The notion that our reality is a simulation or "control system" of some kind has always intrigued me. Long before The Matrix, folks like Jacques Vallee, John Keel, Rudy Rucker, and Hans Moravec played with this idea in very smart ways. And recently, Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom developed a mathematical argument to support the mind-bending theory. His work was even the subject of a New York Times column last year. My Fortean friend Mark Pilkington of Strange Attractor Journal pointed me to another new paper, "The Physical World as a Virtual Reality," written by Brian Whitworth and published by Massey University's Centre for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science in Auckland, New Zealand. From the abstract:
This paper explores the idea that the universe is a virtual reality created by information
processing, and relates this strange idea to the findings of modern physics about the physical
world. The virtual reality concept is familiar to us from online worlds, but our world as a virtual
reality is usually a subject for science fiction rather than science. Yet logically the world could be
an information simulation running on a multi-dimensional space-time screen. Indeed, if the
essence of the universe is information, matter, charge, energy and movement could be aspects of
information, and the many conservation laws could be a single law of information conservation.
If the universe were a virtual reality, its creation at the big bang would no longer be paradoxical,
as every virtual system must be booted up. It is suggested that whether the world is an objective
reality or a virtual reality is a matter for science to resolve. Modern information science can
suggest how core physical properties like space, time, light, matter and movement could derive
from information processing. Such an approach could reconcile relativity and quantum theories,
with the former being how information processing creates space-time, and the latter how it
creates energy and matter.
Link to PDF of paper