Simulation Save State

Sun, Mar 21, 2021 4-minute read

I used to think that the simulation hypothesis of our Universe was possible but rather silly. But, the following simple thought exercise made me reconsider.

Thought Exercise

If we actually live in a simulation then we would never know when it was turned on or off. It would simply save the current state of the universe at t_1, shut down, and resume at the state of the Universe at time t_1 when it was turned back on.

To illustrate it another way: where did we come from? How did we get here? We could retell the tales of cosmological origin stories or evolutionary theory, but these are all guesses at the infinite possibilities of implementation details at arriving at modern reality. They are almost entirely unprovable because they are only one of numerous possible temporal lineages.

But here is another idea: we could have just popped into existence at this very second and there was never any "continuous historical lineage" for the Universe, the planet, you, or I. A rather jolting and seemingly unsophisticated thought experiment. But, what does going down this rabbit hole buy us? Well, imagine with me for a moment as we explore the implications. So, here we are simply having popped into existence exactly 1 second ago entirely pre-programmed to believe everything we already believe, to think exactly what we are thinking right now, memories, archaeological sites, dinosaur bones, planet positions ... the whole banana split.

And that is how turning the simulation on and off could work. We merely "pop in and out of existence" with a particular state (e.g., state t_1) loaded. It could have been turned on and off multiple times while reading this and we would never know. No time would have passed for us in any way while it is off. We would perceive our time entirely orthogonally to the simulation "dimensions" (or whatever they should conceptually be).

This also means that the execution of the simulation in no way could be noticed as having any impact on our time. Time is invariant until an execution within the simulation calculates "the next moment". We could effectively be discrete frames, like a video game, outside of our "dimensions" and everything would still appear continuously measurable.

This little philosophical thought seems a little more convincing that we could very much be running in hyperdimensional RAM (HRAM?) loaded from hyperdrive H:/.

Simulation Boundaries

It also makes me wonder if quantum effects have some analogy to numerical precision "smoothing". As if someone purposely bounded the size and relative location of any particle, for the sake of applying computational limits (no actual physical "infinitesimals"), by making them simultaneously have properties of type wave struct{} (waves as a purely mathematical object, since physical/classical waves are an emergent phenomenon of many-particle interactions) which are mathematically (not physically) bounded in size and relative location.

It's kind of like lazy computing. When two particles interact: don't worry about computing a high-precision position just yet. Focus on computing (and conserving) its momentum first and only require position measurements as necessary. In the meantime, position is simply mathematically fuzzed/smoothed out.

At least, that is one armchair physics interpretation.

Universal bounds which are mathematical principles, and thus invariant to choice of parameters (i.e., bounds which are not singular ad-hoc numerical constants)?? Sounds "simulate-y" to me.

Apparently when we go to the other end of things and look at "upper" limits e.g., speed of light, GR, etc. We run into mathematical based limits of geometry and causality as well. Something about time ceasing to exist at the speed of light, infinite mass energy, yada yada yada. Sounds kinda "error: max frame rate limit reached" to me.

Yep, I guess we could be asking the hyperbeings to be rich too.


  • The original post is archived here
  • Some relatively minor edits were applied March 22, 2022 (approx. 1 year after posting)