Are we living in a simulation?

2old4this

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#1
A string of recent SciFi tales have explored the idea that we may actually be living inside some kind of simulation. Matrix, Thirteenth Floor, etc. New Scientist last year even published a serious article which through a process of logic and extrapolation (of the current rate of advances in computing) deemed it a virtual certainty (no pun intended).

This idea fascinates me. I started a thread at the (Darwin) Philosphy Forum a few months ago and had some interesting discussion there.

One thing that particularly intrugues me is this: would there be any way in which we could ever determine whether we were or were not simulations? If not, even in principle, then this "theory" becomes a non-falsifiable premise and falls into the realm of religion rather than science.

Since I was a boy I've toyed with the idea that at some point in our lives we may become party to a secret so profound that we would never dare reveal it to a living soul. As a ten year old it was fascinating to think that all those millions of adults around me knew something that was so shocking they would never reveal it. Imagine now that there is such a secret - being that we are in fact simulations. Upon learning that, we would so endanger the stability of the illusion that we would have to be removed from the simulation. Perhaps our deaths occur at the moment of learning the truth.

Just some idle thoughts for a Friday afternoon. What are yours?

2old
 

rolfw

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#2
My thoughts? Hmm, my first one is that you were a pretty intense ten year old, 2old. ;) I think that my main trains of though at that age involved how high I could climb or whether the little girl next door hitting me was a sign of endearment or not.

I must confess though that in my maturity I find this type of scenario intriguing, whether I have anything positive, or even interesting to add to the discussion is another thing altogether.

I certainly found the Matrix an interesting concept, more so because it was well written and to a major degree explained the possibility of such an environment, when so many other stories skate over the necessary background detail.

I've certainly harboured the thought that I may at one time or other possess knowledge or abilities that no other is capable of, but that's probably more in the super hero bracket. :)

With regard to the question, "Are we living in a simulation?" I don't think so. I reckon that if we were, it would have been a better one. ;)
 
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#3
I have always been fascinated in the fact that we are not alone in the dark abiss that is the universe. either have i ruled out the possibility of there being a "higher power," which does include us (the world, the universe) being a total simulation. we could be the product of some extremely intelligent race with greatly advanced technology. i have also thaught of the possibility that we are a kind of parrasite, the universe being a being and us being a fundamental part fo that being. i do not know why i think this, i just thaught of it one night when lying in bed. there are many things we do not know, there are many different explanations for them, but we will never know what/how we came to be until we have some method of time travel, which is very unlikely but i, for one, would like to knwo how we came to be. whether there actually is a "god" or the whole universe is derrived from the big bang.

heh. damn i think thats the most intellectual thing i have written all year, lol, it sucks being 16 and out of school/college. (for the time being).
 

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#4
Some interesting thoughts there Scabbydoo, thanks for sharing them. Looking into what has been written by some Doctors of Philosophy it seems that they are wondering whether we may reach the post-human stage or become extinct before that. I believe that our history is as most of us have learned and contains all the fallibilities of the human race and their forefathers. I don't subscribe to theories about simulations because the costs of simulating our world would be beyond any scope I would have thought.

I do believe as a people we will become extinct because we will not replace the resources we are using up and we will destroy our environment one way or another. Also the diseases we are generating will eventally become incurable. I'm talking thousands of years hence probably but we already have several diseases we can manage but not cure. A new one has just been added.
 

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#5
We already have the ability to travel through time, its happening at the moment. What is more difficult is to adapt to travel in a different time frame to those around you

Will clarify this sometime yesterday when Ive got the means to put it in writing
 
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PipiSATTV

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#6
Do we live in a simulation is quite interesting but it also raises the Q. Then what is the reality!
But I don't think we live in a simulated world!


Time is a relative thing, and space is infinity!
I personally believe that our infinite space is part of some other being to whom the time that seems to us like billion of years maybe means just minutes of our time! This is the only logical explanation for me!
 

