Do we live in the matrix
First though, I need to clarify a few words and their definitions for this argument:
When I say "Matrix", I am referring to a computer generated existence that is molded around our lives. Not the movie specifically.
When I say "computer", I mean some sort of unknown device (not necessarily electronic) that simulates our reality through programming.
When I say "existence" or "reality", I am referring to the world around us and what we consider as normal (our everyday lives basically)
When I say "Know", "Knowledge" or "what we think we know", I am referring to our awareness of something through observation or thought.
And finally, when I say "Code" or "Program", I am referring to instructions that dictate how that particular thing (usually particle) will act in our reality.
Alright, so let me begin:
There are plenty of odd phenomena that may point toward us living within the realms of a simulated reality. For instance, atoms always create a certain type of element respective to that atom structure (for instance, one proton and electron atom will always create hydrogen, and never somethings else).
Because of this rigid rule, it would seem that atoms are programmed to create different types of elements respective to their structure, almost like a code!
Furthermore, there are other odd physics laws such as the speed of light, which goes exactly 299792458 metres per second and is constant in a vacuum and nothing can go faster than it. Why is this law in place? It would seem this too is programmed into our reality!
Even more creepy is the double slit experiment in quantum mechanics! I can't be bothered wasting character room to explain the experiment, so here is a Wikipedia page and video explaining it:
As you can see, the double slit experiment shows that by our observation of a particle, we change which direction that particle will go through, and how it will act!
Even weirder is the act of KNOWING which path the particle will also take also affects its path!
Another experiment (called the Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser Experiment or DCQE) confirmed this, which is explained in this video here:
As you can see, the world around us is influenced by our knowledge of it! Could this seem any more like a computer simulation!? The experiment suggests that our reality is affected by what we know about it, and therefore our reality is subject to what we think we know about it!
If reality is subject to what we think we know about it, then we might very well be simply brains in vats, with reality molded around what we think it is! Our very consciousness affects the world around us!
Schrodingers Cat is a thought experiment that can also make this even more mysterious!
This website will explain it further:
As you can see, this thought experiment states that our reality is indeed affected by our conscious thoughts! The world around us is unknown is every possibility until observed!
So what do we have here? We know that atoms always create certain elements respective to their structure, like a code!
Furthermore, laws such as the speed of light are also seemingly set at a specific speed and cannot be changed (that is, nothing can go faster than light), again like a code or program is dictating it!
And finally, quantum physics shows that reality is directly dictated by what we think we know.
Are we living in a computer simulation or matrix? Good luck to who ever my opponent will be!
I still don't think you understand some of those physical phenomena but I'm not here to argue that.
Ok, so I presume your argument is going to follow the lines of something like this:
i.e. That all of the problems we face in physics, mostly in quantum mechanics, is because we have a projected image which is the space around us that we observe, and it is computed as we observe.
I think it should be noted that our computational power is nowhere near powerful enough to create this model, but that does not mean that some higher order organism with better computational capabilities couldn't.
Ok, so to the argument of whether or not that means that we are in a designed matrix by some higher order organism that is using us as little lab rats or something. The short answer would be to so say that no, there is no proof, and it can't be proven definitively, as I will explain. However, there are philosophical arguments against it.
My greatest argument against this would be to say that there is nothing to prove that the code cannot exist on its own – that it had to have been designed. Say, for example, that our entire universe is a stream of single point information – for arguments sake, say a binary system like in programming. That could account for everything in the universe that seems coded without the need for a 'creator' as the information would have no end and no beginning. That code could easily rearrange itself in such a way, perhaps from emergent-type phenomena, as to create a 'universe' which follows our laws, in a portion of its code. This doesn't prove that the matrix doesn't exist however, it just proves that there is an alternative.
So what if there is a 'creator' and that outside world somehow follows laws that do not follow our laws. We wouldn't know, true, because how can we prove that there is a system which follows different laws to us if we can't observe it.
But also, in this case, why would this higher order organism create a world that doesn't follow their own physical laws? Would it even be possible for another organism to create a world that runs on a different base of laws? I am not going to argue using the 'Why?' argument, because as humans, we couldn't possibly rationalise the why behind this. We couldn't even know if there is such a thing as why in this creators world.
