Sunday, February 16, 2014


I think it's time for some intellectually stimulating contemplation and discussion. Don't you? Good.

First, read this short article in the New York Times; then come back here. (Hint: is our universe actually a computer simulation?)

Did you read it? Great; now let the discussion begin.

The article discusses whether or not it is possible that our entire universe is actually a computer simulation built by some intelligent beings (maybe even humans on Earth in the distant future). Here is my take: I find this theory to be very interesting and attractive. It would certainly solve a lot of our great mysteries of the universe. Think about this: throughout what I will call the Scientific Age of humankind, we have been trying to explain the mysteries of life and the universe by postulating theories and doing research, including, by the way, creating mathematical models to simulate observable phenomena.

Scientists "discovered" that the structure of genetic material is a double helix of material called DNA that has chemical compounds coded on it in various sequences. In other words, scientists deciphered a portion of the code for the computer simulation we are in. Every time mathematicians, physicists, chemists, biologists and others are able to explain how something works, they have deciphered another portion of The Code (capitalization used purposefully).

We have computer simulation games aplenty in our society; think video games, educational games like Sim City, and etc. In fact, what is Facebook but a type of simulation in which the Facebook algorithms use a variety of data sources to come up with things pushed our way based on who we are and what we like? It doesn't take that large a leap of imagination to think about a simulation model built by super intelligent (compared to us) beings using quantum computers (or some other kind of super computer that we can't even conceptualize).

In this simulation model, the creators input millions of basic routines (or apps they wrote did the assembly) that dictate the basic relationships between what we call physics, chemistry and biology, all based on a standard mathematics. They then hit "run," or start the simulation - what we call the Big Bang. Events unfold based on the basic relationships and rules of the model: stars form, planets around them, life appears under the right set of conditions and evolves according to the rules of the model. The simulation cranks along, and at any point in time (what is time? another discussion) the creators can take a "look" at how things are going.

I sit here writing this and look around me, thinking about who I am and why I am. I can explain this on the basis of evolution; however, I can also explain it based on my being a very minuscule routine in a very ginormous computer model. Why am I balding? Evolution tells me that it's a result of genetics; simulation theory tells me it's because the outcome "balding" is part of a complex computer code. Same thing, right? The modelers did not input the fate of every one of us; they input all of the possible variables and the routines that respond to every eventual interaction of variables; the result is an infinite number of "individuals" appearing in the simulation.

But hold on a minute; I'm real, I can feel things, smell and hear things, have emotional responses to things, experience pain and eventually death. Sure, but how do I know all of this is "real" or just the progression of highly interactive computer routines? I don't.

Of course The Matrix movie comes to mind here (one of my all-time favorites). But so do the concepts people have of god. If we are, in fact, just part of a computer simulation, does that prove intelligent design and the existence of god? Hmmm, it could, if we accept that god is a bunch of geeks sitting around in a laboratory somewhere writing computer code, and by intelligent design we mean the constructs of a complex mathematical model. Wow, that could very well blow a few minds!

I'm going to keep an open mind about this. This actually helps me put life in perspective, albeit a very different perspective.

What do you think? I would truly be interested.


Note: there is a disconnect created when I post to this blog and put the link on Facebook. Most people who comment do so on Facebook; however, some readers of this blog aren't on Facebook, and their comments posted to the blog are missed by the Facebookers, and visa versa. So maybe the answer to this is if I ask you, gentle readers, to comment here on the blog, and then comment on Facebook that you have commented on the blog. It's an extra step, but maybe it will be more inclusive.

1 comment:

  1. "Many mathematicians, when pressed, admit to being Platonists. The great logician Kurt Gödel argued that mathematical concepts and ideas “form an objective reality of their own, which we cannot create or change, but only perceive and describe.” But if this is true, how do humans manage to access this hidden reality?"

    I thought cognitive science makes it clear that ideas are the only reality. Anyway, the the simulation idea has been covered, thoroughly, by Douglas Adams in his Hitchhikers Guide five-book trilogy (so he was a better author than, mathematician).