Re: Re[2]: Simulation argument in the NY Times

From: Daniel Burfoot (
Date: Sun Aug 26 2007 - 21:46:59 MDT

On 8/26/07, Panu Horsmalahti <> wrote:

> There is no way to distinguish between miracles and 'features'. For
> example, some weird quantum effects might be bugs in the simulation, or on
> the other hand features in physics. You can't extrapolate information about
> the universe where the simulation is being run from the simulated universe.

You can't extrapolate any extra information without making additional
assumptions about how the simulation works. But some such assumptions might
yield interesting conclusions:

1) assume that the fundamental laws of computations are the same in the
meta-universe as in our simulated universe. In that case, the implementation
of physics in our universe can never require the solution of computationally
intractable problems. For more on this subject, check out the paper by
Aaronson " <>NP-complete
problems and physical reality".

2) assume that computational power is meaningfully limited in the
meta-universe. That is to say, they have enough CPU power to simulate Earth
to a high degree of accuracy, but not the rest of the universe. This seems
to explain Fermi's paradox - life hasn't arisen in other parts of the
universe because those parts aren't being simulated with the same degree of
precision as Earth. This view is oddly regressive in terms of
anthro-centrism, but that doesn't mean it's wrong. It may also have
implications for physics - if Earth is being simulated with a substantially
higher degree of accuracy that the rest of the universe, physical law
doesn't apply in exactly the same way everywhere.

Of course, the simulation might have some neat "lazy computation" tricks.
That is to say, it conserves CPU cycles when nobody is looking (=when the
result of the computation cannot have a substantial impact on the rest of
the simulation), but when somebody is looking, it uses the extra
computational power.


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