Universe is a VR Simulation

02008-01-04 | World | 4 comments

Slashdot | Scientist Suggests We Explore ‘Universe is a VR Simulation’ Theory
“A New Zealand physicist has written a paper saying that physicists should seriously explore the possibility the universe is a giant virtual reality simulation. He says that the existence of quantum phenomena could be due to the underlying digital nature of the simulation and also claims his VR hypothesis can explain relativity, the big bang and more. It should be possible to perform experiments to prove the hypothesis too. He reasons that if reality was to do something that information processing cannot, then it cannot be virtual.”

Relates to this post.


  1. Mike

    First, I thought Albert Einstein explained relativity quite well. Second, I think that reality, being a matter of perspective, is constantly doing things that information processing cannot. So, perhaps we should consider that reality and virtual are both subsets of that which is manifest.

  2. Adam Solomon

    I like his claim in the abstract about the Big Bang: “If the universe were a virtual reality, its creation at the big bang would no longer be paradoxical,
    as every virtual system must be booted up.” Well, the Big Bang would no longer be paradoxical (if we really want to call the issue a paradox), but unless I’m much mistaken, the question of where existence itself comes from would remain. We’d just be pushing it back a step. Same thing with the idea that we need God to explain Creation. Doesn’t help!!

    Anyway, it’s an interesting concept, certainly at least on the fun-discussion-over-a-drink level, but I’m still skeptical about testing a claim like this. Unfortunately, it seems to me that this is inherently unknowable (unless, of course, the Great Programmers sent us a message!). I could be wrong, but I haven’t been convinced otherwise by this paper (i.e., didn’t put forth many convincing ways to test). The trick is that even an extremely intelligent system would, presumably, have a very hard time (if it’s possible at all) trying to “jump out of the system”, so to speak. This is the kind of self-reference that leads to major paradoxes…this is a major topic in Godel, Escher, Bach, actually, but I suppose I can’t convince you to bump it up your list! :)

    Of course, the other very interesting question is to try to put ourselves in the role of the hypothetical VR processor. What if we were to create ultra-intelligent machines, simulating an entire (mini-)universe – would we one day find the virtual “people” setting up the arXiv and putting papers up on it speculating about themselves being virtual people? And then there’s the question of nesting. If we could create a virtual universe like that, and we’re part of one, then presumably you could chain them ad infinitum – a “real” universe creates a virtual universe, and in the virtual universe are invented virtual computers which host deeper virtual universes, etc. It might not be such a far-off idea – hell, computers can emulate other computers well enough – but it’s certainly not easy to imagine.

  3. ottmar

    Hm, I just thought the headline was funny and did not actually read what the guy had to say.

  4. Adam Solomon

    Oh, all that typing for nothing? hehe, no, it was good to get that out of my system (and I still maintain you should read GEB!)


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