What do you think of simulation theory
Is everything just simulated?
Bostrom is a professor in the Faculty of Arts at Oxford University. He is the founding director of the Future of Humanity Institute there, where mathematicians, philosophers and scientists ponder big questions about our existence. His work on the effects of future technologies, especially super-intelligent machines, made the physicist and mathematician world famous.
TR: Professor Bostrom, are we living in a simulation?
Nick Bostrom: I do not know that. But the simulation hypothesis is that we could live in a computer simulation created by an advanced civilization. In it, brains are virtually imitated in such detail that they generate consciousness and produce something like the simulator's world of experience. In such a case one speaks of an ancestral simulation. Of course, a simulator could also create completely different worlds of experience.
But the idea isn't really new, is it? After all, Descartes already spoke of the possibility that an evil demon could create our experiences.
That's true, but I have also added an argument that includes the simulation hypothesis as a possible future. The argument is based on the assumption that we can roughly estimate what computing power a civilization in this universe will have at least once it reaches its technical maturity. We can also estimate the computing power of the human brain. When these values are compared, it becomes clear that a mature civilization would only have to use a tiny fraction of its computing resources to simulate many trillions of human brains.
So if only a fraction of all civilizations have reached this mature state, then it is likely that we are living in a simulation. If not, there are only two other options: Either all civilizations that are at our current level of technological development will die out before they are technologically mature. Or technologically mature civilizations have no interest in ancestral simulations. The three possibilities result in an overall probability of 100 percent. So at least one of them must be true.
And which option do you think is true?
To decide that one would need new pieces of evidence or arguments that increase or decrease the likelihood of the simulation hypothesis.
Zohreh Davoudi, a theoretical physicist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, suggests cosmological evidence: She wants to study high-energy cosmic rays to find out whether space-time itself is digital. She sees this as a possible indication of limited computing power and thus that someone is simulating our reality.
That wouldn't be a very good test. For little creatures like us sniffing around the universe, reality can appear digital without being simulated. Conversely, it can appear analog, although it is digitally simulated. Finally, we can also simulate analog phenomena on a digital computer. For example, even though there is no infinite bit string in a computer, one can calculate the number pi divided by two so that the answer is correct.
So what would be good evidence?
The simplest case, of course, would be a large window that pops up in front of you and says, "You are in a simulation." However, any evidence against the other two hypotheses indirectly contributes to increasing the probability of the simulation hypothesis. Let's say we are making good technological advances as a civilization and will soon be able to create our own ancestral simulations.
That would be very convincing evidence against the hypothesis that all civilizations will die out before they have reached technological maturity. If we then actually do ancestral simulations, it would be evidence against the hypothesis that mature civilizations lose interest in ancestral simulations.
We still don't know whether we are living in a simulation. But we can be sure that it would be technically possible. What are the reasons for it to come to this?
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