Do you ever think that reality is a simulation?

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06 Oct 2023, 4:50 pm

I believe the argument is that since we, as a species, seem compelled to create increasingly accurate models of our reality as our technological ability allows, we will eventually create one that is indistinguishable in its complexity and the beings inside that model, being made in our image, will in turn seek to create their own model of their reality. And so on to infinity. And given that, the probability of this reality being the first in that chain is vanishingly small, in which case we're almost definitely living in a simulation of some other reality. It's as likely as anything else, I suppose.



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06 Oct 2023, 5:11 pm

i WANT it to be a simulation and to continue being a simulation. seems somehow less intense that way.


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06 Oct 2023, 5:35 pm

DuckHairback wrote:
I believe the argument is that since we, as a species, seem compelled to create increasingly accurate models of our reality as our technological ability allows, we will eventually create one that is indistinguishable in its complexity and the beings inside that model, being made in our image, will in turn seek to create their own model of their reality. And so on to infinity. And given that, the probability of this reality being the first in that chain is vanishingly small, in which case we're almost definitely living in a simulation of some other reality. It's as likely as anything else, I suppose.

I don't quite see how that could be. Even the most accurate and complex model would still only be a model, and the "beings" in it would just be lifeless representations of the real thing. I suppose we could make a computer simulation of the universe, in principle, but it would still only be a "photograph" of it. The "model" would have to be a clone of the universe if its inhabitants were to actually do anything. And I don't see where we'd put the clone, as the current universe seems to occupy all the available space. But it's difficult stuff to think about coherently, probably because it's so far removed from our experiences.


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06 Oct 2023, 6:17 pm

I have thought it as a possibility for a long time. And it is a scientific hypothesis that has many backers:

"ever since Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford wrote a seminal paper about the simulation argument in 2003, philosophers, physicists, technologists and, yes, comedians have been grappling with the idea of our reality being a simulacrum.

Some have tried to identify ways in which we can discern if we are simulated beings. Others have attempted to calculate the chance of us being virtual entities. Now a new analysis shows that the odds that we are living in base reality—meaning an existence that is not simulated—are pretty much even.

But the study also demonstrates that if humans were to ever develop the ability to simulate conscious beings, the chances would overwhelmingly tilt in favor of us, too, being virtual denizens inside someone else’s computer. (A caveat to that conclusion is that there is little agreement about what the term “consciousness” means, let alone how one might go about simulating it.)"


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07 Oct 2023, 12:43 am

DuckHairback wrote:
I believe the argument is that since we, as a species, seem compelled to create increasingly accurate models of our reality as our technological ability allows, we will eventually create one that is indistinguishable in its complexity and the beings inside that model, being made in our image, will in turn seek to create their own model of their reality. And so on to infinity. And given that, the probability of this reality being the first in that chain is vanishingly small, in which case we're almost definitely living in a simulation of some other reality. It's as likely as anything else, I suppose.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson, no less, makes that argument.

Much as I am fan of his I think thats bullocks. Even NDGT isnt infallible. There is no evidence for us being a simulaton. And even if there were it makes little practical difference.

And there is an argument against it. A little thing that exists in our reality called "irrational numbers". Numbers (the one number Pi is the most famous example but most numbers are irrational) with decimal places that go on forever and never repeat and never have a pattern. Not computer could ever have enough memory storage to accommodate irrational numbers.

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07 Oct 2023, 6:40 am

I enjoyed The Matrix and Inception. I didn't take their premises to heart. Metaphysics has never held a lot of interest to me.

Besides, the lifelong test is a test whether the scorekeeper is AI, aliens, God, or ourselves.


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07 Oct 2023, 6:55 am

naturalplastic wrote:
I think that we are all characters in a game of Farmville being played on a computer screen by a great big pudgy geeky kid who lives in his parents' basement in another world.

And that...that geeky kid is himself ...a character in a game of Farmville...being played by another geeky kid on a computer screen in another world...who is himself a character in a game of Farmville...

The September 25, 2023 episode of Futurama was like that. It was titled All the Way Down. Professor Farnsworth creates a virtual universe. Like video games, as he increases the processing power, the universe gets filled with more detail. Eventually, the Professor Farnsworth in that universe does the same thing. This goes on and on, until the professor realizes they are going to overload the computer. Eventually, each universe begins questioning if they are a simulation.

