility. I mean, seriously, given enough processing power we have, to my knowledge, the software and physics engines to where we could make a indistinguishable virtual reality like the Matrix today.

The thought of an advanced being/civilization/continuum that could potentially be millions if not billions of years a head of us? Yeah, it would probably be pretty minor to them. And I guess they wouldn't be any time "a head" of us as they would have created us.

Certainly gives credence to how the Universe began...but then I guess we'd have to ask how the beings that created us began as well. Sound familiar? :-p

In the great words of the no longer on air Mythbusters...I say this is "Plausible".
 

KazeoHin

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Sep 7, 2011
Messages
8,333
There are certain things, such as the speed of light, Plank's constant, Heisenberg uncertainty, things that generally resemble the shortcuts one would take while coding to speed up a simulation that our universe exhibits at a fundamental level. The main thing is, any universe that can simulate our universe would have to be a vastly more complex one than ours. Take for instance: even if we achieved the maximum technology level possible, we could not build a similation that runs an identical version of our universe 1:1. This is just physics and entropy: you can't have something simulate a system more complex than itself, which would mean in order to simulate the observable universe down 100%, you would need a computer more complex than the observable universe. Thus a simulated universe would have to see shortcuts, compressions and limits put in place in order to make simulation possible.
 

westrock2000

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 3, 2005
Messages
9,250
Unfortunately I think a lot of this spawns from the same place that religion did. This is a desire for there to be something more important than us. That despite what many of us conceive as a pathetic existence, that there is something else bigger out there, and that you and me are part of it.

As "progress" marches on through the millennia, we have come to realize that religion didn't adhere to the observable world. We came up with something new and cast religion aside. But in that science we dreamt up new grandiose, not realizing that it's answering the same problem that people tried thousands of years ago to do with religion.
 

KazeoHin

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Sep 7, 2011
Messages
8,333
Care to elaborate? I'm listening...

I'm not physicist, so I would love if someone would come in and fill in the blanks here, but essentially, 'c' or 'the speed of light' is essentially the communications speed of the universe, and with it, the speed of existence. If the speed of light were infinite, the universe would both exist and not exist in the same instant, as the time taken for any event to transpire would be zero, thus, the entire history of the universe would happen in an instant.

Planck's constant in itself is not that exciting, however the fact that Planck units can be derived from it make it quite relevant to this discussion. Planck lengths and time units essentially show the smallest possible units relevant to science: any smaller than Planck's units, and you're more going on philosophy than observation and theory.

This resembles a simulation's 'tickrate' and unit/word length of any sort of simulation: as any simulation needs some form of base units and length of the mathematical words used, essentially if your simulated data exists on a 3 dimensional vector grid with a detail of FP256, you have a multitude more detail to work with than a grid that exists only detailed down to FP128. That goes for time as well. Essentially, Planck length and time resemble the smallest possible unit of resolution in our universe.

Quantum uncertainty looks eerily similar to the sort of screwed up things one would encounter when trying to operate in lengths smaller than the simulation's resolution: Things existing in very binary yes/no states, things existing in two places at the same time, Things exhibiting multiple (infinite, really) states in superposition yet only being capable of existing in one of two states when actually measured. Quantum uncertainty makes data below minimum universal resolution incomplete or procedurally generated at the time of interaction, not simulated start-to-finish. Essentially, Quantum Physicists are not messing with stuff that exists, but rather messing with the math that makes existence possible.


I'm also in agreement that unless the idea that we live in a simulation can be observed and studied, it offers no real scientific benefit. Its fun to think about, and an entertaining idea, but weather true or false, it has no baring on us unless we can interact with it scientifically.
 

wra18th

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Messages
7,931
We live in the Matrix. We are all physically in pods to provide power for the simulation.
 

Quix

2[H]4U
Joined
Jun 12, 2011
Messages
3,710
I've thought about this for a long time and I realized, it doesn't matter to me if it's a simulation or not. If it is a simulation, then yes, nothing is real including us, but that doesn't actually affect anything... Even if we are real the entire universe could shatter tomorrow for reasons totally unknown to us at the moment, we just don't know enough about it. Well I suppose it would make an afterlife significantly more possible, which is weird in itself. It's also possible that the universe that exists just exists the way it is because that's the only way it could exist or outside forces make it so. We honestly don't have enough information and I doubt we will before we're all dead.

