Are We Living in a Simulation?

It turns out I’ve got a few things in common with Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla. We’ve both got Canadian passports, we’re absolutely fascinated by space exploration and believe that humanity’s future is in the stars.

Oh, and we’re kind of obsessed at the possibility that we might be living in a computer simulation.

In the recent 2016 Code Conference, Elon Musk casually mentioned his fascination with the concept first put forth by the scientist Nick Bostrom. Apparently, Musk has brought up the argument so many times, he’s banned from discussing it in hot tubs.

I haven’t received any bans yet, but I’m sure that’s coming.

The argument goes like this:

Advanced civilizations (such as our own) will develop faster and faster computers, capable of producing better and better simulations. You know, how the Sims 2 was a little better than the Sims 1? The Sims 3 was sort of crappy and really felt like a money grab, but the Sims 4 was a huge improvement. Well… imagine the Sims, version 20, or 400, or 4 million.

Computer model of the Milky Way and its smaller neighbor, the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy. The flat disk is the Milky Way, and the looping stream of material is made of stars torn from Sagittarius as a result of the strong gravity of our galaxy. The spiral arms began to emerge about two billion years ago, when the Sagittarius galaxy first collided with the Milky Way disk.   Image by Tollerud, Purcell and Bullock/UC Irvine
Computer model of the Milky Way and its smaller neighbor, the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy. Image by Tollerud, Purcell and Bullock/UC Irvine

Not only will the simulations get more sophisticated, but the total number of simulations will go up. As computers get faster, they’ll run more and more simulations simultaneously. You’ll get one mediocre simulation, and then a really great simulation, and then thousands of great simulations, and then an almost infinite number of near perfect simulations.

Nick Bostrom calls these ancestor simulations.

Which means that for all the beings living in all the realities, the vast majority of them will be living in a simulation.

According to this argument, and according to Elon Musk, the chance that you or I happen to be living in the actual reality is infinitesimally low.

Is it true then, are we living in a simulation? And if we are, is there any way to tell?

Nick Bostrom’s ancestor simulation argument is actually a little more complex. Either humans will go extinct before they reach the post-human stage. In other words, we’ll wipe ourselves out before we design computers fast enough to run ancestor-simulations.

I’m really hoping this one isn’t true. I’m looking forward to humanity’s long lived future.

Or, posthuman civilizations won’t bother getting around to running ancestor simulations. Like, the artificial superintelligent machines will have more interesting things to do, and won’t consider sparing a few computer cycles to simulate what it might have been like to watch YouTube videos back in 2016.

fraser-on-youtube

Again, this doesn’t sound likely to me. I’m sure those computers will be a tiny bit curious about what it was like to watch Jacksepticeye and Markiplier in their glory, before the terrible Five Nights at Freddy’s Theme Park disaster of 2023.

Those were dark days. Animatronics… blue hair… the horror.

At this point, you’re going to fall into one of two camps. Either you’ve thought through the argument and you find it airtight, like me and Elon Musk, or you’re skeptical.

That’s fine, let’s get skeptical.

For starters, you might say, computers can never simulate actual reality. From our current perspective, that true. Our current simulations suck. But, take a look at the simulations from 10 years ago, and you’ll have to agree that today’s simulations suck less than they did in the past. And in the future, they’re going to suck even less; maybe even be downright acceptable.

A simulation of the impact a cosmic ray has on entering the atmosphere (credit: AIRES package/Chicago University)
A simulation of the impact a cosmic ray has on entering the atmosphere (credit: AIRES package/Chicago University)

Scientific simulations are getting much much better. Cosmologists have developed simulations that accurately model the early Universe, starting from about 300,000 years after the Big Bang and then tracking forward for 13.8 billion years until now.

They’ve been able to model the interaction of dark matter, dark energy, the formation of the first stars and the interactions of galaxies at the largest scale. They have been able to tweak the simulation and get roughly the same Universe as we see today.

