Are We Living In A Simulation?

I don’t think so

Crossposted from Promethea

There is no proof of this. However, people have made convincing philosophical arguments for the existence of God, without offering irrefutable evidence. It is perfectly acceptable to accept something on a basis of probability, should proof be lacking.

Personally, I find it difficult to believe that we are in a simulation. The concept is so self-defining that it quickly devolves into a ‘turtles all the way down’ argument.

“Who created the simulator?”, we may ask.

“The simulator of the simulator” is the confident reply.

The resulting family tree of simulators does nothing to answer the question of where base reality came from. In a way, it is just a convenient way of pushing the answer one step away, and one more, and one more — until the question is abandoned through sheer frustration of the questioning party.

People who try to use the simulation hypothesis as a substitute for God might just as well try Scientology to solve these existential problems. It’s pointless to say — “Well, there was something… but it wasn’t God, because that’s silly. I know — It was a near-infinite train of highly intelligent simulators that go back to the beginning of time, where something magical happens!” From a physics standpoint, this is utterly impossible. The terrifying real-life version of the Droste effect would require near-infinite computing power.

Nested simulations

It’s much simpler to use a ‘wait and see’ approach when it comes to the beginning of reality. The simulation hypothesis does nothing to answer this question.


To address the ‘purer’ form of the simulation hypothesis, I will remove my neckbeard and fedora to look at Nick Bostrom’s idea of this scenario.

His idea is much broader than the condensed version that is currently making its rounds on pop-science websites.

The simulation hypothesis is a subset of the simulation argument. The latter, I fully accept, but the former, I think, is a bit of a stretch.

I think the Drake Equation is, surprisingly, relevant here. One of the solutions for why we have yet to make contact with intelligent Et’s (despite the likelihood of such an occurrence) is that they are extinct or have evolved to the point that communication no longer interests them.

We’ve come close to extinction many times. Our cousins, of the species Homo Erectus, weren’t so lucky. We should consider ourselves fortunate to have made it out of WWII and the Cold War. We have yet to meet our greatest existential threat: AI. Who can say what will happen then? If we assume that the development of artificial super intelligence is an unavoidable stepping stone in the technological advancement of each civilization, this may not bode well for us. The intersection of ETs that have made ASI and ETs that we know to (still) exist is zero. To me, this is an utterly terrifying thought. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I don’t think we are likely to survive ASI. The thought that it may have been the death of our next-galaxy neighbors is among my reasons for thinking so.

In order to accept the simulation hypothesis, you must assume that a species has survived to the point that it was capable of simulating a universe. I think that this is unlikely.

For this reason alone, I think it is safe to assume that we are in base reality. I am a bit surprised that Elon Musk (worried about AI more than most) considers the odds to be billions to one that we are in a simulated universe. To me, it sounds as though his reasoning aligns (to an extent) with the Modified Anthropic Principle. I’m not sure that I agree with this, as I think that a universe with the potential for life is much more likely to give birth to an intelligent biological species than humans are likely to survive ASI.

If we were in a simulation, that would offer a convincing explanation for supernatural phenomena like ghosts and banchees. Perhaps some mischievous young simulator got bored, and decided to wreak havoc on a few English hamlets. Such a shame that he outgrew this interest by the time that we developed technology capable of recording his antics. </sarcasm>

I really don’t think that we’re in a simulation. It seems to me that the arguments against it greatly outweigh the arguments for it.


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