Tuesday, 18 December 2012

What if the world were nothing but a virtual computer simulation?

An interesting article in the Times of India appeared on the 17th. of December titled, “Master Computer controls Universe? Physicists mull theory that humans may be mere pawns in a P.C. programme.” The article described how scientists are trying to “discover whether the universe exists within a Matrix style computer simulation created by a super-computer of the future.” An interesting and thought provoking surmise that changes our perception of life as we know it! The article goes on to describe how, “experiments  being conducted in the University of Washington could prove that we are merely pawns in some kind of larger computer game.”  According to Martin Savage, a physicist working on one such project, “Imagine the situation where we get a bid enough computer to simulate our universe and we start such a simulation on our computers (and) if that simulation runs long enough and have the same laws as our universe, then something like our universe will emerge within that simulation, and the situation will repeat itself within each simulation.” this leads us to the string theory of the Universe which suggests, according to the article that,” there are 10500 universes with different laws that determine the behaviour or particles within them.”
The idea that we might be living in a virtual world, an artificially created world from which there is no escape has been the central idea of many science fiction short stories, and science fiction films. Today as the world heads towards a life dependant on computer programmes and simulations, we notice how the boundary between the virtual world and what we believe to be the real world has started getting narrower and narrower! So then, if  scientists do find proof of the existence of a master-computer which controls the Universe then it would indeed suggest that we are nothing but pawns in a virtual game being played on a computer by a higher being! This would further suggest that our fate and destiny are pre-determined by the laws of the game and that our actions also are programmed, so nothing that we do or try to undo matters because it is not voluntary! It further suggests that our efforts to change our destinies would not really make any difference!While the above idea might only be conjecture, something yet to be proven, the possibility of changing the rules of the game might be possible. This would mean that although a higher being might have written down the rules of the game, it might be possible as participants in the game to cheat or mess it up!
Although life in a Matrix would be too constricting and limited there would surely those who would try to break out of it. However what if those who tried to break out were to discover that there was nothing out of the matrix but empty space? Such a possibility would force these escapees to return to the matrix to a predictable life of fixed routines and finite possibilities. Unfortunately we like to believe in a world where miracles happen, a world with infinite possibilities and alternatives even though in normal life we are accustomed to definite patterns and outcomes. We are discomforted by things that are not expected, but then expect miracles to take place when we are ill or down financially, expecting a miracle cure for our loved ones, or perhaps that lottery ticket that would bail us out of our troubled times. We turn to spirituality and pray for these miracles to take place having faith that our prayers will be answered.
What then if we are already living in a virtual world where everything is fixed and determined according to the rules of the game and the computer programme? What if even the number of miracles that take place in our lives is pre-determined; you can only have so many miracles... you've had your set of miracles, and now don't have any left! Suppose that the number of years that we live, the number of children that we have, our professions, our ups and downs, and our relations are pre-determined? This is all in keeping with the requirements of a simulation which require a pre-determined sample, and pre-determined variables. A simulation can be successful only when we are able to feed in the required data into the computer programme. So, then, does it mean that we might as well bid goodbye to miracles because in a simulation everything is accounted for and we try to avoid and eliminate extraneous variables? Does this mean then the end of faith and hope for all of us? It would depend on whether the higher being or beings playing the virtual game were benign and kind, perhaps He or they would listen to our prayers for miracles.
The above observations lead us to the question of who this being is who is playing this virtual game. Plato in the allegory of the cave in The Republic hinted that we are already living in a world which is at a second remove from the real, a world which is an illusion.According to him what we see and think of as real is but a shadow! One wonders whether he might not have had a moment of lucidity when he was able to glimpse the person running the virtual game? Who then is this power that is playing the virtual game, Is it God, or a group of higher beings, or perhaps pure thought? Would it be possible for enterprising persons to break out of the roles assigned to them in this virtual game and find a way to baffle the being or beings running the virtual game? Would it then be possible for people to do the unthinkable, turn into Trojan worms and computer viruses to turn the tables on what this higher being has planned? These questions are interesting and they lead us on towards possibilities of there being bugs and loopholes in the computer programme running the simulation! If this world is nothing but a simulation in a matrix style computer run by a computer programme then would it mean that we would continue to have multiple re-births in different avatars dictated by the laws of conservation of mass and energy?
The laws of quantum physics however defy predictability  in a way that questions the possibility of life being nothing but a simulation, and simulations are possible only where we have a given environment and all the variables are accounted for. The randomness of the location of an electron in an orbital  path defies logic and any set rules! The chaos theory of Quantum Physics suggest that there is a world that follows random patterns, which in itself defies the logical patterns of a virtual simulation game. So then does this mean that there is still hope and that we might after all be able to break out of a virtual, simulated game?
Technorati Tags:

No comments:

Post a Comment