Many believe that there is real proof, mathematical and experimental, that we live in a simulation of reality.
By Rick Gonzales
The simulation theory (also known as the simulation hypothesis) is one that suggests that all of reality, including the Earth and the surrounding universe, is actually an artificial simulation. Imagine yourself and everything in your world as a giant video game played by unknown entities and you will have the picture.
It’s not like Neo in The Matrix, because in The Matrix you’re a real person thrown into a virtual world. In simulation theory, there is no real person, only a simulation. You look more like Agent Smith than Neo. If you’re reading this right now, then this Agent Smith-like sim is you.
Is the life we live real? Are the stars, planets, universe and everything we can see and touch tangible? Or, maybe, are we like all the characters we see in a video game, are we actually living in a simulated world?
The initial thought may be comedic in nature, but it’s one that many top experts have been debating for some time. And in a way, it’s more than just a debate. Many believe that there is real proof, mathematical and experimental, that we are indeed living in a simulation.
Proponents of the simulation theory believe that we are not humanity, but actually a “simultaneity”.
Proof that simulation theory is real
Simulation theory is taken seriously by many intellectuals today. PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk is one of the biggest names in simulation theory. He spoke at length on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, detailing why he thinks there’s a high likelihood we’re living in a simulation.
“If you assume any rate of improvement, then games will be indistinguishable from reality, or civilization will end. One of two things will happen,” Musk said. a simulation, because we exist.”
Musk continued. “I think most likely – it’s just a matter of probability – there are lots and lots of simulations. You might as well call them reality, or you might call them multiverse.
You can include superstar astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson as a potential simulation theory proponent. In 2016 he moderated the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate which covered this topic and came to his own conclusion in which he felt that the likelihood of our universe being a simulation “may be very high”.
Tyson agrees with philosophers and physicists who claim there’s no way to prove we live in a simulation, but also added that he wouldn’t be surprised to find out somehow. another that our universe is responsible by others. He recently put the odds of us living in a simulation at 50-50.
One of the most popular arguments for simulation theory came in 2003 from Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom. He calls his argument the Trilemma, three major points Bostrom says at least one of them is true.
These points are…
- The human species is very likely to disappear before reaching a “post-human” stage;
- It is extremely unlikely that a post-human civilization will run a significant number of simulations of its evolutionary history (or variations thereof), and
- We almost certainly live in a computer simulation.
While Bostrom said, “I personally assign less than 50% probability to the simulation hypothesis – more like something in the region of 20%, maybe, maybe…”, nevertheless, he thinks it is possible.
Opposition to simulation theory as reality
Physicist Lisa Randall stands opposite Musk and deGrasse Tyson. She says of simulation theory: “It’s just not based on well-defined probabilities. The argument says that you would have a lot of things that want to simulate us. I actually have a problem with that. We are mostly interested in ourselves. I don’t know why this superior species would want to simulate us.
Randall believes that the odds of the universe not being real are so small that they are “effectively nil”.
The Root of Simulation Theory
Simulation theory has its roots centuries ago in the French philosopher, scientist and mathematician René Descartes, best known for his statement “I think, therefore I am”. Descartes came to the conclusion that because he thinks he can be sure that he exists. But in what form does this existence come?
Descartes wrote: “I have convinced myself that there is absolutely nothing in the world, no sky, no earth, no spirits, no body. Does it follow now that I don’t exist either? No: if I convinced myself of something, then I certainly existed. But there is a supremely powerful and cunning deceiver who deliberately and constantly deceives me. In this case, I also exist without doubt, if he deceives me; and let him deceive me as much as he can, he will never succeed.
“I am nothing as long as I think I am something. So, after considering everything very carefully, I must finally conclude that this proposition, I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is advanced by me or conceived in my mind.
René Descartes (Med. 2, AT 7:25)
What if the simulation theory were real?
What is the probability of living a simulated life? There have been many cases that people have reported trying to prove that the simulation is real.
The Mandela effect is one of them. People claimed to remember the TV coverage that Nelson Mandela died in the 1980s when he died in 2013, hence the name The Mandela Effect.
Another example of the Mandela Effect is people remembering bears from Berenstain, a popular children’s book, spelled as Berenstein.
What about the “rules” imposed on our universe? Max Tegmark, an MIT cosmologist, says possible evidence that we live in a simulation can be seen by the strict laws of physics of the universe. “If I were a character in a video game, I would also eventually find that the rules seemed completely rigid and mathematical.”
Ultimately, being able to prove that we live in a simulation can be harder to prove and even harder to replicate. Scientists have yet to figure out how to simulate a universe, but that capability may not be far off.
Physicists are constantly trying to put in place the laws governing the functioning of the universe.
How does simulation theory change your outlook on life and should it? How does a person live their daily life if the simulation theory is true?
Maybe gamers would enjoy it, living a real Sims or Grand Theft Auto. But for the average person, the questions raised by the potential reality of simulation theory are endless.
What happens when the simulation ends? Are you coming back as a different character? Accepting the simulation theory as real could cause a person to look at their life and everything around it in a different light.
Do you take life more seriously? Are you seeing things with a keener eye or, more importantly, are your controllers letting you see things with a keener eye?
Neil deGrasse Tyson had this to say about the best way to live in a world where simulation theory is real: “And if it is, it’s easy for me to imagine that everything in our lives is than creating another entity for their entertainment,” Tyson says.
“I’m saying the day we find out that’s true, I’ll be the only one in the room saying, ‘I’m not surprised’.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson