Author Topic: Can a computer simulation simulate another computer running another simulation  (Read 17650 times)

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Online xrunner

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I was talking with some guys on the local repeater, and we got into "what is reality" sort of discussions. I mentioned that some people hypothesize that we and our reality is simply some unknown intelligence's version of the "Sims", i.e. we are just a simulation "running" on some system we can't investigate. But yet we also have computers (simulated?) that run simulations ...

I'm not a computer scientist per se, but of course I know that a physical computer can run a simulation of the weather, an engine, and many other things in software. So what I want to know is,

A. Can a physical computer simulate itself or another entire computer architecture, in software (forget about why, just is it possible). I think the answer is ... yes?

B. If it's possible, then can a physical computer postulated above, running a simulation of a computer, and on that simulation of a computer, simulate yet another computer?

So in the physical computer, it's running a simulation of a computer, which is running a simulation of a computer.

No, I haven't been smoking any funny stuff, I am really stuck on whether that is possible or not. I don't know.
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Offline MK14

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Yes.

(MK14 was not available, so automatic computer AI has produced the answer. Unfortunately the usual PC was faulty, so a simulation was run on another PC. That was also faulty, so a simulation of the simulation has sorted it out).

Projects such as DOSbox, fully simulate a PC.

EDIT:
Yes applies to both questions A and question B. But be careful you don't run out of resources and it can get impracticably slow.
https://www.dosbox.com/
« Last Edit: June 04, 2016, 07:46:40 pm by MK14 »
 

Offline chris_leyson

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I think the answer to your first question is, yes a computer can simulate another computer architecture. Had Xilinx ISE running a simulation of a Cinematronics bit slice computer, think the game was Rip Off, it was a slow.
 

Offline rolycat

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A. Can a physical computer simulate itself or another entire computer architecture, in software (forget about why, just is it possible). I think the answer is ... yes?
Absolutely, and such software has been available for decades. In the 1990s, Acorn computers running an early ARM processor had an IBM PC emulator which could run standard PC software written for a completely different processor architecture.

There are many simulators which run on PCs using Intel or AMD processors which emulate other processor architectures, together with other hardware and peripherals for a specific computer. A well known example is MAME, the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator.

Quote
B. If it's possible, then can a physical computer postulated above, running a simulation of a computer, and on that simulation of a computer, simulate yet another computer?

So in the physical computer, it's running a simulation of a computer, which is running a simulation of a computer.

Yes, eminently possible.

An Acorn ARM computer emulator also exists for the PC. Running the IBM PC emulator within an Acorn emulator running on a modern PC would result in an x86 computer emulating an ARM computer emulating an x86 computer. It is likely that the emulation within the emulation would still be faster than the original IBM PC.
 

Offline arekm

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A. Can a physical computer simulate itself or another entire computer architecture, in software (forget about why, just is it possible). I think the answer is ... yes?

B. If it's possible, then can a physical computer postulated above, running a simulation of a computer, and on that simulation of a computer, simulate yet another computer?

Look at http://www.qemu-project.org . Emulates various hardware platforms purely in software. Can be nested.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QEMU
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Offline botcrusher

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My favorite "PCeption" is a PC running windows, running bochs x86, running windows.
 

Offline f5r5e5d

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its popular to write the compiler for a new language in the new programming language, then write an interpreter for the new programming language in an existing language, then run the compiler on the interpreter to compile itself

of course the existing language could be running on a virtual machine between it and the assembly language of the computer...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bootstrapping_(compilers)
 

Online xrunner

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Look at http://www.qemu-project.org . Emulates various hardware platforms purely in software. Can be nested.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QEMU

Interesting. So can these simulations be nested (in theory) to infinity? Assuming the first hardware computer had enough memory and speed?
« Last Edit: June 04, 2016, 10:20:36 pm by xrunner »
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Offline MK14

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Look at http://www.qemu-project.org . Emulates various hardware platforms purely in software. Can be nested.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QEMU

Interesting. So can these simulations be nested (in theory) infinity? Assuming the first hardware computer had enough memory and speed?

Yes, no limit (except practical limits of memory/speed etc).

EDIT:
You can even do it (reportedly) using NO computers at all.

Before we had computers (from the jist of stories I have read about), some people simulated them by hand. To illustrate how useful they would be, and prove they work. I.e. they would write out the program on paper, then execute it line by line, with pencil and paper, or something.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2016, 10:17:49 pm by MK14 »
 

Offline dannyf

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So in the physical computer, it's running a simulation of a computer, which is running a simulation of a computer.

It is done every day, and for me right this moment, with Keil running over Proteus.

Nothing new here.

If you really like that kind of topics, think about ways for those "computers" inside of a simulation to detect if they are indeed in a simulation.
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Offline Red Squirrel

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I've always jokingly pondered on the idea that the universe is just a big simulation running on God's computer.  When the souls (daemons) start going too crazy he'll just do a reset.   

On sorta similar note, some people have created basic computers in Minecraft.  So technically, you could build a more sophisticated computer in Minecraft that runs a virtual world like Minecraft, then create another computer in that world...  Then mine Bitcoin on it.  :-DD

At a place I used to work the financial system was on this super old SCO Unix box.  Super proprietary.  Nobody knew the password to get in and a boot CD would not work as the file system was also proprietary, but as long as it was running, finance could do their stuff.  It was at some point P2Ved to a VMware Server.  Later on all the stuff got moved to ESX Server.  We could not manage to P2V the VM to ESX, because some hardware was too different or something.   So our solution was to virtualize the actual Vmware server, so we had a VM inside a VM.   It was kinda ugly, but it worked.   
« Last Edit: June 04, 2016, 10:39:14 pm by Red Squirrel »
 

Online xrunner

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Before we had computers (from the jist of stories I have read about), some people simulated them by hand. To illustrate how useful they would be, and prove they work. I.e. they would write out the program on paper, then execute it line by line, with pencil and paper, or something.

I guess in that, the "computer" running the pencil and paper simulation is our own "wetware" machine.  :)


If you really like that kind of topics, think about ways for those "computers" inside of a simulation to detect if they are indeed in a simulation.


Right! That's what we need to figure out. If we are indeed just a Super-Intelligent species version of the Sims, then how can we figure it out? If we're a simulation, then from what I've heard we can't "break" the top level simulator running us, because there is no end to the # of simulations that can run under the main computer by us making even more simulated computers.

If there was some theory that predicted that N number of nested computer simulations could exist, and no more, then we could try to make N+1 simulations and see if the system breaks down. That's what my question was getting to. So how do you detect that you are a simulation, or your environment is a simulation? Hmmm ...  ???
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Offline MK14

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Right! That's what we need to figure out. If we are indeed just a Super-Intelligent species version of the Sims, then how can we figure it out? If we're a simulation, then from what I've heard we can't "break" the top level simulator running us, because there is no end to the # of simulations that can run under the main computer by us making even more simulated computers.

If there was some theory that predicted that N number of nested computer simulations could exist, and no more, then we could try to make N+1 simulations and see if the system breaks down. That's what my question was getting to. So how do you detect that you are a simulation, or your environment is a simulation? Hmmm ...  ???

If the powers that be, have been clever enough to create the entire world, in a long term, very realistic simulation. Then  I would have thought they would be smart enough to also put in breakpoints/interrupts/fault handlers which reliably detect when (watch the film the matrix for further inspiration) it resets you and/or erases the discovery that it is all just a simulation.

Actually you are right, it is. Wait my head is feeling funny and I feel faint, what on earth .fhoidohfdrhpofhddfhhiuhih86958969866dy h56hf46968f 69854 5...[User Disconnection ERROR#2207: MySQL line 123922 - error user Forum software V1.2.09292]
 

Offline dannyf

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So how do you detect that you are a simulation, or your environment is a simulation?

This question has been asked before - Matt Damon touched on it this week at Harvard. Google is your friend.

edit: wrong. MIT it was.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2016, 10:57:05 pm by dannyf »
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Offline edy

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Assuming enough memory, speed and accuracy in emulation, Yes you could run nested simulations several layers deep. Obviously, they would become extremely sluggish and impractical. Infinity is a big word. But if you imagine it theoretically only, there is no technical reason why it couldn't be done.

For example, imagine architecture A running a simulator of architecture B. Meanwhile, you also have a simulator for A which can run on machine B. So you can just do this...

A(B(A(B(A(B(.......))))))

The nesting can be infinite, but at the end of the day you are just wasting processing.

Or as stupid as it may sound, a simulator of A on A....

A(A(A(A(A(A(...))))))

Like A(x)=x.

So A(5)=5.

You can do it but why?
« Last Edit: June 04, 2016, 11:04:04 pm by edy »
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Offline dannyf

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Personally, i don't think the simulation question is that interesting.

What is quite interesting is "is there a limit to the advancement of the simulated subjects?". For example,

1) can the simulated subjects advance to a point where they can create their own sub-simulated universes?
2) can the simulated subjects advance to a point where they compute with the "people" that created the simulation?
3) can multiple unrelated simulations communicate with each other?
4) what's the goal of such a simulation? what's the goal of creating such a simulation?
5) does resourcing play a role here?
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Online xrunner

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If the powers that be, have been clever enough to create the entire world, in a long term, very realistic simulation. Then  I would have thought they would be smart enough to also put in breakpoints/interrupts/fault handlers which reliably detect when (watch the film the matrix for further inspiration) it resets you and/or erases the discovery that it is all just a simulation.

Maybe - maybe not. What if we did find that if we ran 30,000 (or substitute your fav big number) nested computer simulations and found that it wouldn't work - but SHOULD have worked? What if we calculate Pi to the 100 trillionth digit and found a message started to appear. Of course this is all speculation, but there might be a way.

Quote
Actually you are right, it is. Wait my head is feeling funny and I feel faint, what on earth .fhoidohfdrhpofhddfhhiuhih86958969866dy h56hf46968f 69854 5...[User Disconnection ERROR#2207: MySQL line 123922 - error user Forum software V1.2.09292]

.<.lldfm(*&45 fos
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Offline chris_leyson

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Maybe if you constructed a single simulation engine and then made it recusive, it might get a bit chaotic somewhere.
 

Offline NANDBlog

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This is an 8 bit computer in minecraft.

Minecraft runs on Java, which is a virtual computer. So that is 3 nested cpu.
 

Online xrunner

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This is an 8 bit computer in minecraft.

Minecraft runs on Java, which is a virtual computer. So that is 3 nested cpu.

What am I looking at there? Is it the transistors and so on of a microchip being simulated in minecraft?
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Offline edy

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Purely speaking, a bunch of nested simulations will only have the property of the deepest core simulation and nothing more.

For example, if I emulated Android in an Android simulator, inside a Windows machine emulated in a VMware virtual machine, on a Mac... and then ran MAME on it and played Pac-Man, I do not think the ghosts would become self-aware.

What you are talking about is an "emergent property" of the system which is not known or predictable from the component parts alone. If there are bugs or imperfect simulation then strange behaviours may result.
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Offline NANDBlog

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What am I looking at there? Is it the transistors and so on of a microchip being simulated in minecraft?
Yes. The game has so called "redstone" logic, where you can create AND OR NAND... gates with it. With that, you can create everything. Also memory and displays.
 

Offline MK14

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Maybe - maybe not. What if we did find that if we ran 30,000 (or substitute your fav big number) nested computer simulations and found that it wouldn't work - but SHOULD have worked? What if we calculate Pi to the 100 trillionth digit and found a message started to appear. Of course this is all speculation, but there might be a way.

There would/should be methods, like you described, and more sophisticated ones, which might challenge/answer your question(s).

BUT the smart people/entity(s) that created such a complicated and powerful simulation system, may have already invented computers so incredibly powerful, that your creation of (apparently) physical computers (supercomputer) on Earth, is easily simulated by the simulation Universes supercomputers, they have readily available.

