Implications of computer science theory for the simulation hypothesis

Abstract

The simulation hypothesis has recently excited renewed interest, especially in the physics and philosophy communities. However, the hypothesis specifically concerns {computers} that simulate physical universes, which means that to properly investigate it we need to couple computer science theory with physics. Here I do this by exploiting the physical Church-Turing thesis. This allows me to introduce a preliminary investigation of some of the computer science theoretic aspects of the simulation hypothesis. In particular, building on Kleene's second recursion theorem, I prove that it is mathematically possible for us to be in a simulation that is being run on a computer \textit{by us}. In such a case, there would be two identical instances of us; the question of which of those is ``really us'' is meaningless. I also show how Rice's theorem provides some interesting impossibility results concerning simulation and self-simulation; briefly describe the philosophical implications of fully homomorphic encryption for (self-)simulation; briefly investigate the graphical structure of universes simulating universes simulating universes, among other issues. I end by describing some of the possible avenues for future research that this preliminary investigation reveals.

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David Wolpert
Santa Fe Institute

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References found in this work

Kleene's amazing second recursion theorem.Yiannis N. Moschovakis - 2010 - Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 16 (2):189 - 239.
How to live in a simulation.Robin Hanson - 2001 - Journal of Evolution and Technology 7 (1).

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