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Are We Living in a Fake Universe?

Is it possible that the universe we appear to live in is a fake? An artificial reality, a simulation like, a super-advanced first-person shooter (just for most of us, a whole lot more boring one in which we go do a job)?

Philosopher Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, describes a fake universe as a “richly detailed software simulation of people, including their historical predecessors, by a very technologically advanced civilization.”

It’s like the movie “The Matrix,” Bostrom said, except that “instead of having brains in vats that are fed by sensory inputs from a simulator, the brains themselves would also be part of the simulation. It would be one big computer program simulating everything, including human brains down to neurons and synapses.”

Bostrum is not saying that humanity is living in such a simulation. Rather, his “Simulation Argument” seeks to show that one of three possible scenarios must be true (assuming there are other intelligent civilizations):

  1. All civilizations become extinct before becoming technologically mature;
  2. All technologically mature civilizations lose interest in creating simulations;
  3. Humanity is literally living in a computer simulation.

His point is that all cosmic civilizations either disappear (e.g., destroy themselves) before becoming technologically capable, or all decide not to generate whole-world simulations (e.g., decide such creations are not ethical, or get bored with them). The operative word is “all” — because if even one civilization anywhere in the cosmos could generate such simulations, then simulated worlds would multiply rapidly and almost certainly humanity would be in one.

Link: Is Our Universe a Fake?

  1. All civilizations become extinct before technologically mature
    What is technological maturity? Why do those who pontificate about it on a universal scale never think outside the box of specifically human behavior? Would every species that evolved on other planets in the universe think and act as we do? Really?

    Typically the technological extinction point is stated as civilizations destroy themselves when they reach a level of technological sophistication that allows them to do so.

    But that hypothesis is always couched in a very specific human frame of reference, i.e. our development of nuclear weapons of mass destruction, although it’s recently been expanded to include triggering ecological disaster.

    Because of our strong technological bias and anthropomorphism we can’t conceive of a non-technological civilization that is also highly advanced. The closest thing our tunnel vision will allow us to see is “post technological”.

    We also can’t conceive of a civilization that is technologically advanced yet has no motivation to create weapons of mass destruction nor didn’t develop its advanced technology at the expense of its planetary environment.

    There’s nothing new or profound in this man’s thinking. It’s just more of the same old, same old sorry merchandise on display with the window dressing changed a but.

    1. @purrlgurrl
      @purrlgurrl, I see what you’re saying re: technological maturity and the possibility that other civilizations could be non-human, non-bipedal, non-technological and non-violent but isn’t the idea to utilize probability and experience? In other words, all we know so far about life in the universe is limited to us: we are human, technological and sometimes violent.

      So while there’s a likely possibility that other types of civilizations exist, probabilistically there would also likely be civilizations with very similar markers to us; the most important being that of technological advancement. If we accept that this is the case, aren’t we back at what Bostrum is trying to get across?

      “Would every species that evolved on other planets in the universe think and act as we do?” I think his point is it takes just one (because sufficient technological advancement probably comes along with the desire to create and run simulations, at least for some civilizations out ‘there’, but perhaps not all).

      What does this mean for Fermi’s paradox though? The creators didn’t think to leave some space garbage laying around to give the simulation a little bit of depth? Is there a reason for this?

      1. Musk
        Another point of interest is that Elon Musk has proclaimed an affinity for the simulation theory. Whether this is an ‘initiated’ view or mere speculation on his part is up for debate.

        1. Musk . . . give us a break
          Elon Must is an entrepreneur and businessman first and foremost. Anything he says is colored by that approach to life (just like Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg, the Google Guys . . . and Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Ford before them). I don’t think Musk will be ranked among history’s profound thinkers.

          We have fallen so in love with technology we are blinded by it and assign it an omnipotence it doesn’t have.

          Maybe we really are headed at breakneck speed down the road to extinction after all.

          1. AI
            Be not so enamored of our demise. The gift of life is strong in our species. Sure our use of non-sustainable fuels are likely to kill our planet, that is likely to make us utilize a space migration to other confines. It is my view to consider our species a space faring civilization. Smile. Our planet is a serial killer. Perhaps other civilizations have the same fate? Nothing lasts for long. Shineforth brave souls! Dennis

          2. How would a civilization
            How would a civilization capable of creating a simulation be able to tell whether or not it too was a simulation?

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