If they notice that you have found out (as I said before), they can simply ROLLBACK to BEFORE your discovery of the imperfection. Correct it. Then re-run the simulation, then rinse and repeat, until you/they no longer notice/discover/prove that everything is a simulation.

Some people who pay for huge numbers of cloud based servers (usually large companies), sometimes use similar thought patterns, to try and test out, what they are really getting, for their money. By performing large tests (of cloud servers) and stuff like that.

E.g. They have paid for 1,000 physical (cloud based) servers, but suspect there are ONLY 250. So they sneakily are performing complicated tests to confirm their suspicions, so that they can take the necessary actions.
 
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Online xrunner

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There would/should be methods, like you described, and more sophisticated ones, which might challenge/answer your question(s).

BUT the smart people/entity(s) that created such a complicated and powerful simulation system, may have already invented computers so incredibly powerful, that your creation of (apparently) physical computers (supercomputer) on Earth, is easily simulated by the simulation Universes supercomputers, they have readily available.

If they notice that you have found out (as I said before), they can simply ROLLBACK to BEFORE your discovery of the imperfection. Correct it. Then re-run the simulation, then rinse and repeat, until you/they no longer notice/discover/prove that everything is a simulation.

It's a cool topic for me to think about. I mean, it makes you wonder just what reality really is. What if we did do something that indicated to us we were simulated entities, and the beings or intelligences running it communicated to us that we were all simulated. BUT, they just let us keep existing. Would that make any difference to anyone? What if you were religious and were told you were just a simulation, thus there were no god - only entities that were "running" you on a computing platform of incredible complexity. Gah - deep issues there.
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Online xrunner

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There is a fundamental flaw in this logic. If the simulated entity becomes aware of the simulation then it becomes part of that simulation reality and is no longer simulated. Perhaps analogous to a puppet becoming aware of the strings.

Oh - let me think about that one for a while - my head is hurting!  :palm:
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Offline sleemanj

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The consideration of "universe is a simulation" is, in my opinion, no better (or worse) than the consideration of "religion", it's a philosophical debate, not one of scientific rigour. 

Simply, it's not falsifiable, at least I can't think of a manner in which the answer "no" can be proven, it, as per the god question, always boils down to "it could be that they constructed the universe in such a way as for us find this negative answer".

Certainly it is possible, some might even say it is **likely** from a probabilistic perspective (I guess here at least here it has one-up on religion, a clear logical and reasoned progression to provide a meaningful argument for the affirmative), but it doesn't really make for a useful line of scientific enquiry.
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Online xrunner

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I found this. It might be a suitable place to start really damaging your mind. If it is in fact really your mind.
http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html

^^^ Thanks for that link.


Simply, it's not falsifiable, at least I can't think of a manner in which the answer "no" can be proven, it, as per the god question, always boils down to "it could be that they constructed the universe in such a way as for us find this negative answer".

sleemanj, yes, indeed it must be falsifiable, I understand. How do you falsify a perfect simulation that limits your ability to investigate. Things like wave particle duality, which have no real explanation - the property simply is and you can't explain it at a more fundamental level. I don't know, this is the challenge. All we can hope for is that it's not really a perfect simulation, and keep looking.
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Offline zapta

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I've always jokingly pondered on the idea that the universe is just a big simulation running on God's computer. 

And since god is omnipotent, he himself can be a simulation running on a 0402 resistor.

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Offline MK14

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There was a Sci-Fi related, British comedy with this very topic.

The episode "Back to reality", implements it. I won't spoil the episode for you (as you may have NEVER seen it). But it is at least partly about simulations of real life.

I CAN'T find any (free) full screen copies of it (probably because it is copy righted). But here is a part sized screen version:

 

Offline ebclr

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You can rin on a Linux machine a vmware session running a windows machine, that will run proteus with a 8051 simulation.

3 levels of simulation just as a sample. far more than that are easy
 

Online xrunner

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Well, let me ask this then -

Can a computer simulate anything, or is there a thing, or process, that a computer theoretically can never simulate?

Can anything be reduced to ones and zeros, even human intelligence?
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Offline ebclr

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Not everything, I don't know how to make sex with a computer
 

Offline MK14

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Well, let me ask this then -

Can a computer simulate anything, or is there a thing, or process, that a computer theoretically can never simulate?

Can anything be reduced to ones and zeros, even human intelligence?

One big problem area, is simulating "REAL" random numbers. I.e. NOT pseudo random numbers.
These can be created (sort of) via hardware random number generators, using e.g. Thermal noise in electrical circuits.

The problem is simulated ones (such as pseudo random numbers, generated using defined mathematical methods/formulas), usually have mathematical side effects, which can be spotted by clever mathematical analysis software, such as DieHard Randomness Tester.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diehard_tests
 

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There is nothing new or exciting or deep about computers simulating computers, etc.  IBM was doing this in the early 70's.  They even have a complete OS designed for such purposes (VM CMS).  A simulation, by definition, involves creating an abstraction of some entity or concept and then using models, created by humans, to implement the abstraction.  Your simulation is only going to be as good as your models.  But it will never be more than a simulation.  A more interesting concept, I believe, is Artificial Intelligence software.  Here the computer actually learns as it solves problems and establishes it's own knowledge (as opposed to pre defined models in the simulation world.)
 

Offline Hypernova

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Surprised no one posted this XKCD yet.


For me the only real question is: What can we do if we are?
 

Offline Artlav

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Can a computer simulate anything, or is there a thing, or process, that a computer theoretically can never simulate?
Can anything be reduced to ones and zeros, even human intelligence?
Pretty much.
The universe is a mathematical object, and as such can be simulated.
Basically, anything you have a description of can be simulated.

Two problems here, however.
One, we don't have good descriptions for everything so far.
And two, the simulation speed is not going to be particularly fast.

