A while back I was listening to an episode of Buzz Out Loud (which is [still] just about the greatest podcast on the net) and a story was brought up of a man named Nick Bostrom, who believed that we might very well be living inside of a simulation. At the time, the story resulted mostly in laughter, however, the Buzz Crew actually brought Nick on to yesterdays show to talk about his Argument for a Simulated Reality. The resulting conversation was very interesting if not intriguing.
When the subject was brought up in the original episode, I didn't really care much. It just came in through the head phones as I sat in the office and got filed away in the back of my head. I didn't even bother to look the original article like I usually do when the cast mentions a subject of interest. I wish now, having heard the argument from nick himself, that I would have given it a chance. While his argument is not a "proof" by any means, it does bring up some interesting points and makes you at least willing to entertain the possibility that we may be living in a simulation.
The argument is built upon three premises, one of which you must accept when discussing the possibilities of a simulated reality. They are (more or less) as follows:
1) No civilization could ever reach a level of technological advancement so great that they could create a simulation so real that the participants couldn't recognize they were part of the simulation.
2) A civilation could reach a level of technological advancement so great that they could create a simulation so real that the participants couldn't recognize they were part of the simulation, however, they would have absolutely no desire to actually create that simulation.
3) A civilation could reach a level of technological advancement so great that they could create a simulation so real that the participants couldn't recognize they were part of the simulation, and would create such a simulation. Thus, we could be in that simulation.
Now of course, all you have to do to send the argument crashing into the ground is accept the first premise. In it, we could never be existing within a simulation because no such simulation could exist. But if you are willing to throw the first premise out, you're really only left to accept the third. I mean, can you honestly tell me that if we could create an artificial world that was in distinguishable from real life, we would refrain from doing so. You've got to be out of your mind. This is where we're headed folks. Simulations, whether for entertainment or study, are a huge industry. We live in a world where people do just because they can. If the technology is there, you can bet your ass we're going to use it.
So if we're all on the same page here. If you believe that we could possibly become advanced enough. If you believe that we would use that technology given the opportunity. Can you honestly then refute the possibility that this could all be a simulation? It's something to think about.
posted by Christopher Schnese