Who Is Who?


In video games, especially first person shooters, there are players, and there are non-player characters (NPCs) – computer-generated folk who flesh out the story but they are run via AI, and aren’t being played by a real person.

If the world as we know it is one big simulation, then one of the questions that must be asked is who are the players, and who are the NPCs?

The first possibility is that we are all players. That fits quite well because most people think all people are just people.

The second possibility is that we are all NPCs – and we are merely pawns in a simulation being run for unknown reasons.

Neither of those possibilities are worthy of pursuit, because ultimately the simulations are no different for us than if we were in a reality.

The third possibility is that some are and some aren’t. So who is who?

I presume I am a player, because an NPC would probably be programmed to not question their reality, otherwise the simulation loses its focus. (Yes, there is the possibility that the focus is seeing if NPCs can work out they are in a simulation…)

I also presume that real players are the minority. That is because NPCs exist to flesh out a scenario in a FPS video game, because it is easier to program and more economical to have it that way.

Historically there have been some very different individuals who have “stirred things up” or advanced the simulation somehow. Think Buddha, Jesus, Leonardo Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Einstein etc. They stand out like a sore thumb and suggest to me that they were introduced when the simulation stagnated, that they are players with special privileges. You could argue that the only reason we have societies focussed on “progress” is because there is no point running a simulation that doesn’t progress.

Aside from them, I have a few ideas about who are players and who are not:


  • Might fight the system / break rules
  • More likely to be keen on physical and mental pleasures, including drug and alcohol addictions
  • Includes anyone on the Autistic scale, or pretty much anyone who could be judged as being defective
  • Singer-songwriters
  • Writers/Poets
  • Rebels and activists, or anyone who takes an individual stance that puts their life in danger


Purely from my own observations and totally guesswork

  • Cyclists and rowers – those who do so obsessively
  • Bus drivers – it has occurred to me that nobody knows one
  • Osteopaths – they all seem to be too nice and perfect, unlike GPs
  • People who look the same – not exactly the same but who feel familiar because you have known people almost the same as them
  • Adherents of organised religion
  • Politicians – only about 10% of them seem to have a soul, and the way they talk is surely programmed
  • Actors – ditto
  • Dancers – ditto
  • Classical singers – ditto
  • People who don’t have strong dislikes

Clearly the simulation will be a failure if the Players can tell who the NPCs are. Unless the aim of the game is to prove that we live in a simulation.

Or, just like Westworld the TV show, perhaps the players can beat the system, or hosts.

Whoever cracks this puzzle will be adept at spotting patterns, and perhaps won’t be able to prove them – just like modern AI systems that will just know the answer and not be able to show the path their logic took…



Is This The Easter Egg?

If we live in a simulation, proving it might be impossible. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to find proof, and not a day goes by without me actively looking for it.

For me the most likely proofs will be either:

a) the simulation’s internal logic breaking down – some customisation that doesn’t ring true


b) an easter egg – some little conceit from the designers that nobody is supposed to find

If the designers figured we would never land on Mars, or ever create cameras good enough to see the planet close up, then perhaps they slipped in a serial number?

The original NASA pic is here:

I would prefer finding similar on Earth, where it can be visited and beyond dispute.

Virtual Universe 1.0

I’m sure there have been less detailed virtual universes previously, but this one – Illustris – feels like it might lead to better and better representations as time goes on and computing power increases. It looks great (pic above).

The stats:

– 5 years of work
– 3 months of computer run time (2000 years if run on a regular PC)
– 12 billion pixels
– 41,000 galaxies
– 350 million light-years in each direction

Every few years a new group of scientists will build on previous simulations, with the latest technology, and the resolution will improve.

At some stage we will see life begin on numerous simulated worlds…

Family Tree Simulation?

Here’s a new twist on the simulation theory…

In a future where simulations of our world are so precise that telling them apart from the real thing is almost impossible – what if people ran a simulation to investigate/view the calculated lives of their ancestors?

If such a concept took off, with millions of simulations being run, and they were as good as the real thing – the odds of us being one of those simulations is very high.

The original article is at H+ Magazine.

While I think this idea has great merit for a future time when everything is recorded and stored, I can’t see there being enough building blocks to create a simulation of our time that would be a fair reflection of reality, in terms of ancestry.


