Philosophy and The Forest

Developing the program called The Forest over the years has led me to consider some philosophical aspects, in an amateur way. I want to share my thoughts in the form of some questions, to set readers thinking perhaps.

  1. (An easy starter.) In what sense (form?) does the program exist when it is not being run?
  2. The program uses trigonometrical functions (sine, cosine, tangent) to calculate the positions of objects in a scene. Any intelligence elsewhere in the universe, when contemplating triangles and periodic physical phenomena, would inevitably use the very same functions (by different names of course). So in what sense do these functions exist when they are not being evaluated, or did even before anyone discovered them?
  3. The terrain in The Forest is generated by an algorithm. Algorithms go further than mathematical functions because they involve branches as choices are made at certain points in what is much more of a process than a numerical calculation.
    Mathematical functions can often be inverted, or reversed (with certain assumptions, such as limiting the range of a sine function's input). Algorithms are unlikely to be reversible because of the branching. They have a time direction built into them (I call this time's ratchet).
    There are three possible states in which an algorithm may exist:
    1. As a concept, rather like the sine function when it is not being evaluated;
    2. Written down, as in the source text of a program;
    3. Being used, or run in a program.
    Given all that, in what sense does The Forest, that you can explore in my program, exist?
    (Does a certain proposition about a falling tree come to mind?)
  4. The program is merely colouring pixels on a screen, changing in response to very simple impulses from buttons. Where is The Forest in that?
    (I am thinking about semantics versus syntax. What gives the program meaning?)
  5. Flight simulators, as used to train pilots, go further by adding sensory inputs other than merely visual displays. Virtual Reality (VR) systems aim to go even further. Ultimately, what will be the difference between the VR world and the "real" world?