The simulation hypothesis, or are we living in the Matrix?

The simulation hypothesis is the idea that reality is a digital simulation. Technological advances will inevitably produce automated artificial superintelligence that will, in turn, create simulations to better understand the universe. This opens the door for the idea that superintelligence already exists and created simulations now occupied by humans. At first blush the notion that reality is pure simulacra seems preposterous, but the hypothesis springs from decades of scientific research and is taken seriously by academics, scientists, and entrepreneurs like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk

For Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson, there’s a good chance that our entire existence is a program on someone else’s hard drive, that we’re the playthings of our technologically advanced future descendants. “I think the likelihood may be very high,” Tyson said. “We would be drooling, blithering idiots in their presence.” As Musk put it, “There’s a billion to one chance we’re living in base reality.”

In 2003 Bostrom presented a paper that proposed a trilemma, a decision between three challenging options, related to the potential of future superintelligence to develop simulations. Bostrom argues this likelihood is nonzero, meaning the odds of a simulated reality are astronomically small, but because percentage likelihood is not zero we must consider rational possibilities that include a simulated reality. Bostrom does not propose that humans occupy a simulation. Rather, he argues that massive computational ability developed by posthuman superintelligence will likely develop simulations to better understand that nature of reality…

Simulation hypothesis has many critics, namely those in academic communities who question an overreliance on anthropic reasoning and scientific detractors who point out simulations need not be conscious to be studied by future superintelligence. But as artificial intelligence and machine learning emerge as powerful business and cultural trends, many of Bostrom’s ideas are going mainstream…

Video Credit: Schizo Qubit




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