Of course we live in The Matrix

(ORDO NEWS) — The only people who absolutely disagree with this are scientists. They must overcome themselves and join in the general joy of being in a computer simulation.

“But that’s nonsense,” says Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli. “I mean, why does the world have to be a simulation?”.

This is typical of the disbelief that the physics community exhibits when a simulation object violates the learned serenity of their model calculations.

Lisa Randall of Harvard, Sabina Hossenfelder of the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Study, David Deutsch of Oxford, Zohar Ringel and Dmitry Kovrizhin – the list goes on and on and they all share the same point of view: Our perceptual brain “models” the world around us , of course, but there is no such thing as “digital physics” or “it’s made of bits”; real things (her) don’t come from code (bits). It’s so reductionist!

Such presentism! Just reproduce thermodynamics! Or consider the effects of many bodies! Even Neil deGrasse Tyson has recently retreated from his Muskian metaphysics. (Although one of his counterarguments, it must be said, very non-technical.

He just doesn’t think that in the far future, alien simulators from other dimensions will entertain slow, petty, cave creatures like us – in the same way that we would not be entertained by the daily routine of real cavemen).

Okay, but with all due respect to these undeniable geniuses: Maybe they should read their own books? Take Rovelli’s latest book. In Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution, he advances what he calls a “relational theory” of reality. In fact, nothing exists except in connection with something else.

“There are no properties outside of interaction,” writes Rovelli. So that tree over there? It’s not just barely noticeable. If you don’t interact with it, then you can’t say it exists at all. Or rather, there is something there, but this something is only and exclusively the potential for interaction.

“The world is a game of perspectives,” concludes Rovelli, “a game of mirrors that exist only as reflections of each other and in each other.”

Notice the word he uses there: game. Reality is a game. What game is this? Maybe a video game? Why not? While Rovelli won’t like this interpretation, isn’t that how video games work? When your character is running across the field, everything that is behind you or out of sight – trees, objects, villains, anything better than to take up your time – is there only makes sense if you turn around and interact with him.

Otherwise, the game will not waste resources to display it. It doesn’t exist, or only exists as a programmed possibility. Video games, like our reality, are Rovelianly relational.

Or back to Tonelli. When it first occurred to people to compare our little corner of the cosmos with everything else, they made a startling discovery: Everything looks and feels exactly the same, almost suspicious.

“How was it possible,” asks Tonelli in Genesis, “that all the most distant corners of the universe, separated by billions of light years from each other, agreed among themselves to reach exactly the same temperature at the very moment when scientists on a small planet in unnamed solar system of an unremarkable galaxy decided to take a look at what is happening around them?”.

God, well, maybe our programmers were just rushing to fill in the gaps like that? Some have even gone so far as to suggest that the speed of light may be “a hardware artifact that indicates

In fact, once you start thinking in terms of hardware artifacts and other similar features and requirements of computing, reality really starts to seem more and more programmed. Creating a homogeneous and isotropic universe may be one of the smart ways our overlords of yotaflops supercomputer simulations plan to conserve resources.

What might others be? For starters, there should be no evidence of the existence of alien civilizations – this is too demanding on the system. Also, as more and more people are being born, you want the differences between them to become smaller and smaller.

So they have to live in the same houses, shop in the same stores, eat in the same fast food restaurants, tweet the same thoughts, take the same personality tests. In the meantime, to make even more space, animals must die out, forests die out, and mega-corporations take over. With this approach, very soon all aspects of modernity will begin to flicker with a simulation brilliance.

Of course we live in The Matrix 1

Mostly quantum physics. Inflaton? More like a simulation! Or “spooky action at a distance” when two distant but somehow “entangled” particles mirror each other perfectly?

Obviously, it’s just a computer that cuts energy requirements in half – just as if you met a person you haven’t seen in 15 years at a random house party in another country, this could be indicative of the same cost-cutting routine of the space engine. Coincidences, coincidences, redundancy: Such things should also save a lot of energy.

On this, our polite physicists can finally lose their temper and fall into entropy, raging hotly. But why? Why is such playful reasoning so irritating not only to them, but to so many other highly intelligent people, from historical philosophers like Justin E. H. Smith to commentators like Nathan J. Robinson?

They never speak plainly, dismissing simulation theory as illogical or out of date, as a game of the privileged, but there is genuine fear in their skepticism, unwillingness to even consider this idea, because to believe that our world is not real, in their opinion, is to believe nihilistically and mockingly in the fact that they strive for knowledge and understanding all their lives, into nothing.

AND MAYBE IT IS? In the years since the release of the first The Matrix, there have indeed been cases where young people – at least one of them you can meet in the documentary “Glitch in the Matrix” – believing that their world is not real, committed murders.

It’s horrible. It’s also, of course, anomalous, outlandish, the kind of novelty that plays on the narrative urge of some hardened intellectuals to blame new media for humanity’s worst impulses. Any idea, no matter how good, can fail, and the simulation hypothesis is no different.

That’s why David Chalmers wrote the book Reality+, I think. Some will read it cynically as a trendy, opportunistic philosophy in the service of Big Tech designed to weaken our resolve to fight for what is real, but the fact of the matter is that Chalmers believes it is all real. If you are in VR and see Spot running, the virtual Spot is no less real than the physical one. It’s just different real.