A wave of new games use a technique called photogrammetry to produce digital replicas of the real world. The technique can be used to recreate rooms, objects, streets and even whole cities.

…Photogrammetry works by gathering hundreds of photographs of an object or scene taken from multiple angles and combining them into a 3D model. Common points between photos are joined up to create a basic shell and this virtual object is then skinned with the overlapping images.

“You not only end up with the exact shape of the object but the exact look of the object as it appears in the photos,” says Andrew Poznanski of The Astronauts. The results are so accurate that photogrammetry has been used to improve aerial mapping and forensic analysis of crime scenes. [Source: New Scientist, 12 July 2014]

So, the idea here is that a virtual world can be recreated from still images taken in a real world.

Lots of images, so many that it would probably be obvious that the shots were being taken.

Clearly our current world could not be created using this technique – unless time-travellers brought back cameras and filmed the entirety of our planet without being noticed…

However, given that this technology is now being used, anyone born beyond today has the possibility of living in a world recreated from photographs.

My First Experiment

Roughly a decade ago, I was travelling through the south-west of the South Island, NZ.

There weren’t many people about, and there wasn’t much to see or do. Just harsh nature and some road.

I parked at what was the southern most accessible (by car) point, and when for a 15 minute walk to the beach. I was completely alone. I had been thinking about the we are not real concept quite a bit…

At the beach, convinced that nobody was nearby, I yelled to the sky: If this isn’t real, show me a sign!

I had been thinking that UFOs were shown only to those that wouldn’t be believed, and only in isolation. So the powers-that-be had a great opportunity to do the same for me.

Nothing happened.

I hiked back to my hire car, figuring I was an idiot, and not expecting to think such thoughts again. At the car park was now a second car. No people were around, but the car’s licence plate stood out – it was custom and it said DAZIGN. The Sign!

For a few minutes I thought something extraordinary had occurred – I asked for a sign and received it. However, elsewhere on the car’s exterior were words about the business – a hairdressing company. The name fitted the industry. I figured that if I were to wait for the car to leave, and follow it, I would realise that it was nothing to do with me and my quest. For the powers-that-be to create this business just to respond to me seemed unlikely.

Just like the craziness of going back in time and affecting the future – introducing a car, person and business into the current simulation would have so many butterfly effects that I couldn’t see it being feasible. Showing me a UFO on that lonely desolate beach would have been far easier…

That licence plate was just a freaky coincidence 🙁

Paranormal Phenomena could be the answer?

According to Wikipedia:

Paranormal is a general term (coined c. 1915–1920) that designates experiences that lie outside “the range of normal experience or scientific explanation” or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science’s current ability to explain or measure

Scientists expect that anything paranormal can be explained by science, eventually. And if we lived in a non-virtual world, that would make sense. However, a simulation could involve factors that are not represented in the physical world…

Take karma, for example. Many people, myself included, believe that (crudely stating) if you do good deeds you accumulate karma points, redeemable when you need them. In a video game, your karma would not actually appear in the physical world – it would be tracked in the background, in the code.

Perhaps the key to discovering the true nature of our non-reality is via paranormal phenomena? That which seems to be a factor in our world, with no connection to physics?

Such phenomena includes:

  • Ghosts
  • Psychic abilities
  • Telepathy
  • Out-of-Body Experience

On a personal note, I am starting to believe that there is a (weak) force in play in our world called Care. Basically the more you care about the a being, object or outcome, the more likely that it will exist the way that you like it. Not the ridiculous art of manifestation, but rather affecting change by 0.0001% – so small that an individual can only make a difference when they odds of a negative outcome is equally as small.

Example: in a thunderstorm your favourite tree is vulnerable – it could be struck by lightning. The scientific odds are 1 in 100,000. But because you care about the continued existence of that tree, your weak Care force adjusts those odds down to say 1 in 98,000. It is real, it is conducted behind the scenes (in the software but not in the physical world), and it is not significant enough to be proven scientifically.

What I like about Care, as opposed to telepathy and ghosts, is that it is based on intent. If a large enough experiment could be conducted, perhaps something could be proved.

I imagine a life-or-death medical operation that has a well-proven 50/50 chance of success. Show the operation live on TV and the general public should project care towards the situation. The odds should improve. Run the experiment enough times and the survival rate could improve.

