Universe as Simulation?

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Universe as Simulation?

Postby Braininvat on September 10th, 2017, 10:53 am 

webplodder » September 10th, 2017, 3:46 am wrote:
Braininvat » Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:55 pm wrote:Many physical laws are highly involved with real numbers, which points towards the problem of a universal computation that requires an infinite amount of time in a purely digital architecture. From the Ockham perspesctive you mention, the digital universe theory would tend to favor implementations of universes that were VERY simple and the likelihood of being in such a universe would be very high, so then we would have the problem of why we have such a complex one and one that seems to require so many real numbers to model.


Well, if we suppose the universe is a kind of quantum computer the calculations possible would almost be limitless. Seth Lloyd, for example, who is one of the principle researchers into developing quantum computing, thinks the universe is a quantum computer.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seth_Lloyd

Nick Bostrom too has argued the case for a simulation hypothesis.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulation_hypothesis


And again, the ease of quantum decoherence, simply as a result of basic interactions with a "noisy" environment, puts the burden of explanation of an observer-dependent universe back on those proposing it.


The way it may work is that an observation is made which gathers data from the environment which then acts as an input for further observations. Thus we create a feedback loop where whatever we observe changes the information we obtain from it, which in turn changes itself over time. You can see the evidence for this idea in the way science and technology has developed over the years by constantly refining itself.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital ... rom_bit.22


Several members have discussed Bostrom and the simulation hypothesis (and Max Tegmark's math universe, too) in quite a few SPCF threads - I just picked this one from the pile, as an example. You may enjoy using the search function and browsing some of the others, too....

http://www.sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?nomobile=1&f=129&t=23191&p=226026&hilit=bostrom#p226026

I don't want to take this thread too far of course, regarding the simulation hypothesis. As to your idea of observational feedback loops, I think it would be good to see this fleshed out a little, as I'm not sure quite what you mean or what sorts of experimental evidence you are drawing on.
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Re: Photon's puzzle.

Postby BurtJordaan on September 10th, 2017, 12:38 pm 

webplodder » 10 Sep 2017, 14:58 wrote:
BurtJordaan » Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:36 am wrote:We now drift into philosophy, but suppose consciousness disappears, would the same universe continue to exist?

How could it? The thing to remember is that, in the final analysis, we form part of reality, therefore when we are not present or don't exist, reality changes so it cannot be exactly as it was when we were an active participant of it.

Yea OK, not exactly "the same universe", but in a near-infinite universe, we don't matter, wouldn't you agree? I surely don't subscribe to the club that requires an observer for the universe to exist. There are large (perhaps infinite) parts of the universe that we cannot observe, even in principle, but Occam's razor guides us to think "it must be there", even if we are the only observers in the universe.
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Re: Photon's puzzle.

Postby webplodder on September 11th, 2017, 6:28 am 

BurtJordaan » Sun Sep 10, 2017 4:38 pm wrote:
webplodder » 10 Sep 2017, 14:58 wrote:
BurtJordaan » Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:36 am wrote:We now drift into philosophy, but suppose consciousness disappears, would the same universe continue to exist?

How could it? The thing to remember is that, in the final analysis, we form part of reality, therefore when we are not present or don't exist, reality changes so it cannot be exactly as it was when we were an active participant of it.

Yea OK, not exactly "the same universe", but in a near-infinite universe, we don't matter, wouldn't you agree? I surely don't subscribe to the club that requires an observer for the universe to exist. There are large (perhaps infinite) parts of the universe that we cannot observe, even in principle, but Occam's razor guides us to think "it must be there", even if we are the only observers in the universe.


I don't think it's very sensible to take the view that consciousness creates the universe per se, however, what do we really mean when we talk about 'the universe?' Ultimately, we as conscious observers are a part of the universe, so in a real sense we are the universe 'looking' at itself and the question this seems to raise is whether what we see is already embedded within reality or something that we create from the probabilistic potentials we now know form the basis of reality. Given that we live in a non-deterministic universe, it seems reasonable to take the view that through our free choices, we are in a position to determine our own fate, in terms of the kind of environment we make for ourselves.

Ever since thinking people started asking questions about the world we live in, the process of modifying our environment has been ongoing and indeed, we can go back well beyond the Greek philosophers to see that human beings had an important impact on their environment in terms of shaping it for their own purposes. A larger brain has obviously contributed to conscious beings like us being able to form concepts that probe the nature of reality and it seems clear that reality can be described in terms of our concepts. But what about the way we sense reality in terms of our immediate senses, like touch, smell, sight, hearing, etc?

