No, We Are Not Living In a Computer Simulation

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Photo by Denisse Leon on Unsplash

We are not living a simulation. The computation required to simulate body momenta increases with number of bodies (N). The speed of action in our universe does not vary with N. Therefore our universe is no the output of computation. Therefore our universe is not a simulation.

I really would like to put an end to the intellectual masterbation of the simulation hypothesis.

The argument seems to go as follows…

First, we make simulations.  Simulations are built on computation.  Our computing power follows something like Moore’s law.  If we extend this in time indefinitely we have computing power increasing as infinitely as we have time.

Second, self-awareness and consciousness are inevitable consequences increased computational fidelity.  Such consciousnesses will eventually start to create their own internal simulations that will follow the same evolution, repeating the pattern fractaly.

We cannot know how many layers of this process there are.  But we can know that the number must be at least 1, and we no reason to think it is not greater.  This means that there is necessaily a greater chance we are living in a some nested layer of a universe simulator, than there is that this universe is the one and only.

The simulation hypothesis is just betting on the probabilities.

However the probabilities are wrong, because they are built on magic.

We can easily compute (or simulate) the momenta of any two bodies at any arbitrary point in the future.  Add a third and this system becomes chaotic and non-computable.  Add 10^82 (estimated number of atoms in the known universe) and, well, things get even trickier.

Let’s say we do eventually develop ways to compute the non-computable (there is no evidence to suggest this could ever be true, but let’s just give this to the simulators).  Even in this case the time to resolve a 10^82 body problem must still be greater than the time to resolve a 2 body problem, because of the differential computation required.

But the time it takes to resolve the motion of N bodies in the real word does not vary with N.  The time it take to compute N bodies in a simulation regardless of computing power, does necessarily vary with N.

In a simulation computing the motion of 2 bodies takes less time than 2+N bodies regardless of computing power.

In the real world resolving the motion of 2 bodies takes the same time as resolving the motion of 2+N bodies because no computation is taking place.  To only way to accomplish this in a simulation is with magic.  And if your hypothesis depends on magic, its fantasy not a hypothesis.

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