Thursday, June 23, 2016

Musings on All This Being a Simulation

It seems that whether we are living in a simulation is a common topic of discussion at the moment. This has been an idea for many years but only recently has broken out into mainstream thought where non-scientists/philosophers/mathematicians can start musing on it.

All below assumes we ARE inside a simulation.

To divert from the main discussion immediately I wonder what the entity in control of the simulation thinks of his little world creating objects which are able to imagine that they are just routines inside whatever passes for a computer. Is the entity able to tap into what we think? I occasionally start thinking idly about this and wonder if any such thoughts are flagged up as self-reference. Does a little light start flashing on a dashboard causing the monitors to start displaying my thoughts as an interesting exercise?

All this is dangerously like the discussion of the existence of God/Assorted Other Deities/The Flying Spaghetti Monster* with the immediate response from me being what created the entity which created me? Is there a long line of simulators extending into the distance, each one created by some sort of intelligence which we cannot ever have a hope of understanding? Anything able to create such a complex simulation with macro structures extending for Quadrillions of Light Years in space and Billions of years in time and micro structures down to quantum sizes and beyond, will certainly have computing power many orders of magnitude beyond ours. It will also exist in a universe (if universe has any meaning beyond the one we live in) that differs completely from ours. Is our mathematics completely different? Are Prime Numbers just a tease to keep us interested? Maybe the entity is amused that we have used Prime Numbers to secure our online shopping. All these ideas are just like Sagan's sand on the beach, enough to keep people philosophizing for eternity.

Talking of eternity that brings us to temporal aspects. Has our simulation existed for the full 14 billion years since The Big Bang (or longer if the simulation encompasses any possible physics beyond The Big Bang) or was it started fully formed with all the memory of the history of physics built into it ready to be discovered by us? If humans have not physically evolved at what point were we created? There are so many interactions between people that to create 7 Billion people all with the complex memories of other people already formed seems a task so exponentially difficult that it seems to rule out anything but the full 14 Billion years history allowing the Universe to mature to a state where it can evolve conscious and intelligent entities. But as I say we have no idea what sort of "computing power" our masters have. Of course our existence could be made more likely by little tweaks here and there. Or are we just one of many simulations, most of which were boring or fizzled out or were accidentally halted by an accident in the laboratory with a really hot cup of tea?

Of course a simpler solution is that just one person is the simulation and all other people are merely dumb interfacing sensory inputs to that one person. If this is the case and using Descartes' "I think therefore I am", the fact that at the moment I am a complex mind which believes it exists behind these eyes suggests to me at least that I am the one. The routines are reading this thought - perhaps before I write it and are making sure that all the possible contexts and robotic interactions which I might have are aware of the content in order to allow it to seem logical when referred to. This seems less taxing on any system on which it runs, requiring only the programming of the immediately interacting parts of the program. I am thinking of some illogic which I could state here which would show up when referred to in later "conversation", something to trip up the processing, possibly something I reveal here but which has a corresponding thought which I do not voice. But in all cases I cannot think of anything which would "break" the processing. The entity knows everything both outside and inside my head but, unlike the creator of the Origami Unicorn in Blade Runner, never makes a mistake or reveals that it knows what I think.

It all just seems too consistent for me. But what if inconsistencies happen all the time and simply roll back the simulation to before they occur, where they are then fixed? Time runs smoothly. Nobody other than a few UFO abductees, say time stops or goes backwards; even with the very real feeling that time seems to go faster as you get older, it still ticks along behaving correctly in both classical and Einsteinian physics. Perhaps our memories are continually creating restore points and should something not right happen, it is flagged up and whatever is needed to restart before the inconsistency is done and we simply don't experience it.

So hello to the great entity. If you read this then say hello to your creator adding this rider so that they can pass on the greetings, God Over Djinn for ever up to whatever is the last great circle of existence, which should all this be true must be something so different from our own experience as to be incomprehensible. Oh - and Vote Remain.

* For comic purposes only