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Simulation of life, or humanity is in the matrix?

Most likely, you heard somehow the hypothesis that our Universe is a computer simulation or a hologram. As far as it makes sense, we will give examples of individual facts available to us and statements of famous people who are also interested in this topic.

 The educated humanity of all ages and historical eras points clearly to these assumptions; but in our time, in the age of the Internet of Things, mankind has never been so sure of the illusory nature of everything that is happening. The illusory nature of the world has been repeatedly revealed in various religious and philosophical texts. In Hinduism, for example, there is a "veil of Maya," the goddess of deception, that "we are all just dreaming to Buddha." Or, as René Descartes said, there was a kind of "insidious genius, very powerful and inclined to deceit," who made us all think that there was a certain physical world, while all around were just "traps set up by a genius." Remember, there can be countless repetitions of simulations (and fantasy films quite subtly hint at it), and all of them somehow flow into each other and control each other (as in Greg Egan's "Permutation City"), sometimes getting the ability to cause deadly viruses (as in the Koji Suzuki trilogy "Ring").

 In 1991, the writer Michael Talbot in the book "The Holographic Universe" was one of the first to suggest that the physical world is like a giant hologram. Some scholars, however, consider Talbot's "quantum mysticism" pseudoscience, and the esoteric practices associated with it are quackery.

 In June 2016, an American entrepreneur, the creator of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk, estimates the probability that the "reality" we know is the main one - as "one multi-billionth". "It will be even better for us if it turns out that the reality we live in is already a simulator created by another race or people of the future," Musk points out.


"It is important to understand that we are in a simulation, which does not have a metaphorical but a literal sense, that we and the whole world around us, that we see, hear and feel, exist inside a computer built by some developed civilization." This is how the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom reacted to the words of Elon Musk. In 2003, he published a work entitled "Do we all live in computer simulation?". The point is that a kind of "posthuman" (which is consisting of descendants of the man but changed to the extent that they are no longer people) civilization with incredible computing capabilities has created something like a computer program that simulates the historical process of human development. Nick Bostrom uses concept that consciousness is not dependent on biological tissue and can be realized as a set of electrical pulses in a computer. His work boils down to the fact that one of the following statements is true: a) humanity will die out, and will not become a "post-civilization"; b) humanity will become a "post-civilization", but for some reason will refuse to model the past; c) almost certainly we live in computer simulation. This is the famous "Bostrom’s Trireme", considered as a thought experiment by many leading scientists of the planet. The philosopher argues the last point himself: if there are simulations, there will be many. It is quite logical that the number of modeled people will be higher than the number of ancestors of civilization. Accordingly, the probability that a randomly chosen person is an experimental model is extremely high. In Bostrom's work, there are simulations in which only a handful are allocated by consciousness, and the rest are "zombie shadows" (a term introduced by the philosopher to determine a person without consciousness). And most of the simulations end. Someday, our world  will come to an end. However, like the "population" of computer games during exit the game, we are unlikely to notice it.

How can we check all this? Bostrom believes: if we live in a simulation, then how we start modeling the historical process. In other words, how do we model the future?


  In September 2016 Bank of America - "Bank of America Merrill Lynch" - in writing !!! warns his clients that with a probability of up to 50% they live in the Matrix. Let's ask ourselves a question: why should an eminent bank, whose reputation was formed for centuries, state this? I do not think they went crazy. Therefore, the bank's analysts consider the original hypothesis along with other signs of the future, in particular, the advent of the era of virtual and augmented reality. In other words, they have calculated something and calculate further. In our project we believe that this is connected with the Internet of Things, the Internet of Everything, and the Internet of Man - the future can not be stopped. In that same note, bank analysts recall that in April 2016 researchers gathered at the American Museum of Natural History to discuss the problem. In particular, the argument was made that humanity is already approaching the technology of realistic 3D modeling, in which millions of people can participate simultaneously. And soon, apparently, it will launch its own simulators. Moreover, the development of virtual and augmented reality is now experiencing a real boom - tech companies are buying startups, which tends to reproject an image on a retina. In addition, there are already patents and developments for prototypes of parts of a suit or individual parts that allow you to get realistic sensations from video games. Consequently, a "release" of information is generated, which Mankind must "swallow", "digest," and accept. The question is, what is the reason?