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#7
Two Olds suggestion that adults had crossed into a world of secrecy from the younger generation has been behind a number of Sci Fi stories, some brushing the idea, some turning it into a horror story, and some using it as the main theme. The thought of youth having a less closed mind on matters has always been a debate that continues to run, and is based on the ability to keep incoming information from the senses from being ignored, or suppressed , no matter how incredulous or rediculous that information might be.

Logans Run went down the adventurer route, to allow Logan and the stunning Jenny Agutter (and that dress - mmm!) to traverse passageways outside the city.

They Live went into horror to show what was really out there with a simple set of polaroid spectacles

The ideas of other worlds and other civilisations on our doorstep can be pure fiction - stories abound with the idea of people living inside the Earth (Jules Verne) , on an alternative world (DoppelGanger), or even on our planet, putting right all the mistakes within the time continuum (one Twilight Zone episode, and its parody - Time Bandits).

Sci Fi boundaries are limitless, what makes a great script is the ability to ensure the story has the reader/viewer thinking there is a thread of truth in it, and may be more than just abstract logic. Unfortunately thats where the limit lies when putting across most ideas to the masses. Most will not read a story that has no grasp on reality as it is impossible to comprehend, and comes over as gibberish, or mental instability of the writer.

Time and space are fine on their own, but the observers comprehension has to be included as a third platform, before any humans are able to traverse into new parts of the available universe (not in terms of distance).
 

dishdoctor

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#8
If time travel is not possible,(as in Dr Who) where have all those police boxes gone?.............................brian
 

guardian

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#9
I remember one night being restless in bed and unable to sleep.I got up and threw back the curtains.I gazed out at the seemingly endless sky and the myriad of stars in the firmament and thinking are we alone? what does this all mean?why are we here?What is my purpose?then I thought ,It's bugger all to do with me and got back into bed.
Guardian
 
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#10
it does as a matter of fact have something to dowith you, but there is really no reason to think about it cos there is no way at this preset point in time are we going to fnd any of this out.
 

s*t*a*r*m*a*n

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#11
I guess this would be a good time to explain why i call myself s*t*a*r*m*a*n
I have had many ufo experiences over the years not dissimilar to whitley strieber of communion fame. I have often thought of this idea that we are living in some sort of simulation. I still have no conclusions to make. I believe energy cannot be destroyed so that makes us infinitly immortal does it not? I recommend the film "dark city". This is how i would put this idea across.
There`s you and i in a box, we live there and believe that all that exists is just whats in the box. One day someone gets the idea to lift the lid off the box and to there amazement there is a whole new reality opened up to them. So we just have to figure out how to get the lid off :)
 

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#12
Put a net search in for 'black holes' and key words like 'massive', 'Hubble', and it will show just how far humans can 'see' in the universe today.

The relativity rules however mean what one is observing happened many eons ago, and so they may not be there now.

This idea for SETI seems to ignore the time difference protocol that exists, as for making contact ..........
 

2old4this

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#13
SETI does not ignore the time difference, which is why initial attempts centred on nearby stars. I think that obtaining proof of intelligent signals from another world would be a profound and defining moment for mankind. Establishing 2-way contact would be a separate step (and there are many in the SETI programme who believe that it would be a dangerous step to announce our presence).

Back to the simulation - I am inclined to believe that we will in the future have developed computer modelling to such a degree of sophisication that we will easily be capable of running simulations at least as complex as our own world. With the advent of quantum computers on the horizon the possibility seems ever more real. Already today we are able to develop huge neural networks. If consciousness is an emergent property of complex systems (rather than some metaphysical phenomenon as the dualists believe) then we will undoubtedly soon be able to create (simulate?) consciousness. From such an entities's viewpoint with probably limited perspective and sensory input, it may well seem unthinkable that it could be simulated. In fact, simulation is probably the wrong word. The consciousness in such a scenario would be every bit as real as mine, but it would simply have an artificial origin.