Simulated universes is something that is easy to understand and maybe it replaces the Gods and stories of the past with a modern technological version of the same story. Just what Joseph Campbell said we needed!

I don't like messing with people's beliefs because for some, that is how they cope with life and can appear (or be) confident and strong. Some of us are always questioning so it doesn't upset us, anger us or make us insecure. How everything got started is the mystery. Settling on a story or a paradigm (if that's the right word), allows some to tell themselves "Yep. That's the answer. No need to look further." While physicists look for proof to support or disprove the hypothesis. People on YouTube settles things with posts like "Glitches in the Matrix." Most are easily just illusions in nature or human made illusions. I said "most," because I have not watched them all.

I liked Fnord's first post in this thread. Unlike me, it was very concise. :)
Although, looking at the world as if it is a simulation can be fun.

Caveat: I am not a scientist or particularly smart. Evidence for the latter? It is 41 degrees Fahrenheit, and I still have the windows in my living room and kitchen open. My fingers are cold. As a simulation, that level of detail is brilliant! My bedroom and basement are nice and warm (still) without turning on the heat.


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07 Oct 2023, 7:20 am

GreenVelvetWorm wrote:
Not necessarily a simulation (in the style of the Matrix), but I do feel like our experience of reality is very "constructed" by our physiology and our senses. I think what we're each experiencing is our own very specific version of reality, and that we'd be shocked at how different it is if we could see it through something else's perspective (hope that makes sense)

I think there is truth to this. We know that we experience reality differently. Just one example, taste. Another, vision/color. There have been studies about this, assuming the studies are good and not flawed. People think differently about the same thing. So their brains nudge their opinions and beliefs one way or another. A US study found this to be true with the two political parties. That was from an episode I heard on Science Friday.

Again, my knowledge of science is average, and physics and quantum physics sub-average. My imagination is maybe slightly above average. My fingers are still cold...


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07 Oct 2023, 8:06 am

I have experienced dissociative states all of my life usually as a stress reaction. Less so as I have gotten older but they still occur.

When in this state, I and nothing around me seems real.

When younger I found this disturbing but now I view it as an interesting phenomena and quite enjoy them when they do occur. I feel like a detached observer of some kind of simulation.

So in answer to the question - yes at times I do, but this is transitory.

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08 Oct 2023, 3:31 pm

"Cogito, ergo sum" or "I think therefore I am" was Descartes reply to this idea. I think that he dismissed it clearly and skillfully. I view the phrase as the reply to the early version of the "brain in a vat idea".

I also hold the view that "I think therefore I am" is a major threat to solipsism.

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14 Oct 2023, 11:53 am

I will write this based on my interest on the topic.
We don't know what necessarily happened before the big bang, more likely theories are.
1. *We could be in a black hole, similar to how there are other black holes in our universe. In this case, there are many many universes, from other black holes, and our universe is in one of them.
2. *We could be part of a repeating big bang, which will repeat itself as the universe ages. So we are in the current stage of the universe, and there are infinitely many big bangs that happened before ours.
3. *We could be part of a universe where the thing/energy/what ever creates our big bang creates other big bang's, hence creating multiple universes/dimensions, hence there are infinite universes.
Scientist, I believe, are settling for 2. because, it is currently hard to prove possibility 1 and 3, unless there are leaps in our understanding of science.

I hate this fing world.

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14 Oct 2023, 5:47 pm

I'll post an article for you by Chiara Guzzonato.
From 2022.

First I'll answer you with a ...guess yes.

There are at least 9 reasons…

1) Matter in space is not as cohesive as it should be.

2) The earth is about 4.5 billion years old, it has undergone important transformations and we live in a truly ideal situation, so ideal that it makes one think that something could be the object/subject of a simulated reality

3) What is repeated slavishly in the Universe we know is always the same.

Let me explain: it always corresponds to the exact same sequential logic.

It never changes.

In everything that concerns us on our planet we always fall back into the same mathematical formulation, and it also happens in galaxies and everywhere.

Known as the golden equation.


But it was already known many centuries before.

4) The dimensions can be assumed in 43.

And the Superworld is hypothesized.

Many scientists have also dealt with it, including Von Neuman, Fermi, and others, but above all the new Physics.

5) The earth is extraordinarily lucky.

We always overcome every cataclysm or introjection by a non-terrestrial body.

And it always happens at the right thousandth angle of impact.

