Alternatively, perhaps this uber-civilization has learned (to within an acceptable margin of error) how all the different particles in their universe behave and their simulation is nothing more than a particle simulation. At some point in the universe, everything comes down to the protons, neutrons and electrons we are all made of (and gamma rays, photons, etc., i'm not a physicist, so I might be way off here).Originally posted by Sang-drax
My point was that the outermost computer must be able to simulate every civilization possible -- a close to infinite amount. Thus, it isn't possible to recursively simulate civilizations.
As with the study of biology and chemistry, we've learned how particular groupings of these particles interact, and so the simulation could use some of those interactions as sort of "macros" to optimize the simulation when it can, but in the end, it's still only emulating particles (albeit so many particles that we would indicate it as a number like 9.99x10^999999999999999...etc.).
In addition, who says the computer they are simulating us on has to be fast? I could theoretically install "The Sims" on an old 486 with a Diamond Stealth VGA graphics card and a SB-16 sound card (assuming The Sims didn't complain about running so slowly). Then, when I run it, to watch my sim walk from one room to another might take 1/2 an hour. But if the sim is truly consious, she wouldn't notice the lag, rather she would notice her own constant stream of thought.
This uber-civilization may not even be particularly interested in our thoughts, and perhaps might not even notice a civilization forming, it might be running the simulation to see how a star is formed, a galaxy is formed, they might have their view set to that of a black-hole to try and understand what it's doing, etc.
I've been playing around with Celestia (check it out if you like Astronomy, http://www.shatters.net/celestia/
it is a beautiful program!) and this has given me a whole new perspective on things. When you start, you are looking at Jupiter's moon Io. As you zoom out from Io, if you have Jupiter in view, you see just how small Io is compared to Jupiter. By the time you can see Jupiter getting smaller, Io has become nothing more than a spec on the screen. By the time Jupiter is becoming that same spec, you'll notice that the distances you are travelling to notice such things are astronomical (actually, they're measured in Astronomical units! )
Just by looking at this, we may be an unintentional by-product of this uber-civilization's particle simulation, and in fact, our uber-civilization could be a particle simulation of some super-uber-civilization and so forth and so forth.
While this is highly unlikely (unless this super-duper-uber-civilization is extremely long lived), this whole simulation could be running on some archaic computer equivalent to a TRS-80 with a whole-heck-of-a-lot of memory with just some basic rules per particle type (similar to the LIFE program where a cell dies if it has 0, 1 or >3 neighbors...)
Hopefully my rambling actually makes some sense.