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Do we live in a computer simulation? How to test the idea.
KurzweilAINetwork ^ | December 13, 2012

Posted on 12/13/2012 6:21:49 AM PST by ExxonPatrolUs

The concept that we could possibly be living in a computer simulation comes from a 2003 paper published in Philosophical Quarterly by Nick Bostrom, a philosophy professor at the University of Oxford.

With current limitations and trends in computing, it will be decades before researchers will be able to run even primitive simulations of the universe. But a University of Washington team has suggested tests that can be performed now, or in the near future, that could resolve the question.

Currently, supercomputers using a technique called lattice quantum chromodynamics (LQC), and starting from the fundamental physical laws that govern the universe, can simulate only a very small portion of the universe, on the scale of one 100-trillionth of a meter, a little larger than the nucleus of an atom, said Martin Savage, a UW physics professor.

Eventually though, more powerful simulations will be able to model on the scale of a molecule, then a cell and even a human being. But it will take many generations of growth in computing power to be able to simulate a large enough chunk of the universe to understand the constraints on physical processes that would indicate we are living in a computer model.

However, Savage said, there are signatures of resource constraints in present-day simulations that are likely to exist as well in simulations in the distant future, including the imprint of an underlying lattice if one is used to model the space-time continuum.

The supercomputers performing LQC calculations essentially divide space-time into a four-dimensional grid. That allows researchers to examine what is called the strong force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature and the one that binds subatomic particles called quarks and gluons together into neutrons and protons at the core of atoms.

“If you make the simulations big enough, something like our universe should emerge,” Savage said. Then it would be a matter of looking for a “signature” in our universe that has an analog in the current small-scale simulations.

Savage and colleagues suggest that the signature could show up as a limitation in the energy of cosmic rays.

In a paper they have posted on arXiv, they say that the highest-energy cosmic rays would not travel along the edges of the lattice in the model but would travel diagonally, and they would not interact equally in all directions as they otherwise would be expected to do.

“This is the first testable signature of such an idea,” Savage said.

If such a concept turned out to be reality, it would raise other possibilities as well. For example, co-author Zohreh Davoudi suggests that if our universe is a simulation, then those running it could be running other simulations as well, essentially creating other universes parallel to our own.

“Then the question is, ‘Can you communicate with those other universes if they are running on the same platform?’” she said.

There are, of course, many caveats to this extrapolation. Foremost among them is the assumption that exponential growth of computers will continue into the future. Related to this is the possible existence of the technological Singularity, which could alter the curve in unpredictable ways.

And, of course, human extinction would terminate the exponential growth — or its simulation.


Silas R. Beane, Zohreh Davoudi, Martin J. Savage, Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation,, 2012, arXiv:1210.1847

Nick Bostrom, Are you living in a computer simulation?, Philosophical Quarterly, 2003

TOPICS: Chit/Chat
KEYWORDS: computer; matrix; sims; simulation

1 posted on 12/13/2012 6:21:53 AM PST by ExxonPatrolUs
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

Has someone seen The Matrix one too many times?

2 posted on 12/13/2012 6:25:31 AM PST by NonValueAdded (If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you've likely misread the situation.)
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

So okay, reboot the damned thing.

3 posted on 12/13/2012 6:27:52 AM PST by Lazamataz (LAZ'S LAW: As an argument with liberals goes on, the probability of being called racist approaches 1)
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To: NonValueAdded

I just realized, if I have time to read this, I have way too much time on my hands. Need to get a life!

4 posted on 12/13/2012 6:29:29 AM PST by Gadsden1st
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

If we live in a computer simulation, then there must be hardware. Find the on-off switch, flip it, and see what happens...

5 posted on 12/13/2012 6:29:37 AM PST by stuartcr ("Everything happens as God wants it to, otherwise, things would be different.")
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To: Lazamataz

“So okay, reboot the damned thing.”

But, be sure to run a “liberal cleanse” virus to eliminate all the defective logic currently contained within our sim.

Following virus isolation, run them through a torture sim that’s set on “loop”.

6 posted on 12/13/2012 6:30:49 AM PST by Da Coyote
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To: Lazamataz

But I would do a scan disk first and isolate the “bad sectors”. Here’s a macro-view from a woman who spent WWII years trying to destroy Hitler...with her mind! She passed in ‘46.

7 posted on 12/13/2012 6:32:57 AM PST by Portcall24
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

If you take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. If you take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland.

8 posted on 12/13/2012 6:36:04 AM PST by KC_Lion (Build the America you want to live in at your address, and keep looking up.-Sarah Palin)
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

I am a universe of one. All else is simulation.

That theory makes as much sense as the living in a comp sim one. The only question is, how do I get paid for expounding on it?


9 posted on 12/13/2012 6:36:04 AM PST by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed &water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS, NOW & FOREVER!)
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To: ExxonPatrolUs
Ha haaaaaa!!!

What a great scam! Literally throwing taxpayer money into a black hole!

Well. A virtual literal black hole.

10 posted on 12/13/2012 6:36:56 AM PST by Texas Eagle (If it wasn't for double-standards, Liberals would have no standards at all -- Te?xas Eagle)
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To: Da Coyote

I don’t believe in the Matrix theory as much as I believe we are part of a chess match between God and Satan and the earth is its chess board.

I believe that this is the second game between the two. The first game ended in a draw when God and Satan agreed to wipe the earth of its life forms and start fresh. For me, this would explain the ice age.

