Simulated Universes Argument

The following is an abbreviated version taken from our sister website Simulated Universes There are more videos there that explain this in more detail.

In 2003 Nick Bostrom, a Swedish philosophy professor at Oxford University postulated that if any of the following did not come true :

  1. Humanity would destroy itself
  2. That such experimentation would be illegal
  3. That humanity’s attention would be on other emergencies

Then it would be likely that in the not too distant future that Humanity would have the computing power to run simulations of universes.

Nick Bostrum has done the sums to show what computing power would be needed. For whole universes it is quite large, but it becomes considerably less if all you have to generate the surroundings for one or more conscious beings.

So at this point in the future, where this becomes possible, Humanity is likely to be generating more and more simulations or simulated universes. This could rapidly climb to millions of simulations and could develop simulations within simulations.

This then means that the chances of us currently being in the original real universe are in the trillion to one likelihood and that it is far more likely that we are currently living in a simulation or simulated universe.

Certain scenarios/questions then arise.

  • Could this be a game that I developed for myself and I am the only conscious entity involved ?
  • Is everyone else conscious or just simulations ?
  • What would be the ultimate universal parameters ?
  • What variations might be tested in this universe ?
  • What might the ultimate game be ?
  • Does any of this really matter ?
  • If we could run our own simulations now, what would we want to test ?

Whilst this may seem farfetched, the logic behind it seems quite sound. Perhaps the main value in this idea is in its mental exploration and how this might assist us gain a far deeper understanding of our current reality.

One thing I would be interested to have tested would be if karma or the law of cause and effect was true or not.

Though perhaps a reality in which people knew that karma was not functional might not develop into a very pleasant reality. Therefore it might not prove to be very ethical to set up such a simulation.

Perhaps we will find that as our understanding of ethics develops more deeply that we decide that establishing such “negative” simulations does meet our ethical standards.

Doesn’t seem to imply that we couldn’t setup more “positive” simulations than what had actually occured to date.

I suppose a couple of questions that would be relevant would be:

  1. Would the entities in such a simulation be conscious? For the simulation to be effective, they would probably need to be.
  2. Would one have the right to put such entities into a simulation that was not real? Perhaps, if one had their consent.

I suppose the deeper questions are what is consciousness and what is conscious?

One scenario worth testing is Einstein’s famous question about “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”

This appears fundamental to so many other viewpoints.

Life would appear to be so much simpler if we knew the answer to this question. Having to consider both possibilities and having a foot in each camp, I think means we have to work twice as hard at life.

Personally, I believe the universe is benign. However, I also believe it would be naive not to acknowledge that the opposite could be true. So this slants my view of life in one direction, without completely getting me out of the working twice as hard at life.

It would be great to know definitively, if that is ever to be possible.