Is life a video game?

March 5, 2020

Share this article:

Reality is probably not what it seems. The simulation hypothesis proposes that all of reality, including the earth and the universe, is in fact, a computer simulation. This proposition is, in fact, based on fundamental principles of human reasoning. Billions of years have passed since the formation of the earth. Early carbon-based life forms have had compelling experiences, to say the least. Imagine for a second, that the senses we experience, the things we observe, are all but a simulation, in which we are the “sims”.

Computational power is increasing at an unprecedented rate, unlike ever before. About 40 years ago games like Pong were simple unrealistic 2D games. Now, advanced graphics cards allow computers to run ‘Sims’, with state-of-the-art cutting-edge next-generation 3D hyper realistic and photorealistic imagery. These developments are partly due to the unmatched progress within the realms of science and technology.

In the future it may be possible for our species to create such “high-fidelity simulations”, such that the reality may be simulated. But if this will be an option, how can we know that it has not happened already?

Propositions

The simulation hypothesis by Nick Bostrom states that at least one of the following propositions:

  1. The human species is likely to go extinct before reaching the state of a “posthuman” stage.
  2. Any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (i.e. possible ancestors).
  3. We are almost certainly living inside a computer simulation.

With a “posthuman” stage, we imply a stage of profound development of the human species, far beyond of what is currently within our reach. The idea is that this posthuman stage civilization creates simulations of its “possible ancestors”, so called “ancestral simulations”. These civilizations can then for example better understand how they counter evolutionary and impactful events, that may change the course for history for them.

Observable universe

The truth is: a technologically mature ‘civilization’ with tremendous amounts of computing power, might only want to simulate the part of the universe that is observable to the sims. This is easy to explain by using the Schrödinger cat’s example:

Imagine that a box with contains a radioactive source and a cat. There is a 50% chance that the cat is alive and a 50% chance that the cat is death. We don’t know by looking at the box. We have to open the box to observe if the cat is death or alive.

This is an example how the observable universe might possible be simulated, in which only the things that we observe are simulated in order to preserve computing power. Because simulating the infinite size of the universe may be impossible, even with the computer power we might have in the future.

Currently, we lack any evidence for or against the simulation hypothesis. However, it is nice to think about possibilities that one day we might run ancestral simulations, at the commencement of the posthuman stage. For now, remember we may not be in base reality…

*Note: The simulation hypothesis has no direct connection with religious conceptions of a literally omniscient and omnipotent deity. The simulation-hypothesis does not imply the existence of such a deity, nor does it imply its non-existence.

Want to read more? Check out this paper by Nick Bolstrom: https://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.pdf


This article is written by Berke Aslan

Read more

The Ewing Theory

The Ewing Theory

What happens if your team’s best player goes down with an injury, leaves for another team or retires? Your team should be less successful, right? Well, as it turns out, this is not necessarily always true. Sometimes, a team can inexplicably flourish without their...

Why your Dobble cards always match

Why your Dobble cards always match

Dobble: a game played by kids, but still very popular among adults. In the game, you have to draw two random cards and place them face-up on the table between all the players. Then, you have to look for the identical symbol between the two cards. Between every two...

Why do we count in base 10?

Why do we count in base 10?

What is two plus two? The realist will say four, the computer will say 100, and the cynic will say 5 – but which is correct? The reason we count in base 10 stems from the simplest fact: humans have 10 fingers. Understandable and logical, as this seems to be nature’s...