All we know and experience, even life itself, might be a simulation generated by an unknown technology? This concept, called the simulation hypothesis, was initially proposed in 2003 by University of Oxford professor Nick Bostrom.
However, does such a hypothesis provide a convincing argument, or is it only fuel for thought?
Let’s imagine that in the far, far future, we develop some absurd planet-sized computer — a machine so capable that it can replicate our whole universe, mimicking all of the chemistry, physics, and biology that we encounter in reality. If we also believe that consciousness is consciousness, no matter where it exists, then any generated beings within the computer that achieve consciousness would experience a reality that is different from ours. When our successors develop such a computer, they will undoubtedly generate a variety of simulated creatures. The number of replicated aware brains living in a computer will shortly outweigh the number of biological brains existing in the real world. If this occurs, we are left with three options:
- Our successors will never be capable of creating the technological capacity to recreate the universe authentically.
- Our successors will develop the technology but will decide to not recreate the universe.
- You, like the large majority of aware creatures, are living in a simulation.
Is it possible that we are living in a simulation? In the end, we don’t know, and the simulation hypothesis doesn’t provide a powerful argument that we may.