You are a Simulation & Physics Can Prove It by George Smoot (Full Transcript)

Here’s the crux of the arguments, and these arguments have been around for more than 30 years, and they were first published 30 years ago, and what people went through a lot of trouble to show, that one of these three things is extremely likely to be true. So, you get your choice between No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3, just like the doors, look what’s behind each door.

The first one is: Human civilization is unlikely to reach a level of technological maturity capable of producing simulated realities, or it’s physically impossible. Okay, so we made some progress in 30 years and I’ll mention that.

The second is: Comparable civilizations throughout the universe which do reach that capability will choose not to make simulations in such a large scale that, in fact, the probability of being a simulated being is much higher than probability of being a real being. So, those are your choices, right — there’s some other choices, but they’re extraordinarily unlikely, and we can pretty much rule them out.

And the third choice is: Any entities with our general set of experiences are almost certainly to be living in a simulation. That would be us. Right? Okay? In case you guys aren’t paying attention.

Okay. So, let’s talk about making simulated realities by humans. So, will humans produce realistic simulations? And the answer is yes. I have to keep coming back because I just wrote this talk and so I don’t remember what I’ll have to say. And, so, the answer to that is clearly yes, you guys already proved it, because there’s a lot of money to be made in making computer games, simulated realities. And the better the simulator reality, the more people you can involve in it. There’s a lot of entertainment, we have a lot of animated movies. Now, we’re going to have animated interactive movies and videos – it’s coming out — and pornography.

So, you know, you can’t rule out pornography. In the early days of the Internet, pornography was the No. 1 commerce, it was roughly half the commerce in the Internet in the early days. And even today, 50% of the bits that are transmitted on the Internet are transmitted for porn. So, you can wonder: Why is it? Well, originally stories and then there got to be pictures, and then there got to be videos, pretty soon there’ll be interactive videos. So, it’s clear there is a tremendous financial motivation, and especially here in Media City, where people make their living out of these kind of things.

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So, how… I’m not sure which of the three, But okay. How detailed and how accurate will the simulations be? And the answer turns out, as we know from experience, computation power is the first issue. You have to have tremendously good computation power to make a really good quality simulation, and good programming, that is good software, to explain what’s going on, that’s the second. But, clearly we’re making progress, just look at the games, look at PONG, and look at the kind of video games we have now. So, we’ll see.

What about simulations by other civilizations? So, now we know a lot more about this than we did 30 years ago. We’ve made tremendous progress. We’ve discovered more than 2,000 other stars that have planetary systems around them. And we know there is at least on the order of a billion or more habitable planets in our galaxy, and there’s about 100 billion galaxies for around 10^20 to 10^22 depending what your range possible sites for life and then advanced civilizations in the universe.

So, what are the chances that the earth is the most advanced, the most computationally powerful? Well, the odds, you got to be really, pretty much thinking you’re special, to think that the odds are that we’re the top.

So, the question is: Will advanced beings run simulations? And, in fact, will simulated beings run simulations? If we’re simulated, are we running simulations in our simulations, simulations all the way down? If you know the things. So, even the people running our simulation don’t know if they’re a simulation or not. It’s interesting, because it creates ethics and a bunch of things because there might be somebody watching you.

So, are ethical considerations likely to stop every single civilization from running simulations and running large numbers of simulations? Well, the answer I think is “no”. What if doing simulations is likely to say what we think are real lives? Right? We’re willing to do the simulations even though they’re being strapped in that simulation, right? Conscious beings.

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And the other thing you might consider is how do human beings treat what they think are real human beings. How’s the ethical treatment on our Earth? And how much more is society likely to advance before we’re doing very advanced simulations of civilizations and beings?

So, we’ll probably all be in a simulation. The lights are not on enough in here, but look to the left and look to the right, if there’s anybody here you think is a real person, this is a random sample, then you’re probably not.

But if you think you’re a social scientist or an anthropologist or something, and you want to run and see how the civilizations rise and fall, you’ll run simulations with up to billions of people. And you will run many of those simulations, so it’s not so hard to imagine you’ll get up to the level of 10^12:1 simulated beings to unsimulated beings, that’s why the probability becomes fairly likely that any being that has a behavior or activities and experiences like us is simulated.

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