Mark my words. This century we will see The Sims in an entirely new light.

Here's more food for thought: philosophers have been arguing for 20 years on the ethics of switching off any such artificially generated consciousnesses. Perhaps our world is the "storage vessel" for unused artificial simulations that an advanced race "out there" feels morally compelled to sustain. Or perhaps we exist in an automated perpetual simulation that has already outlived our creators.

2old
 

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#14
The complexity of our world is brought about by two things, nature and the human mind with it's emotions and frailties. Not technology, that's the easy bit. Even if I thought we could build simulation models of our world (which I don't) it would be a race against time as to whether it could be achieved before we destroy our planet,through disease, famine and wars.
 

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#15
The near stars as far as I can gather do not have observable planets around them. Its true that these maybe as yet undiscovered, however if ther listening devices cannot collect information on orbiting satellites, then what chance do they have on receiving and processing sentient signals ?

The thought of SETI having a hand in what is sent out to the stars is also worrying. Many of the troubles on this planet could at least be helped by some extraterrestrial intervention if it already posesses the ability of interstellar flight, if not travel through time

Going back to the idea of simulation though, I cannot believe that any programme would be so advanced as to fool everyone almost all of the time.
Of course if the simulation is generated for one person only (and the rest around us are simply figmments generated holodeck style - which questions the Matrix and how the group managed to meet up), then again I would be highly sceptical of the cuts and briuses I acquire each day being so well organised, and yet I am sometimes unable to kick in the avoidance mechanism to avoid such damage
 

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#16
The Universe exists only because I am here to perceive it. It's the same for everyone else.

:cool: :cool:
 

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#17
Some more thoughts.

I'm sceptical of theories which state or imply some form of superior being, ie God, Greater Intelligence, Murdoch or whatever.
They're not very original ideas either. The ancient Greeks thought they were all pieces in a godgame and I'm sure we can find other examples in other cultures.

But the term 'simulation' begs a question: simulation of what? Our creator's image? A hypothetical construct? A wet dream?

It's all very convenient though, as abdicating our free will to such putative supernatural beings rids of of all responsibility for the atrocities which we daily perpetrate or, at least, acquiesce in. It must be a great comfort to Dubya, Saddam and their ilk to know that God really is on their side, if not controlling their actions.

I prefer to think it is all just a matter of chance. To paraphrase Einstein, God does play dice with the Universe.

:) :) :)
 

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#18
The Universe exists only because I am here to perceive it

The question would be where is 'here' ? A physical location with a true sentient entity somewhere in the centre, or the simulation of a physical location with a ..........

I will agree that anyone using superior being the cause/fault for their actions should be taken very quickly to the nuthouse, after all, in a UK court of Law, evidence has to be more than circumstantial for a conviction, and try proving that God exists.
Mind you the courts are based on religious artefacts for verifying participants to tell the truth, I hope to see the argument led by forensic, video recordings and other tests to enable the swearing on the bible to be replaced in the not too distant future

By the way 2old - where is the Darwin philosophy site, Ive searched but the ones that come back are rather dodgy or full of insults
 

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#19
Here? Ah. Well. Now you're asking. I don't suppose it counts if I say on a chair in front of the pc, because you'll just ask another difficult question.

:rolleyes:
 

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#20
I must confirm that if 'here'means in front of the PC connected to the Net its better than most places to watch whats going on around you in the universe.

Twenty years ago I would have spent £1000 on a telescope and still seen only as far as Saturns rings (and then only as a bright dot of light)

Fifteen years ago I spent £1000 on a good TV / VCR combination and still only got five channels

Thirteen years ago a £1000 satellite system got me another 25 channels (just)

Seven years ago I spent the same amount on a PC and here I am after an ADSL upgrade last year.

It wont replace going out on the bike though (well maybe if its snowing)

If simulation is happening then Im not so worried about it as Im relatively (sic) happy
 
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