So far, you can safely kill the virtual Spot – or short NPCs, or your friend in avatar form – but Chalmers isn’t sure you should. If it’s possible that your own world, the so-called physical world, is simulated, you still live in it in a meaningful, compassionate, and (presumably) law-abiding way, so why should VR’s virtuality change anything? Finally, ”

The paradox of Chalmers’ “simulation realism” is essentially that, once accepted, it does not imply any subsequent devaluation of reality. On the contrary, so many isms that in our time have been dismissed as mystical, supernatural – dualism, panpsychism, animism – here turn out to be spiritualized, imbued with a deep new vitality.

We and everything around us become no less real, but, in a sense, more real, animated by panpsychic forces both here and, dualistically, there, somewhere else, somewhere, shall we say, above. This line of thought extends, as you may have guessed, to the highest ism – theism, the belief in a creator, and isn’t simulation theory, after all, all of that? Religion under a new, technological name?

It is said that the simulation hypothesis is the best argument for the existence of a god-like being. Chalmers agrees: “I have considered myself an atheist for as long as I can remember,” he writes. “However, the simulation hypothesis has made me take the existence of god more seriously than ever before.”

He even suggests that Reality+ is his version of Pascal’s wager, proof that he has at least considered the idea of ​​a simulator. Not that he was sure that such a being deserved to be worshiped. As far as we know, it’s some little xeno kid who’s banging on his parents’ keyboard, causing disaster for us in the way that we could for the inhabitants of SimCity.

But the simulator doesn’t have to be all-powerful and all-beneficial for us to consider the possibility of its existence. So, there is the Old Testament, where the catastrophes were more fire and brimstone. Then, perhaps, the simulator has matured a little and has become more cunning in its methods of destruction with age.

In other words, here we are in 2022, at the mercy of a teenage God Simulator experimenting on fear-driven data age people facing pandemics, climate change, wars, and other forms of socio-political and economic chaos. Can we survive?

At the very least, it’s fun to think about and, oddly enough, reassuring. In the beginning, in the end, God created light and darkness. Translation: Simulator created 1 and 0.

I go outside and roll my eyes, just to see if I can get the quickest look at the pixels that make up this pure planetary simulation we call Earth. Sometimes, and even when I’m completely sober, it seems to work. Tiny squares really seem to appear and disappear! At other times, and especially when I’m completely sober, I feel like a complete layman.

But that’s where the beauty lies: uncertainty. You could even say, the Heisenberg uncertainty, the quantum mechanical uncertainty that underlies our reality. Is this thing in front of me proof of a simulation? It is, it is not, it can be, it must be.

In the process of writing this essay, I must confess that everything seemed to confirm the validity of the simulation. Every impossible coincidence I’ve encountered or heard about is a simulation. The stranger in the coffee shop who almost verbatim quoted a line I read in a book is a simulation.

Every new book I pick up is, if anything, a simulation. Seriously, how can every book that one reads, in the process of writing about reality, be about reality in such a fundamental way? I have asked the grumpy old owner of my favorite bookstore many times for recommendations.

Why this time, having no idea what I’m working on or thinking, he handed me “The End of Mr. Y” by the brilliant Scarlett Thomas (the title is a pun on “the end of the mystery”), in which the protagonist, a writer obsessed with physics ( hello) is slowly penetrating into another, deeper, video game-like dimension (hello)?

“When a person looks at the illusions of the world,” Thomas writes in a book within a book, “he sees only the world. For where does the illusion end?”

This, it seems to me, is what physicists and simulation skeptics of all stripes lack. Not belief in simulation, as such, but the irresistible possibility of it, a magical conspiracy. This does not diminish or undermine their science, but on the contrary, enriches and fills it with energy.

How many people, usually not motivated to learn, find their way to a concept as frightening as, say, quantum indeterminacy by means of the (much more pleasant) simulation argument? I would suggest that there are many, and physicists are better off not belittling this entry point into their work by calling it trifle, nonsense, fantasy for little minds.

No one knows – most likely no one will ever know – whether this world of ours was simulated by some higher dimensional alien race, and for what purpose, and, after all, whether our simulators were themselves simulated.

At a certain point, indeed, the specifics begin to seem unimportant. If people like Musk, Bostrom, and Chalmers are wrong about one thing, it’s not so much their simulation realism as what you might call their simulation literalism.

They are so caught up in arguing about the exact probability of a simulation, its rules, logic and mechanisms, that they forget about the mind game, the thought experiments, that human beings have been wondering if their world is real as long as they have been dreaming.

“The origin of all metaphysics,” as Nietzsche called it: “Without sleep, there would be no reason to divide the world into two parts.” The simulation hypothesis, stripped of probabilities and confusion with technology, is the oldest hypothesis in the book.

So maybe it’s not so wrong to take it literally after all. “Maybe life begins the moment we know we don’t have it,” one of the characters in Hervé Le Tellier’s novel Anomaly thinks.

It’s a popular French novel (L’Anomalie) about people living in a possibly simulated world, and it came out – but of course during a pandemic.

The point of the book, I think, is the same as that of Chalmers: to prove not only that it is possible to live meaningfully in a simulated world, but also that it is necessary. It’s necessary. Because maybe kindness is what keeps the simulation going.

Maybe kindness, and the sparks and randomness that comes from it, is what keeps simulations interesting. After all, at the end of “Anomaly” the opposite happens.

Someone ignores the possibility of hope and succumbs to evil, inhumanity. The result is the worst thing imaginable. Someone, somewhere, in some dimension, not our own, turns off the simulation.

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