Do we live in a simulation? Elon Musk thinks the chance is reasonable. His argument is that as our games today are approaching uncanny photorealism, with physics engines and stuff behaving as if it was the real world, how can we tell an earlier intelligence has not designed a huge gaming rig and our world is the current game being played?
I have argued against this idea on the grounds of our knowledge of physics. The energy of the vacuum is just too random and detailed to be run on any computer, although the edge of science is now at a point where it thinks some digital fundamental nature of reality is likely.
Psychologically a simulation view of reality fits our brains perfectly, as they have evolved to simulate reality to identify risks and opportunies in our future. This is the primary use of our brain, to select outcomes that maximize the chance of our future experience of what we love. The later is clear from people that survived all kinds of ordeals (like bitter cold on the Himalayas), its always love that keeps them going.
A dutch astrophysicist proposed a theory that the information content of space is limited and that if one area contains a lot of information this depletes resources from nearby space. This was his way to explain gravity. It would also make sense to a gamer who wanted to render a scene. He/she would attempt to use the computational resources to maximize the quality of the render on parts of the scene the gamer would focus on, and use less to draw the rest (which our brain fills in anyway most of the time).
I think spacetime is an amazing medium, with indeed unimaginable computational power. Its all additions of states (on a planck level), that render density fluctuations (by imho collapsing either space or time), that then make up the particles photons etc. The best analogy is that of boiling water, a seithing ocean of turmoil on the tiniest of scales. Our physicists try to name all the whirls and waves in it, and are surprised one particle mutates into another, but its like studying smoke and naming al the vortexes.
The basis of all that dynamism is an incredible ability to resolve to the next state. The system never gets stuck. Boiling water also never gets stuck nut it exists in a spacetime that already doesn’t. Would boiling water in a perfect elastic container (one that gives all the energy back to the liquid) stay boiling eternally? Our spacetime is like that. It is lossless, energy never gets leaves. It gets spread out though over more more spacetime. This suggested the idea to me that if the calculations of reality somehow don’t add up the problem is solved by creating more spacetime. The expansion of the universe is what enables this simulation to ‘run’.
Maybe its only our lack of imagination that we can’t envision this absolutely immeasurable spacetime we exist in as an illusion resulting from some meta-device. But we may try because 1. Its not possible to disprove it and 2. We may hope for some meta-physical assistance in our puny lives. Our primitive minds project all kinds of fears and hopes on inanimate and animate objects, basically on everything we deal with. Why not on reality itself.
It was Tesla that said that there’s something in ‘smoothness’ of transformations between types of energy (mechanical, electric). Nature doesn’t like to be abused, so a quiet battery and a seemingly static rotor in a magnetic field is better than exploding gasses deforming metal pounding the eardrums of bystanders etc. etc. Similarly we may be better off accepting the possibility we are just an illusion created for the entertainment of a meta-lord (or baron), because in our mind we are that meta-lord, we simulate our world to understand it, so we are simulations in a simulation. No friction between the two perspectives..
There will always be more people that want to improve our existence in this simulation than ones that want to destroy it (those usually kill each other). So as long as there are people there will be those that will imagine a better world using their own simulation, translating the bigger simulation into one in which they can live in more happily. If they don’t see themselves as gods but as mere waves in an ocean held together by love, the simulation may let them whirl to every one of its corners eventually.
You can donate to the church of simulationism by being kind to strangers..