Science and Science Fiction for All!3

It’s about time I finally get around to actually writing the continuation of the Simulation Theory I started.

If you haven’t read the first one, I highly recommend it. In this series, I ponder and attempt to illustrate hypothetical scenarios as to why an advanced civilization might tinker around with creating a simulated universe. In this post’s scenario: it’s all about cheating the Guessing Game.

Ask yourself. If you had a magic 8-ball that told you in pretty certain terms exactly what would happen tomorrow, would you give that spherical Uri Geller a good shake? I’d be willing to bet, you’d take a peek.

An advanced civilization might be interested in creating a one for one simulation of their own universe for this exact reason. How would that tell the future? Well, if we truly live in a deterministic universe then all they would have to do is set up the right conditions of the big bang in a super computer, hit the return key and fast forward past their own time and then to their tomorrow. It’s just possible, that you and I are only living out the our lives in the fast forwarding process as they reach their own timeline.

But… why would they bother?

Well, wouldn’t you? Knowing the future has it’s advantages.

  • For Darwin-sake! What if you’re trying to not only learn about how life evolved but what the next step in evolution is?
  • A war simulator? The operators could test all types of wartime scenarios. For example: How would the enemy respond if we parked a 20 ton nuclear warhead on their front lawn?
  • Maybe it’s a corporation trying to understand it’s demographic. What better way to pretest your product than to run a 100% pure simulation where you can collect impenetrable data that the product will be a success or failure?

Anyone can think of a million reasons to peer into the future. But the real question: Would it work?

Stupid paradox problems

Can you really predict the future once you view it? In this simulation theory, if you peer into the future, you’ve just changed it. This is because you added an element that didn’t exist in that future, your knowledge of it. But then you might ask: But you can know that you know the future, right? Well, sure, but then you get into Russian nesting doll syndrome. You know, that you know, that you know, infinitum. Ugh, paradox pain…

Let’s take one of the scenarios from the top. Let’s say you have a fancy new gadget that magically takes a photo of cats and posts them on the Internets. You’re not convinced that it will do well in the market, so you decide to buy Sim Future 3000. You configure your settings to match exactly the conditions of our own big bang and hit execute. BOOM!

You fast forward to your present time and bam! Suddenly, you’re Rick Moranis looking at himself through Dark balls fast forward simulation theoryOkay, so after you have your fun, you fast forward into the future three years. You have business goals after all! Ruh roh…. Looks like your product is doing horribly on the market. Three years from now cats are now hated and slugs are the new vogue. You make changes to your product and now you create a device that herds slugs like Pan on his magical flute. But there’s a problem. What if it was your product that finally broke the tolerance levels of cat pictures on the Internet? But that’s just it. Now your focus is on slugs and since everyone is still in love with those four legged, purring beauties, you don’t make a dime. Who the hell cares about slugs anyway? In other words, if you view the future, you’ve already changed it and thus, you can never really view the future 100%.

So it may actually be easy to make an exact replica of our own universe, down to it’s core, but as soon as you change anything, you’ve just changed the future. “But what if I just look?” you might ask. Well, just looking changes the future, doesn’t it? “I just looked! I changed nothing!,” you desperately plead. Well, old chap, you have new information in your thinker. Even if you tried to play things out exactly as you saw them, it wouldn’t be with the same. It’s kind of like pretending you didn’t know your Aunt Bertha knit you another friggin Christmas sweater as you’re unwrapping the box. You’re acting surprised, but everyone knows you’re a faker.

If this simulation theory proves right, it’d be fun playing with determinism though!

A few things we have to assume about this simulation theory

Let’s talk about rendering.

It took 12,500 CPU cores to render out Cars II from Pixar. A single frame averaged 11.5 hours to render. A single frame!

Now imagine rendering not only an entire universe but billions and billions of years of an entire universe. Today, this is entirely inconceivable, even with the assumption that computers in the future are going to make IBM’s Watson look like the the kid that eats paste and calls the teacher “Mom”.

Granted, I’m already making a huge assumption about the nature of how this simulation runs, but the closest thing we have to compare this theory is against video games, computer graphics, etc., so for this purpose, I’ll use the assumption that the simulation runs somewhat like World of Warcraft.

A tree in WoW would only “render” when the player “looks” at it. Otherwise, it would just revert to ones and zeros while holding basic mathematical attributes like position and whatever effect it might still have on that which is being rendered. In other words, there is absolutely no point in rendering anything unless there is a player looking at it.

Can you feel the quantum implications?! Another post…

Rendering only the observed could be the case of a simulated universe as well. So what would be the point of rendering out someone typing on their keyboard and writing a long, boring post about Simulated Universe theories? None. So if the theory were true, these architects of the simulated universe would be interested in this exact present timeframe since we are ourselves conscious. The rendering is happening now, otherwise we’d just be ones and zeros and mathematical formulas without any kind of consciousness or experience.


It stands to reason that it’s possible to skip ahead of your timeline and see the generalities of what’s going to happen in the future but I’d be hard pressed to say with confidence that it could be used constructively. And honestly, it’s probably for the best that way.

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