Friday, March 28, 2014

Computer Simulated Reality

What if reality was just a simulation? Humans have always tried to attribute different reasons as to why and how our universe exists. In the beginning, we had the concept of God, a supernatural being who created everything. Although the majority of the world still believes this, the Big Bang Theory has risen as well. But where did this big bang come from? Could it be that the bang was simply the start of a long computer simulation that a highly developed race created?

Let us look at our own progress as humans. 200 years ago, we did not have industry. 20 years ago, we did not have cell phones. The rate at which computers are improving, in 50 years we could have computers a million times as powerful as the ones we have today. Clearly technology is progressing, and it seems exponentially. In Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science, he shows that every field of knowledge and every aspect of life can be broken down computationally. If life can eventually be broken down to 1’s and 0’s, at some point, is it not conceivable that with the processing power we will eventually achieve, we could create a program of a person who thinks and has feelings just like we do? And if that is possible, could we not create more people like that, and then environments for them to interact with? In fact, we are already simulating universes: The Odyssey Supercomputer at Harvard University can recreate 14 billion years of galaxies forming and changing.

Now, what if we do somehow get to the point we can create these simulations of people who believe they are real? That would put our own existence in question. If we can do that, then it is very possible that we are also simply a computer simulation created by an advanced race. But that group of beings could also being living in a simulation, which leads to the question of who created the first simulation. That cannot be proven as of now, which leads us back to square one. Maybe it is a god.

Another interesting question that arises is if our creators are humans like us. Maybe we are just like our creators biologically. Or perhaps our creators are some sort of alien from a far away galaxy. Let us assume that our creators’ race is the XYZ race. They must have created their own race in their computer simulation, but regardless of that, to create us, they must have met us in their own lifetimes. Furthermore, if they created their own race, the XYZ race exists somewhere in our simulated universe. With the assumption that our creators are not humans or simulated humans, we will likely meet other forms of life before we create simulated universes ourselves.

The idea of living in a simulated universe could be very troubling for many. If our universe is not truly reality, then what is the point of life? However, regardless of how our universe came to be and why, our sense of reality is relative to us. We live our lives in this universe without knowing anything better. In this sense, ignorance is bliss. Our universe is real relative to our experiences, so there is no use in frustration due to a belief in a simulated reality.
Favian Rahman