Before starting, I wish to be clear that on both a personal and professional basis, I take the matter of plagiarism very seriously. Some of what you are about to read may be familiar, however, I have, like many thinkers, spent much time on the subject of how and why are we here, and I suppose, from where?
I first began to think about the concept of a simulated universe in the mid 1980s, when first getting interested in computer graphics and programming. I remember pacing up and down the kitchen in our parents house having revelation after revelation, and looking at reality from a totally different perspective. Most of this has been covered in earlier writings by thinkers, philosophers and of course, science fiction writers, although back then I don’t think I had read any books or such that covered the subject.
The Lawnmower Man, The Matrix, and earlier than that, some episodes of Star Trek have delved into the subject of characters unaware they exist in a simulation. In others, the characters are sometimes aware, or unable to tell, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall.
One particular episode of Star Trek TNG (Ship In A Bottle) features a semi nefarious Holodeck character by the name of Moriarty who becomes sentient and starts to question his existence. The plot is both entertaining and genius, but I won’t spoil it by going any further regarding the outcome.
More recently with Virtual Reality finally becoming practical and mainstream, others are now also discussing and questioning our reality.
However, and I have mentioned this before on this blog and elsewhere over the years, no one has as far as far as I am aware discussed how a an advanced AI in a video game would prove it’s status. Or in our case, if we are a character in a game, beyond proving or disproving the nature of our existence, if we are in a simulation, what the consequences of this revelation would be.
“Uhm, there’s something you should know”
Copyright CBS Studios Inc
After several starts and stops due to other more important matters arising, I am starting to teach myself Unity – a software development framework for developing and publishing video games across multiple devices. Although videogames can be ‘hand’ coded and dedicated engines developed (such as Frostbite for titles like Battlefield and Star Wars Battlefront, or CRYENGINE (used to power the hauntingly enchanting Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture), the concept is all the same. At the core, advanced mathematics render and simulate increasingly complex 2 and 3D environments. And now with VR, fully immersive experiences are possible – and well worth experiencing.
However, complex math(s) and flashy visuals aside, what makes single player games stand out is good AI. And that is where things get interesting. Ideally, you want AI characters that are as random and believable as a real co-op player or enemy.
Fast forward a few years, when game engines are running on hardware with 10 times the performance of today’s high end PC gaming rig, coupled with network derived knowledge (the Googleisation of gaming), how long will it be before a game character becomes sentient?
“I think, therefore I am.”
And if so, how would that character prove they were or were not an advanced 3D model with AI attributes and sensory perception attached? More so, if we ‘Earth’lings are characters in a game, and God is the programmer (‘sup Niall?!), then he has the power to bend the laws of ‘physics’! For example, move any object or entity in the ‘Universe’ to any other point, instantly, just by adjusting or inputting some mathematical co-ordinates.
81,000 years to get to Proxima Centauri from ‘here’?
No! Tap tappity tap, go! Instantly.
Forget warp drive, how about NOW drive!
Want to bypass ‘evolution’? No problem.
“God of Engineering? I fancy an eye in the back of my head.”
Tappity tap tap, blip blip, whooosh, thwap. Re-spawn you 3.1.
“I see you there! Thought you could sneak up on me eh?”
Scientists, engineers, physicists ‘astronomers’ and perhaps even philosophers must try to find a way to prove or not whether we are in a simulation. If we’re just code, how do we get to ‘see’ the core algorithms and even manipulate them, assuming DNA is just an illusion designed to distract us from the truth? Or is DNA real and an advanced system to self populate the simulation.
Don’t forget, if we are in a simulation and engineering are keeping an eye out, then nothing matters, it’s all just an illusion and that means even climate change isn’t going to harm us because if engineering God loves us, he’ll fix it.
Oh this is getting heavy. Bed!
So, for a million helicopters and a dah-lah, who is going to be the first to hack the Universe – from the inside?
Fight back club: Prove yourself!