If our universe were a computer simulation of a super intelligent being, would the creator of the universe know that we, the humans or life in this planet, exist?
Is it possible to simulate a universe?
For us it is impossible to simulate a universe as big as our own. With our current computing power we can simulate great many things. We can certainly simulate small universes filled with galaxies, stars and planets.
We cannot yet simulate a universe down to its every fundamental particles and we cannot simulate living beings’ consciousness. In future it is quite probable that humans will be able to simulate a big universe from start to end by simulating every fundamental particle (That universe will be way smaller than the universe we live in of course).
Why it would be difficult to find civilizations in a simulation?
If those humans’ or posthumans’ simulated universe is as big as our Milky Way Galaxy it will be really difficult for them to find a civilization like us in their own simulation.
First, let’s acknowledge how big our Milky Way Galaxy is. The Milky Way Galaxy has from 150 billions to 250 billions stars. If you count every star per second then it would take you more than 4500 years to count 150 billion stars.
Let’s assume that simulation will go right and within a few billions of years (in the simulated universe’s time) life will emerge in some of the planets and after a few more hundreds of millions of years human like civilization will come into existence.
According to Drake Equation some estimate that there might be 10,000 civilizations in our galaxy. If the simulated universe also has similar properties and the number of civilizations there is close to this number, 10,000, then we will have to check 15 million stars and their planets to find one civilization. And to find all of the civilization we have to check all the planets in that universe.
If checking 15 million stars seems like a doable job then think about this: the simulated universe may have hundreds of billions of years from start to end. And let’s assume that a civilization only exists for a few million years, then which fraction of time do you jump in, to find a civilization?
Are we living in a simulation? Does the creator know we exist? These questions are hard to answer. Even if we are in a simulation we don’t know if our creator is a mortal being and what their concept of time is.
But we can say that if in future we, mortal humans, create a simulated universe, which is something bigger then ourselves then it will be hard to track our own creations for us.
I came across a Facebook post where someone made a joke about simulated universe. It was something like this: “My simulated humans went to universities and figured out they were in a simulation and I pulled the plug out of the computer”.
After reading the joke it occurred to me that even if it was true it would be impossible for the simulation runner to track every human to find out what they are doing in universities. And from there the idea of this article came, which I think can be a interesting science fiction story plot thus sharing it in blog post.