Compare Bochs and VMWare, for example - one runs slowly, while the other runs fast.
The first is a full emulator, computing the results of every instruction of the PC architecture. It would run the same on a completely different CPU.
VMWare, on the other hand, is virtualization. It uses the host CPU to directly execute most instructions, and only computer the privileged ones. So it's much faster, but won't run on a different kind of a CPU.

In the same way, you can compute the protein folding, for example, on a regular computer but it would take you months while in the test tube it would fold in femtoseconds.
However, a not-quite-invented-yet quantum computer would be able to "virtualize" the computation by using the universe's "instructions" directly, and compute the folding in minutes or seconds.

So, the closer the simulated thing is to reality (defined as the host medium), the easier it is to simulate.

The consideration of "universe is a simulation" is, in my opinion, no better (or worse) than the consideration of "religion", it's a philosophical debate, not one of scientific rigour.
Perhaps, but it opens up the idea to look for "bugs" in the simulation, to look in the places you won't ordinarily bother to look, to consider what consequence this might have, and so on.

At the root of science is coming up with the ideas, which are then to be tested, falsified, developed and so on.
But if it never occurs to you to, say, check if  the space is actually perfectly flat everywhere, then you'd never falsify that hypothesis and enable understanding of what we know as general relativity.

Philosophy is quite important in that regard, since it lets you look at things from different angles and can help to notice something interesting.
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Offline eugenenine

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Its not really simulation if you use qemu or vmware or virtualbox since your running the same cpu architecture across them all, its just multitasking at another level.
To truly simulate you need a different architecture, for example run an Amiga (M68000) emulator under your x86 linux box and then run a commodore 64 emulator under the Amiga emulator.   
I used those specific examples because I've done it.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2016, 01:41:57 am by eugenenine »
 

Offline botcrusher

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I used bochs as an exanple for this reason. Bochs is an x86 emulator.
 

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A french comics writer i really like  wrote this blog post a while ago, enjoy -:)







edit: put links for the whole story


« Last Edit: June 05, 2016, 01:54:57 pm by douardda »
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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This thread shows that the capacity to argue how many angels can dance on the head of a pin is still very much with us.

By the way, I would interpret Gödel's incompleteness theorems as proof there is something that cannot be simulated, but that may be my incomplete understanding at work.
 

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The universe is a mathematical object, and as such can be simulated.
The Universe is applied math.
https://xkcd.com/435/
Believe it or not, pointy haired people do exist!
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Online xrunner

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In theory ...

Could an Intel 386 PC simulate the human brain, given enough memory and time, or is the brain not subject to being modeled in lines of code? Do you think human level AI can be created by programming at all?

What am I trying to ask, I guess, is can human consciousness be created and reside in a computer? Maybe we really don't know but what do you all think?
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Online daqq

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Could an Intel 386 PC simulate the human brain, given enough memory and time, or is the brain not subject to being modeled in lines of code? Do you think human level AI can be created by programming at all?

What am I trying to ask, I guess, is can human consciousness be created and reside in a computer? Maybe we really don't know but what do you all think?
I think so. Given an accurate enough model of a neuron, the connections, the physics, enough memory and time I don't see why not.

edit: Though getting around the architecture limitations, particularly the memory limit might get tricky  :P
« Last Edit: June 05, 2016, 06:15:51 pm by daqq »
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Offline radar_macgyver

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A well-known cellular automaton is Conway's "Game of Life". Some liken it to a subatomic physics simulation (the gliders and space ships are the analog of quarks, for example). One can simulate the Game of Life within the Game of Life:

http://www.conwaylife.com/wiki/OTCA_metapixel
 

Offline Kilrah

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Could an Intel 386 PC simulate the human brain, given enough memory and time, or is the brain not subject to being modeled in lines of code?

That following the "simulation" paradigm I'm also really fond of the brain may not even be a thing beyond something we're "told" to look at as being the source of the "human consciousness", and yes by definition that consciousness would be computer-generated but would have nothing to do with a brain...
« Last Edit: June 05, 2016, 04:45:27 pm by Kilrah »
 

Offline Kilrah

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Before we had computers (from the jist of stories I have read about), some people simulated them by hand. To illustrate how useful they would be, and prove they work. I.e. they would write out the program on paper, then execute it line by line, with pencil and paper, or something.
I guess in that, the "computer" running the pencil and paper simulation is our own "wetware" machine.  :)
The wetware machine is pretty flexible and can actually execute any other machine's instructions - done daily by programmers when debugging code, and comparing the output of their own processing of the instructions to what the machine they're trying to program puts out ;)
 

Offline timofonic

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Could an Intel 386 PC simulate the human brain, given enough memory and time, or is the brain not subject to being modeled in lines of code?

That following the "simulation" paradigm I'm also really fond of the brain may not even be a thing beyond something we're "told" to look at as being the source of the "human consciousness", and yes by definition that consciousness would be computer-generated but would have nothing to do with a brain...
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I just finished writing my simulation routine for god (God).  Wanna see it?

void god() {return;}
 

Offline Artlav

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By the way, I would interpret Gödel's incompleteness theorems as proof there is something that cannot be simulated,
The odd thing here is that a mathematical pattern exists regardless of whether it is computed by something or not.
I made a visual example for that here: http://orbides.org/apps/motion.html

Could an Intel 386 PC simulate the human brain, given enough memory and time, or is the brain not subject to being modeled in lines of code? Do you think human level AI can be created by programming at all?
It will. Probably is going to be absurdly slow, but it's fundamentally possible.

A lot of "brain computing power" estimation are off by a bag of orders of magnitude.

Consider a CPU runs at 1GHz.
If you were to simulate every transistor of it, then the simulation (on another 1GHz CPU) will run an instruction per second if you're lucky.
If you were to simulate the logic gates the transistors implement, you'd get a KHz.
If you simulate the instruction set the logic gates implement, you'd get an MHz.
If you rewrite the algorithms that the processor runs to the target CPU, then you will run at a GHz or more.