The chances are minimal that it will always happen in the best and exact one (exact... a number 0 with many zeros and a comma: guess that this infinitesimal percentage... is always our percentage and we save ourselves... always, we are So very lucky? Oh yes!) ; but it always happens... for billions of years?

The earth has a very fragile system, for example if there was the possibility that an object, even a simple pin, would hit us, we would not exist at all.

Ok, it should have no mass and the light, however, has no mass.

6) We always overcome the Dryas, even if they are not recent.

So we are very special...? Or is there something else that prevents irreparable events from happening?

There have been glaciations that wiped out life on the planet.

But we defrosted ourselves, the carbon dioxide helped us.
Eight) there are 600,000 planets like ours in similar conditions albeit with different evolutionary degrees in the Universe according to statistics.

That is, we are not the only ones, but we have clones of extremely similar if not identical situations.

9) I only wrote 8...there would be more.

The ninth is that everything will have a precise cycle and after that everything will disappear.


Many ask you when it will happen...

Our sun has a life... programmed...

Then it will happen.

Thinking never hurts and I actually have some considerable doubts.

According to the philosopher David Chalmers, it is impossible to know whether we are living in a simulated reality or not, but even if this were the case, our lives would be no less real.
Digressions on a theme that reappears when life gets difficult.

People on chess
Are we pawns on a chessboard managed by a Great Simulator? Efe Murat Shutterstock
Does your dog really exist or is it a simulation created by a computer? And you, are you "physical people" connected to a machine (Matrix style), are you biologically real or are you avatars, simulated personalities? But (so we don't miss anything) would a life in a simulated reality be less real than a biological life? David Chalmers, an Australian philosopher who deals in particular with investigating the mysteries of the human mind and consciousness, spoke about these and other issues in an online conference.


The basic question, which others before him have asked, is: do we live in fiction, in a simulated reality?

Chalmers' answer is the classic one: we cannot know, because any evidence to the contrary could in turn be simulated. «If the simulation in which we are living is perfect, we will never know if we are inside it», explains the philosopher: «the only possibility of finding out if we are avatars is that the simulation is imperfect, or that the simulators decide to show us the source code."

Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy, the new book by David Chalmers that talks about simulated universes and virtual realities.

SIMULATION AND METAVERSE. To focus on the issue it is important to distinguish between a simulated universe and a metaverse. In the first case we talk about the simulation hypothesis, a philosophical theory that has ancient origins and according to which the reality we live in is a simulation. In the second case we are talking about virtual reality (in English VR, virtual reality), an artificial world in which we consciously immerse ourselves for a more or less long time.

We all live in a video game: according to Elon Musk


The simulation hypothesis, or the theory according to which we live in a sort of Matrix, has ancient origins: the first to question the question was the Chinese philosopher Zhuāngzǐ (369-286 BC), founder of Taoism, who in the story Zhuāngzǐ dreamed of being a butterfly he wondered if he himself was a butterfly who dreamed of being a human, or a human who dreamed of being a butterfly.

Even Descartes, in his Metaphysical Meditations, wondered if he was living in a sort of dream, hypothesizing the existence of a deceiving demon (which today we would call a simulator) capable of creating from an external world the sensations of our world, such as the heat of a fire or the humidity of the rain.

Blue or red pill

Blue pill or red pill?

In the science fiction film The Matrix, a classic example of the simulation hypothesis, the protagonist Neo had the choice of knowing the truth (red pill) or remaining ignorant (blue pill).

Which pill would you choose?

Making a time leap to the present day we arrive at the theories of the philosopher Nick Bostrom, according to whom there could be many simulated worlds and many avatars, and it would therefore be impossible to know if we are pure simulations, living in a programmed way and incapable of free will ( a bit like the non-player characters in the 2021 film Free Guy), or really existing people whose minds are attached to a machine.


According to Chalmers, a simulated reality is in any case a real reality: «What makes the difference is real, that is, what has a causative power, what does not live only in our mind, and what is not an illusion», he states : «all the objects of a simulated reality are therefore real, because in a simulation we have a body, we see objects and people and interact with them: it's all real, only that it's digital.» The very fact that our reality could be a simulation and that it is not possible to prove the contrary, he points out, is further proof that the simulated reality is real.