You're all created to test me. You're all here to make me feel.

You have failed.

What you're feeling is called narcissism.
 

grim4593

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 30, 2014
Messages
296
I'm also in agreement that unless the idea that we live in a simulation can be observed and studied, it offers no real scientific benefit. Its fun to think about, and an entertaining idea, but weather true or false, it has no baring on us unless we can interact with it scientifically.
If we ARE in a simulation that implies there may be a way to break out of said simulation or mess with the internal variables. Perhaps the level above us didn't have a good security model when they created the simulation and if we look hard enough or deep enough we might find ways to make changes.
I like this short story related to levels of simulations: I don't know, Timmy, being God is a big responsibility @ Things Of Interest
 

dethklokworkorange

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 23, 2013
Messages
176
On the first day of the Gen Ed Philosophy class I took my freshman year of college, the professor decided to blow our fragile little minds with a thought experiment. He asked us to consider the idea that we were not students sitting in a classroom, but survivors of a spaceship crash hundreds of years in the future. Our injuries were so extensive our brain was all that survived, and was being kept alive in a jar and hooked up to a computer simulation. The professor, who took himself very seriously, asked us to prove this wasn't true, that our parents hadn't selected this as the best time and place in human history for us to live out our virtual lives. Nobody said anything, much to his satisfaction, and he smugly challenged the class to come up with any kind of reply. So, after a few minutes of uncomfortable silence, I raised my hand and said I knew that if this was the best time and place ever the food would be of a better quality. Everyone in the room burst into laughter. Everyone, that is, except the professor.
 

arentol

2[H]4U
Joined
Jun 15, 2004
Messages
2,712
Nick published his paper in 2003. Lost (the TV show) came out in 2004. Lost's producers said that EVERYTHING on the show could be explained with technology. Lost involved what appeared to be magic, yet was supposedly technology. Explaining that show through technology that is just like magic only works under one scenario I can think of, Lost takes place in an ancestor simulation. The island is the place that the simulation we all live in sends sub-AI's (people) that are causing issues with the simulation. Most are just removed from the simulation (The non-survivors of the crash). The rest are run through various scenarios to help figure out how/why they failed. As the issues with the AI's are identified they are "killed" and thus removed from the island simulation and used to fix the AI programming throughout the rest of the simulation. The "number" that keeps showing up is a trap the simulation uses that only problem AI will notice/interact with. Any AI that has that number pop up in their lives are marked to be removed from the simulation and possibly tested on the island. Even when they appeared to return to the real world it was just a secondary simulation just for them to help track down their programming issues.

Some scientists a while back thought they figured out a way to test whether we were in a simulation. Something that they expected to detect or not detect or something, depending on whether we were in a simulation. They are idiots, as if we are in a simulation then we can't trust our own senses or instruments. Even if the simulation had a massive glitch you would never know because your memory of the glitch would be wiped out and you would never remember it happened. So the idea that they would ever get the "Yup it's simulation" result on any test is ridiculous. The simulation would simply make them get the other result no matter what.
 

grim4593

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 30, 2014
Messages
296
Some scientists a while back thought they figured out a way to test whether we were in a simulation. Something that they expected to detect or not detect or something, depending on whether we were in a simulation. They are idiots, as if we are in a simulation then we can't trust our own senses or instruments. Even if the simulation had a massive glitch you would never know because your memory of the glitch would be wiped out and you would never remember it happened. So the idea that they would ever get the "Yup it's simulation" result on any test is ridiculous. The simulation would simply make them get the other result no matter what.
That is only true if the simulation was actively trying to prevent detection. There is no reason not to try to prove or disprove the hypothesis of simulation.
 

Insula Gilliganis

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Feb 6, 2007
Messages
1,459
Whatever computer simulation I am in seems to definitely be in a loop.. perhaps an infinite loop.. as this story is apparently going to keep repeating itself indefinitely here on HardOCP.. Physicists Testing To See If Universe Is A Computer Simulation (December 14, 2012).

