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.

Author's Profile

David Wolpert
Santa Fe Institute

Analytics

Added to PP
2024-04-17

Downloads
249 (#63,849)

6 months
249 (#9,638)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?