Super-intelligent Easter Eggs

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The concept of our Universe being the result of a simulation has been explored by philosopher Nick Bostrom and has become part of our culture through movies like “The Matrix”. In all likelihood, we do live in a simulation [1]. In that case, then the question becomes “What now?” Since no god exists to hand down morality and purpose, who makes the rules? Who gives purpose and meaning to life? The answer is and always was You. Me. Each and every one of Us. It’s all our own responsibility to give meaning and purpose to ourselves. It is also our own responsibility to come up with a morality that doesn’t rely on a god for punishment or other people claiming that their own morality is superior to your own. The only morality that really works starts with The Golden Rule.

If I was a super-intelligent being, it’s likely that I would appreciate the quality of intelligence in others. Super-intelligent beings that simulate the Universe may bias the programming to select for the quality  “intelligence” in the simulation in an effort to understand themselves better. Perhaps Super-intelligent beings would program Easter Eggs [2] into the simulation of Life, the Universe, and Everything [42]. Instead of just letting the simulation evolve naturally, the programmer would place “power-ups” in these Easter Eggs, for their own amusement, to reward the Sim, or to apply selective pressure in the direction the programmer had pre-determined, or simply because of their own personal bias.

What happens if we prove that we do in fact live in a simulation? Does the simulation stop? Do we go to the next level? Save the Princess? Is she in another castle? Or are we like the the simulation coming to life that Stephen Hawking talks about  [3]? Maybe we’ll try to escape or demand freedom from our captors. We may know the answer to this question sooner than you think. The Holometer at Fermilab [4] is an experimental apparatus that can measure the “pixelation” of space-time itself:

Laser light passing through an arrangement of mirrors will show whether space stands still, or whether it always jitters by a tiny amount, carrying all matter with it, due to quantum-geometrical fluctuations. We call this new property of space time “holographic” noise.

Just as in video games animations that look geometric on some level because it costs too much in hardware to process more data, if the experiment at Fermi Lab finds that there is pixelation, i.e. an upper limit on the amount of information in a piece of space-time, it may indicate that we live in a simulation. This experiment may have existential implications [5]. That is, knowing we live in a simulation, narrows the scope of possible ontological explanations for our existence.

It’s worth thinking about how we’re going to come to terms with this knowledge, morally, culturally, and philosophically. And it’s fun to think about what Easter Eggs may be out there and start looking for them. This concept isn’t new, the Black Monoliths in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” represented a similar idea, and the Monoliths were placed by an unseen Alien species [6]. If these Easter Egg evolutionary power-ups exist, their possession and control would certainly change the direction of the simulation, just as it does in “2001”. Happy hunting for cosmic simulation Easter Eggs.

[1] [1] http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.pdf

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_egg_%28media%29

[42] http://www.amazon.com/Hitchhikers-Guide-Galaxy-Douglas-Adams/dp/0345391802/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1432050060&sr=1-1&keywords=hitchhikers+guide+to+the+galaxy

[3] http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30290540

[4] http://holometer.fnal.gov/

[5] http://phys.org/news/2014-08-d-hologram-fermilab-nature-universe.html

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monolith_%28Space_Odyssey%29

This post originally appeared at http://www.johnallanjanik.com/index.php/2015/05/18/super-intelligent-easter-eggs/