Are We Living in a Simulation?
Maybe the reason the universe is expanding and growing, is that it hasn’t finished loading yet. Think of VR. If you are looking in front of you, what is behind you isn’t necessarily rendered, it hasn’t become real. It isn’t until you turn your head that it comes into existence and what was just in front of you, is now gone. So the question becomes, how do you know anything exists when you’re not looking at it? It’s the technological version of Solipsism. The idea that only your own mind is certain to exist. Everything outside of this frame, the person animating it, the office they are in, the entire world around them, including you, might not exist outside of my own mind. So, let’s say we are in a simulation...why would someone or something do it to this scale in the first place? One of the reasons to run a massive simulation like this is proposed by philosophy professor Nick Bostrom in his paper “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?” He states that it could be an ancestor simulation. A civilization wanting to see what those before them had done. Like a history book but one that is being acted out instead of being read. Or we could just be characters in an incredibly advanced video game. In our Simuverse we would be The Sims, and in this universe we even get to play our own very rudimentary version of simulation games on computers and consoles, thinking we are in control. And in video games, graphics improve, they get better with our technology. But they don’t need to be perfect. With Virtual Reality, we know what we are looking at isn’t real but to our senses to our mind it is and we react accordingly. So in this version we live in, it seems real to us because this is all we have known, but to those that programmed this simuverse, reality could be much different. It is Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Plato suggests that you have prisoners chained in a cave from birth, not able to look at each other or anywhere besides directly in front them at a wall. All they see are shadows projected onto the wall by a fire they’ve never seen behind them. This is all they have known so to them, the shadows are reality and the voices they hear are from the shadows, as well. Since they have never experienced anything else, never seen a real person, had a human interaction, they have no understanding of the outside world, or the world at all. And if a prisoner were to escape and leave the cave, they would be so frightened and confused by what they saw that they would choose to come back to the comfort of their cave, of their reality. And just like the prisoners in the cave, what we see in front of us we believe to be true, believe to be real. The difficulty in deciding if what we are in right now is real life or simulated life is what NYU professor David Chalmers said that, “any evidence that we get could be simulated.” And there is one important distinction to make. We are not in a virtual world, a world that exists independent of us actually being it. In that scenario we are players in a game and there is a flesh and blood version of us somewhere controlling this. That is not the case with this idea. We are in a simulated world which means we are not users, we are not players, we are simulated as well. As Phlip K. Dick said: Fake realities will create fake humans.6 COMMENTS