The first to coin the term metaverse was Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, in which he imagined a shared virtual reality thanks to the Internet, where users move and interact in the form of avatars. More recently we have returned to talking about the metaverse with Facebook, but Zuckenberg and Stephenson have different visions: according to the author of Snow Crash the metaverse was a single virtual world, while for the father of Facebook several virtual worlds may exist.

According to Chalmers, even the objects of the metaverse are real and in VR it is possible to live a real life: «I imagine that one day we will be able to choose whether to live in this world or in the virtual one, and many will choose to live in VR».


Real life makes sense because it is filled with experiences, friendships and goals: all things that exist in virtual reality, where however there is no physicality, death, birth. On the other hand, VR offers more experiences than real life, and allows you to have more than one body, unlimited space and objects in abundance. “I think the metaverse will be like the Internet is now: it will have good things and not so good things, but overall it will be a positive innovation,” says Chalmers.

We'll just have to wait and see how far the technology will go, unless the simulators decide to disconnect our minds from the machine that keeps us alive.

Chiara is an Italian freelance journalist who also deals with science and more.

Forests precede civilizations, deserts follow.


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20 Oct 2023, 1:34 pm

If I could create a simulation to imprison others in, I wouldn't make it absolute HELL!

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21 Oct 2023, 5:44 pm

Whoever might have done this could be billions of times more intelligent than a human being.

In the 2003 article, titled Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?

And in which the first formulation of the simulation hypothesis is contained in the terms in which it is known and discussed today, the philosopher Bostrom did not directly argue that human beings are in a simulation.

However, he formulated three apparently unlikely hypotheses, maintaining that at least one of the three is very likely true.

The first hypothesis is that almost no civilization can reach a level of technological evolution that would allow the creation of simulated realities.

The second hypothesis is that almost no civilization, despite reaching that level of technological evolution, has an interest in creating simulations of its own evolutionary history or of different versions of that history (simulation we could find ourselves in right now, for example).

And the third hypothesis is that “all people with our kind of experiences” are actually living in a simulation.

With respect to the possibility that this last hypothesis is true, Chalmers adds in Reality+ a series of conditions not explained by Bostrom but generally associated with the common idea of simulation of reality.

According to Chalmers, the simulation hypothesis requires that the simulation lasts for a lifetime, "or at least for as long as we can remember": it could not be valid if, for example, the simulation had only begun yesterday.

And the second condition is that it is the work of a "simulator", not of a computer program that appeared randomly out of nowhere.

Being in a simulation, according to Chalmers, means interacting with it and therefore also influencing it: «Your sensory inputs come from the simulation and your motor outputs influence the simulation».

Our minds are part of reality, says Chalmers, but a large part of reality, which contains our world and probably many others, is outside our minds: we know little about it, and there are parts we may never know.

Which does not imply the non-existence of those parts, that is, of an objective level of reality: "reality exists independently of us".

Like many other supporters of the simulation hypothesis, Chalmers does not believe that the eventual correctness of this hypothesis would radically change the state of affairs of our world.

Taking the example of the Matrix, he observes that individuals born and raised in the simulation have never seen non-simulated objects or experienced experiences induced by non-simulated interactions.

The idea behind the film is that the trees in the Matrix are actually digital simulations, but there are no "unsimulated trees" that people have experienced that add or subtract information from everything people know about trees.

It would not be much different to discover, according to Chalmers, that trees, cars and human bodies instead of being made of atoms and fundamental particles such as electrons, protons and neutrons are made of bits, or whatever constitutes these bits.

As Chalmers wrote already in 2003, in an article originally published on the Matrix movie website, discovering that you live in a simulation should not lead to the conclusion that the outside world does not exist. “Rather I should infer that the physical world consists of computations below the microphysical level.”

In recent years, following its growing diffusion and popularity in various environments, the simulation hypothesis has been analyzed and commented on by several physicists.

The American astrophysicist and popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson, considered one of the best-known supporters of this hypothesis, moderated a aforementioned debate on this topic in 2016, in which some physicists and philosophers participated, including Chalmers himself and Zohreh Davoudi, an American theoretical physicist Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Tyson, like Bostrom, does not claim that our world is a simulation but, essentially, that there is no way to prove that it is not.

Indeed, there is a rather high probability that it is a creation of some entity with an intelligence superior to ours, a simulation created "for pure entertainment" just as for pure entertainment but at a lower level we also create computer simulations.

Forests precede civilizations, deserts follow.