Friday, November 30, 2018

More Evidence Against "The Simulation"

I never have found the simulation hypothesis - that is, the contention that we all are living in some sort of artificial reality simulated by computer systems - particularly compelling. As I've pointed out in previous posts, Nick Bostrom's 2003 philosophical argument that we might be suffers from the same logical error as Gambler's Fallacy, which is a proposition that can easily be disproved with a few coin flips. Nonetheless, there are otherwise smart people out there who take it seriously, and that makes me question their smarts. Now yet another test has shown that the simulation idea is unlikely. Specifically, physicists have found that quantum interactions cannot be modeled by classical computers.

Scientists have discovered that it’s impossible to model the physics of our universe on even the biggest computer. What that means is that we’re probably not living in a computer simulation .

Theoretical physicists Zohar Ringel and Dmitry Kovrizhin from the University of Oxford and the Hebrew University in Israel applied Monte Carlo simulations (computations used to generate probabilities) to quantum objects moving through various dimensions and found that classical systems cannot create the mathematics necessary to describe quantum systems. They showed this by proving that classical physics can’t erase the sign problem, a particular quirk of quantum Monte Carlo simulations of gravitational anomalies (like warped spacetime, except in this case the researchers used an analogue from condensed matter physics).

Therefore, according to Ringel and Kovrizhin, classical computers most certainly aren’t controlling our universe.

Now I know what you're thinking - what about quantum computers? The issue there is that quantum computers model quantum interactions as quantum interactions. So you could model the world using a quantum computer and get all the quantum interactions, but only if said computer was the size of the world and contained as many particles and so forth. In that scenario, the world would be its own simulation and basically we would just call it "reality." We perhaps could be left with a Douglas Adams scenario of the world being the computer and all of us being part of it, but that's as far as it goes.

I never have understood what makes the simulation argument compelling. The Matrix was fun as a movie, but it was a Gnostic allegory rather than a world you would want to live in. Likewise, if we really did live in a perfectly simulated universe, what would be the point of knowing? Everything would work exactly the same, and it would confer no advantage upon us. So what's the appeal? That still mystifies me, and I'm going to assume that the world I live in is the world I live in until somebody provides me with compelling evidence otherwise.

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble

No comments: