Saturday, December 15, 2012

Are We Living In A Computer Simulation?

Recently, the idea that the universe as we know it is a computer simulation has emerged. What do you mean 'computer simulation', you ask? Well, let's see what philosopher Nick Bostrom says on this topic.

In 2003, Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom proposed the idea that the world we live in, and indeed we ourselves, may be a computer simulation run by people in the far, far future. Now, a team of physicists from the University of Washington report that they may have a way to test that idea.
Bostrom's 'Simulation Hypothesis" proposes that one of the three following possibilities is true:
1) The human race will go extinct before it ever reaches a "post-human" stage of evolution that possesses a technological level capable of running complex computer simulations of our universe (what he calls "ancestor simulations"),
2) The human race evolves to a "post-human" level and is capable of running ancestor simulations, but does not do so — possibly due to the energy requirements needed, or perhaps due to ethical concerns about simulating self-aware beings,
3) We (in the here and now) are most certainly living in a computer simulation.
Furthermore (and this is where it gets a bit 'trippy'), unless we are currently living in a computer simulation, it is highly unlikely that the human race will evolve to a post-human level that runs ancestor simulations. (text from Yahoo! Voices)

Basically, Bostrom believes that one of three things is true in life as we know it: Humans go extinct before we reach a stage of intelligence where we can simulate the universe (called the post-human stage), humans evolve to this post-human stage, but, for ethical reasons and the like, we choose not to run these simulation. The final (and most intriguing possibility) is that we do live in a computer simulation.

Researchers from the University of Washington believe they can find out whether such an idea is true. By using computers of immense power (called lattice quantum chromodynamics, or QCD), the researchers could find out if our world could be simulated. The basic idea of QCD computing is that one starts with the very basic physics components that exist today. Now, all computers have limitations. For this particular computer scenario, researchers are forced to use a cube-shaped grid to make simulations on these computers. So, by using the basic components of physics laid out on a cube-shaped grid, researchers could run a simulation. If the simulation from the researchers prints out a situation similar to ours (we don't know just what that could be, but in physics, the possibilities are endless), then we've just found evidence that everything we know is being controlled by more advanced life forms, and we're in a computer simulation somewhat like The Sims.

If such evidence exists that we are actually in a computer simulation, what do we do next? Well, the logical thing to do would be to attempt to make contact with these advanced life forms, which would be fairly difficult. Because we would be a simulation and our 'creators' would be more advanced, the technology we are using could be far outdated and thus unknown (a.k.a. forgotten, like the Spanish Conquistador's mediocre guns) to the advanced lifeforms. The awkward-ness then arises- we are essentially under the control of our creators. We start to wonder, should we notify our potential creators that we are now essentially self-aware? Much like The Sims, our creators could have the power to obliterate us in a flash. But that hasn't happened in the last several million years, so I don't believe it will happen soon.

That's what could happen if evidence is found we are in a computer simulation. There is no way of knowing if we are in a simulation, and the chances of ever finding out we are 100% sure that we are in a computer simulation is next to nothing.

It's pretty difficult to even comprehend what living in a computer simulation could mean for us, but it's one of the exciting things facing our world today.



Anonymous said...

People think believing in a God is ridiculous but believing that we are living in a computer simulation ran by advanced humans isn't? Give a crazy person a PhD and people will believe anything he says. Ignorance.

Teddyz1919 said...

In this day and age anything is possible. I am spiritual as to someone or something up above. But with so many possible gods from different religions, who's to say. We are not the only livings beings in this universe, if you think so then your just narrow minded. There is no way our little pinhead size planetary neighborhood is the only one around in the vastness of the universe. Something is in control and it is up to every person personnel beliefs on what that is and should not tear those down who's beliefs are different than ours! If we didn't have these theory's from all walks of life......well.... It would be a boring monotonous life on this planet.

Anonymous said...

Dear extremely smart futuristic humans that created this simulated world that we live in...please simulate a massive snowstorm in the Great Lakes region. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

No please simulate a snowstorm in philly PLEASE (;

Anonymous said...

I am sure they can simulate a snowstorm for both the Great Lakes and Philly.