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Curiosity: Creating Reality in Virtual Reality

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#1
Osvir

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Hello!

I've wondered... if one would create a 3D environment, and then create all the properties of "reality" within a 4x4 area... would it be real?

Let's take water, for instance. Would it be possible to create "H" and "O" scientifically and create wind, gravity and all that's "real" on Earth and the Universe (as we know it) and simulate reality, virtually?

Then, when you've taken all components and ingredients, elements and pretty much everything from reality that you can put into this virtual environment... would it be "real"? If you plant a virtual seed that grows like a real plant and gets sunlight (virtually but according to real science)... would the plant be a real plant?



#2
Orogun01

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Looking aside from the fact that it would take an enormous amount of coding to have such an accurate virtual reality, it all depends on what you define as reality. It is the argument of both metaphysics and epistemology, for all we know we actually are in a virtual simulation.



#3
Iucounu

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Indeed, I've recently discovered a whole lot of videos on youtube that compare our real world physics with the workings of a computer program (how we know it), and there are some pecularities. E.g, the speed of light =  maximum "refresh rate" of the screen. Things like that. 

 

But in the end, of course it's all speculation. 


Edited by Iucounu, 24 September 2013 - 04:31 PM.


#4
Calax

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Ultimately for something to become totally seamlessly "real" in terms of perception, There'd be so much work put into it that it'd be either easier or cheaper to just get the real thing.

 

Closest you could really get to this is the philosophy discussion on the imagination/wishing machine, where you're tossed in a machine for your entire life and can have whatever you want done... is that real and/or meaningful?



#5
Osvir

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Vanilla Sky explores that idea Calax, quite interesting movie to be honest. In a sense, a movie like Surrogates also explores this notion in its own way. Minority Report also explores this, but only very very briefly during a short scene (Virtual Reality though). Some guy lying in some machine and getting boosted by his boss, friends and family for being great. I imagine the deal with that short scene was to present this guy who wants to feel loved, but either he is too lazy to spend energy on it in real life, or he just wants a "fix" and gets the dopamine more accessibly.

I simply think it's a curious thing. With things like the Occulus Rift and already the technology to control some minor functions with our brains alone (emotions), are we evolving towards a "Matrix" society? To clarify, I remember watching a video where "Prototype This" (some Discovery Channel show) managed to start a car if you were happy and if you were angry the car would shut down. One guy was sitting maybe 10 meters from a car with a brain sensor thing on his head and made it both start and shut down during the test.

If it is real and/or meaningful... I don't know. Again, the Occulus Rift, it's something TotalBiscuit claims "will change the gaming industry, this is going to be the new way to play games". So for the entertainment system it might become something meaningful in the next 20-40 years. As for some sort of "meaning of life!" meaning... I dunno, it'd probably have as much meaning and purpose as our regular life. Of course, the implication and philosophy of "shape and create your own life" would be taken to a whole different level :p maybe you could learn certain skill sets in a Simulated Reality to pursue a career. Get a driver's license virtually~

For science I believe it could be very meaningful, because every sort of diagnostic test or hypothesis could theoretically (and practically really) be tested within a "real" simulation of reality <- If that last part makes any sense. "Let's test reality in this simulation of reality!!" :p similarly, if something wouldn't work in the reality simulation as it does in the real world (a bug in the system), would it not instantly be a "ruling out cause" in reality and we'd figure out why the simulation wouldn't act according to "reality" and suddenly we'd learn more about the real reality?

I.E: We think reality works a specific way, put it into the simulator, realize it isn't working as intended, we figure out that we didn't know enough = we pin-point what we didn't know = we learn more.

And yes, the endeavor required to build something like this would be ground-breaking and probably cost a lot to create, and would it even be worth it? Would it even work on our current hardware? Would it even work on super computers? I don't know.


Edited by Osvir, 24 September 2013 - 06:13 PM.


#6
Orogun01

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I hope you're not talking about the crappy American remake with Tom Cruise.
 

There are some issues with VR, particularly how it gets depicted on fiction. Namely from having such an extensive knowledge of the brain's working that allows to create software that interacts with machines, and the fact that the processors need to exceed the speed of thought processes. We are still very far away from true VR.

The Occulus Rift will change the industry in that a lot of the tricks that developers use for games will be rendered obsolete due to depth perception.

 

You may want to read about the Singularity and transhumanism, the Singularity is a term that was coined by Isaac Asimov for the moment when human consciousness is uploaded into a machine.



#7
Osvir

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Haha I am talking about that crappy remake that I didn't even know was a remake with Tom Cruise. Though I liked the movie, mostly for the idea, didn't think much about the acting. 

It was a great concept that the movie explored. Yes, we are very far away from "true" VR but we are well on our way towards it. Sony is also developing their own VR, I believe it's only a question before Microsoft begins with it. In a sense, Apple is also developing towards a VR experience in their own way (Google Glass).

Interesting about Singularity, I'll be sure to read up on it. I remember reading an article which concluded it's analysis with the ability to upload your consciousness, something like "The Next 25 Years in Technology". I couldn't find the exact article but googling for it I find many articles going for the same mindset written around 2007-2008. 19 more years and we'll see :p



#8
Walsingham

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We are all aware that the senses can be deceived, the eyes fooled. But how can we be sure our senses are not being deceived at any particular time, or even all the time? Might I just be a brain in a tank somewhere, tricked all my life into believing in the events of this world by some insane computer? And does my life gain or lose meaning based on my reaction to such solipsism?

Project PYRRHO, Specimen 46, Vat 7
Activity Recorded M.Y. 2302.22467
TERMINATION OF SPECIMEN ADVISED

 

Gratefully retreived from the Alpha Centauri quotes here.


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#9
Osvir

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*shrug* Not anyone else but you can answer that. Cliche but true. It is your life after all? Right? (Unless you are in a brain tank somewhere of course :p) Isn't the body just a brain tank, if we are to take it to that level?

Many times we fool our own senses as well, rationalizing for our own sake. Turning a white lie into truth. Making sense of the senseless. The Placebo Effect is a good example as well.

But to further your thread of thought: I don't think it matters much whether we are deceived or if we deceive ourselves or whatnot. "What is reality?" is a question with many answers. "What is the meaning of life?" etc. etc.

Does it really matter much? For some, maybe, and many get engulfed in it (I engulfed myself in the question and was depressed for almost 2 years asking the question and trying to figure out what to do with my life. Did it help me? Well maybe, everything in life is a lesson). What matters most, in my opinion, is what you can do.

"What is reality?" is a passive philosophical question that has no real tangible answer that might or might not expand awareness & scientific intelligence. Maybe it's just a rite of passage to learn to "accept" reality for what it is to the self *shrug* "What can I do with my reality?" is an active philosophical question that I can do something with and improve. If we are living in "inception" already, what does it matter? Would it somehow be better to be outside of it? Or can we do something within it to enhance humanity and the reality we are living in and the universe we are living in? When do we stop?

As a race, does humanity improve by asking the question "What is reality?" maybe, maybe not. Do we improve by asking the question "What can we do with our reality?". Yes. I believe so. "God is the Answer to Everything" is a form of ignorance, but it also enlightenment. What is "God"? I personally prefer to call it "Energy". The Life Force. Everything is "God" a.k.a. "Energy". What makes the plant grow? God? No. The transferal of energy from one location to another makes the plant grow.

Why is there a war against the machine in Matrix? Because the humans are slaves? Because humanity deserves better than we are being treated in that tale? That we are prisoners? There's a different side to that coin: The Machines being batteries and slaves to our living standards as we are living right now. Does it matter more or less in the greater picture who is on top? From an omnipresent observant perspective, would it matter if Humans were on top or if Machines were on top?

When or if you watch a football game, how much "meaning" does it have that one or the other wins if you are watching neutrally or just casually?

As for uploading our consciousness to machines, indirectly & spiritually we have been doing this since we learned to write on cave walls. Can you see or feel the spirit of the neanderthal on those wall paintings? Can you bend time in your mind and imagine returning to that wall and gain the perspective and potential thought what the caveman was thinking when he chose to write on the wall, and question with what purpose he chose to write on the wall? Is that a fragment of the caveman's consciousness or your imagination? Are we uploading fragments of our "consciousness" on these forums as we hold our discussion, share our ideas and laughs?

do think that the Occulus Rift and all future first gen VR will carry with it a very negative effect to many people all over the world. Losing the sense of what is real and what is not. TotalBiscuit, again, mentioned that if he didn't look closely at the props around him he was sure it was real things, an effect caused by simply putting a "blindfold" on from reality. His perception got tricked and his consciousness was moved into the game for the duration of his session. What happens when people begin to immerse themselves into Virtual Reality and believes that Reality is not "Real"?

Avatar touches this question as well, when Jake Sully begins to question his human reality a la "I begin to feel that out there is the reality and this is the dream" in one of his video logs. Eventually he does go all way and becomes a Na'vi too. He uploads his consciousness into the machine. Subliminal messaging? :p the Singularity Orogun spoke of, eventually we'll go there (or so I believe).



#10
Orogun01

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One of my fav shows which now bears relevance to the discussion. 
Pro tip: Morgan Freeman is in it.

http://www.dailymoti...xvid-afg_school


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#11
Amentep

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If a virtual reality is indistinguishable from reality then it is reality for as long as the person is in that virtual world.

The problem is in creating something that is indistinguishable.

#12
Tale

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Whenever I hear about speculations like this, the only thing that comes to my mind is that it would be danged inefficient. A perfect simulation requires more resources to create than the actual thing. Thermodynamics work against you at that scale.

Imperfect simulations have more value.

#13
Walsingham

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If you REALLY want to blow your mind, forget acid.

 

[I thought I was going to talk about the stroop effect, but it turns out I've misremembered the name]

 

Get some identical sticks, and colour the ends in different colours - red, mauve, green, etc.