Same with the brain - trying to simulate every neuron would take an obscene amount of computing power.
While trying to re-implement the algorithms the neurons run into modern hardware should need much less than that.
I would guess an FPGA for the visual cortex, and a regular Core i7 for the rest of the brain to run it realtime, but it might be more or less - we don't really know yet.
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Online xrunner

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Same with the brain - trying to simulate every neuron would take an obscene amount of computing power.
While trying to re-implement the algorithms the neurons run into modern hardware should need much less than that.
I would guess an FPGA for the visual cortex, and a regular Core i7 for the rest of the brain to run it realtime, but it might be more or less - we don't really know yet.

I don't know enough about it, but I've thought about how to attempt to create an AI, at least to get the inputs from the environment to "IT". Seems like you would devote an entire processing "unit" to each of the senses: eyesight, hearing, touch, etc. Each unit would then classify what it was receiving into available known items from a very large database.

So the sight processor would classify all the objects it was looking at, such as in a room it might perceive a TV, people, pictures on the wall, animals, and so on. Then the sound processor would classify all the sounds it heard into known categories such as what music was playing, what people were talking and so on. So all the pre-"classification" would already be done for the main AI system.

The database of known objects to the human race, objects, sounds and so on, could reside on the cloud where a large computer database would be maintained.

All the known "objects" would then go to a main processor, where they would be acted upon by a cognitive system, yet to be devised. Is that thinking way out of line?
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Offline edy

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There's a fundamental lack of understanding on how our brain works that will need to have a breakthrough before we get anywhere close to modelling AI. I'm not talking about biochemistry and neural networks. I'm talking about deeper hardwired firmware or even basic building block architecture from which to work.

I present to you the "simple" brain of a fruit fly or ant. They are built with a ton of complex networks by DNA (innate) to accomplish 90% or more of all the tasks they will need. With a bit of plasticity to learn. Human brains, while much more complex, still come pre-built with an enormous amount of structure yet can learn and adapt when young enough.

We are trying to model also a massively parallel system that has chaotic oscillating character which may be easily perturbed from initial conditions and feedback, and "fuzzy" logic... and we still are in the infancy of this science. Exciting though!
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Offline Carl_Smith

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Years ago I started with an idea that began as a joke to a friend, but I have filled in so many details over the years that I'm starting to actually believe it.

And that joke is that we are part of a computer simulation, and we are already seeing the limits of the simulation.  It's called quantum mechanics.

I joked to a friend that we were part of a simulation, and the quantized nature of electromagnetic energy is the evidence.  A quantum of energy is simply the smallest amount that can be represented by the least significant bit of whatever number representation is used to represent energy in our simulation.

The Theory of Relativity is actually a bug patch on the simulation by the programmers.  :)  Whatever number representation they use for speed has a limit of the speed of light.  They set it that way because, of course, light should be faster than anything else.  When they realized that light emitting from a moving object would travel faster than the maximum speed they could represent, and overflow the variable for speed, they programmed the system to actually alter the shape of space and the passage of time to make sure that wouldn't happen.   ;D

The double slit experiment, where light behaves as a wave and causes an interference pattern, continues to work even when you fire individual photons far apart enough in time that you know one has hit the target before the next one is fired at the target, shows another "bug patch" on the simulation.

Then there is polarized light.  Strange that a photon of unpolarized light has a 50/50 chance of passing through a polarized filter.  You would think that pretty much no light would go through, because the chance that any randomly polarized photons were perfectly lined up with the filter would be close to zero.   Another patch on the system to fix something.  The LCD screen I'm looking at right how wouldn't work without this "fix."

Of course, consider how electrons exist only in certain orbits in an atom, and move from one orbit to another without ever existing at any point in between.  This is simply because the variable that represents orbit numbers in our atomic simulation is an integer variable.    :-DD

The creators of our simulation never planned for the fact that we would someday become smart enough to see the limits of our simulation environment.

Someday I am going to write a small book on these ideas.  Maybe I can start a cult and get people to shovel money in my direction.

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Someday I am going to write a small book on these ideas.  Maybe I can start a cult and get people to shovel money in my direction.
It would be amusing to one day rename Planck length to 1 LSB of length.
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Offline Kilrah

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I joked to a friend that we were part of a simulation, and the quantized nature of electromagnetic energy is the evidence.  A quantum of energy is simply the smallest amount that can be represented by the least significant bit of whatever number representation is used to represent energy in our simulation.

The Theory of Relativity is actually a bug patch on the simulation by the programmers.  :) 

I feel that way too. IMO the simulation actually does not simulate every quark in the universe and work from the bottom up to atoms, molecules etc to in the end result in the high level concepts we see every day for the reasons explained by Artlav a few posts above, it would be computationally ridiculously heavy and also useless as no one is actually looking at those things most of the time.
The simulation started and usually runs at a higher functional level of objects, concepts and actions, and the details are only created the first time we reach a level of "ability" where we should be finding something new to keep us happy - the new elements fitting more or less good with the established concepts/rules (and sometimes requiring patches if it turns out it wasn't that great...). That's worth for both ends, in the infinitely small just like at the level of the universe when we "find" new galaxies and other things "up there", and also includes new concepts. Then those things are only simulated when required because someone's looking at them.

My previous post about the brain being an example of that, the reason we can’t really understand how the brain works is that it probably hasn’t even been defined yet by the simulation. We « know » there’s a thing in there that supposedly has a role, we can recognise correlations between activity in there and things we do as well as externally act on it and see a result on a test subject, but that’s where the current detail level of the simulation ends. Or there is more detail but it’s buggy and needs a patch before it makes sense and its behavior can be replicated.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2016, 06:59:36 am by Kilrah »
 

Offline elgonzo

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The creators of our simulation never planned for the fact that we would someday become smart enough to see the limits of our simulation environment.
"They" might not have planned for it specifically, but they might have installed sufficient capacity / resources to allow the simulation to go that way. On the other hand, perhaps "they" didn't install sufficient resources and the simulation is already operating at maximum capacity (which could explain the incomprehensible levels of stupidity individual members of the general population exhibit at an ever-increasing rate...)