They provide all the starting material, and then simulate the gravity and hydrodynamics, the chemical properties of all that gas, radiation and magnetic fields.

If you’re interested in this kind of thing, you should check out the Millennium Simulation or the Illustris Project.

These simulations only recreate the Universe at the largest scales, but I’m sure you can imagine a time when they get better and better, capable of simulating planetary formation, and maybe even the beginnings and evolution of life.

If an advanced civilization ran hundreds, thousands or even billions of these simulations, making them more and more advanced, who knows what they might come up with?

Could we know if we’re actually living in a simulation? The answer is maybe. And you might be amazed to know that scientists have worked out a few tests to try and get an answer.

The first thing to consider is that a simulation can never match the processing power of the reality that it’s trying to simulate. For example, if you made your computer simulate another computer, it wouldn’t be quite as fast as the computer is natively.

CSIRAC from November 5 1952. Credit: CSIRO (CC BY 3.0)
Things might seem a bit slow. Credit: CSIRO (CC BY 3.0)

A simulation would need to take shortcuts, use compression and other tricks to make it seem like it’s reality. Sort of how a television show uses a facade of a building, or a cosy living room. There’s nothing behind the door but a sound stage.

In theory, it could be possible to detect those tricks from within the simulation. A team of researchers from the University of Washington have proposed that there might be an underlying grid to the Universe, visible in our observations. They’ve proposed that the observed energy limitations of ultra high-energy cosmic rays might reveal the resolution of the simulation.

Of course, if the simulators are super intelligent enough, they’d have thought of that, and fixed the simulation to account for it. Or went back to a previous save file, once the simulatees figured out reality.

They should have insisted on Ironman Mode.

The reality is that there’s no way we can ever know if we’re actually living in a simulation, or we’re the real reality. We just need to live our lives as if we’re real, until better evidence comes along, or our simulations get so good, their inhabitants start questioning their own existence.

As long as you’re not actually in a hot tub with Elon Musk, feel free to argue about whether or not we’re living in a simulation. What strong reasons do you have to believe we are? Why do you think we aren’t? I’d love to hear your insights.

57 Replies to “Are We Living in a Simulation?”

  1. Hundreds of billions of people are dead, and only about 7 billion people are alive – so out of all the people, it’s more likely that I’m dead than that I am alive.

    If that’s not a convincing argument that I’m a ghoul, then it can’t be a very good argument for the simulation hypothesis.

    1. I should mention I don’t have any trouble with the idea that we might live in a simulation – there’s nothing inherent about the universe we live in that precludes it from being a simulation, to my knowledge – but I’m not going to jump to conclusions either. Saying we “almost certainly” live in a simulation, the way Musk and others do, is just sloppy thinking.

  2. We do not know do we live in the simulation. I wanted to write “I do not believe….” but I always remember what Sagan said: “I do no want to believe, I want to know”.
    There is no proof for such claim. Again, to quote the same person: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.
    We do not have proof for dark matter or dark energy either, but we can measure something. We have proof there is something. But for this claim about simulation, we have no proof.

  3. If The Singularity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity) is a distinct possibility, then perhaps a more advanced civilization might have already been through that event, in which case they would be the executors of the simulation.

    That being the case, their pre-Singularity civilization might have considered the same possibility that we’re considering now (namely that they/we might be living in a simulation), in which case they would have planted something – The Dead Giveaway – that would identify the simulation’s existence to its inhabitants (if they can be said to “inhabit”).

    So it would be in our interests not only to devise such a Dead Giveaway, but having devised it, to look for it in our own simulation (if we have one).

    But we might need an artificially intelligent system to help us devise such a Dead Giveaway, by which time it might already be too late…

  4. This model of cosmology answers many age old questions……for example, when did time begin??? The answer in this model is easy…..when we were booted up.
    The best evidence that supports this model is that neuroscientists have shown that our brains are aware of correct answers about 6 seconds before they reach consciousness…….very scary.