As stated earlier, Dr. Nick Bostrom wrote an abstract about this in 2001, and others, even earlier on, have written thoughts on the subject such as Is Our Reality Virtual? The Ultimate Computer Game (January, 2000). The two Star Trek: The Next Generation stories (early 1990s) involving Professor Moriarty touch on this subject. Moriarty, who is a computer simulation himself, becomes sentient, realizes he is living in a computer simulated world and wants to leave that fake world.
 

devil22

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 1, 2003
Messages
3,837
Unfortunately I think a lot of this spawns from the same place that religion did. This is a desire for there to be something more important than us. That despite what many of us conceive as a pathetic existence, that there is something else bigger out there, and that you and me are part of it.

As "progress" marches on through the millennia, we have come to realize that religion didn't adhere to the observable world. We came up with something new and cast religion aside. But in that science we dreamt up new grandiose, not realizing that it's answering the same problem that people tried thousands of years ago to do with religion.

I don't think that's really true. In the case of religion, there was no numeric argument. With simulations we have the simple idea that after the technology that can do simulations exist, it will probably run again and again (perhaps an infinite number of times). That would make it logical to say, you are infinitely more likely to be in a simulation than in this place for real. To put it in perspective, it would be more likely that you would win the powerball every week, than be in this place for real. On religion, I tend to think that was ancients mans way of imagining future technology, and a lot of religious ideas have become science fact (flying in the air, space travel, advanced medicine, etc.) and eventually even the ones that are outlandish to us now could become science fact through advanced AI and nanorobotics. Now why are we at this particular point in time? I think that this is the most interesting time period to simulate, long before now you would have many human lives where not much changed, and people died within a mile of where they were born so to speak. Long (or perhaps shortly) after now, advanced technology will remove much of the drama of life (no accidents or disease, no crime, perhaps robots that make dating as easy as pushing a button - fun for us but boring for anyone watching). Another theory I contemplate occasionally is that a simulation could be like school for new people, you learn how people lived without getting everything they want with the push of a button then we get the good stuff, perhaps.
 

Nytegard

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 8, 2004
Messages
3,404
We live in the Matrix. We are all physically in pods to provide power for the simulation.

The only way this could be possible would be if the speed of light was completely wrong, or people are completely the wrong size. NYC to Melbourne is about 16.5k km, or 100 ms delay. Assuming real world apartments housing pods, you would need something the size of New Zealand (~270k km²). Given a perfect square, you're looking at ~500 km, or 2 ms (4 for a round trip). That sounds imperceptible, which is most likely true for us, but certainly not true for computers. I wouldn't work on Wall Street with that delay, as a 2 ms delay would make it impossible for you to work in HFT.
 
Last edited:

eneq

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 7, 2009
Messages
144
Maybe the "aliens" run large simulations to find special AIs to harvest? In a future with AI capabilities I think this wouldn't be so strange since creating AI by learning is kinda random one might deploy a large dataset and harvest them.

In some weird way this works well with theology, the AIs that contribute something to the "other side" would be reborn when harvested.
 

GaryJohnson

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
1,053
Unfortunately I think a lot of this spawns from the same place that religion did. This is a desire for there to be something more important than us. That despite what many of us conceive as a pathetic existence, that there is something else bigger out there, and that you and me are part of it.

Even if we are in a simulation, it doesn't mean that human life or even just life in general is the goal or subject of the simulation. I haven't seen any of the people who speculate about this make any sort of claim to the contrary. I mean we could just be a minor side effect. After all why would you simulate... or create... a universe as big, old, and complex as the one we live in if all you were concerned about was a single short-lived species on a tiny world.
 

pxc

Extremely [H]
Joined
Oct 22, 2000
Messages
33,064
No, we don't. I offer as much falsifiable counter-claims as in the OP link:



(^ nothing is after the colon because I'm being sarcastic.)
 

Inu

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jun 29, 2004
Messages
2,022
Who created the creators of the creators of the creators of the creators of the creators of the creators of the creators............................ of the simulation?
 

