Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?
I hope that this post will build on my post about God, providing more of an idea of what our possible place in the universe could be.
I must preface this by saying that I believe that the universe must be ordered in a fractal pattern. By “universe” I mean everything, including our universe and whatever lies “beyond”. I have considered that perhaps black holes themselves are universes, a theory which some physicists have put forward. I have a new theory now though, and to address it I will get back to the question.
Are we living in a computer simulation?
The answer is yes. There is no avoiding it, you are a brain in a vat, and that vat is your skull. Your experience is simply electro-chemical signals fed to you from nerve fibers which you only assume exist because your nerve fibers tell you they do. You are a computer, and you are living inside yourself.
You may or may not be living in the Matrix. If this is the case, it doesn’t matter at all because even if you escape the matrix you’re still living inside your brain. There is no end to the madness.
We will reach the point soon when we are able to place ourselves in computer simulations. Perhaps at first this will be in the form of virtual reality systems for computer games. We will compete with artificial intelligences built into these programs until at one point, just as we have had to do in “reality”, we will have to question whether our programs within programs are conscious, and we will certainly have to admit that they are eventually.
A computer simulation can model something more complicated than the universe which contains the computer, due to the power of recursion and compression. Is this our ultimate role in the universe, to be gateways into the next level of existence? I’m quite certain that the answer is yes.
The most efficient way to organize matter is to let it organize itself. creating life on this planet as it is now would be an enormous effort requiring enormous intelligence. Likewise, modeling the universe as it is currently would be an impossible undertaking for any intelligence which does not constitute a good portion of the universe itself. But if we were to merely set the parameters: the amount of matter and energy, the fundamental constants, etc. and just watched it all explode and organize itself, that wouldn’t require much from us at all. And if little intelligences inside our models decide to create little universes themselves, well I’d say we’ve fulfilled our role. this conception of the universe has a pleasing sort of natural selection to it; it explains why things are set up so perfectly for us, and how that information can be carried on so that the universe has a sense of infinity to it.
Now, it’s important to note that the computers which we will use to model universes will be indistinguishable from our intelligence. What I mean by saying we will create universes in our computers is that we will create universes in ourselves.
update: for more of an idea of what it’s like to simulate a universe and what we can do now here’s a little nifty video describing a current simulation of a galaxy.
One must wonder when we will find the matter in our universes starting to rearrange itself.