In addition, the material "New Yorker" (October 2016) about venture capitalist Sam Altman tells that in the Silicon Valley, many are obsessed with the idea that we live inside a computer simulation. And several techno-billionaires allegedly followed in the footsteps of the heroes of the film "The Matrix" and financed secretly research on "getting" humanity out of this simulation. The publication does not reveal their names. We will find out this soon.

 Whereas previously people perceived the world as an illusion (due to a lack of technology), solely as a thought experiment based on imperfection of the sense organs and the picture of the world as a whole, now all grounds for such a hypothesis appeared. After all, we live in an era of augmented and virtual reality and we are capable of creating new worlds. So why can not our world be created by anyone more intelligent, developed and complex? And the theory of V.I. Vernadsky about Noosphere becomes modern.

Kurzweil, who first proposed the idea of ​​a technological singularity, believes that by the 2030s people will be able to load their consciousness, thereby merging with machines. But Musk scares - he foresees a future in which people will become pets for the lords of the machines (see our innovative artifact 00015 - the human neuromodule "UNANA"). One day people will disappear as a species in favor of machines, merging with them or not. Over recent decades, we have seen a rapid surge in technology, computers are becoming more powerful and accessible, by leaps and bounds. In 2011, the supercomputer "Watson" beat two former champions in an intellectual game, using not the most complex (by today's standards) artificial intelligence and natural language processing. The future comes faster than we manage to adapt to it. The schedule of Kurzweil's technological singularity is based on the law of increasing returns: the more powerful computers become, the faster they develop. This is a schedule of extreme exponential growth, and we are now on the verge of a steep curve that leads us to intelligent machines and a world where robots will rule. By 2045, we will have been able to become machines. We have already known this - the Internet of Man will change a lot. Technologies are developing faster; we are seeing this now, and there is no reason to believe that we will reach such a plateau in the development of computing power. However, the transition from advanced technology to artificially created consciousness is a giant leap. The most promising statements on the theme AI are based on the false premise that we understand the human mind and consciousness. Experts in the field of AI work with a specific definition of intelligence: the ability to learn, recognize images, reflect emotional behaviour and solve analytical problems. Nevertheless, this is only one definition of intelligence from vaguely formed ideas about the nature of cognition. Neurology and neuropsychology now do not provide a specific definition of intelligence - rather, they have many. Different areas, well-known scientists and researchers define intellect in completely different, sometimes mutually exclusive and incomparable terms. In a broad sense, scientists view intellect as the ability to adapt to the environment, realizing its own goals, or even the ability to choose the best option under specific conditions.

 The definition of human intellect and consciousness remains a sphere of philosophy rather than neuroscience. So let's think. Conscious creativity Musk, Kurzweil, Hawking and other supporters of the hypothesis of technological singularity suggest that the increasing computational power will automatically lead us to the computer consciousness and the intellect of the human level. They insist that the faster the technology develops, the faster other fields of science are improved. "I do not think that only having powerful computers, powerful enough hardware, we will get human intellect, - Kurzweil said in 2006. - We need to understand the principles of work of the human mind, the way brain performs its functions. What kind of software, algorithms, and content does it have? Therefore, we are launching a grandiose project, which I call the reverse engineering of the human brain, it will help us to understand its mechanisms." Kurzweil recognizes the need to understand the human mind before recreating it in the machine accurately, but its solution - reverse brain engineering - crosses the fields of neurobiology, psychology and philosophy. It requires too much: it is as if building a brain is the same as building a consciousness. These two terms, "brain" and "consciousness," are not interchangeable. Perhaps we can recreate the brain; this is an infinitely complex structure, but it remains a physical thing that we can completely split and reassemble one day.

