#the matrix

The Economist:

The original paper that sparked the creation of Bitcoin has since been supplemented by layers of agreed-upon protocol, updated regularly by the system’s participants. The protocol, like the currency, is a fiction they accept as real, because rejection by a large proportion of users—be they banks, exchanges, speculators or miners—could cause the whole system to collapse. Mr Hearn notes that he and other programmers who work on Bitcoin’s software have no special authority in the system. Instead, proposals are floated, implemented in software, and must then be taken up by 80% of nodes before becoming permanent—at which point blocks from other nodes are rejected. “The rules of the system are not set in stone,” he says. The adoption of improvements is up to the community. Bitcoin is thus both flexible and fragile.

Is it just me, or does this entire paragraph reads like the explanation of The Matrix?

Zeeya Merali:

Seth Lloyd, a quantum-mechanical engineer at MIT, estimated the number of “computer operations” our universe has performed since the Big Bang — basically, every event that has ever happened. To repeat them, and generate a perfect facsimile of reality down to the last atom, would take more energy than the universe has. 

“The computer would have to be bigger than the universe, and time would tick more slowly in the program than in reality,” says Lloyd. “So why even bother building it?” 

But others soon realized that making an imperfect copy of the universe that’s just good enough to fool its inhabitants would take far less computational power. In such a makeshift cosmos, the fine details of the microscopic world and the farthest stars might only be filled in by the programmers on the rare occasions that people study them with scientific equipment. As soon as no one was looking, they’d simply vanish. 

In theory, we’d never detect these disappearing features, however, because each time the simulators noticed we were observing them again, they’d sketch them back in. 

That realization makes creating virtual universes eerily possible, even for us. Today’s supercomputers already crudely model the early universe, simulating how infant galaxies grew and changed. Given the rapid technological advances we’ve witnessed over past decades — your cell phone has more processing power than NASA’s computers had during the moon landings — it’s not a huge leap to imagine that such simulations will eventually encompass intelligent life. 


Tero Kuittinen for Fox News:

The ambitious goal of having SimCity populated by “real people” may thus be backfiring quite spectacularly — partly because the Sims don’t act rationally, but also because of the complications of trying to find the shortest route to nearest job, home or school in the most rudimentary way.

All of this sort of reminds me of The Architect (and Agent Smith) in The Matrix trilogy explaining to Neo that their first simulations of Earth failed because they were too perfect and the humans rejected them.

As a long-time SimCity diehard (who is holding out for the Mac version) is all pretty disappointing to hear. Of course, not all the reviews are bad — some are positively glowing (though be sure to read the updates).