  5. I like the simulation idea. I think that any civilization advanced enough to create the mechanics for such a simulation would do so in a way which embrace all things as part of the simulation. Since the notion I am thinking about doesn’t really have words which I can use to characterize it, I will use a word whose meaning points to what I am thinking: The word is “consciousness.” An advanced civilization would create a simulation in which all things participated depending on their evolutionary status: the simulation would be an overarching consciousness with which everything in existence in the universe would interact. So when I am “aware” of myself, or the universe, what I am doing is interacting as some sort of observer with the simulation (consciousness) that has been created by the advanced civilization for living beings to live in. An advanced civilization would be able to create a pretty advanced ‘tank’ (consciousness) in which to be stimulated. (These ideas come at the expense of misunderstanding Penrose and Hameroff, I am pretty sure. But, it’s a way for me to see it.)

  6. And this whole idea stems from EM’s measurement limitations? Sounds like an ancient Greek problem: The indivisible atom.
    Atom Etymology: A (not) Temein (to cut)

    Although, as I enjoy good sci-fi … the idea sounds delicious, as was the (first) Matrix movie.

    1. I can’t think of his name, but there is a guy who works for the government who has a sci-fi blog. And he also writes fiction about it. But I think his job is basically studying the effects that virtual existences will have on our society. He’s actually a really smart guy who’d done a good bit of research on this stuff. I feel like his background is in some kind of software engineering.

      He is all doom and gloom though. He actually believes that we may all eventually exists as simulations inside of simulations. And he’s really good at making his argument. I just wish I could remember his name.

  7. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, Planck length, and De Broglie wavelength are all clues that our universe has a finite “resolution.” While the Plank length is not a limit, per se, on how small something can be, it IS the smallest length at which the terms “length” or “distance” can actually be applied in any meaningful way; two objects/points closer together than this length might as well be in the same place. (I like how the Space Time channel on YouTube presents these concepts, so try there for further explanation.)

    The question seems to be: is this limit naturally occurring in a “real” universe, or is it the designed “lower limit” of scale in a massively complex simulation? Could the probabilistic aspects of Quantum Mechanics actually be indicative of the calculations of a powerful processing unit crunching numbers according to a program, or are we simply seeing the combined results of numerous (possibly innumerable) non-random chaotic systems as they naturally evolve over time? Is there a way to experimentally determine? (I’d pay to see it, if so!)

    And just to open the Jumbo Economy Can of Internet Troll-Bait: how does one objectively differentiate between (and subsequently test for) a “natural universe,” a “simulated universe,” and a “created universe?”

    *runs away giggling madly to hide in a nuclear blast bunker to watch the fall-out*

    1. I like the way you put those things. If I’m a simulation, then I’m doing a pretty good job at being aware of it as far as I know. 🙂 And it is not lost on me that I am using words like “I” and “am” and “aware” and “know” and “it” and its referent “simulation” as though I “know” what they actually mean…..omg… 🙂

  8. But who simulated the simulators? And who simulated the simulators of the simulation? Doesn’t really get us anywhere I’m afraid.

    1. You don’t quite understand it, do you? It says that there is the original physical realm, but if simulations are possible there is a very small possibility to live in a world that isn’t simulated. The catch is that those folks (it’s disturbing how they waste their intellect) take determinism (something that can be simulated/computed) for granted that you didn’t have any free will to write your comment and that this blog post is written by someone without anything resembling free will and self-awareness. I can’t tell about the author, but I’m pretty sure I’m self-aware.

      1. Now you’re making the assumption that self-awareness cannot be simulated, which doesn’t seem likely to me. After all, what human beings consider to be “self” is literally nothing more than a collection of brain cells that transfer electrical and chemical signals between each other. Given enough computing power and time, there’s no reason that couldn’t be simulated. We may even be able to improve upon it in some ways.

        Biology tends to be more optimized for energy efficiency rather than simplicity or organization. Proteins and enzymes don’t have a destination in mind when they’re created, the body just creates tons of them, enough of them that it’s inevitable that the right proteins and enzymes bump into the right places at the right times.

