Looking for Morpheus - Can This World Be a Simulation?

For centuries, we have been trying to understand, is this world the ‘real’ world? The movie ‘The Matrix’, although not presenting any new ground braking idea, has done a great service to philosophy and science by bringing this question to the attention of the ordinary man. It’s Descartes’ deceiving demon idea resurrected, and all the brain-in-a-vat like theories returning in one colossus budget-devouring adrenalin-dispensing CGI-promoting fake-city blockbuster. But what are the chances we live in such a Matrix?

Nick Bostrom in his simulation argument claims that at least one of these must be true:

1. Intelligent races will never reach a level of technology where they can run simulations of reality so detailed they can be mistaken for reality; or
2. Races who do reach such a level do not tend to run such simulations; or
3. We are almost certainly living in such a simulation.

His argument uses the premise that given sufficiently advanced technology, it is possible to create matrix-like simulations where oblivious conscious entities can live in a full detailed world. If we assume we can reach such a technological level without nuking ourselves first, and that once we'll reach such a level we would want to run this kind of simulations, then it is likely that we would run a very large number of these so-called ancestor simulations. By the same line of reasoning, many of these simulations would in turn run other sub-simulations, and so on. Given the fact that right now it is impossible to tell whether we are living in one of the vast number of simulations or the original ancestor universe, the likelihood is that the former is true. Since there are much more simulated humans than real humans, and you can’t really tell if you are real or not, choosing to believe you are a simulation, you have a better chance of being right.

p.s. Using Aladdin’s carpet will always give you a window seat, but no frequent flyer benefits.


Anonymous said...

ground "breaking".

Uri Kalish said...



There are multiple ways to express what you are speaking of. It is a simple old definition of "standing on the shouldes of giants"

~ type in Eidolon on www.youtube.com

Ben said...

i postulate that none of these 3 can be right :)
purely on the basis that just because we can simulate a consciousness doesnt mean that it exists.
any simulated consciousness would be a simulation and therefore not conscious.
added to the fact there seems to be some evidence that "sentience" and the mind are independant of the physical brain, we wouldnt necissarily be able to recreate consciousness at all, but merely the funtions of a rudimentary brain, which is by no means to say it would become self aware

interesting concept though!