We use formulas to help us understand the "laws" that govern us and our universe. Say that suddenly, unbeknownst to us, a supercomputer was introduced to our Earth that was capable of casting a mass illusion to anything that perceives outside stimuli (humans, frogs, mosquitoes, etc...). The computer is capable to manipulating all types of brains and is even capable of learning new types of brains that evolve or are created.

The computer can create any imaginable effect and apply the illusion within a given area. For example, the computer could create a large stone that doesn't actually exist in outside reality. A human could perceive that stone, pick it up and throw it at another another person and the person would feel the pain of being struck by it.

As another example, the machine creates a bug zapper. A moth's navigational system is manipulated so that it heads toward the source. The moth is "zapped" and it feels all of the same sensations it would if it was actually electrocuted. It's brain is totally seized so that it thinks it's dead. In reality, the moth could move if it were able to break the illusion, but it cannot.

Let's assume the computer isn't actively trying to push us away from discovering it. With this level of mind control, is there any sort of test or theorem humans might create to prove the existence of a reality-warping outside force (in this case, a supercomputer)?

Edit: What method (creation of new formulae?) might someone use to try and explain a new scientific phenomenon that could upheave our understanding of physics as we know them?

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    $\begingroup$ It depends on how exactly the effect functions. For example, if my friend put the illusory rock onto a pressure plate, and I was in a different room reading the output of the pressure plate, would I see anything? Would I smell the rot of someone who thought they were incinerated, but in fact merely died of dehydration? $\endgroup$ Jun 13, 2020 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ Related, and this. $\endgroup$ Jun 13, 2020 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ @SanfordBassett The computer would be capable of synchronizing events, so you would see the rock's "accurate" measurements and you would smell the the incinerated body. The idea is that the computer creates a consistent narrative. $\endgroup$
    – dinorider
    Jun 13, 2020 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Tantalus'touch. The main difference with my question is how we might try to solve for it if a scenario was presented that directly clashed with our current understanding of how the universe functions. $\endgroup$
    – dinorider
    Jun 13, 2020 at 18:42
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    $\begingroup$ Would quantum uncertainty function? If the computer does a 'straight' calculation for everything that happens, it's not far off that something like the double-slit experiment (or a myriad of other tests) would work very differently for objects affected by the supercomputer. $\endgroup$ Jun 13, 2020 at 21:15

1 Answer 1


Not dying of starvation.

If I believe I have dog food (which is illusory dog food) and I feed it to my dog (who also is under mind control and thinks it is good; this is the high end canned food), I will be happy and the dog too.

We are fooled by illusions, me and my dog. But chemistry cannot be fooled. The dog is not hungry but it has not taken in any calories to burn in its metabolic engine. Yet it is still expending calories to run its body. The dog will lose weight. If I continue to feed my dog this illusory dog food it will quietly and happily starve. Illusions will no doubt prevent me or the dog from noticing how thin it is getting. But the dog will starve to death unless someone shows up with some real kibble.

You can't fool chemistry. If organisms could dream themselves full bellies they would be doing it. But those organisms who did not feel hunger were unmotivated to seek food, and they did not live to produce offspring.

  • $\begingroup$ What if the machine chose to never simulate food to avoid this scenario? $\endgroup$
    – dinorider
    Jun 13, 2020 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ That said, the answer may very well stem from trying to detect chemical reactions $\endgroup$
    – dinorider
    Jun 13, 2020 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ @dinorider - yes. Oxidation reactions including metabolism and fire being handy ones. For example I have the illusion of a fire, perhaps in my cigar. I am fooled into thinking I am inhaling the musky smoke, puffing rings. Later I find my cigar, intact and unsmoked. I am pleased, of course, because they are expensive, but what is up with that? $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Jun 13, 2020 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ The Computer could just create the illusion, that the dog is still alive - as it could with any other organism an individual could come in contact with. This essentially creates some kind of Boltzmann-Brain paradoxon. I think you could only prove its existence when all natural ressources are used up and civilization more or less dead anyway... Just that noone profits from that knowledge then... $\endgroup$ Jun 13, 2020 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ @AnonymousAnonymous - that illusion will not work on the dog when it is dead. If you have an entire Matrix that can fool me into thinking dead dogs are alive, or whatever, it would be hard to figure out from the inside. Unless there were cycles you could perceive... like what songs were on the top40. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Jun 13, 2020 at 22:07

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