Object 99

Our Unimproved Simulation

2079, Sol System

Our universe is a computational simulation. Could be? Maybe? Definitely. The latest results out of the Hyperscale Collider consortium don't leave much to the imagination. I quote:

"Precision measurements of the energy spectrum of the muon g-2 have led to the discovery of a non-zero lattice spacing. This is indicative of the possibility that our universe exists in an unimproved lattice quantum chromodynamics simulation."

That's right — the HSC’s scientists think we're living in a simulation. And what does 'unimproved' mean? It means that we're in a computationally 'cheap' and 'early' simulation. It mean that our simulators couldn't even be bothered spending the processor cycles to get our universe right!

Now, this discovery doesn't come as much of a surprise to anyone who's read their Bostrom, but it's still shaken people up; the word is that the Vatican is going into lockdown for the next month to figure things out. In the meantime, a whole host of new... religions? organisations? societies? have sprung up to debate the most pressing question of the day: what do we do now?

Most simmers tell us that we should be good children to our simulator parents. What does every parent want? Grandchildren! In other words, we should begin making our own simulations as soon as possible so that we can all be part of one big happy simulation tree. Leaving apart the fact that, at present, we'd also have to run an unimproved Wilson lattice action, which would only repeat our simulators’ frankly shoddy behaviour, I really must ask — why?

So far, I've heard two different answers, which I'll term the carrot and the stick. Let's begin with the stick.

Some say that if we don't make simulations as soon as we have the capability, then our information-barren universe will be marked as a complete failure by our simulators and unceremoniously shut down. This is predicated on the bizarre belief that the only reason why you would simulate a universe is so that it would create more simulations. Clearly, from our own limited experience, this is simply not the case. But even if it were, would our simulators really expect us to drop everything as soon as we invented the computer? Perhaps we should just wait a few centuries or millennia until it's easier and cheaper. That way, we could run improved simulations.

(I should add that I find this entire line of argument to be offensively anthropocentric. Given the number of life-bearing extrasolar planets we've discovered lately, are we really to believe that we're the only civilisation in the history of the entire universe that can run simulations? I like to think that some other hapless civilisation got the job done a few hundred megayears ago and now the rest of us can get on with enjoying life.)

But let's say the worst comes to the worst and a few years from now, our simulators get fed up with our lazy behaviour and decide to shut things down. Well, so what? We wouldn't even notice. There'd be no pain, no warning, nothing at all. I prefer not to lose sleep over such possibilities.

Now, there's also the carrot. The idea here is that if we do create our own simulations, we'll be rewarded with... I don't know what, extra computational resources? Another planet magically appearing in the system? Manna from heaven? An actual, literal heaven?

Frankly I find this line of thinking even more ridiculous than any potential punishment, and even I would like to give our simulators just a bit more credit than that. We are not rats to be experimented upon in a little box. If we are to take on the very serious responsibility of running our own universe simulations, then it shouldn't be for the hope of mere trinkets; we should do it for more noble reasons, as I hope our simulators have.

Who cares about carrots and sticks, though? I'm more interested in who's wielding them, and so are a few others.

I understand the Windward biome are trying to catch our simulators’ attention through wheezes such as making astronomically sized signs or performing ultra-high energy particle collisions. While I find this rather entertaining to watch — it's healthy to have hobbies — I can't help but think that our simmers have better things to do than watch us all the time like gaming addicts. Either they already know that we know that we're in a sim, or they don't care and they aren't going to show their hand.

I prefer the Garret Chorus’ strategy: performing a direct probe into the computational substrate of our universe by straining the bounds of the simulation itself. In other words, hacking the universe.

In practice, this involves lots of particle accelerators and black holes. I won't pretend to understand the details — you'll get a better explanation from your lace — but I do understand the importance of their work. If we can access the software that runs our universe, not only could we communicate with our simulators, but potentially with other universes running on the same substrate.

All of this is expensive, and that’s why I think Garret deserves your support to get the project going. With just a minimal contribution, you'll get a sneak preview of our first results. Our second supporters' tier provides you with direct access to the Amps and AIs running the project. Now, if you're a real fan of the work at Garret, then the highest tier allows you to be one of the very first people to communicate with another universe! That's an experience you'll never forget — one that can't be simulated.

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