The Simulated Universe Thought Experiment And Information Entropy

Do we live in a simulation? This is one of those questions which has kept at least part of humanity awake at night, and which has led to a number of successful books and movies being made on the subject, topped perhaps by the blockbuster  movie The Matrix. Yet the traditional interpretation of the ‘simulated universe’ thought experiment is one in which we – including our brains and bodies – are just data zipping about in a hyper-advanced simulation rather than physical brains jacked into a computer. This simulation would have been set up by (presumably) a hyper-advanced species who seem to like to run their own version of The Sims on a Universe-sized scale.

Regardless of the ‘why’, the aspect of this question where at least some scientific inquiry is possible concerns whether or not it would be possible to distinguish anything uniquely simulation-like in our environment that’d give the game away, like a sudden feeling of déjà vu in the world of The Matrix where you can suddenly perceive the fabric of the simulation. However, the major problem which we have to consider when trying to catch a simulation in the act is that to this point we cannot ourselves create even a miniature galaxy and intelligent beings inside it to provide a testable hypothesis.

Beyond popular media like movies and series like Rick & Morty, what do science and philosophy have to say about this oddly controversial subject? According to some, we have already found the smoking gun, while others are decidedly more skeptical.

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