In 2016, IBM stated that it had created a working artificial neuron capable of recognizing patterns in random data and behaving unpredictably as an ordinary neuron. To create a neuron is, of course, not the same to create a whole human brain, but it is already a beginning. Nevertheless, it is still not consciousness, not reason, not thinking. Even if scientists develop technology to create an artificial brain, there is no evidence that this process will automatically generate consciousness.

 Singularity suggests that, eventually, AI will be billions of times more powerful than a person in terms of intelligence. It's unlikely that AI will leave such useless things as mild alcoholism and concentration. There is no doubt that one day the software will be able to display beautiful, creative things with minimal (or zero) human intervention. But beautiful does not mean the best. Creativity is not always conscious. Kurzweil, Musk and others did not predict the appearance of the bot "Tay" in "Twitter"; they only say that in 20 years we will copy the human brain, put it in an artificial box and thus recreate the human consciousness.

Scientists have made impressive advances in technology in recent years, and computers are getting better every day, but a more powerful computer can not be equated to a breakthrough in a philosophical sense. A precise brain map will not show that we understand the mind. Before trying to recreate something, you need to understand how it works. A miracle will not happen if we do not unravel the secrets of the human mind.

Some numbers:

• The computational power of the human brain is limited to 1017 operations per second. In this case, we get 108 bits of personal information per second. Based on this, Nick Bostrom derived the formula and calculated that it only needed 1033-1036 operations (50 years per person with 100 billion people who ever lived on the planet) to simulate the whole story.

• And for the Universe - back in 2002, a physicist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology calculated- we need a machine with a memory of 1090 bits, which will perform 10120 logical operations. But there are no such computers. Not yet. Scientist Seth Lloyd, taking advantage of the achievements of quantum mechanics, calculated the maximum power of a computer weighing 1 kilogram and a volume of one cubic decimeter. And he found out that it can perform 1050 operations per second!!!. Besides if the "Moore's Law" (every 24 months the processing power of the processor doubles at the same size) will be true for the next couple of hundred years, we will get such a machine in 250 years! In 2006, Seth Lloyd published a book "Programming the Universe", in which he said: "The universe is a quantum computer that calculates itself (like Ouroboros - a snake biting itself, the symbol of infinity from Ancient Egypt)." And to create a computer model of the Universe, we lack only smallness - the theory of quantum gravity.

• Do not remind that the Universe consists of emptiness, because the atom is empty at 99.9999 and many more nines after the decimal point percent. And if the core of the hydrogen atom is increased to the size of a soccer ball and put on the NSC Olimpiyskiy, then its electron hits the city of Brovary, which is 23 km straight. In addition, atoms are 4.9% of the Universe. And 99.1% are dark matter and dark energy, which we know so little that we do not hesitate to call them "dark."

• Modern science can indirectly confirm the hypothesis of Bostrom about computer simulation around us. For example, in 2012, researchers at the University of California in San Diego came to the conclusion that complex networks like the Universe, the human brain and the Internet have the same structure and dynamics of development. And last year there was a study of physicists from India, Austria and Japan, which does not exclude (as a result of trying to relate mathematically the theory of strings and quantum theory) that the Universe is a hologram. In 2011, the director of the Center for Particle Astrophysics at Fermilab in the United States, Craig Hogan, created a "holometer". Analysis of the behavior of light beams emanating from laser emitters (if you believe the theoretical calculations of Hogan and his associates) proved that we do not live in a two-dimensional hologram. What we see exists; these are not "pixels."

