Are we living in a video game? Interview with Juergen Schmidhuber

This week we caught up with computer scientist, speaker and renowned AI expert Juergen Schmidhuber, we wanted to ask the question, are we living in a video game?

Are we living in a video game - juergen schmidhuber

Are we living in a video game?

We don’t know.

Do you believe that it’s possible we could be?

Yes.

Juergen Schmidhuber “If we discover that short program and it has predictive power, then many physicists will become convinced that we are actually living in a deterministic computation.”

How do we prove it, one way or the other?

Physics is an inductive science trying to uncover the basic laws or axioms of the universe. But physicists can never be sure that all axioms have been found. So physics is different from pure math, where we can really derive proofs from axioms that are given in advance. 

Nevertheless, we can devise experiments to make certain physical theories more plausible than others. Decades ago, I predicted that events such as beta decay which seem random to most physicists are not really random but pseudo-random, that is, there is a rather short program (like the one that computes all seemingly random digits of pi) that explains them. If we discover that short program and it has predictive power, then many physicists will become convinced that we are actually living in a deterministic computation. 

Are we living in a video game - No Mans Sky

If we were living in a simulation, is there a way to crack it?

Yes, as I suggested decades ago: systematically test programs until you find one that predicts and compresses what currently seems random. But this may take a while.

Are you familiar with Randonauting?

No.

Are you familiar with the NIST beacon which uses a beam of light to generate a truly random number, could this help to prove the world is not a video game simulation?

I bet there is no proof that the generated numbers are truly random, that is, incompressible by some short unknown program. 

When do you think we will have the technology in which people can choose to completely immerse themselves in an alternate virtual reality?

Soon.

Will we one day be able to run accurate global simulations of our own reality to anticipate potential real world outcomes?

To a certain limited extent we can already do that today. But since our physical computers are just tiny parts of the original universe they are trying to simulate, they will remain limited. 

If we were able to completely manipulate our reality, have more money, be better looking, how would this change things?

Dramatically.

Are you familiar with the game Eve? It’s an incredibly advanced ecosystem within a game, could this evolve into our virtual reality? 

Not familiar. 

Are we living in a video game - EVE

Are you familiar with the game No Mans Sky in which universes are simulated with a range of variables and procedural generation, could this help us map alternate universes? 

Not familiar.  

Juergen Schmidhuber “People have created universes in their minds for many millennia.” 

Are we looking at inner space becoming impossible to define between outer space? Will we create the universes in our minds before we discover the life in alternate universes?

People have created universes in their minds for many millennia. 

If you were to create your own simulated universe, could there be a better one than what we have and what would you change?

I’d lengthen the night by one hour to get more sleep.

As this is our perception of reality, is it possible the simulation could reset afterward? And we would get an extra life?

Sure, when I published the fastest and most efficient way of computing all logically possible universes and their histories (1997-2000), it was based on resetting universe simulations all the time in an asymptotically optimal way.

You can find out more about Juergen’s work through his website and Twitter.

If you are interested in features and interviews about Indie gaming, visit our features page

This Article was written by: Harry Cole

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