To illustrate, humans have code, and we could theoretically produce a simulated world. So if we are created from code that someone designed, there is nothing to say that our creators weren't created from code. And so on and so forth, in which case, it is still the case that the entire universe is one stream of code with codes written into the code.
Even then, above all of these creators, is it possible that there is an overarching outside world that was the initiator. The main question again, is, is it possible that they could have created this system if they worked on a system different to ours. At the very least, humans are probably incapable of this; our virtual realities are still mimics of our own world, and it is likely that our simulated worlds would be too. If it is the case as a general rule, then there can be no initial creator, and though we may be living in a code inside a code, the universe would still be one long code, and therefore, we are just living in a binary system universe, not in a designed matrix.
So is it philosophically possible for a being capable of design, to design a system which works on rules different to their own. In a simple sense, for this argument, do you have to have a computational-type mind to create computational data. I postulate that you do. I further postulate that a computational mind can only arise in a computational environment. And, therefore, if your environment is computational, then aren't you just another sub-creator in a long line of infinite code with no initiator.
Therefore, according to my reasoning, which can't be proven, just as the existence of the matrix can't be proven, the matrix does not exist.
"Ok, so I presume your argument is going to follow the lines of something like this:
i.e. That all of the problems we face in physics, mostly in quantum mechanics, is because we have a projected image which is the space around us that we observe, and it is computed as we observe."
Yeah, kinda. I'm not exactly sure how our "projected imagery" works (if it exists), but your definitely on the right track.
Your greatest argument seems to be flawed, as you admit that it doesn't disprove that we live in a matrix, but instead rules out the need for an intelligent being beyond our existence to create the matrix, which I accept.
Now you say that, because it is theoretically possible for humans to create an artificial simulated reality, and because we are (possibly)code, then both our simulation and ourselves could be code. If that is the case, what is stoping our creators from also being code, and their creators likewise in a infinite series of simulated realities?
Good point. Like you said, that universe would simply be an infinite binary soup. All I can say in argument really is "But we don't know if our creators are indeed also made of code". This argument is, indeed, very weak. I admit that. I shall try to not use any arguments that depend on circular reasoning (I.e. We can't demonstrate that our universe is simulated or not because it's simulated)
I have to disagree with your point that "humans are probably incapable of [creating systems different from our own]; our virtual realities are still mimics of our own world, and it is likely that our simulated worlds would be too."
Not necessarily. GTA5, for instance, has a feature where buildings are indestructible, even if you fly a jumbo jet into one.
Now, in real life ("real life", heh heh) this is absurd: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction"
Or even the fact that GTA5 has an infinite sea, and crossing the "invisible boundary" causes any vehicle you have to break down and sharks eat you.
Now this is, again, unlike reality. So creating systems that differ from reality is entirely possible.
But what you said lastly is very interesting: Do you need a computational type mind to make a computational based simulation?
I guess that depends on the being or computer creating this simulation, which can't be verified.
(I've got a feeling this is going to be a long debate...I probably should have made this 2 rounds but anyhow...)
Yes, I also said that my greatest argument was flawed because it didn't disprove anything, which is why I went on on a different track too. But it was also related to the argument which followed it.
The basis through which I said that even if we did have an overarching 'creator' above all of those sub-computational worlds, it would still mean that we had no true creator and even above that creator was simply a system with no creator, was through my reasoning on creating said worlds.
No, GTA5 does not run on a different physical system to our own. The base physics for the system is the same as our own; it is simply that some of the variables have been changed. So, to use your example about the building, they simply created buildings made of materials with infinite hardness and flawless foundation structure - still the same physical system.
To use GTA3 as an example - you know how you could do those super awesome ramps; same physcial system, but gravity and resistance was lowered when the car was in the air, allowing it to travel further than it would realistically travel in our world.
So games, or, our current virtual systems, do not disprove my postulation that we are unable to create systems which do not follow the basic physical phenomena of our own world.
And so, I also postulated that our overarching creators wouldn't be able to create our system, unless they worked on a system like ours, in which case, they are, going along the same reasoning, just creators who initially belonged to a binary-information universe with no creator; so they aren't true initiators.
