Are You Living In a Computer Simulation? by Nick BostromThis paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.
Are we living in a simulated universe? Here's what scientists say.
NEW YORK—If you, me and every person and thing in the cosmos were actually characters in some giant computer game, we would not necessarily know it. He noted the gap between human and chimpanzee intelligence, despite the fact that we share more than 98 percent of our DNA. Somewhere out there could be a being whose intelligence is that much greater than our own. A popular argument for the simulation hypothesis came from University of Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrum in , when he suggested that members of an advanced civilization with enormous computing power might decide to run simulations of their ancestors. They 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 statistics suggest it is much more likely that we are among the simulated minds. And there are other reasons to think we might be virtual.
How do you know you are real? A classic paper by philosopher Nick Bostrom argues you are likely a simulation. Are we living in a computer-driven simulation? That seems like an impossible hypothesis to prove. But let's just look at how impossible that really is. For some machine to be able to conjure up our whole reality, it needs to be amazingly powerful, able to keep track of an incalculable number of variables. Consider the course of just one human lifetime, with all of the events it entails, all the materials, ideas and people that one interacts with throughout an average lifespan.
Simulating worlds and beings
Are We Living in a Massive Computer Program? Or a Simulation? - Joscha Bach
What if everything around us — the people, the stars overhead, the ground beneath our feet, even our bodies and minds — were an elaborate illusion? What if our world were simply a hyper-realistic simulation, with all of us merely characters in some kind of sophisticated video game? This, of course, is a familiar concept from science fiction books and films, including the blockbuster movie "The Matrix. He recalls playing a virtual reality game so realistic that he forgot that he was in an empty room with a headset on. Not everyone is convinced. And she wonders why advanced beings would bother to simulate Homo sapiens.
Since the s, researchers in the social and natural sciences have used computer simulations to try to answer questions about our world: What causes war? Which political systems are the most stable? How will climate change affect global migration? The quality of these simulations is variable, since they are limited by how well modern computers can mimic the vast complexity of our world — which is to say, not very well. And what if this has already happened?