We are living in a simulation (59)

1 Name: te-kun : 2008-04-11 22:29 ID:BePokpVk

  1. It is possible that a civilization could create a computer simulation which contains individuals with artificial intelligence.
  2. Such a civilization would likely run many—say billions—of these simulations (just for fun; for research, etc.)
  3. A simulated individual inside the simulation wouldn’t necessarily know that it’s inside a simulation—it’s just going about its daily business in what it considers to be the "real world."

Then the ultimate question is—if one accepts that theses 1, 2, and 3 are at least possible, which of the following is more likely?

a. We are the one civilization which develops AI simulations and happens not to be in one itself? Or,
b. We are one of the many (billions) of simulations that has run? (Remember point iii.)

In greater detail, his argument attempts to prove the trichotomy, that:


1. intelligent races will never reach a level of technology where they can run simulations of reality so detailed they can be mistaken for reality (or this is impossible in principle); or
2. races who do reach such a level do not tend to run such simulations; or
3. we are almost certainly living in such a simulation.

2 Name: te-kun : 2008-04-11 22:30 ID:BePokpVk

Bostrom's argument uses the premise that given sufficiently advanced technology, it is possible to simulate entire inhabited planets or even larger habitats or even entire universes as quantum simulations in time/space pockets, including all the people on them, on a computer, and that simulated people can be fully conscious, and are as much persons as non-simulated people.

A particular case provided in the original paper poses the scenario where we assume that the human race could reach such a technological level without destroying themselves in the process (i.e. we deny the first hypothesis); and that once we reached such a level we would still be interested in history, the past, and our ancestors, and that there would be no legal or moral strictures on running such simulations (we deny the second hypothesis)—then

* it is likely that we would run a very large number of so-called ancestor simulations to study our past;
* and that, by the same line of reasoning, many of these simulations would in turn run other sub-simulations, and so on;
* and that given the fact that right now it is impossible to tell whether we are living in one of the vast number of simulations or the original ancestor universe, the likelihood is that the former is true.

Assumptions as to whether the human race (or another intelligent species) could reach such a technological level without destroying themselves depend greatly on the value of the Drake equation, which gives the number of intelligent technological species communicating via radio in a galaxy at any given point in time. The expanded equation looks to the number of posthuman civilizations that ever would exist in any given universe. If the average for all universes, real or simulated, is greater than or equal to one such civilization existing in each universe's entire history, then odds are rather overwhelmingly in favor of the proposition that the average civilization is in a simulation, assuming that such simulated universes are possible and such civilizations would want to run such simulations.

3 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-12 03:44 ID:Heaven

munroe says it best

4 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-12 04:06 ID:BePokpVk

That's a great comic but not related...

5 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-12 06:54 ID:Heaven

>>Assumptions as to whether the human race (or another intelligent species) could reach such a technological level without destroying themselves depend greatly on the value of the Drake equation

No, it's quite related.

6 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-13 04:20 ID:cvpYOGns


7 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-13 18:25 ID:Heaven

This argument is almost as bad as the one the Singularity people throw around. It rests on so many arbitary and unsupported assumptions that it is pretty much entirely worthless.

8 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-13 21:18 ID:Heaven

We are all aware that the senses can be deceived, the eyes fooled. But how can we be sure our senses are not being deceived at any particular time, or even all the time? Might I just be a brain in a tank somewhere, tricked all my life into believing in the events of this world by some insane computer? And does my life gain or lose meaning based on my reaction to such solipsism?

[++Project PYRRHO, Specimen 46, Vat 7
Activity Recorded M.Y. 2302.22467


9 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-14 10:33 ID:/LE1aWeg

Non-falsifiable assertions are meaningless. If it is not falsifiable, it is not testable. If it is not testable, it does not rise to the level of a hypothesis. It is meaningless noise. "Duuuuuuuuude, what if we're, like, all in the Matrix?" Well, what if we ARE? We can't test the idea, so why even think about it?