 

Hold you head still, looking straight ahead. Have a friend move one of the sticks from behind your head  in an orbit about 8-12 inches out. Remember NOT to move your eyes. Try to direct your attention internally. When you can see the colour of the stick, say so, and have your friend make a note of whether you were correct or not.

 

Provided you don't cheat you will find that althoughyou think you can see colour out to a wide angle, in fact you are almost always wrong at the extreme angle.

 

To confirm this you can repeat, and move the coloured sticks round to the front. They actually 'change' colour. :)

 

Basically, your eyes don't have red-green sensitive portions away from the centre of the retina. When we think we see in colour, we often aren't at the fringes. It's being simulated.

 

EDIT: It occurs to me that if I got the original name wrong I might have misremembered the entire bloody exercise. Which would be entertaining.


Edited by Walsingham, 25 September 2013 - 02:34 PM.


#14
Osvir

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I think I get the picture still. Real life magicians play a lot with the illusion of the eyes and mind. Tricking our perceptions in a similar way.

Another easy test that you can do by yourself is to draw a stick figure on the corner of your notebook and then flick through all the pages, and you get an animation frame depending on what you drew.

There's also the bird in the cage (a flat and round piece of wood), on one side draw a bird, on the other a cage (I saw it in a movie first, but I've also seen it irl). Get a thread and pull it through, then you're supposed to spin the wood fast and then you'll see a bird in a cage.



#15
Walsingham

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Yeah, but DUDE. You aren't actually seeing the whole of your visual arc in colour. Even as you are reading this. Isn't that freaky?



#16
Orogun01

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Yeah, but DUDE. You aren't actually seeing the whole of your visual arc in colour. Even as you are reading this. Isn't that freaky?

Not really, I realized a long time ago that my body hates me.



#17
Walsingham

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If I were to have a relationship with my body it would be that of a douchebag to his long suffering girlfriend.



#18
josan motierre

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It could never be real. That is because it would always be a simulation of reality. However, it could fool a lot of people.

 

You'd need one hell of a RAM chip to store all the variables and one hell of a CPU to dynamically check everything. Honestly, I can't think of any hardware or software EVER being able to do it. Even if you could get hardware that could store such an immense amount of data and retrieve it fast enough, no human could complete the necessary code. It'd take thousands of lifetimes. If it were to be done, humans would start it but then probably use a very powerful computer and genetic algorithms to code everything. This would complete it faster than humans ever could.

 

I think you'd find that to approach such a project you would need to use an Object Orientated paradigm, and I shudder just thinking of one of the most basic of classes: an atom. There'd be more variables just inside this one class than I can think of. I am a programmer, but not a scientist. It'd require collaboration and cooperation between every specialist upon the world to work upon it. Off the top of my head, you'd require at least the coordinates for the atom in 3D space, its mass, how much radiation it emits and how many protons and neutrons are circulating around it. Every other piece of matter in this simulation would be a class made up of thousands of atoms all aligned in a certain way to create an object. Think about it that every time a force acted upon an object, that the positions of billions and trillions of atoms would all have to be updated in relation to each other. It almost blows the mind.

 

Furthermore, imagine that you get all the physics right. That is probably the easiest part. The complex stuff would then be simulating humans and creating the AI for them. We still can't make properly intelligent AI now when we focus on just that. However, i wonder if when all the physics were right if the AI problem would solve itself... copy a brain in a perfect representation and you'd have an artificial intelligence. We still wouldn't understand how it works, though.

 

However, if you think too hard about these things... is anything really even real? Everything that we see is simply light. Everything that we experience is filtered through our limited senses... and not immediately, either. There is a delay while our brain processes everything. Our present is just a recent past. I mean, we can't even see things like gravity or time. Only the effects of these things. Of everything that happens in the universe, we can only perceive a miniscule fraction of it, and comprehend even less. I have long been of the opinion that since we evolved on earth, to comprehend just earth, it may be beyond humans to ever naturally comprehend the entire universe. However, artifically... perhaps.

 

We are really very, very small and insignificant things compared to the universe. Oh I find that really so comforting, that everything that could ever happen here on earth is so, so SO insignificant compared to some of the other things out there. A roaming black hole could swallow us whole before we even noticed. And even if we did notice, the world's governments are so unprepared that we'd all just enjoy spaghettification.



#19
Calax

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I think I get the picture still. Real life magicians play a lot with the illusion of the eyes and mind. Tricking our perceptions in a similar way.

Another easy test that you can do by yourself is to draw a stick figure on the corner of your notebook and then flick through all the pages, and you get an animation frame depending on what you drew.

There's also the bird in the cage (a flat and round piece of wood), on one side draw a bird, on the other a cage (I saw it in a movie first, but I've also seen it irl). Get a thread and pull it through, then you're supposed to spin the wood fast and then you'll see a bird in a cage.

True, but there is a significant difference between simply triking your mind into filling in the gaps in an illustration or illusion, and totally hijacking your senses in their entirety.  As in, orders of magnitude.

 

Part of the reason this would be so hard is because you couldn't just program a simple linear lifeline for people to follow. Instead you'd have to set it up to act as an open world, which requires SO much extra work and manipulation it's not even funny.







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