• In 2016, there were interesting works by physicists from the USA and Germany Silas Beana, Zohreh Davoudi and Martin Savage, which are based on the premise of Bostrom and try to answer the question: how will the physics of the simulated world differ from the physics of the real world? Quantum chromodynamics (the theoretical foundation of elementary particle physics) became an instrument. And the assumption that the model will occupy limited space. This research is based on reality: nowadays physicists can model a small piece of the world with diameters of between 2.5 and 5.8 femtometers (the femtometer is a unit of length equal to 1015 meters, which is a very small value). Beana, Davoudi and Savage appreciated the possibility of simulations. It turned out that people will be able to model a cubic meter of matter on the basis of quantum chromodynamics in about 140 years. And the whole Universe - in 410 years (provided that the "Moore’s law" will work and the parameter of increasing the complexity of calculations will remain fixed). Then we found out that there must be a break in the spectrum of cosmic rays in the simulation at certain energies. The funniest thing is its existence - this is the Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin limit in 50 exaelectronvolt, which is associated with the fact that high-energy particles interact with photons of background CMB and lose energy. But in reality, it is worth noting, this limit has not been proved yet, it exists only in theoretical calculations. So the study, in fact, was just another stone in the fragile hypothesis of the unreality of being. In addition, who said that "posthumans" will use quantum chromodynamics, and not the "theory of everything" that humanity is trying to bring out? In general, these works are still reminiscent of the famous ancient Indian parable, in which five blind men touched different parts of the elephant (hip, leg, trunk, tail, tusk) and began a dispute about whose description would be true. In this case, in the canonical version, all are mistaken.

Even Plato in the dialogue "State", explaining the essence of the doctrine of ideas, tells " Allegory of the Cave." He likens people to prisoners in a cave, who see only vague shadows on the walls, thereby showing how imperfect the perception of man is, based only on the senses, which are imperfect themselves. Or, here is another example - how a person perceives an ant. But no way, until it makes any troubles. And how an ant perceives a person - probably, he considers him to be immense "fingers" (Bernard Verber), which are capable of anything. So how do we perceive the reality where we live? After all, the reality we sense is based on a small amount of information that our sensors receive and that the brain processes.


On this subject, we give an experiment. One scientist (let's remember the famous science fiction film) can extract the brain of a certain test subject, place it in a flask with a nutrient solution and connect the neurons to a computer that generates electrical pulses. And the test subject will believe in the reality of what is happening. This is called "brains in the bulb" and demonstrates, in addition to the mass of philosophical assumptions, a fact proved by neuroscience: there is no difference between reality and imagination for the brain. Even our dreams seem real to us, while we are "inside of them." Here are a few facts. Firstly, our eyes do not see the "video stream", they rather "take pictures" of what is happening. But exactly in the brain it all stitches together. Secondly, we see only the central part of the field of view in detail and color, since only in the center of the retina there are tightly packed photosensitive neurons. Thirdly, there is (it was described in 1997) the so-called "change blindness". This means that we rarely see changes that were not preceded by movement, since we do not keep all the details of the image in our heads, only the picture as a whole. And, finally, there is a huge number of visual illusions, each of which proves the imperfection of the main sense of perception - vision.

Modern neuroscience claims: our consciousness is something like an endless stream of sensations, carefully processed by the brain. It, let's say, is late for the world around - on fraction of a second, but still. Often, most decisions that the brain takes are taken outside of consciousness. It does not force us to make calculations (rather complicated), necessary to reach out and take something. You just do it through the illusion of perception. And this is not a joke - there are disorders of the brain, in which this "ease" is turned off. The patient in the literal sense can not raise his hand, if he does not look at it, and the object to reach.

"We believe that we have a direct connection with the material world, but this is an illusion created by our brain. Our brain creates models of the material world, combining signals coming from the senses and a priori expectations, and it is these models that we are aware of as the world around us. Knowledge of the inner world - the world of the consciousnesses of other people - we get exactly the same. But, one way or another, our connection with this inner world is no more and no less direct than our connection with the surrounding material world. Using the signals coming from the sense organs, and a priori knowledge gained from experience, our brain creates models of the consciousnesses of other people. "This is a quote from the book of the British neuroscientist and psychologist Chris Frith "The Brain and the Soul" in which he put together a lot of researches to lead us to a paradoxical thought: what makes us human is no more real than dreams. This is also was said by Vadim Zeland. Therefore, we must understand the main thing: people actually live in virtual reality. And its name is consciousness.