10 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-14 23:23 ID:Heaven


You have an amazingly short-sighted view of the universe. I hope you're not going into science.

11 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-15 00:08 ID:roYjyCEm


Rejecting non-falsifiable assertions is pretty much the foundation of science, dude.

12 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-15 05:23 ID:bxaGxL6v

Just because something isn't scientificaly verifiable doesn't mean it's not worth thinking about. It's definitely amusing to think about. I totally agree with >>10.
The best scientists are people with large minds, generally people who are open to and able to enjoy thinking about various kinds of ideas, definitely including strange ones. Imagine a guy 500 years ago saying 'heeeeeey, maybe we could like, build a giant metal bird shaped thing, and fly in the sky?'

13 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-15 12:01 ID:Heaven

"All bachelors are unmarried."

That statement is surely true, but how could it be falsified?

14 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-15 14:46 ID:Heaven


> I hope you're not going into science.

15 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-15 16:12 ID:tnA8+sz7

Read moar Karl Popper and get back to us.

16 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-15 21:28 ID:Heaven


17 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-15 23:28 ID:m6YRQK1Y


I think what you have is a definition, or maybe an axiom, not a hypothesis. Or is there another word to describe statements like these?

18 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-16 00:14 ID:/LE1aWeg

The word you are looking for is "tautology."

19 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-16 08:14 ID:Heaven


By using it in another universal context, of course! Surely we do not limit ourselves to the mere notions of y iff x (men are bachelors if and only if they are unmarried) in one dimension!

20 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-16 11:52 ID:Heaven

I'm stupid. Can someone explain what >>18 and >>19 are talking about?

21 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-16 15:14 ID:tnA8+sz7

>>By using it in another universal context, of course! Surely we do not limit ourselves to the mere notions of y iff x
>>Surely we do not limit ourselves to the mere notions of y iff x
>>mere notions of y iff x
>>y iff x
>>y iff
>>y iff
>>y iff

i c what u did there. >>19 is a furry!

22 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-04-17 07:52 ID:Heaven



23 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-10-23 05:52 ID:U8dH3oOL

I dont get it

24 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-10-24 04:12 ID:Heaven

I don't get it either, Plank.

25 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-10-28 19:17 ID:iGpQxkDN

The dudes simulating us must be sociopaths to make a universe like this

26 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-10-30 19:05 ID:F85aiVWQ

27 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-10-31 12:45 ID:I3udDMR2


28 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-11-02 19:42 ID:svA6oo9y

no u

29 Name: Neo : 2008-11-03 01:16 ID:1sSz1Qfp

I believe...

30 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-11-04 02:02 ID:ZOpqLpoj

Nice to meet you, Mr. Wachowski.

31 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-11-05 04:28 ID:U4Mtc1Dh

Are you saying God is just some pimply faced kid and we're all just a bunch of sims?

32 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-11-05 14:36 ID:Heaven


I think the idea is that the amount of computation you can wring out of a handful of atoms given sufficiently advanced technology is simply enormous*, and presumably one day all of science will be discovered and solved. So what are you gonna do? You could simulate things to pass the time, and if entities do do that presumably it's already happened, so it's more likely that we're one of these sims than a "basement universe".


33 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-11-05 18:37 ID:9uxUr585

i think the exact same thing.

34 Name: SiMO : 2008-11-13 06:32 ID:cQDv0H7P

the universe is computer, a simulation.

35 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-11-13 08:49 ID:CG/deyti


36 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-11-13 23:12 ID:rKbDpp//

>>34 It can be either one or the other, not both.

37 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2008-11-15 00:55 ID:Wq9q3dxU

You're all wrong, the universe is simply the creation of a mna that's very talented with shadow puppets.

38 Name: rICK : 2009-08-21 19:54 ID:efWcRALs

Oh my questionably Non-computer virous god where has this thread been all my simulation?