Mugato

Muh Feelz!
Joined
Feb 25, 2014
Messages
933
So deja vu is a memory leak connecting your existence to another simulation of yourself? Perhaps they are running along side each other, staggered, so they can watch the decisions you make.
 

serpretetsky

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Dec 24, 2008
Messages
1,819
What if the program is paused? Do we sense that time has stopped?
What if they pause the program, save the state of the computer to a disk, and transfer it to another computer. Has anything changed?
Is it enough for my own existence and consciousness, then, that I am simply stored on a disk?
If the entire program is running on some machine that follows some sort of math/logic rules, can the beings above write out all of these rules and computer states symbolically on a peace of paper, and then would I feel like I exist and am conscious?
If the entire program can be respresented symbolically, does anything even have to be written down? Since all numbers conceptually exist, is it enough that there is some number that when decoded, represents our universe symbollically, and because that number exists, I feel like I exist?
 

Mut1ny

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Apr 4, 2013
Messages
1,854
Who created the creators of the creators of the creators of the creators of the creators of the creators of the creators............................ of the simulation?

That's always the big question. It's like when religious people say that the Universe can't come from nothing, that something HAD to create it, so therefor God did it. But when asked who created God, since according to them something can't come from nothing, they just say that he's always been or that it's a (and I've seriously been told this) "ridiculous question since God exists outside time and space".

Yeah, you're always going to have that well what was before the before before the before? Very interesting question as, sure, everything had to start from somewhere, right? Is it possible that the Universe has just always been? How?
 

MV75

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Nov 13, 2007
Messages
1,025
That's always the big question. It's like when religious people say that the Universe can't come from nothing, that something HAD to create it, so therefor God did it. But when asked who created God, since according to them something can't come from nothing, they just say that he's always been or that it's a (and I've seriously been told this) "ridiculous question since God exists outside time and space".

Yeah, you're always going to have that well what was before the before before the before? Very interesting question as, sure, everything had to start from somewhere, right? Is it possible that the Universe has just always been? How?

And you'd be at the same place if you replace religious person with physicist and god with matter. What was before the matter started to propel out? Or even before the matter was matter?

Was the universe always here and we are basing its movement and theoretical creation upon a new event that had changed the way gravity works not long before our observations of the universe, which then makes our given theories totally wrong based upon an observation that wasn't always true?
 

Mut1ny

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Apr 4, 2013
Messages
1,854
And you'd be at the same place if you replace religious person with physicist and god with matter. What was before the matter started to propel out? Or even before the matter was matter?

Eh, in a way perhaps, but I don't think they're the same thing. A religious person KNOWS God did it. That's their final answer. A physicist will say "I don't know" at a certain point going back far enough.

So there is a fundamental difference between the two.
 

westrock2000

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 3, 2005
Messages
9,250
Yeah, you're always going to have that well what was before the before before the before? Very interesting question as, sure, everything had to start from somewhere, right? Is it possible that the Universe has just always been? How?

The answer is probably more philosophical then technical. As it is, humans are unable to comprehend something with no hard limit. It's not a concept we have ever had to address in the observable world, so it just goes without saying. Some of it may be due to use living a 3 dimensional world. The problem with that, is that if it requires more then 3 dimensions to understand then we have no hope of understanding. We can't understand something if we can't interpret it.

 

westrock2000

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 3, 2005
Messages
9,250
Even if we are in a simulation, it doesn't mean that human life or even just life in general is the goal or subject of the simulation. I haven't seen any of the people who speculate about this make any sort of claim to the contrary. I mean we could just be a minor side effect. After all why would you simulate... or create... a universe as big, old, and complex as the one we live in if all you were concerned about was a single short-lived species on a tiny world.

If we are to suppose that the greater force always has technology more advanced then us, then there is no hope in ever challenging the proposition. I simply put forth that this greater force has a way to make everything appear to be valid within the construct we are living in. You can't challenge that, because your explanations will be grounded in reality, and my explanation is that they are always more advanced then reality. Does this sound familiar??
 
Top