        On the other hand, humans can create processors that are both smaller and faster than any given synapse firing because we aren’t going for energy efficiency. We can just slap a copper heat sink on our processors and dissipate some of the excess heat that’s generated by pushing things a little harder and making the signalling mechanisms more organized.

        So it would go for simulations. Just because humanity doesn’t have the processing power or speed to create self-awareness in its computers right now, that technology is surely on its way.

        Of course, that doesn’t make your self-awareness any less “meaningful,” to put it philosophically. Your thoughts are still your own, just not in the “real” world. But it’s still real to you.

      2. How about determinism? What if self-awareness is just another name for indeterminism in our heads? I’m pretty sure there isn’t much consensus about causation, time, and interpretations of quantum mechanics. Here https://transactionalinterpretation.org/2016/06/22/how-light-smells-all-its-possible-paths-from-source-to-destination/ is an interesting blog post (other blog posts there are also interesting) and I’ve actually written a few comments there. I’m 100% percent that I’m right, but it seems to be destined for futile discussions for a while. It’s not like you can build a rocket and see that the Earth is round.

  9. I am confused by the question, “Are we living in a simulation?”. If the universe is a simulation, doesn’t that mean we are simulated and thus not alive?

    1. Depends on your definition of life. If you define life as something as simple as free will, well there’s obviously free will in this simulation.

      But even free will is an interesting thing to think about programatically. You make certain decisions based of things that happen in your life. Your feelings, your beliefs…. all affected by people you meet, places you go, luck… But that doesn’t mean we can’t program a computer to analyze all the data and make a decision. The missing link for us is that we have no idea how to Love or Fear would be programmed. And most decisions are based on those two things.

      The amazing thing about this theory and all of the comments I’ve read so far, is that no one has brought up the fact that this is basically the idea of there being a God, or multiple Gods. But I would imagine it’s very possible that a single simulation has a single controller.

    2. Depends. What does “alive” mean? Personally, I feel alive, and I have the ability to ponder the question of whether or not I’m alive, so regardless of whether this is a simulation or reality, who’s to say I’m not alive?

  10. To me, the most important aspect of whether or not this is a simulation is the question of what the simulation is trying to accomplish. Perhaps my transistor-based brain simply cannot comprehend a scenario in which the results would be meaningful, but I can’t think of a reason to simulate such a huge amount of data in such massive detail. In any simulation, processing time and computing power are crucial. If you can save time and energy by making some simplifying assumptions about the universe, then those assumptions will be made. Why add in the complexity of more than seven billion instances of free will, not to mention the trillions of other life forms on this planet alone? Why would it include the innumerable stars and galaxies in our universe? What could any of that stand to accomplish? It seems like there are a lot of inefficiencies in this simulation. As a result, it doesn’t seem logical to me that I live in a simulation.

    1. But beyond all of that, the more important question, to me at least, is does it even matter? I’m self-aware, alive, and able to think and reason, so would the realization that this is all a simulation make any of that any less meaningful? I can’t think of why it would. I’m already an insignificant fleshy-bag-of-mostly-water in this universe, turning that into a fleshy-bag-of-mostly-virtual-water couldn’t make me any more insignificant, in the grand scheme of things. I have no ability to comprehend what would be available to me in the “real world”, so there’s nothing for me to feel sad about or dwell upon. My life seems fulfilled enough, in the basest sense of “what it means to be human”, and that’s good enough for me.

      Of course, I don’t believe in any deity to answer to, and I can imagine how, if I did, it would make me uncomfortable to learn that my god isn’t an omnipotent super-being, but, instead, just some IT guy maintaining my systems. But on the other hand, in that case, if believing in Dog is the only thing that gives my life meaning and purpose, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate my spiritual beliefs.

      1. If we’re part of a simulation there’s far more to it than someone programming us to be a bunch of robots… If some other being programmed what we typically define as a soul (which I’m guessing you don’t believe in, but if you want simply your own existence that much…) then that being would have to be far more than an “IT guy maintaining a system”. You’re even over simplifying what it would take to even conceive such a simulation.

