Adam I. Gerard

Rechnender Raum

I had a chance to write about one of my favorite topics while working at X-Team: Procedural Generation and Possible Worlds.

A key unifying strand of thought common throughout my work is an interest in the intersection of the following:

  1. Max Tegmark's - Mathematical Universe Hypothesis - see my Writing Sample
  2. The idea that the world is a vast quantum computer
  3. The idea that Computer Science is more fundamental than Physics
  4. Flatland
  5. Digital Physics
  6. Nick Bostrom's - Simulation Argument
  7. David Lewis' - Modal Realism
  8. Pythagoras
  9. Jürgen Schmidhuber's - "Computing All Universes"

Simulation, Simulacra, What?

When some scientists and philosophers state:

  1. That we are living in a vast computer simulation.
  2. That the world is ephemeral, abstract, or purely mathematical.
  3. That physical systems are really purely informational.
  4. That computer science is the most fundamental science not physics.

What is it that they are saying? Are they saying we're in a desktop? No!

Let's unpack this idea.

Read: Default Views to find out what I think most people think and what most philosophers disagree with.

The Natural Ephemeralized

Read: my arguments aginst materialism.

The current and modern stance regarding the nature of particles is encapsulated in the following:

  1. Fields or Particles? - Particles are pertubations in Fields. A field can roughly be thought of as a function distributed over a space (mathematically). Fields in nature are the manifestations of the fundamental forces.
  2. Wave-Particle Duality - Photons have dual natures. They behave simultaneously as particles and as waves. Democritus was probably one of the first atomists and his conception of fundamental atoms doesn't square with the modern scientific conception that certain particles can have "dual-natures, simultaneously".
  3. Quantum Entanglement and Non-locality - Not all physical interactions are bounded by local considerations (as in Newtonian kinetic interactions - elastic and inelastic collisions). Quantum systems can be connected through entanglement. Particles that are coentangled probably violate the Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles (a perennial precept advocated by Leibniz as the fundamental characteristic of objects and uniqueness).
  4. Matter is Emergent - Matter (mass) is a property of particles that's acquired through interactions with the Higgs Field.
  5. Universal Turing Machines are abstract mathematical objects implemented in nature.

The World as Simulation or Computer

When we say simulated, we mean that a manifestation of reality (as experienced, or a derived reality - as in the "levels" theory that I'm so fond of attacking):

  1. Depends for its existence on some more fundamental or prior manifestation. A computer can be turned off destroying or temporarily halting any simulation on it.
  2. Is less fundamental than or derived from some other manifestation.

The following discoveries have been made:

  1. Space is not empty at all - particles constantly "pop in and out of existence" (not literally), forces subject space to all kinds of interactions, space is "frothy" (metaphorical).
  2. The Higgs-Boson imparts mass to particles.

So, even if we accept the status quo it looks like most of the stuff we think of as "material" is simulated per the above already.

If space-time can do most of the work in terms of explaining the other kinds of physical states that occur in nature, then we've arrived at thesis that space is a computational system (of one variety or another) given certain basic assumptions about classical computational and physical information.

Great movies featuring the interaction of "levels" in this way:

  1. Dark City
  2. The Matrix
  3. Inception