And no, my postulaion cant be verified (that you require a computational-like mind to create a computational like system), but neither can the existence of the matrix. So the conclusion of this debate will be opinion-based on the part of the voters who will have to decide who's argument sounds more plausible. In reality, neither argument can be proven.
Sorry for trying to refute your greatest argument that you had already admitted was faulty. My bad. Anyway, on to the GTA5 argument...
You say that the base physical system is the same as our own, with only minor changes to the game. I agree, as I didn't realise you meant the WHOLE physical "engine" should be different.
I will refute this with a game called pac-man. If you haven't heard of it, crawl under a bed and die (kidding).
Pac man runs on a physical engine entirely different from our own, and if any of the Pac man(s) or Ghosts were alive and self conscious, then they would only understand the second dimension which they live in.
Furthermore, Pac man has no gravity, no atoms or much physical resemblance to our world at all. The only similarity between the game and real life are the walls forming the maze (can't go through walls) and movement itself. That is really it. Therefore, again, it is entirely possible for humans to create systems completely different from our own.
Maybe even this dimension which we live in is a lower dimension then that of our creator(s), and we therefore can't comprehend their dimension (like pac man).
Now if you made an entire existence (like a simulation) with the same sort of foundation as pac man (with self learning A.I. etc) then you could easily argue that a higher being or computer could make a simulation greatly differing from its own reality.
Another example is Kerbal Space Program (KSP). The game is about building rockets and flying to planets etc, but there used to be a funny paradox in the game where, if you attached massless engines to massless objects, and turned the "infinite fuel" cheat on, the "rocket" would go flying very fast, yet still accelerated and didn't go anywhere near the spread of light like it should have mathematically (since it was massless, it shouldn't have had any resistance to acceleration).
Now, you could argue the same about KSP as you could GTA5, where the creators only edited a small part of our physical system, while the main physical system still resembled our own.
The point with the KSP example is that, we humans could easily make a game that entirely flips our reality and physical system in a game if it was done with all aspects of it (I.e. Gravity, time-space, atoms etc).
I'm not aware of any game that has already done this, but I'm sure it's possible.
Now, I agree that most (if not all) our arguments are based on logic and opinion rather than actual evidence, which I accept fully. Like I said before, this is entirely hypothetical and unfalsifiable, so no evidence is needed unless making separate claims regarding it (I.e. "It is Impossible to create A.I." or something along those lines.)
"Sorry for trying to refute your greatest argument that you had already admitted was faulty. My bad."
My written language can be a bit sharp sometimes - I didn't actually mind, so no need to apologise. Imagine everything I say with a derp face or something.
Well it is the last round now, so I feel I have said everything I need to, so my only option here really is to counter your Pac-man system being a different system.
No, I still do not think it is a different system. The first thing to note is that it is a 2-D system, but that does not mean that it cannot be expanded to a 3-D system. So in the Pac man game, you can only move left, right, up or down, but translated to a 3D system, you would be able to move left/up simultaneously, or right/down. All that has happened is that you have added an axis to the space co-ordinates. Objects can still move through space in both systems.
As you pointed out, the walls are solid, as in our system. That suggests that mass and all of its implications also exist.
So between motion and mass, which both comply to our system in the real world, you have encompassed a vast vast amount of our quantified observable phenomena, including but not limited to, mechanics, inertia, mass, velocity, space-time, the list goes on.
With regards to gravity, it can be implied from mass; there are no masses large enough in the game to disprove it, anyway. It could certainly still exist in a 2D system. With regards to atoms; how do you know it has no atoms? Perhaps we can't observe it from outside of the system? With regards to physical resemblance - well, as I pointed it out, it has a lot of similarities.
I never played KSP so I can't comment with much authority, but resistance in a real sense is also affected by the bulkiness of the object (wind resistance, parachute effects), not just its mass. So that may have been able to compensate for the lack-of-light speeds. However, again, this can just be interpreted as the changing of variables, not a different innate system of rules.
Anyway, I have enjoyed, though I am glad it is over - this one was long winded. We shall leave it to votors to decide :)