Do we live in a game-world or in a brane-world?
This simple cosmoforming picture is equivalent to the simulation hypothesis.
I have been revisiting the simulation hypothesis recently, see my review of “The Simulated Multiverse” by Rizwan Virk and references therein. TLDR: the simulation hypothesis is the idea that our reality is a simulation computed in another reality. In simpler words, the world is some kind of game-world and we are characters in the game.
Fine with me, but perhaps you want to be a real physical thing in the physical universe instead of a simulated game character. If so, read on.
According to string theory, our universe is a membrane (brane) in a higher-dimensional space (bulk). See my book “Tales of the Turing Church” (Chapter 11).
Advanced beings in the bulk could conceivably design, build, and run a brane-world. Perhaps our universe is a brane-world created and managed by ultra-advanced engineers in the bulk?
This cosmoforming hypothesis is essentially equivalent to the simulation hypothesis, but everything happens in one universe: the universe of string theory. This is, I think, the simplest visual picture of a simulation (or simulation-like) cosmology.
You may be thinking that string theory, with its 10 or 11 dimensions and intricate geometries beyond our imagination, is much more complicated than the simulation hypothesis. But you don’t need to visualize all that. Just visualize our brane-world as the two-dimensional surface of a big soap bubble in the bulk, and think that our bubble world has been built by engineers in the bulk. Look at the picture below.
The engineers in the bulk use gravitational signals that propagate across the bulk (other known interactions are confined to our brane) to interact with our brane-world. They created our world and continue to scan, monitor, and act upon our world. This is equivalent to the simulation hypothesis, and equivalent to religion.
In my talk at the 2019 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association in Salt Lake City, I speculated on how the engineers in the bulk (or future human engineers able to access the bulk) could bring one of my ancestors back to life by copying him from the past of our brane-world and pasting him into their present (our future), or into another (better?) brane-world, or perhaps into the higher-dimensional reality of the bulk itself.
I think reality is One and undivided. In “The World in the Wave Function: A Metaphysics for Quantum Physics,” Alyssa Ney argues that what is fundamental is one big quantum wave function and “we and all of the objects around us are ultimately constituted out of the wave function.” According to the even more abstract but sober and elegant “Mad-Dog Everettianism” proposal (1, 2), “what is fundamental does not directly involve spacetime or propagating quantum fields, but simply a vector moving smoothly through a very large-dimensional Hilbert space.”
But the One undivided reality can be conveniently (though imprecisely) described with derived emerging concepts like particles and quantum fields, strings and brane-worlds, parallel Eerett worlds, or computed worlds. If so, the simulated universe or multiverse picture, the brane-world picture or other cosmoforming pictures, are somewhat equivalent.