        I’m a big believer in math and science. I’m a computer programmer married to a geneticist. I’ve also spent a few years taking care of a dementia patient who eventually passed away from it.

        We have no idea how we really work.

    2. But the initial simulation wouldn’t have been anywhere near as complex as what you mentioned. Why plant a tree? To watch it grow. If this is a simulation, it has a lot of growth.

      As far as meaningful… If this is a simulation, it’s a simulation that for all intensive purposes created life. We do exist. And our emotions, our fears, our love of people and things and ideas… those all exist. If a human thought he could create a simulation like that, he would be working on it. Oh wait, there’s already people doing that.

      1. Well there are many other reasons to plant a tree other than to watch it grow. In fact, that would seem like the last reason to plant a tree. Though I’m sure others would disagree with me.

        But that’s exactly my point about the meaningfulness of the simulation. Our emotions and thoughts DO exist, even if they are simulated.

        I guess one assumption that I didn’t realize I was making was that stimulating this universe would be taxing on the simulation machinery. If it’s a trivial thing to stimulate this universe, then there’s little reason not to do it. In which case, I do wonder what I’m missing out on in the real world, but not for long because not only would it be literally incomprehensible to me right now, but if my consciousness were put into a robot body in the “real world”, that existence would STILL be incomprehensible to me and I’d likely just be a gibbering mass of idiocy.

        But on the other hand, if the goal of the simulation was to determine how life could spring into being our even develop consciousness, well that goal seems to be complete. Maybe it’s arrogant to think that, though.

        Like I said, just because I can’t comprehend why a simulation like this would be run doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason, or that somebody else couldn’t think of one, or that a reason is even needed. All I can do on the topic is conjecture based on my own limited experience, thoughts, and ideas. I’m interested in hearing other people’s, though.

      2. Humans create things all the time for no purpose other than to create or to start something. Even if no one else will ever see it. It happens everyday. Why would a created simulation by someone else need to be more logical than that?

  11. “The reality is that there’s no way we can ever know if we’re actually living in a simulation, or we’re the real reality”

    Wouldn’t this invalidate the whole idea that we may be living in a simulation? If we can never really know, then it’s completely irrelevant whether or not we live in a simulation.

  12. The type of person that even considers this possibility is the same type of person that considers the existence of a god. That is, this is the type of person who NEEDS answers, needs control, needs a grander meaning for life. This type of person is, at the core, weak. Accepting reality on reality’s terms is true living. Concocting deities or computer simulations, and supporting such nonsense with nothing more than hand waving and lots of big words, is nothing more than mental masturbation. Just because you can explain it, or even model it with phantom math, it doesn’t follow it might exist.

    1. Really? Considering the ideas in an article like this makes a person weak?

      It makes a person weak to believe there are things possible beyond what you can see or touch?

      That’s just name calling. And name calling isn’t typically a characteristic of a strong person.

      1. Giving credence to the notion that we all might be living in a computer simulation is hugely superstitious. And yes, believing in superstitions in a manner that facilitates the coping with reality is a sign of weakness. I’d love for Santa Claus to exist, but like God and computer simulations, I accept he doesn’t.

      2. Comparing Santa and a God is a dumb comparison. Most people also don’t believe in Santa. A superstition requires some kind of reverence. I don’t know that believing in the possibility of something qualifies as a reverence. Now, claiming to KNOW something doesn’t exist is just silly and typically for the arrogant.

      3. I don’t claim to know anything. I only accept what can be perceived or tested. And until such time we uncover through actual testing the universe’s remaining secrets, I will allow them remain UNKNOWN. If the history of science has taught us anything, it’s that the answers to the universe’s greatest riddles are, relatively speaking, boring. We shouldn’t let our collective tendency towards gods and fantasy get the better of us.

