Did our universe come about by design? By accident? Or are we living in a simulation?
Leonard Susskind's new book, The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design pits Intelligent Design against string theory and the megaverse. Susskind, one of the developers of string theory, takes on the 'Anthropic Principle' -- that the universe seems to be perfectly tailored to us: If it wasn't we wouldn't be here to observe it.
Surprisingly, Autodesk founder John Walker, in his review, sides with intelligent design, but not by a deity -- rather by post-Singularity intelligences creating a reality simulation: "What would we expect to see if we inhabited a simulation?"
Yes, I have discussed this in fact & fiction, many times. But the “symptoms” delineated by Susskind are definitely the kind plumbed by theoretical physicists who have a more extensive union card than I do!
To see this scenario played out in one of my short stories, go to: Stones of Significance or my story, Reality Check.
From Walker’s posting: . “What would we expect to see if we inhabited a simulation? Well, there would probably be a discrete time step and granularity in position fixed by the time and position resolution of the simulation—check, and check: the Planck time and distance appear to behave this way in our universe.
. . “There would probably be an absolute speed limit to constrain the extent we could directly explore and impose a locality constraint on propagating updates throughout the simulation—check: speed of light.
. . “There would be a limit on the extent of the universe we could observe—check: the Hubble radius is an absolute horizon we cannot penetrate, and the last scattering surface of the cosmic background radiation limits electromagnetic observation to a still smaller radius. There would be a limit on the accuracy of physical measurements due to the finite precision of the computation in the simulation—check: Heisenberg uncertainty principle—and, as in games, randomness would be used as a fudge when precision limits were hit—check: quantum mechanics.
. . “Might we expect surprises as we subject our simulated universe to ever more precise scrutiny, perhaps even astonishing the being which programmed it with our cunning and deviousness (as the author of any software package has experienced at the hands of real world users)? Who knows, we might run into round-off errors which “hit us like a ton of bricks”!"
See these topics explored in my essay: Could Our Universe Be a Fake?
---More cool Items...
* Looking toward a bold future: Scientists are now talking about people staying young and not aging. Ray Kurzweil is taking it a step further: "In addition to radical life extension, we’ll also have radical life expansion. The nanobots will be able to go inside the brain and extend our mental functioning by interacting with our biological neurons."
* A computer controlled by the power of thought alone has been demonstrated at a major trade fair in Germany. The device could provide a way for paralysed patients to operate computers, or for amputees to operate electronically controlled artificial limbs. But it also has non-medical applications, such as in the computer games and entertainment industries.
* Google Inc. apparently hopes to persuade everyone with a computer to entrust all their digital data with the online search engine leader, even though the company is having trouble controlling its own internal communications. Plans for a Google service offering "infinite" storage capacity leaked out last week when the company inadvertently shared some information about several projects, including one named "GDrive," on its Web site.
. . Ironically, this endeavor depends upon Google’s “don’t be evil” sense of trust, engendered at great cost over the years... and now threatened by public perception of a “cave-in” to the Government of China, on the issue of censorship. One of the hot topics we should all watch and discuss.
* Human genes involved in metabolism, skin pigmentation, brain function and reproduction have evolved recently in response to recent environmental changes, according to a new study of natural selection in the human genome. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8812&print=true
* Here’s an item that could go in political OR non-political categories: ”Search engine newcomer Kosmix, which lets users look in specific topic areas, recently introduced its politics engine. For any search term, Kosmix organizes results into conservative, liberal or libertarian categories, allowing seekers to explore results associated with a certain political persuasion. Though still in its alpha version, the politics engine is fairly adept at teasing out ideological orientations on the web.”
. . Now, at first sight this looks very much like another predictive hit for EARTH, tools empowering people to filter the world so that the Net will only bring them information that reinforces their pre-conceptions. Great, all we need is more slavish devotion to the crippling left-right metaphor that has taken a sophisticated, 21st Century civilization down the path of 18th Century culture war. Is this the intention? Or is it possible the designers of this system might try to “not be evil” by incorporating methods that provoke re-appraisal of simplistic litmus-nostrums?
. . One way to save this idea might be to encourage users to take questionnaires like the one I have long posted at: http://www.davidbrin.com/questionnaire.html But I don’t have the time/energy to contact these guys.
* In the category of yet another predictive hit for EARTH,, crotchety fools are using high tech to harass kids: ”A high pitched "dog whistle" device is to be used by police in north Staffordshire to stop groups of nuisance youths hanging around shops. The Mosquito sends out a pulsing 80-decibel frequency noise which can usually only be heard by teenagers and those in their early 20s. The device is fitted outside the shop and can be turned on by shopkeepers to move youths on.”
For the first time, scientists have confirmed Earth is melting at both ends, which could have disastrous effects for coastal cities and villages.
and coolest yet....
Scientists have discovered a mutant chicken with a full set of crocodile-like chompers.