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Some Researchers Debate if we are Living in a Computer Simulation


If you saw the movie The Matrix, you are familiar with the simulation hypothesis – the idea that reality is rather a sophisticated computer simulation, or a video game. We are not organic creatures, but characters of a much more advanced civilization created by an intricate computer program.

We can be part of a scientific experiment, or we can have fun. But one way or another, we are not what we think we are. It may sound small, but many scientists and philosophers take the idea seriously.

In 2003 Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at the University of Oxford and director of the Future of Humanity Institute, published and ROLE argues that not only is it possible that we are living in a simulation, it is likely. He points out that we are now creating more realistic simulations of our own world.

If our civilization does not die or retreat for some reason, later generations may eventually be able to create simulated worlds that are more realistic. Soon there will be countless simulated universes. This means that the chances are very high that any given universe – this, for example – is a simulation. The probabilities, as described by Bostrom, suggest that our world is likely to be an impressive simulation.

Simulation Hypothesis

In Bostrom’s argument, future generations of people run simulations of their own past, and we can have simulations. But that’s not the only way it works. Our unknown creators will be an advanced civilization that is unimaginably different from ours.

David Chalmers, a New York University philosopher, examines the simulation hypothesis at some length in his 2022 book Reality +: Virtual World and the Problems of Philosophy.

“Scientists might want to run a million simulations with different parameters, changing the laws of physics to see what happens,” Chalmers said, describing a possible scenario. In that case, “the imitating universe would be very different from the imitated universe.”

So what are the chances that everything we know is virtual? Chalmers said he doesn’t think we can rule out the possibility. When a person is in a perfect simulation, for them, it seems like a physical reality. He put the odds at “about 10 percent, or more.”

Build Simulations for Evidence

Of course, not everyone takes the idea seriously. Lisa Randall, a theoretical particle physicist at Harvard University, has little patience with the hypothesis. she SAYS that he was less interested in the hypothesis itself and more interested in why so many people were attracted to it. Frank Wilczcek, MIT physicist and Nobel Prize winner, points that the laws of mathematics in our world are extremely complex. It is unreasonable, he said, to create an artificial world with such “difficult computational components.”

The problem is that it is almost impossible to prove that we are not in a simulation. Any evidence to the contrary could be part of the simulation, Chalmers explained.

So if the simulation hypothesis is not falsifiable, is it a scientific question? That depends on the simulation, according to Chalmers. Naa gyud versions of the falsifiable hypothesis. One version, he says, is that we live in an imperfect simulation, one that has to be estimated in some physics. If so, then we can see evidence of shortcuts.

In 2012, physicists Silas Beane, Zohreh Davoudi and Martin Savage published and ROLE argued that if we were in a simulation, we would one day see evidence of it. They are actually working to build simulations of our universe using quantum computing.

Given an infinite amount of computing power, a simulated universe would have to make some trade-offs in accuracy, they explained. They will, in principle, notice this.

In another study, a group of physicists argued that the breakdown of wave function – the strange fact that particles act like waves until they are observed – could provide a way to test the hypothesis. For example, if scientists find a situation where the universe has changed to avoid a contradiction (or paradox), then it would suggest that the simulation responds to the “purpose of the experiment,” – which we might call a gamer.

On the other hand, if the simulation is perfectsays Chalmers, the assumption is actually hard to falsify.

Probably the only way we can know for sure is if one of the programmers pulls the plug.



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