Two years ago, Rich Terrile appeared on Through the Wormhole, a Science Channel show about the mysteries of the universe to talk about the theory that the human experience may be nothing more than a simulation — i.e. you and I live in a very advanced version of Grand Theft Auto or The Sims. The idea is certainly a cool one if not a little disconcerting.
Terrile recently spoke with Vice and I’ve picked out some of my favorite excerpts below:
On Grand Theft Auto and the simulation we may live in:
The natural world behaves exactly the same way as the environment of Grand Theft Auto IV. In the game, you can explore Liberty City seamlessly in phenomenal detail. I made a calculation of how big that city is, and it turns out it’s a million times larger than my PlayStation 3. You see exactly what you need to see of Liberty City when you need to see it, abbreviating the entire game universe into the console. The universe behaves in the exact same way. In quantum mechanics, particles do not have a definite state unless they’re being observed. Many theorists have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how you explain this. One explanation is that we’re living within a simulation, seeing what we need to see when we need to see it.
On when we’ll be able to simulate ourselves:
Right now the fastest NASA supercomputers are cranking away at about double the speed of the human brain. If you make a simple calculation using Moore’s Law, you’ll find that these supercomputers, inside of a decade, will have the ability to compute an entire human lifetime of 80 years—including every thought ever conceived during that lifetime—in the span of a month.
On Playstation 7:
Now brace yourself: In 30 years we expect that a PlayStation—they come out with a new PlayStation every six to eight years, so this would be a PlayStation 7—will be able to compute about 10,000 human lifetimes simultaneously in real time, or about a human lifetime in an hour.
There’s how many PlayStations worldwide? More than 100 million, certainly. So think of 100 million consoles, each one containing 10,000 humans. That means, by that time, conceptually, you could have more humans living in PlayStations than you have humans living on Earth today.
I highly recommend you head over to vice and read the full interview: WHOA, DUDE, ARE WE INSIDE A COMPUTER RIGHT NOW?