Why this computer scientist thinks reality might be a video game

#1
https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/...izwan-virk

EXCERPT: . . . Sean Illing: When you say there are aspects of our world that would make more sense if they were part of a simulation, what do you mean exactly?

Rizwan Virk: Well, there are a few different aspects, one of which is this mystery they call quantum indeterminacy, which is the idea that a particle is in one of multiple states and you don’t know that unless you observe the particle. [...]

Sean Illing: How does Schrödinger’s cat relate to a video game or a computer simulation?

Rizwan Virk: The history of video game development is all about optimizing limited resources. If you asked somebody in the 1980s if you could you render a game like World of Warcraft, which is a full three-dimensional or a virtual reality game, they would say, “No, It would take all the computing power in the world. We couldn’t render all those pixels in real time.” But what happened over time was that there were optimization techniques. The core of all these optimizations is “only render that which is being observed.” The first big game to successfully do this was called Doom, which was very popular in the 1990s. It was a first-person shooter game, and it could render only the light rays and objects which are clearly visible from the point of view of the virtual camera. This is an optimization technique, and it’s one of the things that reminds me of a video game in the physical world.

Sean Illing: I’m going to do the thing that non-scientists always do when they want to sound scientific and invoke Occam’s razor. Isn’t the hypothesis that we’re living in a flesh-and-blood physical world the simpler — and therefore more likely — explanation?

Rizwan Virk: I’ll bring up a very famous physicist, John Wheeler. He was one of the last physicists who worked with Albert Einstein and many of the great physicists of the 20th century. He said that physics was initially thought to be about the study of physical objects, that everything was reducible to particles. This is what’s often called the Newtonian model. But then we discovered quantum physics and we realized that everything was a field of probabilities and it wasn’t actually physical objects. That was the second wave in Wheeler’s career. The third wave in his career was the discovery that at the core level, everything is information, everything is based on bits. So Wheeler came up with a famous phrase called “it from bit,” which is the idea that anything we see as physical is really the result of bits of information. He didn’t live to see quantum computers come into reality, but it’s looking more like that. So I would say that if the world isn’t really physical, if it’s based on information, then a simpler explanation might in fact be that we are in a simulation that is generated based on computer science and information.

[...] Sean Illing: If we were living in a computer program, I assume that program would consist of rules and that those rules could be broken or suspended by the people or beings who programmed the simulation. But the laws of our physical world seem to be pretty constant, so isn’t that a sign that this might not be a simulation?

Rizwan Virk: Computers do follow rules, but the fact that the rules always apply doesn’t rule in or rule out that we could be part of a computer simulation. One of the concepts that ties into this is a concept called computational irreducibility, and it’s the idea that in order to figure something out, you can’t just calculate it in an equation; you have to actually go through the steps to figure out what the end result would be. And this is part of a branch of mathematics called chaos theory. There’s the old idea that the butterfly flaps its wings in China and it results in a hurricane somewhere else in the world. To figure that out, you have to actually go through and model every step of the way. Just because the rules seem to apply doesn’t mean that we’re not in a simulation. In fact, it could be more evidence that we’re in a simulation.

Sean Illing: If we were living in a simulation as convincing as The Matrix, would there be any discernible difference between the simulation and reality? [...]

Rizwan Virk: [...] Probably the most important question related to this is whether we are NPCs (non-player characters) or PCs (player characters) in the video game. If we are PCs, then that means we are just playing a character inside the video game of life, which I call the Great Simulation. I think many of us would like to know this. We would want to know the parameters of the game we’re playing so that we could better understand it, better navigate it. If we are NPCs, or simulated characters, then I think it’s a more complicated answer and more frightening. The question is, are all of us NPCs in a simulation, and what is the purpose of that simulation? A knowledge of the fact that we’re in a simulation, and the goals of the simulation and the goals of our character, I think, would still be interesting to many people — and now we’re back to the case of the holodeck character from Star Trek that discovers that there is a world “out there” (outside the holodeck) that he can’t go to, and perhaps some of us would rather not know in that case.

Sean Illing: How close are we to having the technological capacity to build an artificial world that’s as realistic and plausible as The Matrix?

Rizwan Virk: I lay out 10 stages of technology development that a civilization would have to go through to get to what I call the simulation point, which is the point at which we can create a hyperrealistic simulation like this. We’re at about stage five, which is around virtual reality and augmented reality. [...] (MORE - details)

RELATED: Are we living in a simulation? This MIT scientist says it’s more likely than not
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#2
Cool. By ‘our world’ do they mean the entire universe? Or is it just the Earth, solar system, galaxy, etc? I’m visualizing billions upon billions of test sites...lol. I think of simulation as being totally experimental, a study in science, but I suppose it could be a video game being played out somewhere.
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#3
(Apr 12, 2019 12:11 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: Cool. By ‘our world’ do they mean the entire universe? Or is it just the Earth, solar system, galaxy, etc?


Apparently just the observers and what they immediately observe, if these computer gurus' own game strategies were implemented: “...No, It would take all the computing power in the world. We couldn’t render all those pixels in real time.” But what happened over time was that there were optimization techniques. The core of all these optimizations is “only render that which is being observed.”

This goes back to the concept of non-technological "generative principles", which Plato only clumsily grazed with his ideal geometric "forms". Should have instead been eternal "formulas" that could generate and coherently regulate changing spatial patterns and structures.

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#4
I'd always be a bit apprehensive about referring to our existence as apart of a "game". I say that because when you look at who and how games are played, you can find cheats and trolls abusing the very fundamentals of a game. While our world is indeed not perfect, I wouldn't want to suggest that people have an excuse to be cheats or trolls, or further more diverge them from reality enough to make them act out with mass killings, suicides etc.

The universe (the whole thing) is like a simulation, and it is true that it likely only extends to what we perceive. The main reason for this is because we would model our reality on what we know, not what we don't. All those stars and planets out there we know exist, however the absence of knowing if there is life or not would likely mean each and everyone of them would be a dead world. You could reason the numbers of them because of gamers need for their own personal space (A house to put their trinkets in, to invite their friends round and block people from stealing) after all there is more planets out there than people that have ever been born. (So we can all have a world each technically.... if we can reach it, terraform it and turn it into something nice.... oh and transverse distance a fair bit quicker, otherwise you could spend multiple centuries just trying to reach it as a destination)

It would indeed be possible to process the whole universe, if people don't think so linearly. Parallel Processing is the only way to increase the computational threshold exponentially. By literally duplicating one server setup from one world and connecting it with a paradoxical network of the same servers in "other" worlds.
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#5
My guess is that any simulation would have a limit. I'm thinking that once the simulation reaches the point where the simulators began, then it's over or repeats itself, IOW not going any further.

Quote:All those stars and planets out there we know exist, however the absence of knowing if there is life or not would likely mean each and everyone of them would be a dead world.
 
Stryde.... you have some Schrodinger blood in you?
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