Here’s an interview with a guy who thinks we’re living inside a computer. This guy is great (I enjoyed the Moore’s Law stuff.), but I have some problems with his theory. Feel free to smoke a joint and put on some Radiohead before you read this. (What’s that? You’re already stoned? Wow, than it must have blown your mind when I just called you out on it). http://www.vice.com/read/whoa-dude-are-we-inside-a-computer-right-now-0000329-v19n9
I’ve had thoughts on this topic as well, as all self-respecting philosopher-musicians/video-game nerds/physicist-wanabees have.
Turing and others have done incredible work on the nature of computation and how it relates to physics. Computation is essentially a low-entropy and information-creating formation of matter. Turing proposed that no calculation, given enough time, is impossible in our universe – even a calculation calculating an entire universe.
The problem is this – Terrile says that because nature seems to be “pixelated”, and because digital video games are inherently pixelated, it’s evidence that we are living in a simulation. That’s a logical hand-wave – I think it’s more likely that the nature of computation, being limited by the laws of physics in this universe, would clearly reflect that. In other words, games are discrete because nature is discrete. And by the way, “discrete” has a hugely different meaning when you’re talking about a pixel on a computer screen and the tiniest particle in our “real world”. Each pixel on the entire planet – every pixel on every screen – has literally billions of neutrinos (emitted from our sun) passing through it each second. Not only that, but the Universe seems to be infinite, and to continue infinitely – not a discrete quantity there. So basically, I’m trying to kill the thought process many will have when they read that article – “whoah, we’re basically in a video game already, dude.”
I tend to think that we’re information-creating beings – beautiful diamonds that evolve in a perfectly decaying universe, like our own. We take increasing entropy and through creative and explanatory powers we make things with very low entropy. Interesting, beautiful, profound things. As we evolve quicker and quicker, we’ll certainly create virtual people. Almost definitely, as far as I’m concerned. But wouldn’t we find it ethical to let them know that it’s all a video game at some point? Through all the suffering in the world, could an evolved super-intelligence really sit back and chill without intervention?
Here’s a beautiful thought. Maybe in another universe in the multiverse an intelligent civilization evolved to the point where they set into motion another big bang, the birth of our universe. And because they live in another universe, they can’t interact with their creation at all. Maybe it’s the ultimate act of a dying universe – a species becomes hyper-intelligent and creates order and beauty throughout the universe – and then sets into motion a new universe or series of universes to play out however they play out.
It’s a profoundly beautiful thought to me.