[meta analysis] Rick n Morty S1E4 : Simulation Theory and Machine Learning



Is this even real life?




In this episode Rick is trapped in a simulation by some alien scammers. Rick quickly realizes everything is a bit off and weare made aware of this too by small computer-like glitches appear through out the "world". Rick escapes the simulation eventually by getting the computer running the simulation to solve a hard enough problem. This might seem like a clever trick Rick is doing but it is actually in tune with a brand new field of physics called Simulation Theory. Right now in the real world scientists are actually literally trying to determine if the universe we are living in is a simulation on a computer!




Now I'm going to get a little crazy here and read deeply into the idea of making a cartoon character do "real physics". In essence what Rick did was with his literal intellect as a character break the forth wall and actually escape from his simulation using real life physics. Rick is in fact so good at physics he rendered Rick 'n Morty momentarily a science non-fiction (by demonstrating real simulation theory)!

Nested Simulation Theory

Another strong reference (almost a cruel joke by the writers to the physicists lol) to Simulation theory occurs when Rick finds out he is trapped in a nested simulation. The alien scammers actually lulled him into a false sense of security by making him believe he was actually escaping and detecting the right glitches. This is also a proponent of the current Simulation theory called "Nested Simulations". The modern physicists and theorists are now aware that there is a possibility that what we detect as evidence for the realness of the simulation could in fact be false positives i.e. the machine also fooling us!

Rick glitching the simulation in order to escape


There is a cinematic reference to this in the scene where Morty is in the class room alone i.e. without Rick or any audience aware indication of Rick. Basically what I am saying is when we entered the scene we were not given any indication that Rick was there; in fact the audience was deliberately lead to believe Mort was real! Knowing now (in hind sight) that
Morty was actually part of the simulation you must think; why did the writers make that scene? Morty's isolated actions would never effect the plot since he is part of the "furniture" The reason for that scene is a "backward" reference to the theory they are employing in the episode. The writers actually trapped us in the simulation as well, but because of simulation theory already existing (in our universe); we were technically also trapped inside a simulation of a simulation!

The "trapping" effect of this scene is made obvious by the scene happening inside a classroom. And even more obvious by Morty being "ganged" up on by the class in order to render the formula for concentrated dark matter. As many people know Morty is used as the device to project a given experience of a scene onto us; we sympathize with Morty as he flies through Ricks crazy world. What we learn about this scene then is that the writers definitely wanted us to also feel trapped!

Not so Deep Learning


As Rick n Morty move through their simulated world Rick tries to convince Morty that they are indeed trapped by showing him some errors in the simulation. Rick shows Morty a couple cases of the simulation that are off, each one Morty seems unconvinced until a Rick shows him a final one that is absolutely nonsensical. What actually happened here is well constructed allegory. When a machine learning algorithm does that; learns too quickly and seems to accept/reject all the results we say that it has been over fitted. Usually happens when the loss function isn't good enough of the sample data is too aggressive in a given kind of attribute perhaps. You should see that Morty behaved like such an algorithm.

possibly overfitted data generated by something like an LSTM

But now you must think about what Morty was being shown (while he was being the algorithm?) what was he learning to see? The very same mistake in the Alien's application of machine learning algorithms. The Toaster with a toaster car is clearly some badly overtrained deep learning net used to generate "houses and cars" from some human data.


Jerry's Reality vs Rick's Reality 

In classic Rick n Morty style Jerry's life and his perceptions of his life are competed with Ricks. In this episode Jerry (although he seems to lament Rick for his crazy theories about the universe); is helpless to even notice the simulated notion of his world. Jerry is actually trapped in a simulation of his own imagination in the outside (real) world; because what we learn here (when he is in a simulation) is that by his own comparison the real world is exactly the same as the simulation world. 

Looking at it another way a delusion is a perversion of reality just like simulations are. Jerry's delusions are actually what traps him the real world (outside the simulation)! He shows us that he cannot escape them at all! On the flip side of this Rick's crazy theories of reality (from Jerry's perspective are delusions) are actually what allows him to escape the simulation. 

So the ironic conclusion is then: Rick in real life is free; and here in the simulation he is trapped.  Jerry has actually always been trapped by the delusions of his life; and only once entering the simulation does he realize those theories are nuts (lol "hungry for apples")! 

Closing Thoughts: Portal Gun Realness Theory 

Due to the constant reference to real scientific theory in the content, I have drawn up a theory of Rick and his portal gun:

The idea of his portal gun is to move through dimensions and planes of existence. The fictitious realms Rick moves in and out are eclipsed by the real dimensions of science Rick moves in and out of with his allegory. Rick traverses many scientific fields exposing the viewer to them in turn. Another way you could look at it is that the show itself is acting like a portal between scientific fields. 

It is as though Rick is taking Morty on a metaphorical journey and us on a real one (criss cross)! The characters on the show dance around like puppets but we who are watching (those who understand what we are watching) have our very concepts of reality warped and shocked out of us by Rick's adventures; in a sense we are all a Morty! But then again there is a tone of irony, us who are having the Morty experience of the show, are actually the Ricks of the world! We are the scientists (who try to deeply understand the theories of the world) who; people ridicule and make fun of for our crazy ideas of how the world works while they egotistically Jerry and Morty along in their tiny restricted worlds. 



Obvious tie back to the Truman show

Rick n Morty's Simulation

Anyway that's it for now. I'll keep digging for more crazy theories about this wonderful show!