We can know whether we are in a simulation

348px-Alphaomega.svgRemember the Bostrom argument from 2003? He argued that since technologies of simulation increase without limit, the only reason we would not be living in a higher power's simulation right now would be if that higher power simply did not enjoy making simulations. It's one of those asymptotic arguments - carry a thought out to infinity and the probability of something weird goes to 1. Do I understand it? Nah. But physicists in Germany argue that with current technology we should be able to detect whether this existence is a simulation - because of the physics of simulation. Do I understand that? Nah. But it is fun to think about.

Comments on We can know whether we are in a simulation:

greglas says:

We should figure that out. Apparently, if we are, there are certain things we really ought to be doing to amuse the simulators...

Posted Oct 11, 2012 11:52:49 AM | link

Joker says:

men's nipples... end simulation.

Posted Oct 11, 2012 1:13:11 PM | link

Rits says:

what if i told you... you are an NPC?

Posted Oct 11, 2012 3:05:43 PM | link

Richard Bartle says:

If it's a simulation, it has to be simulating something.

Surely we can live in a virtual world without its being a simulation, though?

Posted Oct 12, 2012 12:26:12 PM | link

John Roth says:

It makes me wonder. What if that's how everything started? Like a group of people created a universe "simulation" that we exist inside of. Time is normal for them, but the simulation is set to run really fast so they don't have to wait around forever. Eventually, inside of this digitally created universe, it create's life, which gets up to the same point in civilization that the creators were at, and they create their own simulation. Which then does the same thing. If the simulation was sped up because they wanted to observe specific details, would they even notice the sentient life they created? Unless the system was set up to record every specific and minute detail, I don't think they would. Or, if they did record this information, they probably wouldn't find out until after the fact. Like with the Large Hadron Collider. It produces MASSIVE amounts of data that computers and scientist must comb through after the fact to recover the information they need from it. This takes a REALLY long time.

So the fall and rise of our civilization, and every other one that pops up in our universe, would fly by undetected until someone looks at the recorded data and draws a conclusion from it. Meanwhile, all the "simulations" are unknowingly re-creating the simulations, creating an endless fractal universe. Then you have to think about whether or not their system was set up to record ALL data, and if it can record the data that WE collected, and the data that OUR system collected, and so on.

If this was the case, our creators would never acknowledge our existence, because technically they wouldn't be aware of it until long after we're gone. Also, there would be zero chance of us ever even speaking with them. And what would that tell us about our existence? We're a simulation so don't worry, be happy?

Posted Oct 15, 2012 5:41:48 PM | link

Freelance Wordpress Developer says:

Great Argument.

In Physics, Simulation refers to simulation in which physical objects are substituted for the real thing (some circles use the term for computer simulations modelling selected laws of physics, but this article doesn't). These physical objects are often chosen because they are smaller or cheaper than the actual object or system.


Posted Nov 2, 2012 7:39:12 AM | link

Peter Jenkins says:

There is also this project at Fermilab.

Posted Nov 5, 2012 2:11:18 PM | link