I forget where I first ran across the whole “We’re probably living in a simulation” thing, but I think it may have been in a Youtube video. Later on, I watched another video, which I believe was a TED Talk, by Nick Bostrom. (edit: Here’s a video of him discussing it – I just googled that and I haven’t watched it yet, but I think I saw it in the past).
So I’m going to summarize the simulation hypothesis as I understand it, and hopefully I don’t get it wrong:
The idea is that one of these 3 things must be true:
- Probably no civilization will reach the stage where they can do a high fidelity simulation of their ancestors.
- Future civilizations will reach the stage where they can do high fidelity simulations, but won’t be interested in it.
- Future civilizations will be able to do high fidelity simulations of their ancestors, and then will do so, and they will do tons and tons of them.
And so if case 3 is true, then once you add up all the people who actually lived (outside of simulations), along with all the people who were simulated, the simulated people:real people ratio will probably be incredibly high.
If case #3 was true, and a future civilization ran only 1 simulation ever, there would already be a full 50% chance that we are currently living in a simulation. But why would they only run 1 simulation? Maybe there are a trillion people in this future universe, and they constantly want to check out what their human ancestors were up to, so they run simulations all the time. If that was true, then maybe it’s a trillions-to-one probability that we’re in a simulation right now.
I am probably explaining it very badly, or missing a crucial point, but listen, I’m just a guy on the internet with a webserver, and I don’t know much.
So anyhow, while I think these 3 points do add up logically, I’m still unclear about a couple of things.
One of them is probably super obvious, and has to do with consciousness: Even if some future civilization can do a really high-fidelity simulation of the past (including right now, 2016), would the simulated humans actually be conscious, as we are? They might, but it seems a stretch to just assume it, so I almost feel like there should be a case #4 which is “Maybe future civilizations will do a ton of high-fidelity simulations, but nobody inside them will have consciousness”. I have a feeling there’s probably a well thought out argument against this, but I don’t know.
Originally, I also thought “Well okay, even if there is a 99.999% chance that we’re in a simulation, who cares, it doesn’t make any difference!”, but then I decided that it does, for this reason:
Okay, so I don’t see how it’s possibly for one universe to fully simulate another universe. I feel like, and maybe I’m wrong here, but I don’t see how, computationally, you could create a simulation with the same resolution (just as many quarks, atoms, etc,) as the real thing, it just seems like it’d be impossible, or maybe at least very, very hard. So what if we are living in a simulation, but they left a bunch of stuff out to save disk space!
Maybe all the scientists trying to figure out what dark matter is are just one day going to say “Oh it’s because RAM wasn’t on sale when Elder127392319 booted up this simulation”. How lame would that be, it would be so dumb. What if the real Universe is way, way bigger than ours? That would suck.
Also, thinking this through, let’s imagine that creating a simulation like this takes a lot of computing power: If this is the case, then perhaps someone would just create the simulation once and distribute it to anyone who wanted to run it, so essentially, we wouldn’t just be living in a simulation, but the whole Universe would be a torrent file. This would suck. What if our whole universe is called something like Copy%20of%20UNIVERSE1-Final.XxXRAIDERZXxX.sim holy crap that would suck, it would suck so bad, I’m getting mad just thinking about it, aaaaaagagagaggaghahgaghaghaghahgaghgahahgghghaaghghahgaghahgaghaghahgahgaghaghaghaagagagaghagauhsgduiaeygrdkuwesyrfgwek vuirtyg4vkeiruger kriuweg rwieurg weiurg iwrug
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