The whole observable universe cannot be a simulation by some future version of humans or by computers using humans as a source of converting biomass into energy and providing a richer simulation. The Matrix movies were convinced as a transgender allegory and as a critique of capitalism. A critique which would apply to any hierarchical system from religion to the operation of any real socialist state ever. A question to ask is could something like the matrix ever really exist? Could some future human society simulate the whole universe, would they even need to?


First things first yes, the matrix is a transgender allegory. It was made by two at the time closeted transgender women. That is what they intended. The fact that so many straight cisgender people saw themselves and their struggles in it means it worked! The idea of an allegorical story like this is to get people to see themselves in the lives of others and empathize. As this video by the youtuber Jessie Gender argues.

Jessie also argues this is a critique of capitalism and speaks as if many human ills, which are rooted in our evolved behavior as the smartest primates, are the fault of capitalism. Since at least the New Deal our system has been a mix of capitalism and socialism. Leaning towards capitalism for most things and with a basic sense of democracy. It worked quite well until we once again had big corporate barons who have outsized power that rivals the government.

The Matrix movies themselves are a critique of the methods of control used by various political and social systems. Not just capitalism even if the creator falsely equates capitalism to corporatism. Capitalism and socialism both have hierarchy. Organized religion and so on. The best methods of control are those which make one feel like a rebel when they are really still being controlled. In our system we can vote out the bums, but the new bums are paid by the same corporatist. In China, and every other socialist country, the party controls everything while owning all the big corporations and talks about the people … while oppressing anyone who speaks up.

This is hinted at in the scene in the second matrix movie where in the “real-world” Neo can raise his hand up and stop several robots from proceeding towards Zion. A scene which was never really explained BUT to the sharp eyed says everything about the movie. In the Matrix movie universe, there is no real world we ever see only layers of simulation inside of simulation. As soon as you think you have rebelled and left the corporate structure you end up with the same basic structure(s) by another name.

As gender critical people have pointed out, with some legitimacy, transgender people by going outside of the strict social constructs of gender can in advertently reinforce them. What they tend to miss is that they themselves have this issue as well. As primates we form hierarchy’s of power of some form, as animals on earth we have sexes and those who are in various ways not in line with those. Either by physiology or psychology.

The greatest system of controls would be the laws of physics themselves which we have no need to assume were placed by anyone. What if they were?

A Limited Simulation May Be Plausible.

An objection I’ve heard to this, and which makes total sense to me as a death kneel for this idea is that to simulate all of the contents of the universe, it would require a computer larger than the universe itself. This is due to storage of data and processing of data. Every qubit of data it would take to describe the universe would have to be encoded, stored, processed, and retrieved in real time. The densest storage medium that can theoretically exist is an event horizon. On the surface of such a horizon, like that of a black hole each tiny area of it called the Planck area would have one qubit of dataThere is a lot of speculative theoretical work on this at the moment. However, this is the simplest assumption and by Occam’s razor the best starting point we must even conceptualize a computer that would have a chance of simulating the universe as we know it.

This computer would have to be powered by some means so that power sources would be even more mass, outside of the universe, to power a computer more massive than the universe. It would need to be bigger than the universe itself due to the amount of information that would be encoded in it.

The very brilliant theoretical astrophysicist Sabine Hossenfelder has done a breakdown of many of the issues beyond what I mentioned.

These are all great objections. What kind of computer code could do the things she says? IT has to be detailed when someone is looking, it has to simulate physical processes in enough detail to fool sentient beings, and it needs to get the physics right all the time.

There is a big hole in my logic and hers too. GAMES

I had accepted this and thought this was done until it dawned on me while watching a video about a game I’ve played for years and seeing the re-release of an earlier iteration of that game. Grand Theft Auto. The re release of GTA had a problem with immersion. Due to the advance of computer hardware, it became possible to see the edges of the world the game was set in. This broke the immersion and made the game less realistic. For example, one could clearly see the Vegas strip from the highest building in San Fransisco (well the in game equivalents.)

Then I started to consider the boundaries of the world of the latest iteration of the game, and the size of the simulation created for Grand Theft Auto 5. The game takes certain measures to keep players inside the sandbox of the game. So long as one stays within bounds the game physics is believable enough to be fun. However if one goes to extremes one can break the simulation without violating the laws of physics within the simulation, for example by modifying the game files. When one does this, taking advantage of the in game physics one can push the boundary and see the in game world break.

Using a quirk of in game physics in GTA online certain vehicles can do a “shunt hop” where they jump a short distance. These can be chained together like the real-world idea of project Orion and used to travel so far out that the simulation breaks.

Ghillie Master by the method of shunt hopping was able to work within the physics of that simulation to demonstrate in a way that to a hypothetical NPC (a “sentient” creature within the simulation) riding with him would show that their world is a fake.

The question is then what size would the simulation have to be based on what we know about the universe we see? The expansion of the universe gets faster with distance from any point of observation. Things which are not gravitationally bound together are expanding away from every other thing faster and faster. The gravitationally bound structure we are a part of is the local group of galaxies.

Everything outside this small cluster of three big galaxies and their satellite galaxies is expanding away from us so fast that we would never reach it even at the speed of light. Arguably even many times the speed of light. If our universe is a simulation, then this horizon is the edge of the simulation beyond which we should see physics break down if we went there ourselves. We’d have to find some way within the laws of physics of this simulation to get to that horizon and only then would we witness the breakdown of those laws.

This, however, restores my fundamental objection to the notion that the universe is being simulated as well as those of Hossenfelder and others. The computer it would take to simulate this local group of galaxies would itself be the same mass or larger than the local group. It would take a civilization willing to harness the power of a number of stars equal to all the ones we see to even come close. The fundamental issue with a real-world Matrix isn’t how to program such a thing. That’s the easy part. Time consuming but easy. The really hard part is having a computer that can run this program in real time. Not only in real time for us, but in a manner that would be useful to the greater intelligence doing it.

A simulation that is incredibly detailed but takes 1000 years to process a day worth of motion isn’t particularly useful.

Systems of control.

The genuine issues raised by the matrix anti capitalism, rebellion against control and being controlled even while rebelling are important. This is why movies have the power they do. It is intended as a transgender allegory but anyone who feels controlled by a larger system can see themselves in it. It is intended as anti-capitalist but certainly applies even to socialist systems, and other systems in which one group imposes structure on others. Lastly there is the use of defying physical laws as a symbol for all the above. In the end though physics wins. Even things we think defy known physics at most reveal to us new laws and new limits.

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