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How can we test to see if we are living in a computer simulation ?


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If we live a in computer simulation, with an advanced species fine-tuning conditions, might not that advanced species also live in a computer simulation, with a more advanced species fine-tuning their conditions, who also live in computer simulation, with conditions fine-tuned...it's turtles all the way down.

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Maybe I’m just too closed minded and stupid to even consider the idea as plausible..  bUT I have to say . . No, we are not living in a computer simulation.

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16 minutes ago, Tatetopa said:

What is the nature of reality and how does that affect what I will have for breakfast tomorrow?

How will what you have for breakfast affect the program !*?    After all, both the immediate, and infinite, futures of the universe hinge on how many eggs you have tomorrow morning.   :mellow:    

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12 minutes ago, lightly said:

Maybe I’m just too closed minded and stupid to even consider the idea as plausible..  bUT I have to say . . No, we are not living in a computer simulation.

The argument I heard goes something like this.  Already we can make trivial simulated universes.  Given the progression in AI and computer technology, in a few hundred years we might be able to make  a pretty accurate universe simulation.

If we could do it, there must be some other civilizations out there with that stage of advancement that can make universe simulations.  Each civilization might make numerous simulations, hundreds or even millions.

If that is the case, in addition to a real foundational universe, there might be millions or even billions of simulations.  The odds of living in a simulation versus living in the "real" universe might be a billion to one.

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You suppose that Mario & Luigi wondered that? ;)

Edited by Hawken
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If we do live in a simulation, do we really want to discover that? How would the entity, that created it, react? Would they get nervous that their creation is starting to figure things out and shut it down?
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11 hours ago, Portre said:

If we live a in computer simulation, with an advanced species fine-tuning conditions, might not that advanced species also live in a computer simulation, with a more advanced species fine-tuning their conditions, who also live in computer simulation, with conditions fine-tuned...it's turtles all the way down.

The chance that it's not is equally as big. You're just creating an absurdity to make an easy dismissal.

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21 minutes ago, ChewiesArmy said:

If we do live in a simulation, do we really want to discover that? How would the entity, that created it, react? Would they get nervous that their creation is starting to figure things out and shut it down?

It's been a big thing in scientific circles and online for years. They haven't shut us down yet.

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To answer the OP question: How do we test it?

Well we've been doing it for a hundred years without knowing it. Quantum mechanics.

But we could destroy our universe if we wanted, by using multiple quantum computers in the 'halt and catch fire' mode. We just need to invent reliable models first.

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10 hours ago, lightly said:

Maybe I’m just too closed minded and stupid to even consider the idea as plausible..  bUT I have to say . . No, we are not living in a computer simulation.

You were probably programmed to have that opinion. :rofl:

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16 hours ago, Tatetopa said:

The argument I heard goes something like this.  Already we can make trivial simulated universes.  Given the progression in AI and computer technology, in a few hundred years we might be able to make  a pretty accurate universe simulation.

If we could do it, there must be some other civilizations out there with that stage of advancement that can make universe simulations.  Each civilization might make numerous simulations, hundreds or even millions.

If that is the case, in addition to a real foundational universe, there might be millions or even billions of simulations.  The odds of living in a simulation versus living in the "real" universe might be a billion to one.

Well, you would need computer larger than the Universe... Your body consists of ~1028 atoms, I don't even know how much that is in terabytes...

PS in new prefixes 1028 is 10 ronnas.

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8 hours ago, zep73 said:

But we could destroy our universe if we wanted, by using multiple quantum computers in the 'halt and catch fire' mode. We just need to invent reliable models first.

Unless the universe is coded to prevent that. Might just be me but I see this simulation theory as being just another watchmaker fallacy.

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10 hours ago, zep73 said:

The chance that it's not is equally as big. You're just creating an absurdity to make an easy dismissal.

I'm created the absurdity to express my opinion of the simulated universe hypothesis

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11 hours ago, ChewiesArmy said:

If we do live in a simulation, do we really want to discover that? How would the entity, that created it, react? Would they get nervous that their creation is starting to figure things out and shut it down?

No way. They would probably think that was really cool. On the other hand to think that out of an entire universe that has been created that we fleeting parts of that simulation are under that level of scrutiny may be conceited, but typically human. 

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6 hours ago, bmk1245 said:

Well, you would need computer larger than the Universe... Your body consists of ~1028 atoms, I don't even know how much that is in terabytes...

PS in new prefixes 1028 is 10 ronnas.

A simulation doesn't have to model all of those atoms because we do not observe them. We have observer's effects in quantum mechanics and Heisenberg to indicate some smearing of our vision.  If we are in a simulation, all of the instruments and detectors we design are part of the simulation, build out of simulation fabric and running on simulation rules.  That includes the Webb telescope and double slit experiments. 

A crude analogy would be an object in one of our own simulation games whether it be a sword, car, train, gun, or mining pick.  All of those things have predictable effects in the simulation they reside within that we come to expect and incorporate into our theory of how the game world works. 

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9 hours ago, Tatetopa said:

A simulation doesn't have to model all of those atoms because we do not observe them. We have observer's effects in quantum mechanics and Heisenberg to indicate some smearing of our vision.  If we are in a simulation, all of the instruments and detectors we design are part of the simulation, build out of simulation fabric and running on simulation rules.  That includes the Webb telescope and double slit experiments. 

