Elon Musk and Y Combinator’s Sam Altman have now publicly said in recent days that there is a strong possibility that we’re all living in a simulation. Are we? Is this the Matrix?
The Case for It
Though this idea was floated as early as the 17th century, it was popularized again in 2003 by Nick Bostrom, the founder of the Future of Humanity institute at Oxford University in the UK. It basically goes like this:
1. In the future, it is inevitable that human civilization will have enormous computing power
2. This computing power will surely be strong enough to run simulations to understand how their ancestors (us) thought, behaved, and evolved.
3. There is a strong chance that humankind will not self-destruct in the future
4. There is a strong chance that if future humans have the power to run simulations, they will run them.
5. Therefore, there is a strong chance that we are now in one of those simulations.
The Case Against It
People like MIT professor of physics Max Tegmark believes that, while there’s a chance that we’re in a simulation, it’s a slim one. His argument against this idea goes like this:
1. The laws of physics show evidence of ever-increasing complexity
2. Those laws would need to be mastered in order to run a simulation good enough for today’s smartest humans not to find flaws in the simulation.
3. We do not observe such flaws in the laws of nature, therefor it is unlikely that we are in a simulation.
Here are some fun links related to this subject
• Follow the Future of Humanity Institute on Twitter
• MIT Prof. Max Tegmark on Twitter
• Y Combinator discussion of this topic
• Nick Bostrom’s 2003 paper on why we are likely to be in a simulation
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