3 Fictional Pieces in the next few weeks
One question. Is our universe just a computer simulation? By that I mean, are we a version of the Sims that could easily be created or destroyed at will? Now, that does seem like a dreadful question to ask but it’s quite interesting to consider. If our universe is indeed a simulation, how would we be able to test it? How would we determine that our universe is the reality? One way would be to look for ‘glitches’ in our reality that wouldn’t be possible in any physical context. But why are people like Elon Musk entertaining the idea, even going as far as to support it?
Descartes explored a similar idea with his thoughts on existence. His famous quote, “I think, therefore I am,” refers to existence itself. Simply put, he says: ‘there’s no way I can have this thought without existing.’For all we know, he could be a brain in a container of chemicals but it’s irrelevant because he exists (let’s save digressions for another time).
We’ll start with some assumptions. Say in the future, either our species or some other species acquires the computing power to simulate the universe perfectly (or near-perfect). If we accept this is possible then we also have to consider that we may be one of the simulated universes. Furthermore, if we agree that there are infinite timelines then there must be an equal probability of simulations as there are real universes. When you consider that each of the real universes can simulate more than one pseudo-universe, that’s where probability factors in. These simulated universes would greatly outnumber the real universes thereby increasing the chance that our universe is a simulation. However, there’s a third possibility. This suggests that posthuman populations would not be interested in running ancestral life simulations so we wouldn’t have to worry about our universe being a simulation.
This type of thinking may sound twisty and obscure and it should. Take a look at the idea of time travel for instance. Why don’t you believe that everyone around you is a time traveler? Assuming time travel will eventually become possible (still an infinite timeline), it will have been used to visit any point in history. How do we know that the people walking around us aren’t time travelers blending into our era? That is the fundamental issue with this trilemma of sorts.
We’ve essentially gone over the basic idea of Bostrom’s Trilemma, known as the “Simulation Hypothesis” Many discount Bostrom’s hypothesis as purely philosophical and it is. There is no real way to test or disprove it. In fact, we could definitely be the first generation and simulated universes don’t exist in our timeline yet.
It’s a challenge to determine the state of our existence, be it simulated or real. However, such thought experiment is one of many that are interesting to consider. They have the ability to shake the core of our beliefs of our universe and how we understand it and that should account for something.