39 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2012-12-14 17:56 ID:ICPCQ63T

We're way ahead of things here at 4-ch. We were talking about this almost five years ago. The johnny-come-latlies at the University of Washington are finally getting around to testing the theory, though. The link above has links within to a number of more detailed articles.

So what happens now? What if we run test after test and keep getting positive results? Are our lives less meaningful because they're simulated? Do we marvel at the graphics? If it's a simulation, then there ought to be cheat codes...

40 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2012-12-14 17:58 ID:ICPCQ63T

Link may be broken above. Try this: http://yhoo.it/Spy6N3

41 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2013-01-06 19:51 ID:q7YlAeYZ

Well, there is the rather obvious problem with that theory -- namely it's untestable and therefore not science. We can't exactly go out side the universe to see if there's some pimple-face kid running a simulation. So it makes the entire question silly on that level.

As far as whether other civilisations would run a simulation -- we do, to a point. We run weather, we run geographical simulations, hell, we run MMORPGs stuffed to the gills with AI. It's certainly possible, in fact it's likely. How many COD and Elder Scrolls games are there each populated by thousands of AI characters and existing for the purpose of entertaining one singular non-AI character controlled by a player in a world created by another party. Maybe the PC will show up for milk and cookies. But as it stands, it's impossible to tell him from another one of us, or know if this is a simulation.

42 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2013-01-14 02:11 ID:ICPCQ63T


>not testable

You didn't read the article.

43 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2013-01-15 01:35 ID:B2Tyjcm1

not science - true
still the idea is logically consistent and even plausible
and that would explain a lot
it's much like a fecund universes theory in a sense
only with fecund universes there is a hope that sometime we might actually find a way to test it
but here we can't even hope

44 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2013-01-15 01:43 ID:B2Tyjcm1

this study doesn't make any sense. if the host doesn't want the guest to know that he is actually being run in VirtualBox, he can prevent this from happening by simply rolling back the simulation and making necessary edits in case the guest had found out or it could be done in real time by an AI software. remember The Matrix? The Deja Vu scene? For us it would be the same. Only there is no Neo to spot any signs of change. I thought that was kind of obvious. That's why the theory is not testable.

45 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2013-01-25 12:11 ID:RCj70ddz

If there are active measures to conceal it, of course we won't find it. That would be assuming that whatever is running the simulation cares to hide it. There's also the possibility that it wants to be discovered.

There's even a chance that whatever is "running" the simulation doesn't understand that it doing so, isn't conscious at all, or otherwise undertakes actions for entirely different reasons than we (the simulated) do.

Is the simulation hypothesis unlikely? Well, yes. That aside, it's fun to think about and doubly interesting now that's there's a way to test it.

46 Name: dude : 2013-03-29 02:22 ID:y4CuS2Dr

1 - if we don't know if we are real or simulated, we can't trust or senses.
2 - (...) -> we conclude "i think therefore i am".
3 - the only thing we are sure is that we think but not if it's artificial or not
4 - that means we have to find out what the thought is to advance any further.
5 - if thinking is processing information, then what is the program?

the answer to this is as incomprehensive as the beginning of the universe... we are infinitely smaller then the infinite and yet infinitely bigger than nothing. therefore we can't understand neither of them.

unless, of course, someone deletes our answers when we are getting close to the end but that was already said above by someone else...
either way it's pretty absurd thinking that there is another universe, and we are just a simulation, if we can't even figure out how ours was created. if we are a simulation, then who created our creators?

I think the most logical thing to do is to accept that it is impossible to understand our origin and live with it. although it also means that live has no reason...

47 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2013-09-20 07:17 ID:1WZB0TEP

Life does have a reason beyond it's origins. It doesn't have to be religious, or anything like that. You can simply live in a way that either pleases yourself or that pleases those around you. We may be a simulation, but that doesn't mean that while we're in here we can't let ourselves fall into being human. We can still be what we were programmed to be.

