Re: virus: Fundamentals

Marek Jedlinski (
Fri, 29 Mar 1996 07:18:10 +0100 (MEZ)

On Thu, 28 Mar 1996, John A wrote:

> Such a simulated universe would have certain implications about it that
> were not discussed in this letter. First of all, such a computer program
> would have a defined set of algorithms, known in the virtual world as
> physical laws. The user (Us) of the program could only manipulate these
> algorithms, not intervene in subjective instances, for the following
> reasons:
> a.) Our "divine intervention" in a particualr case would require the
> restructuring of all involved algorithms, possibly even the
> reprogramming of the entire universe, and then restoring the original
> program after our intervention.

The problem with such hypothetical questions as the one I asked is that
once we start discussing the now-unthinkable technicalities, we may
run into a wall. But to answer your objection - "miracles" could be
coded in in advance, as an "alternative" set of procedures (think of
"emergency backup" sort of thing, routines which are activated only
in certain circumstances, either automagically or by operator's
intervention). Normally, the operator would just refrain from activating
them. Also, all software workings would have to be completely transparent
to the simulated beings - this is the first condition of the experiment -
so all the beings would perceive would be events defying the laws of
their world as they know them. Some people claim they have seen them
on this Earth...

> This would take a considerable amount of
> time. If the beings in this simulated universe's thinking abilities
> equalled that of humans, they would notice the laws of physics changing
> and therefore could not be logical beings, in which case the programmed
> universe would no longer be a simulation.

I am not sure I follow: if the beings in the simulated universe noticed
the changes in the laws of physics in their world, THAT FACT would
indicate that THEY are not logical? (I thought the other way round :)

> If we were to do this, then
> the virtual universe would not be logical, and therefore not a
> simulation of our own, because our universe is logical.

Well, that's exactly where we seem to disagree. Are you saying that
our universe is logical *whether or not* we assume the existence
(and possibly interference) of God?

> And,
> b.) The user of this software (The "god" of the virtual universe) must
> be aware of every event that occurs in this universe, as well as every
> past event and perhaps all possible future events. Even if a human had
> the time for an undertaking such as this, it may still be impossible.
> For the human mind as we know it, anyway.

Ah, this is a significant distinction! And one I've never thought
about before, I admit. God is defined as omniscient - does that require
God's total and continuous knowledge (something that we are denied
by the very laws of physics - Heisenberg's uncertainty principle) -
OR - does God's omniscience only imply POTENTIAL ability to know, as in
information-on-demand? I'm probably being a wicked heretic here :) but
it could make a tremendous difference, if the latter, more 'relaxed'
definition of omniscience were applied.

(And as for the experiment - the user would probably not need
to possess the total-continuous sort of knowledge; s/he could safely
ignore maybe even the majority of processes going on in the virtual
world, provided he had a way of selecting and zooming in on events which
do require attention. That sort of filter could be programmed in as well,
possibly, based on what is and what is not critical in OUR world - as
flight simulators may ignore the color of grass on the airfield, or the
texture of the pilot's seat upholstery?)