What is reality? That’s a very common question that baffles children’s minds once they start observing everything around them, not knowing the far-reaching effects of such a question. Only one query, yet a countless amount of answers. Now imagine someone asks you to answer this question. As a religious person, you will rely on religion to explain. In contrast, a secularist will choose science as their main source of guidance. Even so, many people believe in theories such as the simulation hypothesis or simulation theory. This theory explains the proposal that all of reality, including the Earth and the rest of the universe, could be an artificial simulation, such as a computer simulation. This simulation would probably be created by extremely intelligent extraterrestrial creatures.
Therefore, what if the world around us wasn’t real, what if we were living in an imitation like characters in a video game? Seems like a familiar concept at a display of ‘The Matrix’ or ‘The Thirteenth Floor’. However, chances are about 50-50.
How did Simulation Theory start?
‘Cogito ergo sum’ translates to ‘I think, therefore, I am’ . It’s one of the most famous realizations in philosophy stated within Rene Descartes’ 1641 book ‘Meditations on First Philosophy’. Still, where did this concept form?
Let’s travel back in time and unfold the tale. However, you have to be willing to entertain some level of scepticism, since Descartes was immensely sceptical. As to why? He realized that numerous of his beliefs were set to be inaccurate. The analogy that Descartes used to illustrate his thinking was that of a basket full of apples, some of which might be rotten. As is well known, the rot from one bad apple can easily spread to its neighbours. If you suspect that not all the apples are sound, the best move is not to look at each apple in turn but to empty the whole lot in one go and only return the good ones to the basket. Descartes was of the view that beliefs could be treated just like apples; some of them might be “rotten” and thus capable of infecting other beliefs. So he started from scratch, introducing that our senses fail us all the time and give us faulty information. How could you trust your senses again? He thought what if everything was a deception? What if nothing is as it seems, just like The Matrix? Relatively as a good catholic, Descartes linked everything to an evil genius whose purpose in life was to deceive us and create an illusionary world so coherent. We’d have no way of detecting it. Again, just like the machines created in The Matrix. Now back to Descartes finding out that the only thing he could be sure of was the fact that he was doubting. Then he must exist as a thinking thing, he couldn’t know that he had a body but he was certain of having a mind that thinks. So here it goes ‘I think, therefore, I am.’ Now how is this philosophical scenario related to our topic? Ironically, everything about the simulation hypothesis was derived from Descartes’ false reality.
What have scientists and professionals have had to say about the matter?
Many respectful professors have considered this theory throughout history. Fast forward to many centuries later. Nick Bostrom, a Swedish philosopher at the University of Oxford, proposed a trilemma called ‘The Simulation Argument’ that argues that one of these three propositions about the future is most likely true. The first one suggests that advanced humans will never be able to run developed ancestor simulations. Bostrom negates this scenario because technology is in constant development, and even now we are running simulations, which makes it certain that running simulated worlds will be possible in the future. The next outline is also invalidated. Why? Because it proposes that the same advanced humans will be able to run simulations but decides not to. Now that is baloney. Which leaves us with the third. Humans in the future can run the simulation and do run them. Ultimately this summarizes Bostrom’s strong beliefs that we live in an artificial world created by our kind a couple of years down the line to study us just like we study the big bang theory in a simulation for instance. Besides Bostrom’s ideas, this recently became a topic of discussion after Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX explains in an interview the unbelievable rate of improvement in video games today and how we have photorealistic 3D simulations that are getting better every year . Alternatively, about forty years ago games were simply two rectangles and a dot, like pong . This logic makes it inevitable that soon we will have games that are indistinguishable from reality. He concludes that the possibility of us being in base reality is one in billions supporting Bostrom’s idea. Therefore, these ideas and concepts resulted in numerous people believing in such a theory, many articles being written by reliable news outlets, and many producers being inspired to create programs about it.
People’s take on the simulation hypothesis
This theory has been quite interesting to learn about, it’s a new idea, and a topic that’s being currently discussed between philosophers and intellectuals. Though, every individual has their own opinion. I’ve created a questionnaire to observe how well known this theory is and why people may or may not believe it. Here are the results: 15 out of 30 people have come across this topic before, which is a surprising number considering this theory is one of the lesser known theories especially in the Middle East. But, only 8 out of these 15 tend to believe in it. At first glance, most people who refuse to believe this topic find the idea too scary. Because they’ve always known our world as it is, created by God and not by posterity.
Then again, you might be wondering, why would it matter ultimately whether our world was real or illusory? What is the purpose of proving or disproving the fact that we live in a video game?
‘’ There are a lot of debates around this topic. Some of us wouldn’t want to know. But I think many of us would like to know this. We would want to know the parameters of the game we’re playing so that we could better understand it, better navigate it.’’
Rizwan Virk -a computer scientist and video game designer who published an entire book titled ’The Simulation Theory’ in 2019 – posited. As a matter of fact wouldn’t it be useful to know what kind of game we’re in to increase our chances of surviving and thriving? Therefore, after reading these mad ideas about our phenomenon it’s your turn to answer this question? Is the simulation theory realistic or simply fraud?