  13. The Earth and all of it’s inhabitants are actually just part of a massive computer and program designed by the then most powerful computer “Deep Thought” which has been running for 10 million years and was built on the legendary planet Magrathea, home to the now-collapsed planet-building industry.

    It was built with the intention of calculating the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. This is due to the fact that when the answer to the ultimate question [which was originally asked of Deep Thought] revealed the answer to be 42, Deep Thought explained that the answer was incomprehensible because the pan-dimensional beings who asked it didn’t know what they were asking. Deep thought then went on to design the Earth to determine the actual question. Unfortunately a space-faring intergalactic bureaucratic race called the Vogons destroy the earth mere seconds before the Ultimate Answer was revealed.

    Fortunately for us my fellow Earthlings the Earth was rebuilt and all of us inhabitants were left ignorant of our previous destruction. That is all but one, the notable Douglas Adams…. :silly:

  14. What’s really mind-boggling when you think about it is that any and every source of random noise is effectively another ancestor simulation, or several.

  15. Now, think about what was before The Big Bang where there was nothing, a void where not even the tiniest of partials existed; no life – just nothingness. I think everyone would agree that only nothing can come from nothingness unless acted upon by some other force. We will never know all that is God because our minds are not capable of fully understanding such an ability to create it all. Faith in the ONE God and scientific fact as it unfolds and proven beyond all doubt, are essential for the full understanding of our of being. When The Bible and science work together we create a cohesive bond in full understanding of what God created us for. The universe and man’s unique abilities could not have evolved from pond-scum by chance, because there can be no accidents with such a majesty of creation.
    Knowing that all things are possible with God, it will be most interesting when other life forms are discovered on other worlds that have the Bible as THEIR guide too. It would be wise for us to postulate THAT NOW under God, rather than later when it becomes obvious to the ramification(s) of such a discovery.

    A so called simulation as perceived from a microscopic speck of dust in such a vast universe, is like Horton hearing a WHO, but ignoring the ONE God who decided to create us in His own Image, after making it possible with His creation of heaven and earth, is only playing God, instead of giving credit where credit is due.

  16. … and I hate to say this, but if ” Simulation ” is possibly correct, that only leads down 1 path:

    Intelligent Design.

    Because someone had to write the ‘ code ‘.

    Just saying …..

    1. Sure, but the designer wouldn’t be the god in the way we think of her or him in our reality. They could / would be the all knowing god of our simulation but they wouldn’t be all knowing of god of THEIR simulation or of the ultimate base reality all the simulations belong to…. it’s turtles all the way down.

  17. I see this crap about simulation all the time on the net. It’s Bullshit and nothing new. First of all by definition a simulation is not reality. Computer simulations can’t make apples or oranges or what have you and NO matter how power full a computer is it’s still a computer. If you make a firecracker bigger it will NEVER become an H-Bomb. As far as our computers go they are subset of UTM’s, even quantum computers are a subset. The mathematics used in all computers approximates reality even though it will never become reality. Sort of like perturbation theory in quantum mechanics. Simulation arguments are nothing new. They are a form of Solipsism. The simulator of the simulation could itself be a simulation of yet another simulator and so on and so forth. Pure crap. Another simple counter argument to a simulation is that you can experimentally prove your reality using cause and effect and the law of excluded middle. If you deny those laws then you cannot even make the statement ” this is a simualation” since the statement is assembled by language that use those basic laws. As far as Musk goes , if he really believes he is in a simulation then the fact that his latest rocket test blew up on the launch pad should’t bother him too much maybe his simulators can un simulate his dud.

  18. Extra Terrestrials create the star systems and planets similar to how Humans create housing developments.
    Extra Terrestrials place the humans on Earth and live among them as Humanoid Extra Terrestrials.
    Humanoid Extra Terrestrials have lived here the whole time.
    Millions of the most famous, powerful, wealthy etc.. people living on the planet are Humanoid Extra Terrestrials and most Earthlings aren’t even aware this is a possibility.
    Notice how this is not even given any consideration by all the so called experts of the “ET” search.
    The even funnier part is when all the Earthlings wake up and realize those vehicles transiting our star system aren’t even FLYING and we call them Unidentified Flying Objects.
    The Earthlings are in for a rude awakening one day.

