1 The simulation is an enviroment, defined and potentially fully controlled by some external entity.

2 The realm is the pool of functions the simulation draws from. For example, Steam's physics engine (simulation) would be subject to the realm of Physics. This would divorce the simulation theory from Plato's idealism because Plato describes ideas, the simulation is about primitives.

3 There are no computational bounds (ie. I assume there is a computer powerful enough to simulate the entire Universe, assuming the Universe is finite).

4 The Metaverse is the realm the controlling entity resides in, as seen from the simulation.

To blatantly abuse the Entscheidungsproblem, I intuitively suspect we cannot. Is there some argument against that statement?

For example the Sims may be aware of other sims and of themselves, to the extent permitted by their programming, but they are always bound to their programming and so they cannot be aware of the computer or the player.

My argument is the following:

  • In order to construct a simulation, a conscious entity must have some understanding of the realm it resides in and model the functions of the realm onto the simulation.

  • For the entity residing in the simulation, the simulation is the realm.

  • The simulation (by assumption #3) can be a one-to-one mapping of the realm (ie an exact copy of it, probably with some modified constants or extra constructs)

  • There is an infinite number of simulations

  • At some point a simulation may be non-complex enough that cannot produce a 1:1 simulation of it. (We probably are such realm). Similarly, a simulation may be simple enough that cannot produce a simulation of its own (the Sims).

My question is this: Assuming a simulation is a subset of the realm, can the simulation ever be fully aware of a function that exists on its metaverse? According to my assumptions above it cannot but there may be probably is a flaw in my reasoning.

I am aware of the recent efforts to detect a metaverse but as a layman with no understanding of physics, the abstract seemed impenetrable. I would also ask, if it is appropriate to ask such a thing here, a simple explanation of the experiment if anyone can provide one.


Yes - you are right - simulated universes is just bad & misleading metaphysics:

The quoted article is rubbish science journalism. The physics that its based on is called lattice quantum field theory, which is a respectable theory. One of the paradigms of modern speculative physics is to look for discrete structures in spacetime, rather than the assumption that spacetime must be infinitely divisible.

This is an idea which looks intuitively tenable because from the various constants of nature we can assemble a dimensionless constant called the plank length. Because it is dimensionless it looks like a natural constant, that is not dependent on human ideas on how we measure length like metres or micrometres - that is what the word dimensionless means here. Its got nothing to do with extra dimensions etc.

Quantum field Theory is a theory that is based on a background field that is infinitely divisible. Lattice Quantum field theory discretizes spacetime by thinking of spacetime as a lattice. This might give us new ideas as to what it means to have physics be discrete in actuality. Its no more than a speculative move right now.

A similar idea propels that of string theory. The question there being why is physics dependent on the notion of a point? Is a point which has no dimension of space actually tenable or plausible? Hence the idea of a string which has some length.

(Of course the actual history of these two subjects is quite a bit more complex than this. But what I've explained above should give you the intuitive physics/philosophical idea as to why they're being considered).

Finally, the whole question of reality being a simulation is just philosophically dubious - because it leads to an infinite regress. If it is - the question becomes then on what - then is that what simulated too? By whom - are they simulated beings? Further, one doesn't need a discretised spacetime or structure to suppose that reality is simulated. I assume that notion is propelled by the idea of computation that we have is digital.

There is no essential difference in assuming that reality is simulated and that God created the world. Except that God creating the world is actually more philosophically respectable than some infinite regress of simulated worlds by beings who have nothing better to do than run simulations.

Its a new means of bringing in ideas of God back into the world. But given that there is a long tradition of philosophy that probes the metaphysics of God it behoves the physics contingent pushing this idea to get to grips with this literature rather than reinventing the wheel in a not particularly profound way by using the language of modern physics & computation in a particularly unthoughtful and frankly misleading way.

The traditional means of exploring ideas like this is through fiction. One thinks of Lems Solaris or Odyessy 2001. Asimov wrote a short story that posed the world as a simulation for example. Generally fiction mixing with science is called science fiction, what we have here is fiction posing as science.

  • 1
    I hadn't thought it was a re-iteration of the God paradigm - mostly because it is presented decoupled from God's benevolence, and the social structures that are built based on that. Good answer.
    – rath
    Jul 28 '13 at 14:45
  • 2
    Unfortunately when physicists reintroduce ideas from theology into physics they appear to do it in a way subtracting virtue from it! Jul 28 '13 at 14:54
  • then it is fiction science !
    – v.oddou
    Nov 18 '15 at 2:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.