1149 Are we living in a computer simulation?

Oxford AcademicAre We Living in a Computer Simulation?

It can be argued that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to become extinct before reaching a ‘posthuman’ stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of its evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. 

It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we shall one day become posthumans who run ancestorsimulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation.

Wired: Of Course We’re Living in a Simulation


Every creation myth since the dawn of, well, creation has a fundamental flaw: There’s no rationale for what jump-started creation in the first place. 


We contend that - with apologies to the many scientists who disagree - the only reasonable explanation for life and the universe is that we’re living in a simulation.

Scientific American: Confirmed! We Live in a Simulation


Ever since the philosopher Nick Bostrom proposed in the Philosophical Quarterly that the universe and everything in it might be a simulation, there has been intense public speculation and debate about the nature of reality. 

Such public intellectuals as Tesla leader and prolific Twitter gadfly Elon Musk have opined about the statistical inevitability of our world being little more than cascading green code. 

Recent papers have built on the original hypothesis to further refine the statistical bounds of the hypothesis, arguing that the chance that we live in a simulation may be 50–50.


The claims have been afforded some credence by repetition by luminaries no less esteemed than Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of Hayden Planetarium and America’s favorite science popularizer. Yet, there have been skeptics. 

Physicist Frank Wilczek argued that there’s too much wasted complexity in our universe for it to be simulated. Building complexity requires energy and time. Why would a conscious, intelligent designer of realities waste so many resources into making our world more complex than it needs to be? 

It's a hypothetical question, but still may be needed. 

Others, such as physicist and science communicator Sabine Hossenfelder, have argued that the question is not scientific anyway. Since the simulation hypothesis does not arrive at a falsifiable prediction, we can’t really test or disprove it, and hence it’s not worth seriously investigating.


However, all these discussions and studies of the simulation hypothesis have missed a key element of scientific inquiry: plain old empirical assessment and data collection. To understand if we live in a simulation we need to start by looking at the fact that we already have computers running all kinds of simulations for lower level “intelligences” or algorithms.