Are we living in a computer simulation? Theoretical questions if we want to know


Are you going through an existential crisis? Try to ask yourself if your whole existence is real. If some scientists and even Elon Musk question this, you never know.

The point is, if we are really just simulated beings made to believe that we are flesh and blood instead of pixels and code, the truth could mean that we remain blissfully oblivious – or that humanity will turn around. herself. We still won’t know anything if we don’t find out, but we could end up destroying our species or even our planet if we discover something.

Preston Greene, an assistant professor of philosophy at Nanyang University in Singapore, recently shared his thoughts on such a strange and challenging theory in a New York Times editorial, and he will soon publish an article in the journal Erkenntnis.

“What if computers ever became so powerful, and these simulations so sophisticated, that every ‘person’ simulated in the computer code was an individual as complicated as you or me, so much so that these people believed they really were. desire ? ? “Greene asked.” What if this had already happened? “

We’ve been using computer simulations to prove (or disprove) theories and predict outcomes since the 90s. How else could we “look inside” a black hole or know more about pulsars than a telescope could never see any? Simulations, however, help the human brain at best. It depends on the advancement of the latest computer technology. What was state of the art in 1995 is pretty much obsolete now. What’s up now… you get the point.

Then there’s this whole “what if it ever happened” scenario that will probably keep you awake for a few nights. Greene attributes this to the philosopher Nick bostrom, who theorized that we could just be computer simulations created by aliens much more advanced than any civilization we could dream of. But why? It turns out that Bostrom believed that people capable of developing simulations will want to replicate their ancestors in the digital realm. We might even be those ancestors. As if the idea of ​​being the ancestor of the space creatures video game wasn’t creepy enough, Elon Musk also seems to believe we are stuck in real life Matrix, if life is even real.

Physics can prove it, if you ask Professor George Smoot, a physicist and Nobel Prize winner who called humans “philosophical zombies” and “hypothetical beings” in his now famous (or infamous) TED talk. MRIs can now scan the human brain neuron by neuron, and these neurons could theoretically be replicated. However, that and the other experiences he offers could pose a threat to every human being on the planet. It’s a bit like a medical trial. Everyone is informed that they are on a new drug, and if anyone in the placebo group finds out that they are swallowing a sugar pill, the whole experience must be stopped.

This is why believers insist that we are all just characters downloaded to an alien hard drive or smartphone. “If you assume a rate of improvement, then the games will be indistinguishable from reality, or civilization will end. One of those two things will happen,” Musk echoed Bostrom and Smoot when he appeared on comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast last year. “Therefore, we are most likely in a simulation, because we exist.”

Is discovering it worth the risk of annihilating humanity? We may never know, this is how we will continue to exist.

(Going through The New York Times)


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