By Jamie Busby
Way back in 1970, mathematician John Conway created the "Game of Life".
This project was not a "game" in the strictest sense of the word; it was what's known as a "zero player game". This concept basically means that to play, you simply input a selection of basic starting conditions then let it run all by itself. You simply observe.
The fundamentals of the game were very simplistic and it would create patterns. Some would last a short while before fizzling out while others seemed to gain traction and apparently run forever, growing bigger all the time.
If something as basic as this game with it's severely limited variables could create something so relatively huge, what could happen if this was scaled up to recreate something the size of a Universe, for example?
This simulation would need to be more than recurring patterns on a screen; We're talking about planets, galaxies, life,etc... If that is possible, it means that we could be living in a simulation right now.
How do we observe anything in what we believe to be our reality? We use sight, smell and our other senses. This is our subjective reality, based on the subject doing the observing; You.
We are all alone in our own heads. Our perception of "reality" is created by neurons in our brain translating what our senses are showing us.
Then there is objective reality; This is literally everything that is going on everywhere that we are not aware of, but exists nonetheless. It could be seen as the culmination of everyone's subjective realities, thus existing even without our knowledge or observation.
However, we cannot know if an objective reality exists until someone has observed and confirmed it.
Two people can view the exact same "thing" yet perceive it in many different ways to each other. By definition, an objective reality can only be fixed with no room for interpretation.
This begs the question; Can you prove that anything outside of your own subjective reality is actually real?
A lesson from babies
As adults, we can look around and see houses, trees, cars,etc... Once we look away, we know that those things still exist, we do not need to be observing them to know that they are still there. This is called "Object Permanence".
We are not born with this "sense". If you play peek-a-boo with a child under 12 months old, when you cover your face they literally believe you have vanished into thin air. But once you drop your hands, you are suddenly back from wherever you disappeared to; hopefully to great amusement.
You have re-emerged into their reality, from which you seemed to have momentarily left.
By the time we are about 2 years old, we learn that just because things are not present does not mean they have ceased to exist.
However, although we learn object permanence, we are still basing what we think we know, about all that we cannot see, on our subjective reality. How can we be certain what we can't see actually exists? It's only this learnt perception that tells us it does.
Is it all about you?
Everything everywhere is made up of atoms, the fundamental building blocks of the universe. We know this because they have been seen under microscopes; I have never personally seen an atom under a microscope but I accept it, because science says so.
What if... the very notion of a universe that consists of billions of galaxies across billions of light years is a myth?
The creators of such a simulation would simply have to fabricate the consciousness of it's subjects; us. There would be no need to simulate an entire universe, just that which is seen by our combined subjective realities.
What if it was not in fact subjects but just one subject; You?
Can any of us prove conclusively that every other person and everything on the planet, plus all that we perceive of the entire universe, is nothing more than part of the simulation itself?
I do not wish to make anyone paranoid; rest assured that I am not part of an elaborate computer program. But your belief in that lies in trusting me. And my belief lies in trusting everyone else as the solitary subject could be me.
Let's take a video game. They are a computer simulation of a form of reality that you play in. While playing, graphical scenery will not render in until necessary. It's a waste of computer power to generate more "reality" than is needed or will be observed.
Video games are our simulations, for our entertainment. Does it not make sense that if we are living in a simulation, the creators would not bother to "render" that which is unnecessary too?
I'm sure we've all heard the philosophical question "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?".
In a simulated universe, if no one is around to observe the galaxies through a powerful telescope, what would be the point of them existing at all times, such as when they're not being observed?
If true, then it's possible that just small parts of the universe exist at any one time, wholly dependent on whether they are being viewed or not.
The advances made in this field over the last 100 years are staggering. What's more, the advance of technology is accelerating all the time, it's not been a set developmental pace.
As long as the progress continues, even if slowly, there will come a point where we will have almost unlimited computational power. We are already capable of running simulations on current super-computers that demonstrate the workings of the universe.
In 1970 we had "Game of Life", nowadays we have "The Illustris Project". It too could be called a zero player game. Scientists gave the program specific properties, data and conditions that they believe match those at the time the universe began and then simply let it run.
It's produced quite accurate results with regards to it's projections of the universe, as we know it, on a large scale. As computing power increases, one can only assume the results will become more refined.
The point I'm trying to make is that if we can see a future where we can simulate our own universe using a computer, is it not too much of a jump to consider that it has already been done by "others" using advanced technology that is light years ahead of ours?
And that this universe of ours is that project, with all of us as the subjects. Or just you. Or me...
Will the truth set us free?
The ideas I've outlined here are part of a collection of possibilities that I personally deem as feasible explanations as to why we may be living in a simulation. And the possible nature of it.
There are many theories on this subject with many more undoubtedly yet to emerge.
There are also questions that may never be answered; Could the speed of light actually be the operating speed of a universe-simulating super-computer? That's a teaser.
Could the universe be a simulation that's not on a computer, but of a spiritual nature? The mind boggles.
The only thing we can know for sure is that one day, when this life is finished with us, the truth will finally be revealed. Maybe...
Contact me by email: [email protected]
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