I submit that Adam and Eve was God’s opening move in game 2.

11 posted on 12/13/2012 6:39:41 AM PST by EQAndyBuzz (You cant bring something to its knees that refuses to stand on its own)
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

As I explained to my own Mother, who is an atheist and believes this- YES.. we are in a computer game.

And God is the player. And the cheats, on how to win, are in a document titled. “The Bible”.

12 posted on 12/13/2012 6:44:17 AM PST by Truth2012
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

There is a movie about tbis concept that came out right about the time as the Matrix. I think it is called the 13th Floor. Pretty good actually.

13 posted on 12/13/2012 6:44:20 AM PST by gop4lyf (Are we no longer in that awkward time? Or is it still too early?)
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To: Portcall24

That paper makes my brain wrinkle.

14 posted on 12/13/2012 6:45:01 AM PST by Lazamataz (LAZ'S LAW: As an argument with liberals goes on, the probability of being called racist approaches 1)
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

Do we live in a computer simulation ?

No, but they’re unintentionally scratching around the surface of the idea of the nature of the living God.

The sheer magnitude of data is such that humans are nowhere near close to being able to work with datasets anywhere near that large.

But we do understand that the physical universe represents information, down to the movement of every single atom. All such movement is determinate; it happens according to rules. Given that, despite the fact that data volumes prohibit humans from doing it, it is theoretically possible, knowing a current state and all the rules, to, in effect, “roll forward” a model in time and know what future states will look like.

From a “physics” point of view, us “crazy” creationists would believe, therefore, in essence, that God created an initial state and created the rules as well, which would explain not only his knowing the future, but, in effect, would mean that he controlled it from the beginning, ergo, “double predestination”.

15 posted on 12/13/2012 6:46:26 AM PST by PieterCasparzen (We have to fix things ourselves)
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

The authors, one might say, are Neo Platonists.

16 posted on 12/13/2012 6:52:21 AM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

I was just last night watching What We Still Don’t Know: “Are We Real?” with Martin Rees

It is a good intro to these ideas and more.

I recommend it.

17 posted on 12/13/2012 6:57:20 AM PST by Crazy Jim (There are known unknowns and then there are unknown unknowns. - Donald Rumsfeld)
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To: Truth2012

What if we were all made out of soilent green? A way to test it is to see Charlton Heston in heaven.

There....I am a philosophy student from Oxford.

18 posted on 12/13/2012 7:00:01 AM PST by willyd (Don't shoot, we're Republicans!)
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

God at the keyboard with a cup of for me.

19 posted on 12/13/2012 7:13:59 AM PST by Scooter100 ("Now that the fog has lifted, I still can't find my pipe". --- S. Holmes)
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

Yes, and when you die, you wont remember any of this minutiea.

20 posted on 12/13/2012 7:17:00 AM PST by ▀udda▀udd (>> F U B O << "What the hell kind of country is this if I can only hate a man if he's white?")
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To: ExxonPatrolUs
We have a virus!

Pls update anti-virus program.

21 posted on 12/13/2012 7:22:06 AM PST by TexasCajun
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To: TexasCajun

Was that picture from the first debate?

22 posted on 12/13/2012 7:30:00 AM PST by liberalh8ter (If Barack has a memory like a steel trap, why can't he remember what the Constitution says?)
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To: Lazamataz

I totally agree. I’ve read her work twice and what’s scary is some of it starts to make a little (very little) sense.

23 posted on 12/13/2012 7:47:06 AM PST by Portcall24
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To: PieterCasparzen

it’s pretty easy, as these things go, to demonstrate random disorder all over the place ~ this is the thesis that God not only throws dice with the universe, He throws them where even He can’t see them.

24 posted on 12/13/2012 7:53:45 AM PST by muawiyah
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

Just silly. We already know the answer is 42.

25 posted on 12/13/2012 8:37:23 AM PST by TexasRepublic (Socialism is the gospel of envy and the religion of thieves)
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

We all knew this already.
The programmer’s name is “I AM”.

26 posted on 12/13/2012 9:02:53 AM PST by RavenLooneyToon (Tail gunner Joe was right.)
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To: muawiyah

m, IMHO, what we think of as disorder, or randomness is lack of knowledge of the order of things.

For example, start with a barrel full of lottery numbers (Step A). Turn it by a handle (Step B) (conventional wisdom says this is “randomizing” the numbers), stop (Step C), then a hand reaches in and pulls out a number (Step D).

If one had precise information at Step A, and precise data on Steps B - D, one would know precisely which number was coming out of the barrel.

Randomizing is really just changing the order of a set of things and keeping the result unknown. The order of the set is then unknown.

If we look at the first few elements of a “random” set, and we see a pattern, then we can guess other elements. But if we see no pattern in our sample, we say ew, it’s random.

IMHO, what we really mean is we see no pattern and, since we only have a sample, we can’t infer anything about the overall order of the set.

IMHO, of course, because I’m sure there are rocket scientists who will offer dissertations on randomness (when simply a “no way”, “sorta” or “yeah” would suffice, perhaps with a link to their dissertation, since we can google for dissertations to our heart’s content; I’m just trying to generalize in a few occamesque paragraphs).

27 posted on 12/13/2012 9:48:23 AM PST by PieterCasparzen (We have to fix things ourselves)
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