An argument I heard once for this being a simulation, is when you would go about programming a simulation, in order to make finding the results you want easier, the programmers would set some rules/limits that can't be broken to reduce the randomness of the events that happen. (Speed of Light anyone?)

48 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2013-09-23 12:39 ID:fm5N7XnS

I've also heard that absolute cold is a similar limit that reinforces this theory.

49 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2014-02-11 09:59 ID:h9UxQzlD

Without a constant speed of light, there's no grounds for relativistic weirdness in physics. I'm not sure what exactly becomes more convenient with this added constraint -- maybe out of bounds problems?

Well, temperature is something of a bulk property. It involves groups of particles, rather than single bodies, atoms, or molecules.
0 K can't be found in this universe because even a single cold proton is subject to gravitational and EM influence from the surrounding entire universe. That universe will nudge the particle about, warming it.

Both of these apparent boundaries seem to cause, or at least emphasize, rather than inhibit, new phenomena.

50 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2014-03-30 08:26 ID:sfxEy1Nu

It seems to me that any accurate, large scale universe simulation is impossible as a matter of principle. The amount of energy it would take to run, having to simulate every particle in the universe realistically and simultaneously for trillions of years, would be as much or nearly as much energy/matter as there is in the universe. Otherwise the creation of such a simulation would violate things like the law of the conservation of energy in thermodynamics. So that the universe exists at all means that there is no simulation being run, meaning that if any "ancestor" universe exists it also cannot simultaneously exist AND run "our" universe, but we exist so it can't exist, or at least we are not a simulation.

51 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2014-04-24 12:16 ID:C6kUYNww

We're talking about another universe you doofus. It may have way more energy available than ours.

52 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2014-08-04 21:29 ID:qg8wXBwD


Why would it necessarily need to be a large-scale simulation? If one wanted to study something specific (the evolution of societies) and one could run a realistic enough simulation of -that-, one presumably would only need to give the appearance of their being something more out there in the universe (esp. if one wanted the conditions to be similar to one's own universe in order to simulate something like one's own civilization).

53 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2014-08-06 05:54 ID:2bV08xMZ

"Cogito ergo sum" - "I think therefore I am"
And since I exist, I am assuming everybody else exist as well.

54 Name: Scientist of Love : 2014-09-08 03:45 ID:BHaKTuW0

My brain isn't simulating, it's STIMULATING.

55 Post deleted.

56 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2014-10-13 05:44 ID:t6mO+RP8

Sure, and the one simulating that universe would have more energy available, and the one after that would have more energy, so on and so forth into an effectively infinite amount of energy. Doubtful and there's no reason to believe it's true or even probable, it's superfluous. The simulation of any expanding universe would take up almost the entirety of energy in the simulating universe anyway over the course of time, and we live in an expanding universe.

57 Name: Edison Lee : 2014-11-04 12:24 ID:bhi2yEO/

Actually they would only need to simulate the planet Earth in any great detail and the rest of the universe can just be kind of guestimated.

58 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2014-11-10 03:47 ID:hlS59BJ6

59 Name: Anonymous Scientist : 2014-11-23 10:15 ID:D4td6LZd


In practicing celestial navigation, one learns to think of the moon, planets, and stars not as places or even things, but as points of light projected onto a screen for our convenience...

For a lot of history, this was basically true. At this point, our most distant probes are only in the nearest suburbs of our home star. Due to the great distances involved, it becomes necessary to scale down the sensors due to the consumption/lack of power over time. We don't have pictures of the darkness out there, just a stream of numbers and that's not hard to simulate.

So anyway I guess what I'm saying is that you need to simulate at least solar system for this experiment. However you can get quite sloppy in the distant reaches of it if you make the rules of the simulation sufficiently hard (stupid entropy). Somehow I think as we gain the ability to travel further, this theory will become the simulation of the gaps.

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