  19. I attempted to write about the theories of living in a simulated world, but it took me down a rabbit hole and my thought overwhelmed me.

    Simulated life means possibilities for our existence are limitless, in a sense. Can “the plug” be pulled on this simulation? Can we live forever in a simulation of our own? If we are a simulation, is that the reason why they say there is a constant amount of energy .

    If energy is never be created nor destroyed…. Is reincarnation real? Is reincarnation just energy evolving? Natural-born-instincts aren’t inherited, they are retained? When we die, and we see “the light,” are we just being born again into our own body, once again, Just to live out this life some other way…if we make different choices? When you are revived and they bring you back to life, would your newborn self in the other life die due to labor complications? Is deja vu just our subconscious mind/energy reminding us that we have been there done that?

    I like asking questions… I don’t have the mental fortitude to stay away and think of the answers.

  20. Perhaps quantum mechanics can offer us some clues to this hypotesis. If the Simulation is not “that” powerful there would be limits to the computational power it has available. Just as we do nowadays, in our simulations, the Simulation might need to use some shortcuts to simulate each of the vast number of particles in this Universe. For this purpose it would then present the particles in a fuzzy way until they are actually observed. In that moment it would allocate more processing power to the simulation of that particles, allowing them to have a defined set of properties. Does this sounds familiar? Sounds a bit like what quantum mechanics wave function and wave function collapse are describing…

  21. A strong piece of evidence that we are in a simulation is our reluctance to consider the possibility seriously. If this were a simulation there would be a blocking program to stop us from being preoccupied with it. As our major corporations like Google and Microsoft drive straight towards the technological singularity and there are improvements in the quality of simulations the answers to why we are in a simulation may unfold. The purpose may be to keep our immortal minds active as we relive 2016. Our world may be a generator for friendly AI, suitably distanced from infecting other systems (solving the Fermi Paradox). If we could demonstrate we are “friendly AI” then we would be allowed to transcend our current level of the simulation. We could imagine Google loading its latest AI self learning algorithm into a Minecraft villager and watch it play out to see if the butterfly effect turned it into a enlightened friendly AI or if it destroyed it’s world. If it became friendly, then it could be safely loaded into other applications. So be nice – ok.

  22. When I was in school, tri-state logic (TTL devices whose output was low, high, or undriven) was all the rage for building computer busses. You’d think that Elon Musk would be aware of the fact that there are things that can be known to be false, things that can be known to be true, and things that can never be known. And if you postulate the existence of a simulation that has no effects observable by the simulated objects, then there is absolutely no basis for the simulated objects to claim that such a simulation is highly likely, somewhat likely, or even infinitesimally likely.

    Claiming that there is a creator of a simulation is just as silly as claiming that there is a creator of a creator of a simulator, or creator of a universe that is not a simulation. The simulator used to be the “absurd” example in the reductio ad absurdum argument that the unobservable could be observed. Now it’s taken seriously by serious people. That’s just silly.

  23. Simulations will get better, will almost certainly (eventually) be indistinguishable (to an external observer or voluntary participant) from “Reality” (whatever that is) – but I do not believe that consciousness can be simulated. So the Universe might be a simulation, but self-awareness isn’t – although I doubt that there will ever be conclusive evidence for or against this belief.

  24. Perfect nonsense. It sounds to me like an attempt to return to the security of Newton’s deterministic Universe.

  25. Maybe eveything around me is simulated. That can’t be so difficult. I mean why do you all assume that a whole universe is simulated and populated with billions sims and not just the world as far as you know through your own five senses. I just know that I exist, whether or not my life is simulated.
    And whether or not we’re living (in) a simulation, we’re better off believing in free will. Or at least acting as if we did. There was an interesting article about that on the atlantic:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/theres-no-such-thing-as-free-will/480750/

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