A Big, Neo-like "Whoah"

The Huffington Post has the more sensational headline
Physicists May Have Evidence Universe is a Computer Simulation

Still, it’s an idea that was being discussed today on science-centric blogs today.

Do We Live in a Computer Simulation? Researchers Say Idea Can Be Tested

Here’s an Astrobiology blog, with a link to the UW press release.

Judging by those bullet points in the last link that might be the dumbest philosophical theory in the history of philosophical theories.
That is saying a lot.

Nonsense. Nothing’s sillier than solipsism. This could be second though.

If it’s any consolation, the smallest computer required to accurately simulate the entire universe simultaneously also happens to be the size of the universe. So whether we’re in a simulation or not is a matter of semantics and has no real relevance to our lives.

I agree with this part, but if we were in a simulation we’d know absolutely nothing about the nature or physics of the “real” universe. It might be trivial to build a computer that can run our universe.

And yet, that doesn’t diminish the size or complexity of the universe we experience. The size of some macro-verse engineer’s E-peen is really beyond my interest.

Assuming you think Hilbert spaces are trivial… And those are just the basics.

One of the nice things about mathematics is that it has nothing in particular to do with any universe. If something is logically necessary, it’s necessary in any possible world.

Which is to say, there actually are some nontrivial things we can say without observations.

But I want to stay in the Matrix! The world is shit outside! (Too many bugs)

This is why physicists and philosophers shouldn’t go get drunk together (or smoke together if they live in Washington or Colorado). I’ll bet somebody even got a grant for this.

Dude did you ever think about

what if nothing’s real and we’re all characters in someone’s D&D game

like what if on Middle Earth they play D&D but

it’s about like 1980s suburbia

dude

Someone remembers a cartoon in the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide about Papers and Paychecks, an RPG in which people living in a fantasy universe play a game in which they pretend to be workers and students in an industrialized and technological society.

The basic concept is fine; the universe could be a simulation or a cellular automaton or whatever; it even makes some sense.

But both the article and apparently the research too are total bullshit.

Ha ha, now that you mention it I do!

This is probably funnier if you have ever played WoW, but it’s pretty much this… World of Workcraft.

It’s just philosophical navel-gazing… until we figure out how to do buffer-overrun exploits against the simulation and start rewriting the rules of physics to suit. I’m gonna hack me some superpowers.

Interestingly, the latest Iain Banks book postulates just this exact thing.

The Ship Minds of his universe are so advanced that they have to question their ethics when making a simulation of suitable complexity that it can no longer be distinguished from reality, and the individuals in the simulation can no longer be distinguished from “real” individuals. The ethical question arises when you’re done with the simulation: Do you turn it off, effectively ending the lives of the individuals you’ve created?

In the book, the Minds have come to terms with the question of what is and isn’t reality, and if they’re living in a simulation. They had some sort of test that proved the realistic nature of reality. I don’t think he went into detail on that test, though.

Sounds like Banks is just retreading territory already explored by D.A.R.Y.L. back in '85

Heck I recall a Stanislaw Lem story about this as well. It’s not a new thing. Damn, now that I think about the Simpsons did a Halloween story about it.

This idea probably started with Gnosticism, which has a confused or malicious demiurge creating a deceptive material world in which we are stuck. Descartes and Berkeley dealt with the subject along the way. The earliest relevant fiction I can think of offhand is from James Branch Cabell, who often inserted his demiurge avatar into the story; and also his Smirt trilogy has an author as a character in his own fictional world.

But I think the most direct treatment of the concept was by Haldeman in his shockingly disruptive sequel to Forever War, Forever Free. The story metaphorically explodes half-way through due to this concept manifesting.

Cream of the Jest