A crude analogy would be an object in one of our own simulation games whether it be a sword, car, train, gun, or mining pick.  All of those things have predictable effects in the simulation they reside within that we come to expect and incorporate into our theory of how the game world works. 

Things is, other atoms do observe "those atoms". Remove 1023 atoms (approx cubic cm) and you may end up blind, having tumor, or... dead.

PS in Uni times I thought I understood QM, nowadays :no:...

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26 minutes ago, bmk1245 said:

Things is, other atoms do observe "those atoms". Remove 1023 atoms (approx cubic cm) and you may end up blind, having tumor, or... dead.

PS in Uni times I thought I understood QM, nowadays :no:...

I think you treat collections of atoms in a simulation like subroutine programming structures.  Just a black box with inputs that produce outputs, no need to know what happens inside the black box of 1023 atoms.

Something is there in the simulation of that cubic centimeter of your brain, but how to know what it is?  Every instrument used on it provides  the programmed response that a denizen of the simulation expects. It may be just values in memory locations and nothing physical at all.

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14 minutes ago, Tatetopa said:

I think you treat collections of atoms in a simulation like subroutine programming structures.  Just a black box with inputs that produce outputs, no need to know what happens inside the black box of 1023 atoms.

[...]

Thats approximation, ain't real world. For example, single band effective mass approximation is good enough for modelling quantum wells (next step - multiband approximations) you'll get quantized energy levels. In real life, with biological systems, quite different thingy - displace atom in molecule and you will have poison instead of cure.

14 minutes ago, Tatetopa said:

[...]

Something is there in the simulation of that cubic centimeter of your brain, but how to know what it is?  Every instrument used on it provides  the programmed response that a denizen of the simulation expects. It may be just values in memory locations and nothing physical at all.

Displace cubic cm of your heart muscles with, say, helium, you're dead/incapacitated (depends)

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2 hours ago, FlyingAngel said:

Either your prove or disprove it. The creator could simply program the app so that you can disprove it.

The creator of creator could simply program the app so that you can disprove it. What about creator of creator of creator?....

I'm always ammused with willingness to complicate things...

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9 hours ago, bmk1245 said:

Thats approximation, ain't real world. For example, single band effective mass approximation is good enough for modelling quantum wells (next step - multiband approximations) you'll get quantized energy levels. In real life, with biological systems, quite different thingy - displace atom in molecule and you will have poison instead of cure.

Displace cubic cm of your heart muscles with, say, helium, you're dead/incapacitated (depends)

I think we are debating the simulation game,  can a sufficiently advanced  simulation have the internal consistency to provide a consistent universe?

If we stay within the bounds of a simulation,   then a gram of heart muscle or a gram of helium are only concepts in the simulation, their underlying structure could be  values in  memory locations.

A sufficiently advanced simulation would provide exactly the results you describe, replacing a gram of heart muscle in a simulation with a gram of helium might terminate the simulated organism.  Changing a simulated atom in a simulated complex chain of molecules  would produce the data you are expecting; poison. 

How much data does the simulation need to process to be convincing?  Maybe not atomic level detail for the

entire universe. An advanced simulation may use the same trick our own game simulations use, detail up close, a suggestive blur further away.

If the simulation is complex enough to simulate our universe, then it also may be fine grained enough to prevent detecting anomalies at molecular level near the observer.

For humans, how much of the universe needs fine grain structure?  I would say for arguments sake, only what we can reach.   Distant stars and galaxies do not need to be modeled in molecular detail.  They only need to obey the rule set of the simulation provides for observable outputs.

As a bonus, a simulation provides another answer to the Drake equation, where is everybody?  Maybe humans are the only object of study  in this simulation. 

Another point to ponder, if the simulation is turned off and resumes at a later point exactly where it terminated, would we in the simulation be able detect it?

 

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1 hour ago, Tatetopa said:

I think we are debating the simulation game,  can a sufficiently advanced  simulation have the internal consistency to provide a consistent universe?

If we stay within the bounds of a simulation,   then a gram of heart muscle or a gram of helium are only concepts in the simulation, their underlying structure could be  values in  memory locations.

A sufficiently advanced simulation would provide exactly the results you describe, replacing a gram of heart muscle in a simulation with a gram of helium might terminate the simulated organism.  Changing a simulated atom in a simulated complex chain of molecules  would produce the data you are expecting; poison. 

How much data does the simulation need to process to be convincing?  Maybe not atomic level detail for the

entire universe. An advanced simulation may use the same trick our own game simulations use, detail up close, a suggestive blur further away.

If the simulation is complex enough to simulate our universe, then it also may be fine grained enough to prevent detecting anomalies at molecular level near the observer.

For humans, how much of the universe needs fine grain structure?  I would say for arguments sake, only what we can reach.   Distant stars and galaxies do not need to be modeled in molecular detail.  They only need to obey the rule set of the simulation provides for observable outputs.

As a bonus, a simulation provides another answer to the Drake equation, where is everybody?  Maybe humans are the only object of study  in this simulation. 

Another point to ponder, if the simulation is turned off and resumes at a later point exactly where it terminated, would we in the simulation be able detect it?

 

Thank you! Finally someone who bothers to think it through, and you're not even a scientist! Bravo sir!

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