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Someday I am going to write a small book on these ideas.  Maybe I can start a cult and get people to shovel money in my direction.
Do that. You'll get lots of simulated money for all your your simulated efforts...   ;D
(By the way, read Dicks "The Electric Ant" and "Time Out of Joint", if you haven't done so yet...)

Ah, all these simulated forum posts here. It's all a giant bot net...  :-DD
« Last Edit: June 06, 2016, 07:11:11 am by elgonzo »
 

Online xrunner

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But if we're a simulation - why? Whatever created it - why do it? What's the point? Are we like them, or are we some sort of crazy fantasy life form?

(Even if we aren't a simulation and a "god" created us, there's still the same question - why do it at all?  :-//)
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Offline Artlav

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Someday I am going to write a small book on these ideas.
I've read that book already. :)
The story was around the protagonist, a player in a game who was assaulted by NPCs that figured out the world is a simulation by observing differences in the level of quantum imperfections, and noticed that the errors were not the same everywhere.
Specifically, the errors were the least around the two persons - the protagonist and the antagonist, both PCs in the game, and increased with distance from them (some sort of LOD).

A short, but rather interesting story.
I can see potential for a full-length story on the similar idea set.

But if we're a simulation - why? Whatever created it - why do it? What's the point?
Have you ever played computer games? :)
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Online xrunner

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Have you ever played computer games? :)

LOL - well yea, but I'm not a member of a Super-Race of beings so far advanced we can't imagine it. So why would they do a simulation? Is somebody "playing" my character - me? My Gawd if they are playing me they have got to be bored, so bored I can't even comprehend the magnitude of their boredom.   ???
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Offline botcrusher

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We could be a scientific experiment in evolution and AI, there could be beings figthing over if the simulation (us) has the right to exist and are debating pulling the plug :P
 

Offline Carl_Smith

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IMO the simulation actually does not simulate every quark in the universe and work from the bottom up to atoms, molecules etc to in the end result in the high level concepts we see every day for the reasons explained by Artlav a few posts above, it would be computationally ridiculously heavy and also useless as no one is actually looking at those things most of the time.

Sort of like how 3D game engines only send to the graphics card the polygons for objects that should be in your field of view.  And the graphics card only renders polygons that aren't hidden behind other polygons.

The simulation started and usually runs at a higher functional level of objects, concepts and actions, and the details are only created the first time we reach a level of "ability" where we should be finding something new to keep us happy

Hmmm.  And those details aren't actually "rendered" by the simulation until we do something to observe them.  This is an angle for working  Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and Schrödinger's quantum superposition into the simulation theory.

"They" might not have planned for it specifically, but they might have installed sufficient capacity / resources to allow the simulation to go that way. On the other hand, perhaps "they" didn't install sufficient resources and the simulation is already operating at maximum capacity (which could explain the incomprehensible levels of stupidity individual members of the general population exhibit at an ever-increasing rate...)

This reminds me of a story I once heard about how Facebook was buying truckloads of servers and installing them in data centers as fast as they could every day just to stay ahead of increasing demand on their system.

I like this idea though.  There is a maximum level of intelligence that the system can simulate, and we have sometime recently hit that limit, so now as more people are created, the average intelligence level decreases.   But somehow there are people that end up with a higher than average allocation of CPU time to their intelligence process.

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Someday I am going to write a small book on these ideas.  Maybe I can start a cult and get people to shovel money in my direction.
Do that. You'll get lots of simulated money for all your your simulated efforts...   ;D

Fine by me as long as the average person thinks the simulated money is real.  :)     So if our "real" money is just part of our simulation like everything else, what's that make BitCoin?   Virtual simulated money?   Sort of like Virtual Virtual Skeeball?

Offline botcrusher

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Well, there must be expansions being made to said hypothetical server, if i was making a simulation, I'd control the birthrate to match what hardware was being installed.

Lowering intelligence as a measure to free up cpu time seems like a bad idea in terms of corrupting the value of the simulation's scientific data.
 

Offline Kilrah

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But if we're a simulation - why? Whatever created it - why do it? What's the point?
Well, same question at another level - why do we do things at all in our "lives"? If you think about it there is absolutely no point to it either :)

Sort of like how 3D game engines only send to the graphics card the polygons for objects that should be in your field of view.  And the graphics card only renders polygons that aren't hidden behind other polygons.
Exactly

I like this idea though.  There is a maximum level of intelligence that the system can simulate, and we have sometime recently hit that limit, so now as more people are created, the average intelligence level decreases.   But somehow there are people that end up with a higher than average allocation of CPU time to their intelligence process.
I don't think it's a matter of capacity but rather a scenario "experiment". Low intelligence people who are pretty happy in their lives and don't ask questions are a strong stabilizing factor, and enable the others to live the lives they expect by doing the dirty jobs without complaining.
In history there have been several significantly different kinds of balance in society that worked more or less well, and that's just how the current experiment goes.

I've travelled a lot (if that's a thing) and seeing the different ways of living is one of the things that make me believe in the simulation concept with a "supervisor" who tweaks parameters to see their influence, because looking at it there's no way things that are so diverse and sometimes very F-ed up could just work together that well without external input to balance things.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2016, 04:12:37 pm by Kilrah »
 

Online xrunner

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Well, same question at another level - why do we do things at all in our "lives"? If you think about it there is absolutely no point to it either :)

Well of course there is a point to me doing "things". Even if I'm a simulated person, I have to do things or the simulation is going to make my simulated life miserable. If I do not go to the simulated bathroom, I'll have simulated pee and poop in my pants. Sure, I could just keep saying to myself "I'm not real and so what's in my pants isn't real either" How long do you think that's going to last?

So if we are simulations, we do things in our lives because it seems real, and we are subject to the rules of the simulator, whether we like it or not. Simulated or "real" -"Cogito ergo sum".

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Offline Carl_Smith

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So if we are simulations, we do things in our lives because it seems real, and we are subject to the rules of the simulator, whether we like it or not. Simulated or "real" -"Cogito ergo sum".

