Incredible Simulation Technology

04 Dec 2017 19:48

Back in October I posted an article rebutting the claim that a lack of computing power was proof that the world is not simulated. The summary of that article was that we currently lack the computing power necessary to simulate a universe at a specified and desired level of accuracy. But this says nothing about future endeavors. Since that claim, there has been a persistence of topics relating to the amount of computing power needed to sustain a realistic simulation.

Moore's law is the observation that computer technology doubles about every two years. This observation was named after Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel. In 1965 Gordon Moore projected that this rate of growth would continue for at least another decade. Moore spent the first decade refining the projected model and between 1975 and 2012 the model held. However in 2015 the model reached a point of saturation and since then, there has been a race to come up with a new system of computing. Some companies are even exploring the possibility of organic computers using a combination of hardware technology and cellular biology. In other cases Quantum Computers are being developed but they are incredibly expensive and there are only a handful in existence.

What about software

This saturation of computing power and how it effects the simulation argument led me to consider whether or not semi-conductor technology was the best way to handle simulations. This in turn led me to further question whether or not the software technology commonly used today is the best solution. Surprisingly, I found a company that is completely changing the way software interacts with hardware.

In video games, a type of visual simulation, we use polygons. While in a video game, if you stare at the ground directly below your character, then you are probably looking at around 8 polygons that make up the graphical representation of the ground. The more polygons present, the greater the detail, and the greater the demand in computing power. For example, 2 polygons will require double the computing power as a single polygon. Programmers use various methods for handling this; one example is the restriction of objects within your field of view, this is why some objects don't appear in front of you until you reach a distance threshold, otherwise if you're in a world with 1 million objects, then all 1 million objects need to be loaded simultaneously, but this would bring most computers to a grinding halt. So instead, only a portion of the objects are populated based upon your proximity to them, and whether or not they fall within your field of view.

However, there is a small Australian company called Euclideon that has been quietly developing an entirely new system that solves these problems using a new type of software engineering. This company discovered that the best way to handle visual simulations so that they require less computing power, was to mimic real life. So rather than animate the world using polygons, they are animating the world with a type of virtual atom. The difference is this: two polygons require twice the computing power as one polygon, but 2 atoms does not increase the computation needs beyond that of 1. Furthermore, 2 billion atoms does not increase the computation needs! So while the rest of the world has been looking to increase the computational power of computers, Euclideon has been working on software technology that requires less computational power. This is an incredible breakthrough in simulation technology, and it is based on the world we live in.

This was such an incredible claim, that when Euclideon first announced their technology, no one believed them. 10 years later, they are now opening up holo-decks for consumer use that utilize the very technology that others said was impossible. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is that their animations do not require hardware acceleration like so many games do today, most PC's can run their simulations.

I have often said that it is the gaming industry that will get us closer to a realistic simulation, and Euclideon is a gaming company.

Here is their story: