At first glance the idea that reality is a computer simulation seems completely crazy. Yet, it might hint at a new model of reality. A model that thinks in terms of information, computation, process. And in a way, this is how science progresses, taking our most advanced technology and projecting it onto the universe. Newton saw reality in terms of a clock and we see reality in terms of computation.
Simulation theory becomes much easier to swallow when you recognize that scientists are map makers. We create models of reality. And yet, no matter how accurate these models might be, you must not confuse the map for the terrain. As discussed here: http://www.michaelolaya.com/blog/the-language-of-quantum-theory
The historical record of scientific inquiry, Stanford suggests, is characterized by what he calls the problem of unconceived alternatives. Past scientists have routinely failed even to conceive of alternatives to their own theories and lines of theoretical investigation, alternatives that were both well-confirmed by the evidence available at the time and sufficiently serious as to be ultimately accepted by later scientific communities. He goes on to argue that this historical pattern strongly suggests that there are equally well-confirmed and scientifically serious alternatives to our own best theories that remain currently unconceived... Stanford concludes by investigating what positive account of the spectacularly successful edifice of modern theoretical science remains open to us if we accept that our best scientific theories are powerful conceptual tools for accomplishing our practical goals, but abandon the view that the descriptions of the world around us that they offer are therefore even probably or approximately true.
Simulation theory points us in the direction of an interesting model, digital physics. A much more interesting topic than the philosophical quibbles mostly associated with simulation theory.
I love surprises (Shannon entropy), but I'll go ahead and tell you where this is all headed... an information theoretic interpretation of quantum physics. One in which space-time is emergent from an underlying computational process. Information takes its place as the most fundamental aspect of reality and it turns out to be a good metal model to think of reality as a computer simulation. Weird aspects of quantum theory like non-locality or quantum entanglement become much easier to swallow (and thus exploit). A lot of the 'quantum weirdness' wasn't an actual property of reality itself, but more an indictment of our own intellectual limitations. This isn't surprising. Imagine if the fathers of quantum theory had the linguistic and conceptual framework that we now have with concepts like information theory, complexity, emergence, chaos, computation, networks, programming, etc. They only had hammers and were surrounded by screws.
But before we go down the rabbit hole that is digital physics, we need to all be on the same page. I started writing a long piece, but accepted that 4% of you would make it all the way through. So I decided to do something else... videos! Lots of videos. Below you'll find a series of seemingly disjointed videos that will create a solid conceptual framework for thinking through the ideas we're going to explore in part 2. After you watch each video, set aside 10 minutes to think about what you just heard. Really think about it. Play with it in your head. Take the ideas to their logical extremes and contrast them with your current assumptions.
Yep, we're starting with Elon Musk. This video is relevant because it gives a good overview of the ideas that guide his opinion (Nick Bostrom's simulation argument). Again, we're using simulation theory as a headline, an appetizer... it hints that space-time is an emergent interface, a result of a type of underlying computational network. With that, onward!
Al Gore didn't invent the internet and Elon Musk didn't come up with simulation theory. Nor did Nick Bostrom. We've been questioning the nature of reality for a very long time.
Who's the programmer? Silly question. Emergence is an important concept to grasp.
Say it three times... emergence, emergence, emergence.
But those are just pixels..
It's made out of math.
But how does it work?
Can't leave out Ed Fredkin...
But this feels so real...
Let's talk about quantum theory..
Let's plant a seed of doubt...
Buckle your seatbelt Dorothy; cause Kansas is going bye-bye...
Well hello there! You made it. If you haven't been exposed to these ideas before then you should feel sufficiently weirded out at this point. You've taken the red pill, welcome.
More coming soon...
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