That reminded me of this Bloom County comic from a couple decades ago:

Offline Kilrah

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Well of course there is a point to me doing "things". Even if I'm a simulated person, I have to do things or the simulation is going to make my simulated life miserable. If I do not go to the simulated bathroom, I'll have simulated pee and poop in my pants.
I mean "activities" you choose to do... a job, a hobby, etc... Whatever hobby you have you do because you somehow "like it" even if it's "useless" - and other people like doing things you have zero interest in. That can very well include "running a simulation and look at stupid guys virtually running around".
« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 07:06:17 am by Kilrah »
 

Online hendorog

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In theory ...

Could an Intel 386 PC simulate the human brain, given enough memory and time, or is the brain not subject to being modeled in lines of code? Do you think human level AI can be created by programming at all?

What am I trying to ask, I guess, is can human consciousness be created and reside in a computer? Maybe we really don't know but what do you all think?

No, I don't think so - and I hope not.
Not due to the complexity, instead for the simple reason that would mean that the brain cannot make its own independent decisions.
A 386 is deterministic - it doesn't have true randomness, and so therefore given any starting state, any future state can be predicted.

So if the 386 truely emulated a brain it would mean that our path is also deterministic. Life would be pre-ordained and could not be changed. This is 'destiny'.

I remember figuring this out back at uni - what if there was a computer large enough to model the universe. Then program in all of the 'laws of nature'. Then any future state of the universe could be computed given enough time. Therefore the computer could predict the future.

Fortunately for the people running Lotto, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle comes to the rescue. :phew:



 

Offline Kilrah

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So if the 386 truely emulated a brain it would mean that our path is also deterministic. Life would be pre-ordained and could not be changed. This is 'destiny'.

I don't believe in "destiny" in the usual way (i.e. everything is hard written before birth and cannot be changed), yet am sure that we still don't have any real choice in what our life is made of. It's just done in a flexible way - the simulation is deterministic, but some of its parameters can be tweaked at run time by the "supervisor".
 

Online hendorog

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So if the 386 truely emulated a brain it would mean that our path is also deterministic. Life would be pre-ordained and could not be changed. This is 'destiny'.

I don't believe in "destiny" in the usual way (i.e. everything is hard written before birth and cannot be changed), yet am sure that we still don't have any real choice in what our life is made of. It's just done in a flexible way - the simulation is deterministic, but some of its parameters can be tweaked at run time by the "supervisor".

I hope the BOFH isn't the 'supervisor' :)
 
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Offline Artlav

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that would mean that the brain cannot make its own independent decisions.
The problem is that we think of a choice, a decision, in terms of
You: -i want to do that
Your jailer: -nope, do this instead.

While in practice a world with destiny is indistinguishable from the world without one, in our perception.

To truly be able to predict the future in a deterministic world you would need to know everything. Every state of every particle everywhere.
And the problem is not the uncertainty principle, but the fact that many causes are approaching at the speed of light, and a tiny prick you'd feel when a cosmic ray hits your hand can change the entire course of your day.

Back to the decision, it would be your decision, determined by the set of memories and habits, with no external will guiding it.
Only with every part of the above being a static mathematical pattern that an external observer can take a moving slice across and call that slice "now".
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Offline HighVoltage

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I was talking with some guys on the local repeater, and we got into "what is reality" sort of discussions. I mentioned that some people hypothesize that we and our reality is simply some unknown intelligence's version of the "Sims", i.e. we are just a simulation "running" on some system we can't investigate. But yet we also have computers (simulated?) that run simulations ...

I was drawn in to this discussion through a movie, called "welt an draht" when I was 13 in 1973
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welt_am_Draht
from 1973
Probably the first one of this kind of movie

English title: "world on a wire"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_on_a_Wire

For a wile I was 100% convinced that I was living inside a simulation.
But no matter what I did, I could not proof or disproof it.



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Online hendorog

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that would mean that the brain cannot make its own independent decisions.
The problem is that we think of a choice, a decision, in terms of
You: -i want to do that
Your jailer: -nope, do this instead.

While in practice a world with destiny is indistinguishable from the world without one, in our perception.
Yes I agree - we would not know that our world was pre-determined. I said 'I hope not' partly for that reason :)

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To truly be able to predict the future in a deterministic world you would need to know everything. Every state of every particle everywhere.
Yep - and if you ignore some practical limitations, the uncertainty principle prevents you from knowing everything.

 

Offline Artlav

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Yep - and if you ignore some practical limitations, the uncertainty principle prevents you from knowing everything.
But only from inside the universe, since any observation would be an interaction.
From the outside of the universe you can observe without interacting, so it won't apply.

Then again, you can't get data from outside of the universe (by definition), so this doesn't really change anything.
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Online xrunner

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No, I don't think so - and I hope not.
Not due to the complexity, instead for the simple reason that would mean that the brain cannot make its own independent decisions.
A 386 is deterministic - it doesn't have true randomness, and so therefore given any starting state, any future state can be predicted.

Well, why isn't the human brain deterministic like the 386? Aren't both made out of matter?
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Offline Carl_Smith

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Well, why isn't the human brain deterministic like the 386? Aren't both made out of matter?

I think the brain is deterministic because it is made out of matter.  I see no reason to think that our consciousness exists in any way outside of our brain, which is made up of an assemblage of molecules, atoms, subatomic particles, and electromagnetism.   If you could map all of this and simulate it, and present the simulation with the exact same inputs as what we think is the real world, it would always create the same outputs, just like a computer.   Unless there is some sort of randomness involved, perhaps from the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics.  But a bit of randomness introduced into the equations still does not imply free will or independent decision making.  It just makes the future outputs predictable only with probabilities.

And my opinion is that if we are really part of a simulation, the simulation is at the subatomic level, and therefore our consciousness is still running on our "brain computer" even if it isn't "real".

Online hendorog

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Yep - and if you ignore some practical limitations, the uncertainty principle prevents you from knowing everything.
But only from inside the universe, since any observation would be an interaction.
From the outside of the universe you can observe without interacting, so it won't apply.

