Re: Evidence that the universe is simulated

From: Daniel Burfoot (
Date: Wed Jan 23 2008 - 19:42:01 MST

On Jan 24, 2008 1:16 AM, Vladimir Nesov <> wrote:

> Simulatedness is not directly observable, only miracles
> are. Question of whether world is simulated is only relevant for
> finding out if miracles can happen.

You can imagine two versions of the simulation argument. The weak version is
that the universe is simulated on a computer with effectively infinite
computational power. In that case, there is no way to determine that we are
in a simulation, because the simulation is perfect.

The strong version is that the computer running the simulation has (vast,
but) limited computing power. Because of this the designers need to "cheat"
by introducing computational shortcuts. Several of the laws of physics can
be seen as reflections of this principle:

1) Nature does not solve NP-hard problems.

2) The central mystery of quantum mechanics, as revealed by the double-slit
experiment, can be seen as a computational shortcut: the simulation notices
that the path of the electron does not affect anything on a "macroscopic"
scale, so it doesn't bother to compute the real trajectory.

3) The speed of light can be seen as a result of running a simulation on
many machines: due to communication limits on the machines, there must be a
limit to how rapidly an event in one machine influences an event on a
faraway machine.

4) Conservation of energy can be interpreted as conservation of code length,
due to the similarity between the Boltzmann factor and the Shannon optimal
codelength rule.

5) Fermi's paradox can be interpreted as implying that only the Earth is
being simulated with high accuracy; in other regions the simulation is
taking too many computational shortcuts for life to exist.

This strong version of the simulation argument suggests new physical
experiments. For example, there should be a point at which the simulation
decides an effect is simply too far away to matter (e.g. the influence of
Pluto on the Earth's gravitational field). This kind of thing should be
testable with high-precision experiments.

Just put yourself in the shoes of a simulation designer: you want to make it
look "real" to the life forms, but you have limited computing power. What
kinds of tricks do you use?


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