Are We Living In a Simulation?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Are We Living In a Simulation?


Quite possibly every person and thing in the cosmos are actually just characters in some giant computer simulation, and we don't even know it. The idea that the universe is a simulation sounds more like the plot out of science fiction, but it is also a legitimate scientific hypothesis. 

How can we ever know if our world is just part of a giant computer simulation? The simulation argument, in its contemporary form, originated from philosopher Nick Bostrom, when he suggested that members of an advanced civilization with enormous computing power might decide to run simulations of their ancestors. These aliens would probably have the ability to run many, many such simulations, to the point where the vast majority of minds would actually be artificial ones within such simulations, rather than the original ancestral minds. So simple statistical analysis suggest it is much more likely that we are among the simulated minds than in actual reality.

As the video below from Thoughty2 outlines, doubting reality is far from a new thing. The Greek philosopher Plato discussed this concept over two thousand years ago in his work, The Republic. He pictured a cave with prisoners chained to the wall and all they ever saw were the shadows of others passing in front of a fire, projected up onto the wall in front of them. To the prisoners, this is the only life they had ever known and so they would understandably believe that the shadows were actual people.

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As Arran points out, it’s similar to today's world where we look mainly at people’s virtual lives, through social media, and we think of their actual lives as far more exciting than our own, when in fact they are having the same terrible time that we all are having.

John Locke, pointed out that we could never actually know the real essence of anything, we could only deal with its nominal essence, meaning what we actually experience of it, rather than the whole picture. He said it was like looking at a clock face; all you can see is the time it shows, you don’t have any idea what cogs and wires are behind it, making it work. So as much as we believe we know how the universe works behind the scenes, we’re still really just clueless puppets.

Everything you experience comes in through your various senses, such as your sense of  smell, sense of touch, etc. But at the end of the day, all of these senses end up as electrical impulses in your brain.

Your body also senses an astonishing amount of data, more than you could ever realistically process. So if you wanted to create a fake reality, you wouldn’t need to program in every tiny detail, since only a small fraction would be experienced by the user at any one time.

Are We Living In a Simulation?

What does it all mean if we ARE living in a simulation?

Even if your brain isn’t meat but just a sting of code written by some scientist, or alien, or an iPhone app in the future, that’s not to say that your consciousness isn’t a real thing. There is nothing to say that all your ideas could be unique and original. Being part of a software construct doesn’t mean that your every thought has already been decided, just that the initial conditions have been set.

This leads us to how we are now rapidly on the path to superintelligent AI. As we build more and more advanced programs, it makes the likelihood that we’re in a simulation seem even higher.

"If we can code simulated brains, what’s to say we aren’t already part of one."
If we can code simulated brains, what’s to say we aren’t already part of one. Elon Musk recently said it’s only about a one in a billion chance that we’re not in a simulation.

In fact, it may only be by creating our own simulations that we are able to really test our own reality. Physicist Silas Beane, is one of many theorists who has said that a simulation must have limited computing power; it can only get as big as the hardware will allow it. So, if we start creating enormous simulations of our own and those create other enormous simulations, at some point we’re going to use up all the processing power available to whatever hardware our universe is running on and we’re going to crash it. Maybe that is how the universe ends? Maybe a reboot of the system kicks things off again with another Big Bang?

Until that happens, or we somehow discover the inner working of our reality, we can never truly know for sure if everything we know is just a simulation. In the meantime take Max Tegmark's advice and "Go out and do really interesting things, so the simulators don’t shut you down.”

SOURCE  Thoughty2

By  33rd SquareEmbed


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