Then again, you can't get data from outside of the universe (by definition), so this doesn't really change anything.

I think you are confusing the uncertainty principle with the observer effect. The UP states that two complementary properties cannot be known simultaneously. I had to look it up, its been nearly 30 years :)
 

Online hendorog

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No, I don't think so - and I hope not.
Not due to the complexity, instead for the simple reason that would mean that the brain cannot make its own independent decisions.
A 386 is deterministic - it doesn't have true randomness, and so therefore given any starting state, any future state can be predicted.

Well, why isn't the human brain deterministic like the 386? Aren't both made out of matter?

Well no-one really knows if it is or not. However the 386 definitely is, and just because both are made of matter doesn't prove the brain is the same.

A CPU deliberately avoids random effects for obvious reasons. Conversely some randomness is an advantage in a brain.

In addition, capturing the 'state' of all of the particles in the brain is not possible according to the UP.




 

Offline apelly

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I haven't been smoking any funny stuff
Are you sure?
I'd rather a Google clue, link, or some theory than "do this" (generally)
 

Offline elgonzo

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From the outside of the universe you can observe without interacting, so it won't apply.
Why do you think that observing from outside the universe would not be an interaction? Without interaction, no observation. It doesn't matter whether the observation is made from outside or inside the universe. To be able to observe something inside the universe from outside the universe, the universe and the "outside" have to interact in some way -- how else could information cross the boundary between the universe and the outside?
« Last Edit: June 08, 2016, 09:01:23 am by elgonzo »
 

Offline TheAmmoniacal

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Just ask yourself the question, given the state of this universe as it is now according to the scientific consensus, how likely is this to happen?

Now consider the universe as a computer simulation, that implies a layer on top and intelligent beings who also have to live in a universe. The latter is massively more complex and at a minimum twice as unlikely (as it requires two universes), and it requires very specific things to happen in the future.

If you have no evidence for the latter, and it's a lot less likely, only a fool would believe it.

Personally I'm of the belief that computing power of that magnitude will never be attainable (practically or theoretically).
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Offline elgonzo

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No, I don't think so - and I hope not.
Not due to the complexity, instead for the simple reason that would mean that the brain cannot make its own independent decisions.
A 386 is deterministic - it doesn't have true randomness, and so therefore given any starting state, any future state can be predicted.

So if the 386 truely emulated a brain it would mean that our path is also deterministic. Life would be pre-ordained and could not be changed. This is 'destiny'.
[...]
I would not worry about that. I would be concerned about much other things.
Before humankind would ever have a full and complete understanding of the brain, consciousness, et al, it would probably have developed a brain model which, while still incomplete, will be sufficient enough to understand how many of the conscious and subconscious aspects of people's mind are formed and work in the majority of cases. If this has been achieved, the knowledge learned from this model will be (ab)used to manipulate people on a scale and with an efficiency as never before. Todays methods of marketing, indoctrination and propaganda (which at best are using psychological models based on statistics and empirical studies) will look like tools from the stone age compared to that. The only thing i personally am truly uncertain of is how far away or how close we are to this...
« Last Edit: June 08, 2016, 09:53:27 am by elgonzo »
 

Offline Artlav

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Unless there is some sort of randomness involved, perhaps from the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics.
Noise from quantum mechanics are a bunch of orders of magnitude too small to affect the brain. Just think what thermal noise would have done to it, have this not been the case.

A regular CPU have a clearly defined set of inputs, a well understood internal state storage, and so on. You can easily set it up to be in some exact state. Any noise introduced would result in it either not working properly or not being large enough.

A brain, on the other hand, have trillions of inputs, and it's state is spread evenly across it.
It's properties can change from the tiniest chemical changes in the liquids going through, from how much the neurons fired recently, and so on.
Some actions would change it's configuration - the neurons forming new links and breaking the old ones.
The magnitude of the problem of getting it to some exact starting state is enormous.
Thus comes the appearance of it's unrepeatability.

But if you were to overcome all that difficulty, then it should repeat itself precisely.

In addition, capturing the 'state' of all of the particles in the brain is not possible according to the UP.
Why would you need the state of all the particles?
You don't need the state of all the particles in a transistor to know it's state, and neurons are quite a bit larger.

Why do you think that observing from outside the universe would not be an interaction?
Because if it was an interaction then the observer would, by definition, be part of the universe.

Think of this as asking an emulator about the content of a memory cell vs having the simulated CPU execute a read instruction to get the data from the same cell.
The first does not disturb the simulation in any way, the second can not be done without detectable disturbing.
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Offline elgonzo

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Why do you think that observing from outside the universe would not be an interaction?
Because if it was an interaction then the observer would, by definition, be part of the universe.

Think of this as asking an emulator about the content of a memory cell vs having the simulated CPU execute a read instruction to get the data from the same cell.
The first does not disturb the simulation in any way, the second can not be done without detectable disturbing.
Ah, okay, if the universe is just a simulation (i completely forgot parts of the discussion here... doh...) then poking around in the simulator does not necessarily affect the simulation. :)
 

Offline Kilrah

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The only thing i personally am truly uncertain of is how far away or how close we are to this...

To me we're even further than what we could think of, just most are unaware of it just like of the fact they are in a simulation.
 

Offline strangersound

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Personally I'm of the belief that computing power of that magnitude will never be attainable (practically or theoretically).

But it already is, it's just biological. Think of the computation that involved getting all matter to just this point in the present. Just the DNA of living organisms is an amount of math that I'd have top call Numberphile to put an estimate on and describe. Mankind has only just started trying to mechanically compute. Nature, on the other hand, already has the power to compute on scales beyond human comprehension. An infinitely complex hyper threaded reality, likely spreading across multiple dimensions. Math going on that we struggle to define. But, just looking around at reality itself says anything's possible. ;)  :blah:  :popcorn:
"I learned a long time ago that reality was much weirder than anyone's imagination." - Hunter S. Thompson
 


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