Ultimately, whatever way we perceive our environment can be reduced to information since this is the simplest approach and makes no assumptions beyond the fact that we are dealing with data. Even subjective experiences are really just 'bits' of information since any emotions or quaiia rely on the firing of neurons and electro-chemical reactions that ultimately are based on the interactions of sub-atomic particles, which can be likened to 1 or 0 bit operations.

The perplexing question of this approach raises, of course, is where does all this information come from? We do find that our universe is incredibly fine-tuned to support life and intelligent observers and in some cases this fine-tuning can be calculated to many decimal places, therefore, it could hardly be coincidence. One could argue that it is so happens that we find ourselves living in a universe that is 'friendly' to the development of life but what are the odds of this? We are either extremely fortunate we live in a universe that supports life, consciousness, etc., or we are living in a 'simulated' universe that has been created from some 'other place' since before the Big Bang our current reality simply did not exist. In fact, the Big Bang is still something of a conundrum because there is not currently any viable theory with which to account for its creation.

The simulated universe approach would solve this question because it would simply represent the starting point of such a simulation and make no assumptions beyond that. Traditionally we are told that light has a complimentary nature, i.e., that it can behave as both a wave and a particle at different times, however, this is only a gloss placed on it due to the contradictory nature of light and the inability of science to provide a logical framework within which to account for such odd behavior. The same thing applies to other odd quantum behavior, such as entanglement, quantum tunneling, superposition and the like. We are able to provide mathematical models with which to predict such behavior, but such models are merely 'looking' at the phenomena, not explaining it.This shows us that we can no longer make a smooth transition from the classical world to the quantum world and that one cannot cause the other. How then can we have two realities? There can only be one reality and it requires an overarching theory with which to encompass both cases.

An informational universe satisfies all the requirements of all our observations because it does not assume the different 'levels' of reality we examine are already determined and causing one another. Essentially, it means nothing is already 'set in stone', so to speak, and that it is the questions we pose to our simulated universe and the answers we receive that steer our understanding of reality
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Re: Universe as Simulation?

Postby bangstrom on September 12th, 2017, 11:44 pm 

I suspect there may be some in the last a generation or two that have never read the SF story about how entropy was reversed. Just in case, here it is.

The Last Question by Isaac Asimov © 1956
“The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way ...

http://multivax.com/last_question.html
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Re: Universe as Simulation?

Postby webplodder on September 13th, 2017, 5:53 am 

bangstrom » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:44 am wrote:I suspect there may be some in the last a generation or two that have never read the SF story about how entropy was reversed. Just in case, here it is.

The Last Question by Isaac Asimov © 1956
“The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way ...

http://multivax.com/last_question.html


Great story. Makes you wonder if there isn't more than a few grains of truth in it!
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Re: Universe as Simulation?

Postby Infinite_Observer on September 13th, 2017, 8:06 am 

The way I look at the subject is this: Lets take the video game Grand Theft Auto 5 as an example. Say a bug in the code somehow led the npcs (non player characters) to develop some sort of consciousness. They would be limited to only the information stored in that little coded universe and would not have any idea that it is only a video game and without any way to access the outside, real world they would naturally consider the game to be the "true reality". I could see how in theory the same would be true of humans and our universe. We could easily be just be simulated humans in some program used to simulate the iniverse and and used to test the outcomes of certain events. Just a thought I do not accept this as true but definately food for thought.
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Re: Universe as Simulation?

Postby webplodder on September 13th, 2017, 10:51 am 

Infinite_Observer » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:06 pm wrote:The way I look at the subject is this: Lets take the video game Grand Theft Auto 5 as an example. Say a bug in the code somehow led the npcs (non player characters) to develop some sort of consciousness. They would be limited to only the information stored in that little coded universe and would not have any idea that it is only a video game and without any way to access the outside, real world they would naturally consider the game to be the "true reality". I could see how in theory the same would be true of humans and our universe. We could easily be just be simulated humans in some program used to simulate the iniverse and and used to test the outcomes of certain events. Just a thought I do not accept this as true but definately food for thought.


Yes, this is an idea I've seen before but there is no way to falsify it, unfortunately.

That's the trouble with philosophy - it's not science!
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