• Notes on Simulating the Universe

    11/16/2022 at 17:56 0 comments

    Simulating the universe is a popular theme, with many variations.  One interpretation is that we are all actually, in fact, living in some kind of virtual reality - whether our brains are actually in jars, or perhaps we still have our bodies, but that they are in turn being hosted in some type of life support pods like in the movie The Matrix, which is just one of the many kinds of variations on this theme.  The overall idea is nothing new.  Plato's allegory of the cave is also well known.  And let's not forget the classic Star Trek - For the World is Hollow, and I have Touched the Sky - even if that one strictly did not involve the more confluent type of dream within a dream, challenging ideas about the ultimate nature of reality like some of the variations that even more recent, and thus, contemporary writers have crafted.

    Since this isn't an actual hardware hack, YET: I have decided to create this page.  Even though I might at some point try to train an AI that works similar to Eliza, MegaHal, or a modern variation like GPT2 or GPT3 on a text such as this one.  So there is the possibility that this will turn into some kind of project, in some form or another.  Perhaps, this approach will turn out to be helpful, as far as getting a real AI to help solve climate change is concerned, or to create a department of PRE-CRIME, which would certainly not be without controversy.  More likely, I will end up writing yet another snooty chatbot.  Spoiler alert!

    So, the approach that I am contemplating right now is the idea of eliminating most of the universe altogether, as a universe that is more than 99.9999999% empty space, (and that is nowhere NEAR enough nines) seems like a pretty big waste of space. Thus, some work needs to be done, perhaps with some improved compression algorithms.  Let us at least for now assume, therefore, that we are alone in the universe and that all of those other stars and galaxies that we think that we see are just figments of our collective imaginations.  Now let us also imagine that we don't really need the Sun, or the Earth, or the Moon either - we just need to find a way to put something like eight billion brains in one gigantic jar and get them all hooked up to some kind of life support system, which along with the right psychoactive substances, or fiber-optic interconnects, or whatever, would allow the illusion that the universe exists, to continue - at least for now.

    So now we can do some math.  If an average human brain weighs in at around three pounds, or just under 1336 grams for an adult human male, or 1198 for an adult female, according to nih.gov, then the total brain mass of all humans currently living would be not more than 10.14*10^12 grams or about 10.14 million metric tons.   Now if we assume a density equal to that of water, which could fill a sphere 268.5 meters in diameter if I did my pocket calculator arithmetic correctly.

    Then we could in principle, get rid of most of the rest of the universe, and nobody would ever be wiser, that is, if we could build such a device, provide power to it, etc., and then somehow transfer all human consciousness into it.  Of course, nothing says that such a device would need to be organic in nature, that is to say - that if consciousness is simply some function of having enough q-bits, then maybe some kind of quantum computing technology, which has not yet been invented, but which could work, at least in theory, that is to say - without rewriting the laws of physics as we presently understand them.

    How about using Boron-Nitride doped diamond as a semiconductor, for example, and then we could build a giant machine that runs Conway's game of life, which we know is Turing complete?  Now just such an approach, if we could figure out how to power and how to cool it, should at least in principle solve some of the other issues associated with organic systems.

    Of course,...

    Read more »