The Matrix, Truer Than you Think- Part 2

Because Berkeley was writing before the computer age he, as well as his detractors, seemed to assume that the issue is “What is real?” Berkeley himself accepted that an external object that is perceived or observed by someone is real. The essential issue is as asked by Morpheus. “How do you define real?” Everything in consciousness is real, and because it can only exist in consciousness as processed sensory data, everything in consciousness is virtual. There is only one question. “Are there physical objects external to consciousness?” In other words, is there a physical universe that would still be there if there was not a single sentient being to observe it. The difficulty is that it is quite impossible to prove either with Physics or Logic that this is so. Just to mention one obvious problem. It is beyond question that all color is generated in the brain. So if you are certain that there is an external universe that is not being observed, then it must be colorless. Such a universe would not only be invisible, it would be inconceivable (where both these adjectives assume an observer in any event). It would just be a bunch of electromagnetic waves not in the visible spectrum. The universe would be like the microwave mobile phone network!

In this context I should also mention the teachings of Mahāyāna Buddhism which is a philosophy of mind. This is the ‘Consciousness Only’ school which, like Berkeley, asserts that the objective world we perceive to be real is ultimately a product of our minds. The mind is simply a movie projector and the external world we experience is the projection of our consciousness. Opinions differ whether this school goes so far as saying that the external world does not exist, but they do argue that every object is significantly altered by our conscious perception. We can only ever know external objects secondhand as ideas, and we can never know them before they are transformed into our consciousness. Again we find principles that were formulated before the age of computers. Ultimately things are transformed into our consciousness through no other means than the processing of sensory data. So here again we can only ever know the virtual reality in our consciousness. Whether or not a physical world actually exists external to our mind becomes a meaningless and irrelevant issue. Adherents of this school are taught to renounce the external world as illusory and enlightenment is achieved with the cessation of all desire, attachment and suffering.

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Are we living in a simulated universe? - Part 1

THEY ARE SERIOUSLY ASKING:
Are we living in a simulated universe?

By Bradley Bartholomew
February 2014

Mainstream scientists are taking very seriously the possibility that we are living in a universe that has been simulated by our own very advanced and technologically savvy descendants, presumably using a quantum computer with virtually infinite processing power.

John D. Barrow, the Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge University, wrote an article Living in a Simulated Universe. He refers to his own earlier theory about how an advanced civilization of our own descendants could be simulating us. He then goes on to talk about the ‘slippery slope’ that opens up before you once you accept that all possible real physical universes exist in parallel. “We see that once conscious observers are allowed to intervene in the universe, rather than being merely lumped into the category of ‘observers’ who do nothing, that we end up with a scenario in which the gods reappear in unlimited numbers in the guise of the simulators who have the power of life and death over the simulated realities that they bring into being. The simulators determine the laws, and can change the laws, that govern their worlds. They can engineer anthropic fine-tunings. They can pull the plug on the simulation at any moment, intervene or distance themselves from their simulation; watch as the simulated creatures argue about whether there is a god who controls or intervenes; work miracles or impose their ethical principles upon the simulated reality. All the time they can avoid having a twinge of conscience about hurting anyone because their toy reality isn’t real, is it? They can even watch their simulated realities grow to a level of sophistication that allows them to simulate higher-order realities of their own.”

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Are we living in a simulated universe? - Part 2

THEY ARE SERIOUSLY ASKING:
Are we living in a simulated universe?

By Bradley Bartholomew
February 2014

Optimized-DSC 0406There is a basic concept in experimental physics called Lorentz symmetry. Essentially the experimental results should not reflect the orientation or framework of the experimental apparatus. Using a cubic space-time lattice to simulate electrons and muons at some point it is necessary to introduce a specific operator into the equations which will fine tune away the ‘lattice spacing’ artifacts. This operator has to do with recovering Lorentz symmetry in the lattice calculations. As the lattice spacing vanishes when compared with the scales of the system however, the Lorentz symmetry is recovered without the necessity of introducing this operator. They therefore calculate an approximate upper bound on the lattice spacing, below which the artifacts will not be observed. So they conclude that this breaking of rotational symmetry, if they were to observe it out there in the real physical world “would be a solid indicator of an underlying space-time grid, although not the only one.” They go on to point out that “another scenario that gives rise to rotational invariance violation involves the introduction of an external background with a preferred direction”.

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