Do we live in a Simulated Universe?
To paraphrase astronomer Fred Hoyle, just who did ‘monkey’ with the laws of physics? Stand up and reveal yourself. This bio-friendly universe we live in seems to facilitate the production of life and according to Fred Hoyle this arrangement has been orchestrated, purposely designed, by someone or something. But by who, and why would this be planned. And how do we find out?
Is it a God that’s behind this enigma, a supernatural designer who transcends the natural laws? If such is the state of affairs we may be powerless to find out. Or does the Multiverse theory (Click here) sufficiently answer this and we need look no further?
Is it a very advanced civilization? The so called simulation argument. The universe is so well suited to our existence because it has indeed been designed for our existence, by advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI). This is the elephant in the room of modern physics, it’s been recognized for some time but now it can’t avoid been discussed.
Brandon Carter, the astrophysicist who coined the ‘Anthropic Principle’ term recognized our special relationship with the universe. Although humans are not central to the universe, we are in a privileged position he suggested. See this link for my own views on the Anthropic Principle.
The more we learn about the evolution of the universe, and the laws that govern it, and how fine-tuned it is, an underlying and intriguing thought creeps to the surface – it was designed for us. If there were very tiny variations in any of the four fundamental forces or the masses or charges of many of the elementary particles then the universe may not have produced us.
One prominent theory on why this is has been put forward by philosopher Nick Bostrom. He ponders whether we are living in a giant computer simulation, created by a super-intelligent AI. The exponential advances in computing power is obvious over the last few decades. How advanced will it be in a thousand or a million years from now. Is the real ‘now’ actually in the distant future where we are part of a computer program which simulates past civilisations? A program compiled by a master race for some reason or other, whether it’s work related, pleasure related or some other reason we can’t even fathom with our limited minds.
If we do live in a simulation one wonders what’s the ‘real’ world is like, the world outside the simulation. Can we get to it? Can we test if we live in a simulation?
Perhaps we can! Could the frustrations of physics be a clue to our living in a computer simulation? The argument goes that a rule in computer programming is that you don’t waste precious computing resources. The fact is computer programs have flaws, glitches, bugs (remember the ghastly BSoD anyone?). And these often go unnoticed and unresolved as they are often considered just minor inconveniences. Are we beginning to see these imperfections in our simulated computer programmed universe?
As we delve into the very small quantum world what we discover and observe is counter-intuitive to our brains, things can be in two places at the one time, or don’t exist until observed. And likewise as we delve into the very big cosmic world, relativity and time breakdown in places like black holes and at the big bang itself. And we can’t seem to marry the laws of physics into one unified law. Are these seemingly mind boggling situations and dead ends that scientists often meet just limitations to the computer simulation program we live in? Perhaps we will always be ‘head scratching’ at perplexing questions as we strive to answer the impossible.
Recent observations have suggested that the speed of light may have been different in the early universe see New Scientist article here, is this another programming flaw? And what about the ghostly and spiritual world, are these more programming glitches? In fact we don’t even have a proper grasp of the concept of time. And not to forget our bafflement with an explanation for dark matter and dark energy.
So, as Mercury said; Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Could our perception of reality be the product of deception, and all our conscious experiences are nothing more than the product of a computer program? Remember the film The Matrix?
When certain people, the ones who are getting to close to the truth, get ‘deleted’ – then we may know!