Even if I am wrong with Care, perhaps one day an experiment will be created that can prove that there is cause and effect that exists outside the physical world. Yes there is the “spooky action at a distance” of quantum physics, but I’m thinking something the layperson would understand and accept.

Let’s find a force that is acting outside of the known laws of physics.

Irrational Numbers from Another Dimension?

One of the many strange things that we get from mathematics is irrational numbers, for example pi π.

But as someone wrote at  Objectivism Online:

irrational numbers are an artifact of the method used to count and so it is entirely unjustified to claim that an irrational ratio such as pi does not exist. In a base pi numbering system the numerical value assigned to pi would be 1 and other different values would become irrational. Irrationality per se is interesting because it exists and is not a problem to be explained away but rather understood.

What if in another dimension they counted in base pi? To them it would make perfect sense. Perhaps our maths is a subset of that from another dimension where it makes sense? And just like we cannot imagine what it would be like living in a 4D world, we also cannot make sense of irrational numbers…

The Motivation Behind the Simulation

According to Nick Bostrom, there is the potential for future generations of our species to create simulations, one of which could be the world we live in:

Many works of science fiction as well as some forecasts by serious technologists and futurologists predict that enormous amounts of computing power will be available in the future. Let us suppose for a moment that these predictions are correct. One thing that later generations might do with their super-powerful computers is run detailed simulations of their forebears or of people like their forebears. Because their computers would be so powerful, they could run a great many such simulations.

Later in his article, Are You Living in a Computer Simulation, Bostrom shares some reasons why post-humans might not run simulations – there might be ethical dilemmas, or they might get the same enjoyment or rewards more easily from other endeavors.

Missing from his paper are reasons for running a simulation – what would their motivation be? Having the technology doesn’t mean it is acted upon. I have the technology to paint my car purple, or to murder someone, but I am not motivated to do either…

Here are some reasons why an advanced civilization might run a simulation (like ours perhaps is), as well as why they might choose to end it.


1.1 A game that has a challenge for a player or players.

a) The player is a human character in the game – it could be just a single player in our world, or there could be many. Regardless, the majority of humans would therefore be NPC (non-player characters), effectively different in some way – perhaps something that could be defined or noticed.

b) The player is non-human. For all we know, the game could be about being the cat that gets the nicest owners. Or about ants.

c) The player fiddles with the world, but is not in it – like the current computer game The Sims. The player could affect change in our world by giving characters inspiration, creating acts of weather, acts of God, or by introducing special characters who could affect the entire planet (Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Einstein…)

1.2 A simulation that is observed only, like how we watch goldfish in a bowl.

The total number of simulations ever run would be dependent on how many people wanted to play (ultimately limited by population size), and how long games took to play in their time. And of course how long the technologically advanced civilization lasted for.


Future humans might be facing extinction due to a deadly virus that is spreading rapidly. Perhaps by running a billion simulations they can locate an environment in which a character can come up with an antidote? There are probably an unlimited number of scenarios in which survival of the real world depends on a mass of simulations to solve a problem.


Future humans may have lost the emotions and feelings that make us so peculiar and interesting. Perhaps simulations are training tools, to help them re-learn what it means to love, hate, laugh and cry?


I can’t see how this is possible. The motivation might be there to create a past era and observe it to learn more about history, but to perfectly create that era you would already need to know it completely. Even if you wished to create alternate histories (as many novels do these days), setting up the start point completely accurately would be too difficult. Just as the butterfly effect can change our world in unpredictable ways, it also means that getting a tiny thing wrong when setting up the simulation could create major errors.

I guess it is remotely possible that someone could travel back in time and scan the world, then return back to their time and upload it to a computer…


If the technology exists to run a simulation like ours, then it could easily exist to run it on fast forward – especially for the early days when life was first developing on Earth and wasn’t as complex. For all we know, an hour in a future human’s life is enough to run the simulation from the Big Bang through until today. And a player or researcher could step in at any time and slow it all down to suit them. They might also need to switch it off at bed time…


If we live in a game, then it could one in which a single player plays a single lifetime (or a lesser period) – after which the game probably ends. However we don’t know when they are starting to play. It could be any time between now and infinity. Or perhaps her role has already ended, but the simulation keeps running so she can see what happens to her descendants?

