View Full Version : How To Test Whether You’re Living In ‘The Matrix’

27th October 2012, 17:17
THE question of whether we live in a real world or a simulated one has plagued philosophers for centuries – but now scientists believe they finally have found a way to test the theory.
Professor Silas Beane, a theoretical physicist at the University of Bonn in Germany said that his group of scientists have developed a way to test the ‘simulation hypothesis’.

The idea has been debated by the greats of philosophy, from Plato to Descartes, who speculated that the world we see around us could be generated by an ‘evil demon’.

The successful film franchise, ‘The Matrix’, also helped spawn the idea that what we think is our everyday life is in fact a simulation generated by an all-powerful computer.

But now more than two thousand years since Plato suggested that our senses only give us a poor reflection of objective reality, experts believe they have cracked the riddle.

Professor Beane told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme that his proposal could be the beginning of a new period of discovery.

The test would see scientists using mathematical models known as the lattice QCD approach in an attempt to recreate – on a theoretical level – a simulated reality.

To identify what these constraints would be, scientists would have to build their own simulation of the universe.

They hope to see whether such an exercise would be theoretically possible – and what the constraints on the ‘evil demon’ might be.

Lattice QCD is a complex approach that that looks at how particles known as quarks and gluons relate in three dimensions.

Professor Bean said: “We consider ourselves on some level universe simulators because we calculate the interactions of particles by basically replacing space and time by a grid and putting it in a box.”

“In doing that we face lots of problems for instance the box and the grid size breaks Einstein’s special theory of relativity so we know how to fix this in order to get physical predictions that are meaningful.”

“We thought that if we make the assumption that the so-called simulators face some of the same problems that we do in terms of finite resources and so on then, if they are doing a simulation and even though their box size of course is enormous and the grid size can be very small, as long as the resources are finite then the box size will be finite, the grid size will be finite.”

“And therefore at some level for instance there would be violations of Einstein’s special theory of relativity.”

Philosophers have cautioned that there is still some way to go before we find out whether the universe is simulated. Dr Peter Millican of Hertford College, Oxford said: “There are two main issues, one is whether the speculation even makes sense and the other is supposing it makes sense whether there is any good reason to think it is plausible.

“The other problem is evidence. It seems to me that the evidence that is looked for is not that convincing.”

Descartes said the evil demon that he believed controlled the universe is “as clever and deceitful as he is powerful, who has directed his entire effort to misleading me.”

But he countered that his ability to think was, at least, proof enough that he was real, writing: “I think, therefore I am.”

Plato said that reality may be no more than shadows in a cave but the cave dweller, having never left the cave, may not be aware of it.

Lucy Kinder, Telegraph.co.uk

Ilie Pandia
27th October 2012, 17:57
Let's go back in time a bit when the first computers appeared and move forward from there.

Computers always have processed and displayed information. Initially that information was in "text only" mimicking the mechanical typewriter. But the way the computers presented that information evolved into graphical representations, images, and "motion pictures". A few short years back it was very easy to accurately say if an image was generated by a computer or not.

We are now back to today. Now even your home computer with the latest graphics card and a 3D Enabled screen can generate in real time what appears to be "real moving images" with all the eye candy effects of motion blur, depth of field, flares, lighting effects, dynamic shadows just to name a few...

We now go a bit forward in time. In each home you have a virtual reality device made possible by a break trough into "human brain - computer" interface. You can step into the VR world and out of it as you wish.

Let's go further in time. Humans learn that it's much cheaper and easier to spend almost all of their time into the VR. New interfacing systems take care of your body while your awareness is in the game...

Even further in time. Children are no longer born, but rather "made" inside an automated laboratory based on tissue samples from two VR participants. As soon as the child's brain reaches a certain development it is hooked into the system via a bio-tech interface that grows and develops along with the child.

In a not so distant future the VR is made to "feel real", so drama, pain and suffering are added to the mix! In a few generations humans forget completely they are in a virtual reality.

A few bright individuals start to question the nature of their reality and so science is born, taking apart their world trying to find the "God particle". A few "awaken" and you never hear from them again, but most continue to "research" and "develop".

Soon computers appear. And they present information only in text format initially, mimicking the mechanical type writer. But things quickly change, and in their quest to discover the nature of their reality the humans build a simulation....

At this time two questions need to be asked:

1. At which iteration number are we within the simulation

2. Depending on the answer of the first one, the "awakened" ones to what kind of reality do they awake?

If the mind is simply a "perception device" that can be programmed to experience a certain reality, then what we are may be very different from what we appear to be :)

27th October 2012, 18:32
“We thought that if we make the assumption that the so-called simulators face some of the same problems that we do in terms of finite resources and so on then, if they are doing a simulation and even though their box size of course is enormous and the grid size can be very small, as long as the resources are finite then the box size will be finite, the grid size will be finite.”
It seems to me that he's assuming that if they can detect a finite box size, with a finite grid size, then that means we're living in "the matrix".

Perhaps the underlying nature of reality is grid like ?

27th October 2012, 18:40
More importantly than my last post perhaps ... I suspect that this "Matrix" article misses a more important point.

Philosophically, I view "reality" as layers of self-organizing structure, each layer's structures forming the "atoms" of the next layer. I am not concerned that we might be living in the sort of recursive matrix that Ilie describes so well above, for I see no reason to expect that layers would begin to repeat.

But I am concerned with the ubiquitous and increasingly omniscient monitoring and control that the bastards in power are obtaining over humanity. That "Matrix" is a deep, dark threat to us.

28th October 2012, 00:57
One point i see here is the overlooking of the possibility of a real world , that has a vr type layer of false appearances built over it.
The other is why a box, wouldn't it be harder to see the falsity of the matrix if it looped back into itself like a moebius strip or the 3d equivilent, a klein bottle.
How many people have you seen who seem to be caught up in circular logic?

28th October 2012, 06:43
Of course this is the source of the Dreaming, see, I can watch YOU sleep! Unfortunately like putting cats in a box of lit firecrackers and telling them to be quiet, every reflex we possess will deny the zen. That's why they're reflexes. The primary phenomena we would need to override is the Path of Least Resistance. This would be followed by instant insanity, if your thoughts don't need to stay over there, and mine stay over here, we will turn into an utterly alien species in a split second using our existing material.