Or if it is a multi-player game, it could run continuously with new players joining/ leaving at any time. Success (and therefore the game ending) could involve the amassing of riches, or political control, or some kind of prize. Perhaps we are all looking for the key to immortality, or the Holy Grail, or a purple cow…

The simulation could revolve around the destiny of the human species – with the game ending either when we fail / become extinct, or when we succeed at something.

That success could be technological. Two possibilities that appeal to me are:

a) When we explore beyond our solar system – perhaps by reaching another star. Because the simulation won’t be able to generate an infinite universe, and building it ad hoc as we explore might have its own problems, the simulation might have to end when we go looking too far from planet Earth.

b) Our technology becomes advanced enough to create a simulation like the one we are in.

Regardless, the most likely scenario is that our simulation has a finite duration. But it is also unlikely to be ending in our lifetimes unless some critical achievement occurs.

Finally, there’s the idea of self-fulfillment. This could be a game where the task is to prove we are in a simulation. And by looking into this topic, I might bring about our demise if I stumble across real proof. But hey, it’s only a game, right?


Dark Matter & The Four Dimensions of the Universe: A Concept

I’ve been thinking about dimensions, frameworks and basically how our universe might be constructed, be it real or artificial. What got me started was wondering about dark matter and dark energy. If we can’t see these, perhaps they are on a different dimension?

[I’m not qualified in any scientific field, so this is just a hypothesis at best]

Our universe exists of 3 dimensions – 2D, 3D and 4D. We perceive the 3D world, we can’t see the 4D world, and we should be able to see the 2D world except it might be too small or fragile to notice.

The 2ND Dimension

  • 1.665% of matter in our galaxy
  • The framework / lattice / layout
  • We should be able to see it, but perhaps it is too small?
  • Possibly every sub-atomic particle lives in its own circular 2D environment
  • Being 2D, it can’t see the 3D world, but perhaps it can sense it somehow?
  • The source or realm of quantum physics?

The 3RD Dimension

  • 4.6157% of matter in our galaxy
  • The user experience

The 4TH Dimension

  • 98.336% of matter in our galaxy
  • Dark Matter
  • Ether
  • God
  • Universal Mind
  • Too big to see, or perhaps we can’t see it because it has 4 dimensions?


Web Design: Layout / User Experience / Content
Religion: Hell / Earth / Heaven
Art: Canvas / Paint / Brush

Our world is like the Internet, where the Internet is also the observer/reader/visitor. Creator and viewer at the same time.


I think the relative size of the dimensions should be square or cubes. So the numbers above are just a guess based on one of many patterns:

The amount of 3D matter is the cube of 2D matter. Adding 2D and 4D gets 100%.

I can’t explain why!


Watch the start of this video to see how a 2D being would see a 3D object intersect with their world.

Or read more here:

Basically, in a 3D world we should be able to see all of a 2D world, but the 2D world can only see us if we pass through it. If we are an irregular shape, then we would appear to grow, shrink and change.I think the 2D folk would see the object as 1D?

So I presume it works the same if we move up one dimension. A 4D world can see us, be we can only see them if they pass through our world. And they would also appear to grow, shrink and change to us. I think us 3D folk would see the object as 2D?

In the video, at any time the man can remove is hand, seemingly vanishing from the 2D world. Presumably a 4D being could be seen and then vanish from our world. Could this be an explanation of ghosts and/or UFOs?

If they appeared 2D for us, then UFOs need to be high in the sky, or else we would notice their 2D nature. Perhaps ghosts can’t be seen side-on?

Quantum Physics and UFOs

Seemingly little particles can sense when they are being observed. Perhaps in quantum physics, 2D beings can’t see anything from our 3D world, but they can sense our presence?

Likewise, perhaps some people and animals can sense 4D beings that are nearby, even though we can’t see them?

Graham Hancock suggests that 2% of tribal people become shamans, and 2% of modern society witness UFOs. Perhaps both have the ability to sense 4D beings nearby, and imagine that they are actually seeing them? Could explain ghosts as well.

Further complicating this, a 4D being could deliberately be seen, visibly, by choosing to intersect with our world – just as the man in the video chooses to push his arm through Flatland.